Generating leads is one of the most important aspects of any B2B marketing strategy and it is the same if not truer with B2B in China. And when it comes to generating leads in China, things can be a little tricky. The Chinese market is unique, and understanding the customs and cultural nuances is essential for successful lead generation. In this blog post, we’re going to give you a guide to mastering lead generation in China.
Although China’s B2B landscape is still traditional in many ways, the incredible digital development of the last few years has changed the done for the many international players trying to decipher this lucrative market. Thanks to the internet it has become significantly easier for western B2B companies to reach out to Chinese potential customers but this success of the internet also came with its own challenges as both locals and international B2B companies have embraced digital marketing.
Within this context, only companies that master china’s digital marketing tools are able to set themselves apart from the rough competition. Thankfully for you, we wrote this guide and if you don’t think you are able to handle a B2B lead generation strategy by yourself in China, it turns out that we have 10+ years of experience in the matter.
You got it, the Chinese web is a totally different entity from the west. There’s still censorship and domestic actors get priority over international ones, but if you want success in China you don’t have any other choice but to adapt and play by the rule (But its worth with a market forecasted to reach US$350 billion in deals by 2024 with a 30% y-oy growth). This B2B in China Guide is for you if your company has been neglecting its digital marketing efforts. Why? It’s time to integrate new ways of communicating through the internet so that prospects can find out more about what services or products they may need!
In this guide, you will find the keys to creating an amazing B2B digital strategy for China:
- Digitalization of the B2B in China.
- Visibility : the key of success.
- Lead generation.
- Analyze and optimization.
- How to develop your contact networks.
Hope you enjoy the read and hopefully understand things you weren’t too familiar with!
- China B2B Lead Gen: Must Know before Getting Started
- Basics Steps to Take When Getting Started with B2B in China
- B2B in China: How to Generate Leads in Practices
- Manage your Chinese Prospect: Basics knowledge about doing business in China
- OUR B2B LEAD GENERATION SERVICES FOR CHINA
- OUR EXPERIENCE, OUR CASE STUDIES
- GET IN TOUCH
- B2B in China – FAQ
China B2B Lead Gen: Must Know before Getting Started
Internet is Key for Customers Experience
The internet has made it easier for people to find information about products and services. Clients can compare the different companies offering products or services, discuss their opinions, and so on.
It’s really easy for consumers to join their feedbacks to contest the practices and products of a company that doesn’t reply to their expectations. Consumer experience is now totally different, the consumer can find his own information on the internet, and is free. It’s now really difficult for brands to lie or to create a fake image. We are now talking about a “consummator”.
The first step of the consumer experience in China is to look for information on search engines.
China, more than other countries, is a connected country. Statistics are awesome: more the 90% of Chinese buyers start their research on the Internet. Even if the information researched is different in B2C and B2B, behaviors are similar. Research for a product or a service is mainly done on the internet and research before buying is mandatory for Chinese consumers and this is also in B2B.
Profesionnals Also Use Internet to Gauge the Seriousness of Potential Business Partners
Chinese professionals are very present on the internet. They make a lot of research, find out about partner companies and learn online.
Professionals, like individuals, do a lot of research on search engines and especially young professionals who came from the new digital generation in China. 95% of the Industrial Chinese buyers use the internet to find suppliers. Companies that work in the industrial sector tend to buy on e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba to find low-value products.
Email Marketing Does Not Work in China
In China, the communication means are very different than in Western countries. In Western countries, communication is mainly done by sending email, in China, consumers never read their emails. Chinese consumers prefer instant messaging platforms like WeChat and this also with professionals in B2B.
Email marketing actions are useless: email campaigns, newsletters, and others will not be read. Email marketing is not working in China because the Chinese people don’t have a lot of trust in unsolicited emails or simply don’t check their emails, they have others channels. On top of that, when they do use emails, their emails providers is not the usual one in the west (Gmail/Outlook), and these providers will often send your emails straight to the spam folder.
To reach out to your consumers, you need to adapt your strategy to be effective on the communication means Chinese consumers use. The best alternative to email marketing and newsletters in China is WeChat, which allows companies to share content with followers through official accounts.
Basics Steps to Take When Getting Started with B2B in China
- Get to know the market – Do your research and understand China’s B2B landscape. Who are the major players? What are the key trends? What are the pain points that Chinese businesses are looking to solve?
- Build a strong network of local partners – Having a good network of local partners is essential for doing business in China. These partners can help you navigate the local business landscape, introduce you to potential clients, and provide valuable insights into Chinese culture and business practices.
- Develop a localized marketing strategy – In order to be successful in B2B sales in China, it’s important to develop a localized marketing strategy that resonates with Chinese buyers. This is the part we will be focusing on.
To do B2B in China, your #1 Step should be developing a Website in Chinese Mandarin
To become visible on the Chinese web, a website is the 1st Step for industries in China. Your website has to be strong and structured. Chinese Professional clients are no longer trustful due to all the counterfeits, copies, and tricks. They will be really reassured if you have an Official Website, trustworthy and professional.
To start, your website needs to be hosted in China mainland with a .cn name which shows that the Chinese government authorizes your website. But the main reason is speed and ranking. Website hosted in China benefits from a higher authority on Baidu.
Foreign websites are not adapted to Chinese norms, are often censored, and are very slow to open. Furthermore, Baidu will mostly ignore websites in a foreign language because they don’t use mandarin keywords, therefore, can not be indexed within the 100% Chinese mandarin search engine.
You have to have a website in mandarin to get to your target audience. There are a few reasons t that:
- First, the majority of the Chinese population is not proficient in English, so a website in Chinese will be more accessible and better understood by potential customers.
- Second, China has a huge online population (over 700 million people), and many businesses are shifting their marketing efforts online. Having a website in Chinese will give your business a greater reach among potential customers in China.
- Third: Baidu will always favor content in China mandarin to content in english.
- Finally, it’s important to note that the Chinese market is unique and should be treated as such when doing marketing research or planning campaigns.
Additionally, don’t forget to adapt your website UX to the Chinese market. You can make it easier for Chinese users to navigate your website by incorporating commonly used elements of Chinese web design. For example, many Chinese websites use a sliding menu panel that allows users to scroll through different categories of content. You may also want to consider using a “pull-to-refresh” gesture, which is common in Chinese websites and apps and allows users to refresh.
Finally, don’t forget the most important element to your Chinese website: easy access to your contact information, highlight your contact form, and ideally, a live chat.
B2B Companies that want to succeed in China need an Effective Baidu SEO Strategy
SEO is extremely important for B2B companies in China because it’s one of the best ways to reach potential customers who are searching for specific products or services. By improving your website’s ranking on search engines, you can increase traffic and generate more leads from potential customers.
Baidu is the Most Consulted Search Engine in China
In China, Baidu is dominating the market of search engines with more than 80.6% of market shares. Qihoo 360 follows with 10.3% and Sougou with 4.7%. Google is forbidden in China. The most important search engine in the world is censored that’s why Google arrive in the last position with only 4.4% of market shares.
More than 6 billion of research are done every day on Baidu. Baidu is used by 570 billion users and Baidu app: “Baidu Search” by 100 billion users. 40% of the advertising expenses on the Chinese web are done on Baidu.
Why Does SEO takes such an important place in B2B Marketing in China?
A presence on search engines is very effective for B2B & Industry in China. SEO is a long-term operation to improve the visibility of a company on search engines. The goal is to be on the top of the list thanks to good and adapted keywords.
Keywords are crucial for an SEO campaign. You need to find the keywords your targets users to lead them to your website. It’s really important to use good keywords. If you only try to get all the traffic even if these people are not interested in your products and services, it’s not effective and smart.
Not only a good SEO strategy on Chinese search engines will help tremendously with visibility, but it will also play a major role in your reputation management in the country and the perception potential customers have of your company. Indeed, the more positive appearances show’s up on Baidu, the more legit you look to a buyer, which will ultimately increase your conversion rate. In short, not only you’ll have more leads but you will sign more deals.
Become more familiar with Baidu SEO with our Baidu SEO Guide. We guide you through the best practices to succeed on the platform and efficiently rank your chosen keyword on page 1 of Baidu’s SERPs. We also give some additional tricks to flood page 1 with content only related to your company and its products.
Adapt: Your google SEO Strategy May Very Well be a Fail on Baidu
In China, SEO is a bit different: Baidu doesn’t work exactly like Google. To build a smart SEO strategy in China, you have to understand how Baidu works.
Let’s see the main differences:
- Quality is more important than on Google.
- Repetition of key words allow you to have a better ranking on Baidu.
- Due to censorship, your content and information need to be controled and without political interest. Some words and content are forbidden.
- The homepage is very important for SEO.
- Updatings of your content are also very important.
When doing B2B in China, Managing your Online Reputation is Crucial
There are a few key reasons why online reputation management is so important for B2B businesses operating in China.
- Chinese consumers place a lot of importance on online reviews and opinions when making purchasing decisions. In fact, a recent study found that 88% of Chinese consumers consult online reviews before making a purchase. This makes it essential for businesses to maintain a positive online presence and suppress any negative reviews or comments that may exist.
- The Chinese internet is heavily censored, which means that unfavorable or negative information about your business can easily be swept under the rug by the government censors. Online reputation management can help to ensure that any negative information about your company is made public and seen by as many people as possible.
You can’t afford to let any negative comments get in the way of your business. We said it, Chinese consumers are very sensitive about reputation and will only deal with companies they trust, so if you fail at this task then it’s game over for sure.
Additionally, you should always pick a good brand name for your business. Indeed, your company’s identity and reputation will be linked to the e-reputation and perception that others form of it. It would be devastating to get a bad rep from a poor choice of name.
Use ORM to Position Yourself as Premium
Chinese people are not really focused on quality like their western peers. They are more focused on quantity. With the local B2B market in China, you don’t have a lot of premium brands available, which is giving the edge here. Foreign products or services are mostly linked with quality.
Professionals love foreign products and tend to have a better reputation by “default” when compared to locally made ones. In the Industry market, Chinese professionals, are looking for high-end machines and industrial equipment provided by western companies.
Press Relations: is it useful to generate leads in China?
Short answers: Yes, in China, professionals read specialized press online.
In general, press relations is an effective marketing strategy in China, but it has to be executed correctly. One thing to keep in mind when executing a press relations campaign in China is that it is essential to have a good understanding of the Chinese media landscape. The Chinese media landscape is complex and ever-changing, and the best option for companies is often to work with a PR agency that has a deep understanding of the local market and knows how to navigate it effectively.
You’ll need to tailor your pitch to the Chinese media, which often prefer positive stories about Chinese companies and products. Be aware of censorship laws in China, which can limit what you’re able to say in your pitch or press release.
Benefits of PR in China for B2B Companies:
- They allow you to inform professionals of the quality and reputability of your products and services. Press relations in China are one of the cheaper and more effective communication means to build a good image and gain awareness.
- Chinese online media are good links of information to promote your company in China mainland. The challenge of press relations is to be the best in this “media war” and to create a good relationship with journalists.
- Online Press Relase= Backlinks for your website. Backlinks are key to your sucees on Baidu.
Read more about PR in China with our PR Guide for China. In this guide, we inform you about the basics to do and not to do of doing PR in China (Media law and regulation). We also explain to you step by step how to build an efficient PR strategy that will positively impact your reputation in China.
B2B in China: How to Generate Leads in Practices
The main challenges of doing B2B in China are effectively attracting professionals using channels you are not familiar with and encouraging people to contact you. Fortunately, there are a few things that will help you do just that. Let’s have a look.
Optimize your landing pages
Landing pages are webpage where people arrive when they click on a sponsored link of a Pay Per Click campaign.
That’s why the design and the content of the landing pages are very important. They can directly influence your conversion rate. It’s better if the sponsored links lead to a specific page that includes the keywords they used.
Landing pages need to be smart, users have to be able to quickly find the information they want or to do the activities they want.
Click to Chat aka Live Chat
The Click to Chat is one of the most appreciated services for Chinese people. It allows consumers to communicate directly with an employee of the company and ask all the questions he can have. The chat is available on an instant messaging platform and users are waiting for a quick reply.
In terms of a customer relationship, it’s a big advantage for companies to develop a close relationship with their consumers. It’s really effective in B2B in China because when Chinese prospects can speak with an advisor they are less suspicious. However, it’s a kind of personal relation and Chinese consumers love the fact to be “VIP”.
Post Quality (Unique) Content Regularly
By creating high-quality content that speaks directly to your target audience, you can attract attention and generate leads from potential customers. And as long as you continue producing new and relevant content, you can keep those leads coming in steady
Your content can take many forms: articles, analyses, white books, pictures, videos; The goal is to show your expertise and professionalism in your fields while sharing interesting insights. It makes you look both generous and someone to look up to for experts knowledge.
Use the techniques discussed earlier in this post to make your content visible to as many as possible.
Build a Strong Online reputation through Chinese Forums and Q&A
Q&A and Forums are popular and widely used in China and they are the perfect platforms for B2B companies looking to embed themselves into the head of their target audience, may it be through official communication or undercover one. Here is a list of tips for using Chinese forums & Q&A:
- Do your research and identify forums that are relevant to your target audience.
- Read the forum’s rules and regulations carefully before posting anything.
- Be respectful when posting and avoid spamming or promoting your product or service in a way that is disruptive or offensive.
- Try to be helpful and contribute valuable content to the forum discussions. This will help build trust and credibility with other users.
- Create to types of accounts: Official and a network of regular users one that you’ll build to become sort of forums influenceurs.
- With your differents accounts create content and animate discussion surronding your company.
User-Generated Content on Chinese forums such as Baidu Zhidao and Zhihu is excellent in the sense that they serve several purposes:
- Credibility – you can easily demonstrated how you are an expert in your filed
- Visibility – this posts are indexed on Baidu and usualy appears on page 1.
Build a Relation of Trust through Customers testimonials
China is a country where consumers have been trained to question everything they see on social media and in advertisements. When consumers don’t trust brands, it’s hard for them to be impressed with anything and they see all sorts of problems everywhere. Thus, potential buyers need to be reassured again and again.
For example, you can be staked on the consumer experience and use it as a testimony for potential clients. That is to say, you need to put these positive comments on your website, commercial documents, or advertising. When it comes to B2B in China, professional testimonies are seen as security. It will encourage professionals to work with you.
Manage your Chinese Prospect: Basics knowledge about doing business in China
If you apply the tips previously mentioned in this post, you should be getting prospects. The next question you may be asking yourself is “how to deal with these Chinese prospects?”. Short answers: you gotta be professional and effective to convert them into clients. The best thing to do is to have your own team of commercials who will be in charge of signing them and later on managing the consumer relationship. If you wanna close a deal, you have to be reactive and reply promptly to your potential clients and reassure them as many times as necessary.
Two figures need to be analyses :
- How many leads you can generate.
- How many of the generated leads are quality leads.
In China, the e-reputation of a company is one of the main success factors in B2B. You have two main reasons:
- Chinese people are very suspicious on Internet. That’s why it’s necessary for B2B professionals to manage their e-reputation. If you are not careful with your e-reputation, you will fail.
- E-reputation is also really important in chinese society and especially in business relationships. It’s linked with the concept of “Mianzi”, always present in China. Chinese people need to feel that you respect them and you give them a particular place, they are really attentive with their image.
One rule in China: never make your Chinese interlocuter lose face especially if it’s in a business relationship because he will never forgive you and you can be sure everyone else in the industry will know not to work with you.
OUR B2B LEAD GENERATION SERVICES FOR CHINA
Our focus is to promote your business with your target closely in mind. After all my explanations, you understand that the key to selling online is to have a good image and to be reputable. We’ll use digital tools including Baidu SEO and SEM, E-PR, Media Buying (DSP) & Community Management. Then, we’ll manage the campaign and assure its optimization & success.
We are experienced on Baidu:
- High knowledges of the Baidu’s functions
- A ROI-focused agency
- We are effective
- We worked with more than 300 western brands
LEAD GENERATION PROFESSIONALS
We are professionals in lead generation. To be effective in your lead generation, you need first to develop a good e-reputation. Investing in online advertising and creating quality content will help you develop your e-reputation. Finally, measure results to improve your performance.
We are lead generation experienced and we apply it to our agency. We get an average of 350 leads per month (March 2018) by applying the method we offer to companies that use our services.
EXPERTS IN DIGITAL SOLUTIONS
- Website Creation, Development & Auditing.
- Baidu Search Engine Optimization.
- Social Media Marketing (WeChat & Weibo).
- Reputation Management & Community Development.
- Public Relations & Exposure in Chinese E-Media.
- Analytics, monthly reports & analysis from our team of experts.
An ROI-FOCUSED AGENCY
We are an ROI-focused agency. The solution is to attract and also re-target the most qualified traffic in order to increase conversion rates.
A FRENCH AND CHINESE TEAM
- We are a French and Chinese team, here to help you develop your business in China.
- We understand the Chinese professionals: their needs and habits.
- We also understand the foreign brands’ difficulties when they tried to enter the Chinese market.
- Each member of the team is specialized in a field. They have experience and they are effective.
AND IN BONUS
We are a friendly team, we offer the coffee if you book a meeting with our consultants to discuss your project in China.
I am pretty sure that now, you understand why a digital marketing strategy is important in B2B. B2B professionals are really connected in China. Your potential clients and partners are on the web and will be more connected tomorrow.
Their behaviors changed, now, they always try to find information before buying. Web marketing services are now, a success factor to succeed in the Chinese market. That’s why digital needs to be a huge part of your marketing strategy in China.
Usually, the B2B sector is not a sector where marketing is important and especially digital marketing. Many foreign businesses still think that a presence online is not so important. They are wrong. In China, it’s totally different. Without digital marketing, it’s impossible to survive in the Chinese market.
OUR EXPERIENCE, OUR CASE STUDIES
YarnMaster is a big textile french group. They produce electronic products for industrial textile machines which export.
A big part of its turnover is from exportation. They wanted to introduce their company to the Chinese market. They already had some factories to made their products in China and wanted to find suppliers and potential buyers for their services.
Their main goal: became the leader in the textile sector in China.
GMA helped YarnMaster to become well know in China and highlight its expertise in the technology field toward Chinese industrials thanks to their digital marketing actions :
- Optimization of the website.
- Quality communication contents : pictures, videos…
- SEO campaigns with key words in mandarin and in english.
- Press relations and specialized press..
RESULTS AFTER A FEW MONTHS
- 1 lead each week.
- YarnMaster was ranking on the first page of search engines thanks to good key words.
- YarnMaster became the foreign leader of the textile industry in China.
Chemistry-World is a large internationally renowned chemical French group. Perfectly mastering its home market and the countries abroad where it operates, Chemistry-World is interested in a country that has very specific chemical needs: China. For this country, Chemistry-World has launched a new product line.
However, Chemistry-World doesn’t know how to become popular in the main production regions of China, which are not only found in the most important cities of China but also in the second and third-tier cities and areas industrial isolated.
The company is also wondering how to identify highly targeted contacts and thus attract Chinese buyers.
The results after only a few months of action:
- 68% of visitors of the website are involved in the field.
- 42% of visitors want to know more about Chemistry-World.
- The sales department records many calls and is contacted by many potential customers.
- 25% of visitors improve the product description sheets on the site with comments.
- The SEM campaign attracted more than 4,560 visitors in just 3 months.
- In 3 months, 1,569,660 people saw Chemistry-World on Internet thanks to the SEO and SEM campaign.
- 6 very interesting leads on the first three months.
GET IN TOUCH
You can now understand that digital in B2B has become one of the most important criteria for reaching Chinese professionals.
Implementing a digital marketing strategy is essential. Be present on the web and improve your image and your e-reputation to generate leads.
Our agency can assist you in the development of your strategy in China. We are not at our first B2B project, our experience can help you.
B2B in China – FAQ
- What is the traditonnal way of doing B2B in China?
The majority of Chinese businesses are still run on a traditional B2B model, where you can go through cold calls or exhibitions. However, there is another major way to do business in China: guanxi – having the right connections and knowing people who drink lots of Baijiu
- How do you generate leads in China?
There are a few ways to generate leads in China. One way is to use digital marketing methods such as search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, and paid advertising. Another way is to use more traditional methods such as telemarketing, and event marketing. Whichever method you choose, it’s important to tailor your approach to the Chinese market. For example, SEO and social media marketing tend to be more popular in China than paid advertising. And direct mail and event marketing are more popular than telemarketing.
- Is Influencers marketing a good strategy for B2B Lead Generation in China?
Internet is a vector of influence. Influencers are people with huge media exposure. They can influence the consumer’s behaviors and make them love your company. The most popular people are named KOL – Key Opinion Leaders. They are really popular because they have a big number of fans but also because of their expertise in a specific field.
Kols are really influential on blogs and social media platforms. Opinions, comments, and criticisms of these influencers are now, more effective than companies’ advertisements. That’s why companies have to be visible on the web and create quality content with relevant and interesting information to convince their target. They also need to control their e-reputation and brand image on the internet