If you’ve used digital marketing techniques to promote your products and services in the past, then the chances are that you’ve at least experimented with Google AdWords. The advertising tool, which allows you to appear at the top of Google search engine results pages (SERPs) and pay every time someone clicks through to your website, is incredibly effective, and is a ‘quick win’, as you can enjoy overnight results and don’t have to invest in search engine optimisation.

Baidu, China’s alternative to Google, offers its own AdWords-like services, allowing you to put your messages in front of millions of potential Chinese customers. Below, we’ve put together an introduction to the search engine, and explore how you can use the platform to your advantage.

What is Baidu?

Baidu is China’s answer to Google, serving an incredible 665 million monthly active users on mobile alone. Almost 150 million Chinese consumers use the Baidu app every day, helping the company achieve a 66.5% share of the Chinese mobile search market (with Shenma, Haosou, and Sogou making up the other 33%. The company has almost half a million online marketing customers - that is, businesses using Baidu’s advertising tools to promote their products and services - and generated more than $13 billion in 2017, with 73% of that coming from mobile.

Like Google, Baidu offers a whole host of other services, including Maps, Music, cloud storage, an online encyclopedia akin to Wikipedia, and a social networking service called Beido Space, but it’s the company’s search engine that generates the most revenue thanks to advertisers.

There’s a huge potential audience

China has the world’s largest population, home to almost one and a half billion people. More than 800 million of those people use the internet, and 98% of those that do access the internet through their smartphone. This makes China home to the world’s largest online population, too. Of course, being able to access a market like China through digital marketing techniques can be incredibly lucrative, but only if you know what you’re doing and target the right customer base.

Before you move any further ahead, think about your budget, experiment with a couple of small Baidu advertising campaigns to weigh up your potential return on investment, and consider the benefits of working with a company that can manage your Baidu advertising to maximise return.

Be prepared for paperwork

If you’re based in the United Kingdom and want to promote your products and services in China, then be prepared for some paperwork. Baidu, like all companies in China, is heavily regulated by the government, and so as a Western brand, you’ll need to complete some forms in order to advertise. Indeed, you’ll need to register your company within the country and have financial documents scanned before you can open an advertising account with Baidu.

What’s more, if you work in an industry such as finance or healthcare, you might need to provide additional documentation, like qualifications, insurance, and more, so be prepared before you dive in.

Whilst this may seem like an alien concept - especially when you compare it to the ease of advertising on Facebook or Google, for example - it is a relatively straightforward process, and with the right help, you’ll be able to start advertising on the search engine giant in no time at all.

Advertising in Mandarin makes sense

Although Baidu does offer an English version of its search engine and other core products, the vast majority of Chinese consumers conduct their searches in Mandarin. Therefore, it makes sense to advertise your products and services in Mandarin, and translate any landing pages and company literature into Mandarin to encourage users to purchase from your website right away.
Remember that, unlike search engine optimisation, paying for advertising on a search engine means you’re charged every time somebody clicks on your ad. Prices can vary depending on how competitive your chosen keywords are, but if your landing page has not been properly optimised for conversions, then your bounce rate will be high and you’ll waste your ad spend.

Take your time, ensure your website is in Mandarin, and consider using A/B testing with small ad budgets first to improve your conversion rate and to get the best return on investment.

Consider other options

Search engine advertising is one of the most effective forms of digital marketing, as it allows you to put your products in front of people who are already searching for businesses like yours. But the truth is, just like with Google AdWords, pay-per-click can be expensive, and doesn’t always generate the return you had initially expected. Before you get started with a Baidu advertising campaign, you should weigh up your other options to find the right strategy for your business.

If you want to target Chinese millennials, for example, who are considered ‘super consumers’ because they come from privileged backgrounds and from a one-child-only generation, then social media may instead be an option. Millennials on WeChat are spending billions of dollars every year, whilst Weibo is another lucrative option for Western businesses like yours.

Advertising on Baidu - and advertising in China, for that matter - may be more difficult than here in the United Kingdom, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

If you’re looking for help with your Baidu advertising campaign, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Zudu China. Our marketing experts are on hand to take your business to new heights and tap into the lucrative Chinese market.

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