Business to business (B2B) marketing enables companies to get leads by improving their image, by better presenting their products and services, identifying targets and attracting them in the right way. In China, industrial buyers are very careful therefore they seek information on the internet before contacting any business. The development of a good B2B digital marketing strategy is key.
Identify its target customers
Industrial products are generally intended for a very specific clientele. It is important to identify and understand who your target market are, based on; socio-demographic profiles, motivations, buying behaviours, methods of communication etc .. and thus adapt ones marketing tactics based on these profiles and expectations.
Depending on the type of industry, you can target certain geographical areas and focus your efforts there, after all China is the fourth largest country in the world by area and has the largest population.
Here is a list of the major industries and which provinces they are located in:
|Shanghai||Petrochemical, chemical, pharmaceutical, automotive, electronics equipment, finances|
|Beijing||IT, communications, electronics|
|Guangzhou||Car & automobiles, electronics, textiles, appliances, toys, petrochemicals, chemicals|
|Jiangsu||Chemicals, textile, communications, petrochemicals, steel and metals, food, auto parts, biomedicine|
|Shenzhen||IT, semiconductor, biomedical, communications, electronic information|
|Zhejiang||Industry light, plastic industry, textile and clothing toys, metal, supplies, kitchen equipment|
|Shandong||Agriculture, petroleum, food and pharmaceutical|
B2B Guide to success in China
Industrial companies should participate in trade fairs in China: this is a great way to become known, to exchange with other industrial businesses and develop contacts. Organized fairs are events not to be missed for the industry: all major players gather here. In Shanghai city we have more than 250 shows a year, here you’ll find the most relevant for your business sector.
Know your market
When a company enters a new market or segment, it is neccessary for it to implement research that will enable it to better know the market. Various studies such as market research, studies on competition need to be conducted in China. These studies also help to build promotional tools and enable sales teams to work more efficiently.
Building your promotional materials
An industrial company should highlight its products in order to assert its expertise in a particular area. It establishes relationships with potential customers and therefore the quality of the interaction is strongly influenced by the quality of the promotional materials it uses. How you present the products will influence the decisions of potential customers. It is advisable to have a professional catalog in Chinese to show customers. A video presentation of the company and products is also very effective.
B2B Digital marketing
There are some manufacturers who are convinced that having a website and a strong web presence is useless in this environment. The Chinese digital market however has enormous potential and can contribute directly to the growth of an industrial company. It is the time for industry players to catch up and integrate digital marketing into the heart of their company’s development. Testifies Fil Control, a French company specialized in the manufacturing of equipment for the textile machinery industry, and the market leader have embraced the digital strategy in China and experienced significant growth. Chinese professionals are connected online and industry needs to have a presence here too.
90% of Chinese buyers start their research on the internet. This is true especially among young professionals (from the digital generation in China) and in relation to Chinese industrial buyers: 95% of them use the Internet to find suppliers and the majority of them learn about companies online partners. Today, industrial buyers do not hesitate to ask for quotes on the internet.
For example the Alibaba company, an e-commerce platform, is very popular with companies working in the industrial sector to find low-value consumables. Chinese industrial companies are ahead of European enterprises: they are mostly all present on Alibaba. This reference platform allows them to connect with a large number of suppliers and attracts many qualified visitors. The company was created in 1999 and now has 427 million active users. Approximately 8.5 million sellers made transactions in 2015. The buyers on Alibaba opt for repeat purchases (on average) 52 times a year. (Source: http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/alibaba-statistics/).
Buyers are found in more than 190 countries. This is a key platform to develop your presence on.
The e-reputation and PR
Before even thinking about selling to potential Chinese buyers, a major step is to validate the consumer feedback about your products and services. You must check and validate this reputation online in Chinese but also in English.
If the reviews and comments about your products are non-existent or negative, how does this impact on your potential customers in China? Nothing prevents you from setting up a public relations strategy and thus communicating with influencers and key journalists and encouraging them to talk about your products and thus positively influence your reputation.
An efficient and visible site
The website for an industrial company must serve a springboard for business leads and should help convey its values. For businesses to know the site, an SEO strategy can prove to be very useful. The company Fil Control, and other major Western industrial groups, have managed to become highly regarded in China thanks to this strategy. The SEO strategy helps make a difference by being visible on the web before your competitors. The key: ‘Move to the maximum number relevant keywords based on the activity of your business’, explains the head of Premier Tech Chronos, a worldwide company known for its innovative and customized solutions in terms of packaging, handling and processing products. Premier Tech Chronos, in order to conquer China, surrounded themselves with competent professionals and focused on an SEO strategy, after having developed a Chinese site.
The quality of the content you use on your platforms will establish your position as an expert or leader in your industry.
Feeding the relationship – Good customer services
Once you have identified some prospects who are perhaps not ready to make a purchase immediately, it is important to maintain a positive relationship with them. The implementation of email marketing programs (customized or not) and the development of social network activity are the best options for the continuation of a customer relationship.
Social networks in China, to maintain the relationship
They are an easy way to build and nurture this relationship. China with 680 million Internet users (penetration rate of only 49%) has 653 million active users on social networks, this is a ‘social’ ratio of 0.97 (number of active users divided by the networks number of Internet users) compared to 0.68 in US (with an internet penetration rate of 87%, 282.1 million users of which 192 million are active users of social networks). This shows the strong social networking community in China, making China the biggest social media territory in the world. More information here
The social networks of choice in China are:
- QQ TENCENT
- Sina Weibo
- Baidu Tieba
- TENCENT RENREN
With more than half of Chinese Internet users connected, WeChat instant messaging is a phenomenon in China with approximately 700 million active users.. To give you an idea of the scale, users open the application on average 10 times a day. Users use it to get more information, read the news and receive promotional offers.
For businesses, there are two account types to consider:
a) The subscription accounts:
They allow your organization to post once a day and be stored in a file for ‘Subscription accounts’.
This type of account is a good choice if you want to communicate regularly with your customers. If you are an individual you can save time with this type of account. Push notifications are not available with this account. You can respond to users’ messages within 48 hours. WeChat checks the type of business you are and you need to use the API. The menus are not available for individuals. There are no payment features.
b) Service accounts:
This type of account offers additional features such as the ability to create a website (in APP) and APP have WeChat. Regarding publication, there is a limit of 4 per month (per against push notifications are available). You can respond to users within 48 hours. This is perfect if you want to open a store on WeChat and engage to benefit your users with additional features (eg custom menus and content etc).
The two account types have the following features: dissemination of a message (by geography, gender, specific groups); auto reply; direct message (text response to individual users), user management (see profile, group users, add aliases), content management (upload pictures, video files and creating multimedia cards); Analytical (reporting engagement, message volume, etc ..)
The newsletter and email
In order to maintain and nurture the relationship with your potential prospects your newsletter can used but a wevpower study demonstrates that Chinese open rates are very low (1% on average in China while it is 6.8% in the west). Therefore this medium does not seem very popular in China. Of course in order to maximise your engagement, as previously mentioned, the content of your newsletter must be of a high quality (such as for your website). It must create value for your readers.
Do not forget that WeChat permits you to set up a newsletter and provides a newsletter template.
You can also link your account with your WeChat website or mini website within WeChat. The advantage of WeChat regarding this tactic is that users do not have to exit the app, they remain in the application for reading your newsletter or visiting an external website opened within the WeChat platform. Users remain in the same environment and are therefore more captive.
Here is a list of the forbidden content you cannot publish on WeChat:
- Hardware or illegal content
- Content with pornographic content
- Organized crime
- False or misleading advertising
- Offensive content
Another possibility for promoting your content is to use the weibo platform (micro blogging), you can embed QR codes into this contact linking to your WeChat official account so cross promotion is a strong possibility.
In conclusion, for industrial companies, it is important to focus on product quality and how you communicate this online. Reputation is very important in industrial and B2B, especially China.
China is now in search of machines and industrial technologies but this process has become increasingly sophisticated. That is why the Chinese are fond of foreign technology, and particularly European technologies, they appreciate the quality.
We are a Marketing Agency specialized in B2B , feel be free to contact us and ask for more information or details about our case studies.