With the effects of the pandemic, there has been a flood of interest in online education all over the world. After an exponential growth from 2013 to 2017, the market reached its maturity in 2018, but with COVID 19, we are seeing a revival. So, in order to make you aware of the opportunities that the online education sector is offering to foreign companies in China, we are going to talk about:
- what are the opportunities in China for online education providers;
- how is the Chinese education system;
- how is the Chinese online education market;
- how you can promote your online school in China.
China is a land of opportunity for Online Education Schools
Since the government has planned to transform China into a more service-based economy, the investment, but also the engagement, of it in the educational sector is becoming more and more relevant. In 2020, with the arrival of the pandemic, the sector doesn’t sustain any damages, on the contrary, has seen a surge in online education:
- 5-30 times more downloads of tutoring apps in 2020,
- 20 million new users of online training apps in the second half of February.
In addition, we must stress that only 10% of the middle-class (400 million citizens) can afford to send children abroad to prestigious schools, they are therefore willing to invest in international online education. “International” because the Chinese still think that this word is synonym with quality.
A key factor foreign companies should emphasize in their marketing campaign.
The Chinese Education System
The Chinese education system focuses most of its resources on Math. According to the field of science, the Chinese routine is: from Year 1 to Year 6, students study Maths, once entered secondary schools have to study Biology in Year 7, Physics in Year 8, and finally Chemistry in Year 9. Basic skills of Computer Science are taught from Year 7 to 9.
Along with scientific subjects, English, History, Moral Character, History, and Geography are taught.
In Years 11 and 12, students can choose to study arts or sciences.
Those who choose the science area must learn Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Maths, but also Chinese and English. Whereas those who choose the art pole must learn Arts, Politics, Geography, History, Chinese, English, but also Math.
The superior High School prepares the students for the much-feared “Gaokao”, a very stressful exam that students need to pass with a higher vote to have access to the top Colleges.
Generally speaking, the Chinese educational system is considered a pretty routine way to teach and not so efficient according to many parents. They, in fact, invest a lot of money in extracurricular courses and after schools’ private lessons.
Key factors a company should know about Chinese demand for online education
The most demanded online courses in China are Native English Tutoring and Scientific subjects, especially Maths. Also, there has been a surge in the K12 educational sector, which in the last 6 years has doubled its market share in China. A trend most likely caused by the excessive amount of homework assigned in elementary and middle school.
According to the target, 2nd and 3rd tier cities offer huge potential for growth, while the market of 1st tier cities is almost saturated. Then, China is becoming a very competitive landscape where players need to invest in innovation and high-end technology to stand out and overcome numerous competitors.
The top players in the Chinese online education market
During the pandemic, searches for online education on Baidu boosted, especially in late January to early February 2020. Also, the searches on the Apple Store followed the same trend, for online applications like Yuanfudao, Zuoyebang, and Xue’ersi. Yuanfudao in particular.
However, all these platforms seem to not invest a lot in innovation and creativity since their offer is still too homogeneous, even in the Branding. Just think that the most increased promoting tool is word-of-mouth.
In addition, the most popular online educational platforms still offer educational services for middle school or high school students, rather than advanced courses in sciences education.
Other main players of the online education sector in China
Jioayu.taobao.com, CCtalk, and Tencent Classroom are important in the Chinese education eco-system as they own a competitive advantage. These platforms, in fact, take advantage of the role of middlemen, specifically, partnering with educational institutions or individual teachers to deliver content to end-users.
Thanks to their parent company, these platforms can leverage online traffic to cover all usage scenarios.
How to promote your Online Education School in China?
Your online education school must be readily accessible to Chinese
The first thing a foreign entity should consider is to be present in online Chinese digital platforms as well as to offer a Chinese online payment service.
Chinese trust the platform well-visible in their country and also want to pay using their currency, the RMB, so a company should make possible the payment in the most used payment apps, which are Alipay and WeChat.
Also, your company must provide high-quality and be present on a website with a domestic server because Chinese search engines prioritize websites hosted in China.
By the way, let’s see in detail what platforms are most interesting for promoting your school in China.
- Reach visibility through an effective SEO strategy on Baidu
Baidu occupies the biggest share of the search engine market, which is 70%. And Chinese students look for online courses on it.
Then, to be visible on Baidu, your strategy should include backlinks, effective keywords, quality content on your website, and, as we already said, a host in China.
- Paying for SEA & SEM
Search Engines Advertising & Search Engines Marketing such as banners or PPC (pay per click) are fundamental to gain visibility on Baidu. A Chinese customer needs to find your Chinese website to consider your brand real and trustable.
The SEM on Baidu includes:
- Baidu Tuiguang: the Chinese equivalent of Google Adwords
- Baidu Brand Zone: an area that appears at the beginning of the SERP that shows information about the brand.
- Baidu Display Network Advertising: an advertising banner that appears on external sites and allows to earn money accordingly to the number of clicks on the ads.
- Be present on forums to gain Chinese faith
Chinese consults forums to find other users’ feedbacks and reviews about brands. In addition, results on many Q&A forums, like Zhihu, are highly ranked on Baidu results.
Chinese really rely on word of mouth and platforms like Zhihu are like communities where the word of mouth is the greatest advantage on which they are based.
- Nurture your audience through Social Media
WeChat can be seen as your Chinese newsletter. A place where you can inform clients about your activities and special offer. Wechat also relies on word of mouth, your clients can become your promoters if you are able to create engagement through gamification. Click here to see the incredible WeChat strategy of Pinduoduo.
Other important WeChat features are the payment service and the CRM, that if well-set can offer good customer service able to provide immediate automatic answers to your followers.
However, not only WeChat but also other Social Media platforms can help your company become popular in China. Click here to know more about this topic.
- Create content in Chinese
High-quality content is fundamental to attracting the attention of Chinese people. They want to know a lot about your school before buying your courses. Then, you should make use of good copywriters and content creators to reach attract your Chinese target.
Website, articles, blogs must be in Mandarin and customized to Chinese taste. You can damage your companies using wrong metaphors and images for promoting your school, so it cannot be possible limiting the production of content to translation.
To conclude on how to promote your online education services in China
Internet penetration all over the country gives a great opportunity for investment in not saturated areas like 2nd and 3rd cities, also the homogenization of the Chinese offer can be seen as an advantage your company can work on. If you want to know more about online education in China or you have some unanswered questions, feel free to contact us.
Our team can create the ideal digital strategy for your company in China. We can create and manage your online reputation, promoting your school, and help you to choose the platforms where your school can sell its services.