B2B marketing in China has its own idiosyncrasies, problems, advantages, and chances, just like all marketing in China. We’ve discovered that one of the most difficult problems for marketers is keeping up with shifting channels and platforms, as marketing methods in China evolve swiftly and Western approaches may fall short.
Finding the proper mix of techniques that include online and offline target audience behaviors is just as critical as finding the right balance of global and local Chinese marketing methods in the post-Covid time in China.
Platforms to Be Aware Of
In China, there are numerous social media and short-video platforms, although they are mostly targeted towards customers. Here are some good locations to start for B2B marketers:
• Chinese-language website: You’re barely in the game if you don’t have a localized version of your website (Simplified Chinese for the mainland). To get beyond the Great Firewall, make sure it’s mobile-friendly and hosted in China or close by. You’ll also need to apply for an ICP license, which is a license given by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology if you plan on advertising or hosting the website in China (MIIT).
• Official WeChat account: The majority of B2B businesses have an official WeChat account where they can host a mini-version of their website and engage with their followers via weekly posts. Companies typically publish a few pieces every week.
• WeCom (WeChat enterprise): WeChat has a new corporate version of WeChat that can be integrated with your HR systems and used for internal and client/customer communications, taking conversations away from private channels and giving businesses more control.
• Baidu (Chinese for “Google”): Baidu is China’s version of Google. Once you’ve applied and created an account, you’ll be able to run Chinese-language keyword ads here.
• User-generated forums and wiki-sites: Posts and articles on user-generated forums like Zhihu will improve your SEO and brand awareness.
• 1688: This is Alibaba’s mainland China B2B trading portal, which you can use if you’re selling online.
Things to stay away from
• Stay away from everything related to Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and potentially restricted website hosting platforms. That Google Map on your contact page, or even the Google API-connected fonts? These will cause your page to load slowly or not at all.
• LinkedIn is a bit of a mishmash. We’ve partnered with a number of companies to try to reach LinkedIn users. The click-through rates for adverts and platform-sponsored emails addressed at non-Chinese professionals working in China hovered approximately 3% – 5%, which is a reasonable outcome. However, specialized and targeted advertising for Chinese users barely moved the needle. So, I believe it’s safe to assume that Chinese professionals working for multinationals will have an account, but it’s unlikely that they’ll utilize it for anything other than job searches. This makes account-based marketing (ABM) difficult.
• China’s data is strictly regulated, similar to the GDPR in Europe. You shouldn’t expect to buy any marketing lists. Corporations will also have strong control over data obtained in China.