If you’re looking to branch out in today’s competitive climate and find new ways to drive revenue to your business, consider selling your products and services internationally.
Whether you opt for the United States, Europe, or further afield to a market such as China, it’s a great way to diversify your business and reduce your reliance on one market - especially with the coronavirus pandemic changing our economies at breakneck speed.
China is home to one of the world’s most exciting B2B markets. The country alone accounts for 31% of all global B2B ecommerce, representing transactions worth around $3 trillion per annum. Simply put, there’s plenty of demand for quality B2B products and services - but they need to be marketed correctly in order to reach potential buyers.
Below, we’ve rounded up five of the most effective strategies to get you started…
Start by localising your website
It may sound obvious, but Chinese B2B buyers want to read about your products in Chinese. Even English-oriented businesses in the country prefer to engage with content in their native language, so redevelop your website for the local market. It can take some time - you need to go much further than copying your About Us page into Google Translate and hoping for the best. Make sure every page is polished and persuasive and any Western nuances/quirks have been properly translated into Mandarin alternatives.
Once you’re happy with your Chinese-language website, host it on a separate domain name (.cn) on a Chinese server. This will require you to apply for an ICP license which may be time-consuming, but is worth it for speed, search engine optimization, and trust.
Advertise on Baidu search
Just as you’d pay for advertising on LinkedIn and Google in the West, you can do the same in China with Baidu, the county’s biggest search engine. Pay-per-click advertising on Baidu works in the same way as it does on Google in the West, though naturally it will be in Mandarin. It’s best to enlist the help of a local digital marketing agency to do this for you, as you might miss an important optimisation and end up paying over the odds for adverts.
We don’t recommend translating adverts from existing PPC campaigns or using the same metrics, as your Chinese audience will likely be different to your B2B audience at home. What’s more, you should not expect to start a PPC campaign overnight - it can take a couple of weeks to create an advertising account with Baidu as an international business.
Turn to WeChat
WeChat is, without doubt, the most important social networking platform in China, and not just for consumers. Consider WeChat the alternative to Messenger, WhatsApp, PayPal, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn - it’s China’s “app for everything”, and as a result, a lot of business is conducted there. One of the best ways to make an impact is to create quality long-form content relevant to your niche, allowing you to position yourself as an authority.
You can also create a mini version of your website under your WeChat account, adding custom menus that offer followers more information. Adding a button so that interested B2B buyers can contact you via WeChat or email is another good idea, increasing your engagement and conversion rates and ensuring that warm leads can be handled promptly.
Understand WeChat’s limitations, though: just as you won’t find customers on Facebook without paid advertising, don’t expect WeChat to immediately drive sales. Engage with people who might be interested in your business, follow their pages, join in discussions, and consider a personal WeChat account as well as a company account to maximise your reach. When creating content, look for ways this can be repurposed for your website, too.
Host a webinar
One tactic that has grown in popularity in the Chinese B2B world is webinars, allowing you to promote your B2B products or services to a qualified audience. Whether it’s a slideshow presentation or a live stream with your team, you can sell the benefits of your products and answer questions; though you’ll need to find a host who’ll handle interactions confidently.
The best way to overcome challenges is to hire a Chinese-language community manager who can be a liaison for your brand. Alternatively, you could host a presentation in English with subtitles, though engagement might be limited, or you could turn to an offline event and stream it online for those who can’t make it. Physical events can be costly and difficult to pull off on your own, but when done correctly, will introduce you to lifelong B2B clients.
Exhibitions and trade fairs are another great way to meet Chinese buyers. There’s an expo for virtually every niche in China, so do your research and attend as many as you can.
Think about your SEO
When you’re looking for office supplies or a replacement part for machinery, the chances are that you turn to Google. Chinese consumers do the same, only with Baidu. Investing in SEO for the Chinese arm of your business might not be at the top of your list - after all, SEO takes time, and it’s even more of a mindfield when it’s in a different language - but it can prove to be incredibly beneficial over time. Starting off early is a sensible decision.
Once you’ve finalised your Chinese-language website, make sure you’ve researched into the right B2B keywords and incorporate them into your web copy. Other technical on-site work should be conducted (depending on your experience level, most are relatively straightforward) and then you can invest in online PR to spread the word about your brand. The more Chinese blogs and websites that reference your B2B products and link back to you, the higher you’ll rank on search engines, though this is easier said than done.
To maximise your chances of SEO success, pay a professional Chinese marketing firm to conduct on and off-site optimisations and online public relations, and remember that you’re in a marathon and not a sprint. SEO will take time, but the payoff is ultimately worthwhile.
There you have it - a few tips for improving your B2B success in China. If you’re looking for a UK-based team that specialises in the Chinese market, reach out to Zudu today for a consultation. Give us a call on 01382 690080 and we’ll get the ball rolling on a campaign.