B2B in China in the Digital Age

New ways to develop your B2B practices in China

The traditional way of doing Business (B2B) in China is through cold calls or exhibitions. Another major way of doing business in China is via ‘’Guanxi’’ – having the right connections, and knowing the right people drinking a lot of Baijiu. Well, times are changing. The younger generation of business professionals is less into who can drink the most and more into who they can trust the most.

Business in China in the Digital Age

With the rise of the internet and the growth of digital marketing, the practices mentioned above have become increasingly sidelined. Using online tools instead, and looking for a more comprehensive, highly visible, online presence. Business owners do their research online and if you are worth their attention then, and only then, will they invite you to share drinks

How the Internet has changed the B2B World in China?

The focus is now on digital, online strategies. With the help of the internet, it is easier to search, identify and compare quality suppliers. Because Chinese consumers review and comment, it is especially easy to gain feedback. You can check information about companies to ensure they are trustworthy and provide legitimate services. Online buyers also learn how to get the best offers and use a variety of techniques in order to manage their suppliers more effectively.


Changing Generations: Raise of the Millenials

The new generation of business managers was born after 1980. They are accustomed to searching and checking information online. This was made possible with the rise of communication applications such as WeChat.

Drinking that much to sign a contract has become a big “no-no” among Chinese Millennials. They value a healthy lifestyle and are more aware of the impact of alcohol on their body and mental health.

The anti-corruption campaign started by Xi Jinping has most significantly affected the minds of the Chinese people. Especially the younger generation who grew up in this anti-corruption era.

Realizing the risks & Limitations of ‘Guanxi’ in China

Most people in China seek to be more professional and prefer to get the best supplier than the poor quality company of their friend. Relying too much on Guanxi is potentially risky for one’s position and career. Young workers are particularly career-focused and therefore the culture of friendly ‘Guanxi’ is diminishing. Many want to focus on their family and develop their career in a reputable, professional manner.

trust-reputation-china B2B in China
Trust is the base of B2B in China

What are the new ways of doing business and attracting customers in China?

A high-quality website in Chinese

Having a good website is important in China. Distributors/buying agents/Business owners are more and more sensitive to a well-designed website. Clear offers, intuitive navigation, and persuasive information – are critical aspects. Everything on your website should be demonstrating the advantage of being involved with your business. Website content should be translated into Mandarin with Chinese-specific imagery.

Show that you are an expert with quality content

Content-based marketing became significantly more important in China. Publish high-quality content on your website and your Wechat account to demonstrate your level of expertise. Buyers like to see practical tips and well-produced content from their suppliers. It is a good way to promote your best business practice to potential Chinese buyers and make a difference with your competitors.

competition-china B2B in China

The highest quality traffic comes from Chinese search Engines: more specifically Organic Traffic

In B2B, the qualified traffic comes directly from online research. Anyone will initially search for keywords via the Chinese search engine ‘’Baidu’’ which is the number one search engine in China.

Your Baidu ranking will depend on criteria such as:
  • Your content (see above)
  • Website optimization for Baidu
  • The Trust-rank in your website can be improved with backlinks & regular content

Baidu PPC Efficient?

Paid results or PPC (pay per click) is good because it results in instant traffic but the quality of the traffic is often lower than what you would get organically. Which professionals actually click on Ads? In reality very few. Organic traffic is based on natural search results. More information is here.

Chinese Forums/Q&A/Blogs

Most Chinese buyers search on forums as part of their research.  Chinese often put their trust in other users and are scared to be cheated. No one likes to be scammed and lose face. On the forums, they can get partial information about a company. Because people trust forums and user reviews, they should be part of your online marketing strategy.

Well-run, it will result in user-generated content (UGC). This content often ranks highly on Baidu and is highly trusted. Forums are perfect to build organic brand awareness and e-reputation.

China Paid Advertising & native ads

Paid advertising is a reasonable solution for B2B companies that wish to grow in China. Paid ads are particularly efficient combined with SEO and should be prioritized when getting started in order to drive traffic to your website.

There are many platforms in China for paid ads; here is our favorite for B2B:

  • Baidu
  • Toutiao
  • Zhihu
  • Weibo

WeChat for B2B in China

Wechat is omnipresent in China but for B2B, it is not really useful in terms of increasing your visibility. Rather, it is a good tool to keep in contact with your prospective clients. It is also a way to improve word of mouth and connect with your prospective clients. Wechat is more like a newsletter.

Having a nice introduction about your company on Wechat can be good for those to share your company information with their contacts.

GMA – Wechat H5 Borchure

Most Chinese companies do not have paper brochures, they prefer to share information with a Wechat brochure. A WeChat brochure is easy to share and expected in the Chinese B2B world.

In B2B, people prefer to send information and quotations via WeChat or QQ than traditional email.

Emails DO NOT WORK in China. Why? People don’t read their emails. Emailing is not part of Chinese culture.

Here is a list of useful Wechat Features & marketing strategies for B2B companies:

  • Wechat “SEO”: The art of ranking your content on the Wechat Search tool.
  • Wechat Group Marketing: Massive content shared in the group/ Administration of the wechat group to interact with the target audience.
  • Wechat Post: Use it as a newsletter to nurture your followers. Avoid only posting corporate content, but prefer content that has value for your reader.
  • Wechat H5 Brochure: It may be your intro, case studies, product/service lists, and so on. Best way to share information.
  • Wechat B2B Kols: collaborate with trusted industry Kols on Wechat.

Press and quality publications: Boost your trust for B2B in China

To impact influencers, and those people who like to keep updated about industry news are important for a company to appear on the news. Good PR content results in trust and credibility for your company. The Chinese like established and trustworthy companies and appearing in the media will help strengthen this image.

chinese public relations
Chinese public relations

Appearing in the media will often not result in leads but is good for the branding of the company.

Community Management for B2B in China

Be active in your community management as this is very important in B2B. Impress your community and professionals will perceive you as a leader in your field and you will naturally generate leads as recommendations are made. Community management is associated with quality content and is more time to consume as you have to develop this status over time.

Regroup your community around one group – a QQ group, a Wechat group, or a professional forum and take your time. The group has to feature useful content that others will invite to their professional network too.

KOL B2B in China

In B2B in China, professionals like to be part of the group when they exchange interesting information, and if they are invited to this group, they will associate the status of leader with the admin and manager of this group.

O2O in Business: conference & networking

A popular trend in China is the relationship between online and offline brands.

This concept of B2B is quite simple, people have to meet each other before they give a quotation/AFQ, and have to establish at least some sort of relationship before making a deal. We meet each other online but also need to meet in person

Conferences are a good idea, invite your online prospect along to a situation where there is a shared interest, it is also a new way to meet them again and let them understand your goals.

Connect offline and keep contact online: useful for B2B in China

Networking is a good way to gain contacts initially and online is a good way to keep in touch with these people. Networking is not really effective in the short term as meeting people for two minutes is not enough time to base a significant business relationship. Keeping in contact online with these people is a good strategy. Most of these people are social by nature and if they are impressed by your specialization after checking your content, they will recommend you to other potential buyers.

GMA: Who are we?

We are a Lead Generation Company and help Businesses to develop their customer base in China.

Do you want to Develop your Business in China?

If you have any questions or are interested to know if we can generate B2B leads from Chinese clients, feel free to contact us. (agency@marketingtochina.com)


  • The Chinese Digital economy showed resilience and potential in 2021 in China, with market revenue up around 9.2% year-on-year.

    Concretely, revealed the report on the development of the sharing economy in China, the total turnover of the market amounted to about 3,690 billion yuan (521.93 billion euros) last year. .

    Shared office spaces have seen the fastest expansion, with their market size increasing by 26.2% year-over-year.

    At the same time, the report showed, the size of the shared housing market, disrupted by sporadic resurgences of the outbreak and related regulatory measures, has meanwhile shrunk by 3.8% compared to the previous year.

    Finally, it should be noted that, according to the report, shared services continued to play a crucial role in economic growth in 2021, citing in particular an example according to which revenues from online takeaway services represented approximately 21.4% of total restaurant industry revenue in China.

  • very good good business guide. I love the way you explain B2B.
    jack ma explains “Intelligent people need a fool to lead them. When the team’s all a bunch of scientists, it is best to have a peasant lead the way. His way of thinking is different. It’s easier to win if you have people seeing things from different perspectives.”

  • Amazing article; usually marketers do not understand what is really B2B, first logical article that I read of my life about B2B inChina.

    • Olivier

      it is true Ronald. B2B is special and B2B does not trust basic Agency 😉

  • Olivier

    Really good article, one of your best article Olivier

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