How Law Businesses Can Grow in the Lucrative Chinese Market
The Chinese market has been developing & opening up for a wealth of different sectors. As Xi Jinping commits to opening China to mutually beneficial foreign transactions there are growing opportunities for savvy law firms to establish themselves as key players in International & Local Law in an era outbound Chinese Emigration & Mainland focused Global Business Development. The time for an intelligent digital strategy is now.
In this article I’ll draw on a case study example of how carving your niche as a legal expert in your field for Chinese citizens abroad can pay huge dividends.
Marketing a Law Firm in China comes down to developing:
- A Chinese Language Infrastructure for Services
- A Good Reputation Online & Offline
- Developing a Targeted Strategy on Chinese Digital Platforms
- Developing the Right Tools to Communicate with Prospects
The Chinese Eco-System is Different
This is an evident but important point to make. The ‘Chinese Great Firewall’ separates the whole ecosystem in China from the rest of the world, not just in terms of the legal system, but also how people fundamentally receive, process & engage with information.
This affects what platforms you utilize, how you communicate and how you differentiate your services in a competitive market like in China.
Branding Your Firm as Local, Native Experts
The Chinese, when it comes to law services abroad, are looking for the ‘Local Expert’ in a particular field. With the unique differences of Chinese Law in mind, there is a strong necessity to connect with a native expert. But how do prospects with a need find you?
An even more important question perhaps is, how do you create that need?
How Can Chinese Customers Find You?
The Answer in China is Digital. As of the third quarter of 2019, there are over 883 million online users spending a daily average of 5.50 hours online, and 2.12 hours on social media in China.
China is a fundamentally digitally centric nation. You realize this very quickly when living here just by noticing how people interact with mobile & smartphone technology. As of 2020, 1.6 billion mobile phone subscriptions have been registered in China.
The aforementioned Great Firewall has allowed Chinese web platforms to grow and cater to this unique ecosystem. Now then you must embrace carefully selected localized platforms with the most effective strategy in mind.
A good reputation is essential for legal practices
When entering the market large global players are often surprised by the ‘leveling effect’ of this market. In essence, to be established, you need to be highly relevant, active and visible by ranking on Mandarin Keywords across a range of platforms.
This is how you begin to drive the most qualified traffic, generate serious prospects and ultimately build a reputation in this corner of the Chinese web, large firms with prestigious reputations also need to invest in this in China.
Reputation in China is hard-earned, it’s never simply inherited by a strong global presence elsewhere.
A Case Study Example of Foreign Law Firm in China
Ronald Serry Australian Properties as Legal Experts in Real Estate Law & Contract assessment sought to grow their small firm aggressively in the Chinese market.
They provide consultation services in:
- Australian Property Law
- Contract Assessment
- Off-the-plan Purchasing
- Legal Infrastructure for Chinese Buyers in Australia
Ronald Serry is a successful case because it shows how a new expert can enter the market and build strong collaborations with major players such as Anjuke (a major Real Estate platform), drive 80+ leads per month and achieve major news publications. Far more exposure for example than a dominant player such as Century 21.
I’ll reference this project to demonstrate the core elements of the strategy.
Ronald Serry Landing Page, The Text Clearer Explains the Legal Services Offered and a live chat tool for engaging prospects browsing the site.
Core Strategies to Grow Your Law Firm in China
Your Chinese website & Baidu Visibility (China’s Google): essential for your law business
Entering the Chinese law market, you have to create your Chinese website. A good Chinese website can not only bring your traffic (via Baidu SEO) but also promote your brand credibility, especially when you are in the law sector, where the trust and confidence from prospects are extremely important.
Baidu is the largest search engine in China, with more than 70% of the total Chinese market share. Baidu is also a key portal to Chinese in need of legal services. The bedrock of Baidu (as with any search engine) is Keywords.
Targeting the most effective keywords is a vital element as you have informed prospects searching for relevant information on legal practice by sector or specific terminology/nation by nation law proponents. Well-chosen keywords can help you get a good ranking so that your target audience can find you.
Your Chinese Website has to appear alongside the most relevant set of keywords. How do you ascertain relevancy? Good Question.
Key Word Selection about law business in China
- Firstly you need to quantify the search numbers per month.
- Your existing keywords in English need to be adapted to Simplified Mandarin Character Sets, unlike on Google, the Chinese will typically search with longer more precise terminology.
- Then you need to be practical, what can you realistically rank on with your firms budget? Consider the time to rank, the number of keywords, and maintaining that position.
Content is King & Backlinks are Vital for your law business
A good SEO agency will have a portfolio of highly ranked Chinese sites with weighting to optimize your site. They also have strong copywriters who can produce a lot of content to support this site, increase ranking and also create more backlinks.
First page ranking for Australian Real Estate Keyword Search, Linking Legal Services with Sector-Specific Searches is a Core Strategy.
Web Development to Support Search Engine Visibility
This is an often-overlooked point. The Website itself needs to be optimized for the correct set of Mandarin Characters.
Back-End vs Front-End Optimization is a clear distinction that needs to be made.
Front-end refers to the previous strategies in link building and while the back-end is an on-site audit that optimizes the site (think creating a clear road map) in terms of indexing, referencing, titles, keywords and descriptions.
A Quality Chinese site for a legal practice should be:
- Static (faster loading times)
- 8-10 Pages (optimal for SEO)
- Avoid Video Content on Landing Page (Slower)
- Featuring a clear call to action landing page with a prospect capture form
- Involve a live chat function for engaging prospects
Developing a lead capture form for Prospects to Leave Details for a Call Back.
What’s unique is that it incorporates WeChat QR codes for users to scan through to customer services.
Exposure for Your Law Firm in Targeted Media Sources
PR & Media Exposure is a vital element for any firm in China. You need to be newsworthy, what is your value proposition and how do you stand out from the competition?
A unique feature of this digital environment (particularly when it comes to niche areas) is the reliance and emphasis placed on news content.
Indeed, in China, there are no true ‘independent media’ in any form, therefore news content does shape and link closely with the agenda.
Content must focus on:
- Raising Awareness
- Branding & Building Your Reputation
- Outlining Key Services
We can frequently achieve 40,000 reads on a niche, specialist article. This is infinitely better than 500,000 if they are not your target audience.
How are you featured? On Which Platforms? What Read Levels Does Your Content Achieve?
Major publication sources include Baidu, Sohu, Tencent, Sina, 168, or others, all depending on your targets and your services.
There are a number of key factors to consider:
- Platform selection (lower exposure to a more qualified audience is the goal)
- How is content formatted for each specific platform?
- In what way do you best relay your message?
- How is PR optimized outside of Web Exposure?
A quality agency needs to provide a team of great bi-lingual copywriters, a strong publication list and have access to journalistic portals for content sharing.
Exposure for Ronald Serry, Stats & Data is Necessary to Build Trust
Bespoke Legal Services Offered to Chinese Buyers – As featured on Sohu.com
Up-Ranking of Publications & On-Site Content Via Forums
The next step is to take PR content and share it in the smartest way. The publication is great, then you leverage this in targeted forums.
Users will find content on your legal practice in the following ways:
- Baidu Search (News Platforms are typically highly ranked)
- On News Content Aggregators such as Tencent, Sohu, etc
- Whilst browsing news sites directly
- Finally, via forums for group chats & networking
Forums are deemed to be ‘clunky’ and yesterday’s news in the West, but they still have an important function here.
Articles need to be re-posted in targeted forum threads to generate conversation alongside links and other comments created by users.
This is a complex market, you need to adapt and build an effective strategy to facilitate real growth, real growth in terms of qualified prospects and a tangible reputation building.
With more than 7 years of marketing experience, we are passionate advocates of this approach. Please contact us for more information and to chat about your project.