In recent years there has been a huge wave of Chinese investment into overseas property. With a population of 1.3 billion people in a country with a GDP growing by 7% year on year, the market of Chinese overseas property investors undeniably reflects huge potential.
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Investors are being motivated to buy with an attractive lifestyle, emigration investment and education opportunities at the forefront of their minds. This is coupled with a depreciating and unstable RMB & local economy. Investing in property abroad is becoming more attractive to wealthy Chinese citizens as house prices sky rocket in the cosmopolitan Chinese urban areas.
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US the most popular location for investment
The US is currently the most popular choice for property investment by the Chinese, who are now the biggest foreign investors of real estate within the country, currently responsible for 29% of the total foreign investment into American real estate.
The East and West coast tend to be the most sought after areas, with New York currently being top of the list. And it’s not just wealthy citizens buying up foreign property. Chinese companies are also beginning to invest in office spaces abroad as a way of company investment. Generally, there is a better return on investment in overseas property than investing in China so it’s easy to understand why forward thinking companies are jumping at the chance to invest.
Digital lead generation is the solution in China
In order to start really selling real estate to China, it is important to have a very thorough understanding of the purchasing habits of the Chinese when it comes to buying property. From what they are looking for, to the various marketing platforms used throughout China, having an in-depth knowledge of this is hugely beneficial when it comes helping you generate leads and achieve success in terms of conversion.
The key point to understand is that the answer in China is digital, with 900 million netizens and an internet penetration rate of 65% the whole investor eco-system is centered around online activity. This also differentiates the Chinese market from the rest of the world where offline affiliates play a larger role, in China less so.
Let’s take it as red. Digital lead generation is the solution.
Your Reputation May Not Extend to China
Large, reputable firms have often asserted to me that they do not need to market themselves in China, they are world renowned and the investors come to them. In China actually this logic does not hold up. The Chinese business and online landscape is actually very distinct and separated by what is termed the ‘Great Chinese Firewall’.
As established, digital is the solution but on the Chinese internet local platforms dominate. No Google, Baidu. No Facebook, rather WeChat. Chinese news sources such as Sohu and Ifang are where investors browse for information.
If you are not active and have not developed Chinese content you will not be visible on Mandarin Character Keyword Searches. This is a problem even for the largest firms in term of attracting seriously wealthy investors.
Chinese Investors & US real estate
Produce a good Chinese website and Quality Mandarin content
No matter how strong your reputation is back in the US, it is very important to remember that when your company enters China, you are essentially invisible. Any positive reviews you have are inaccessible due to the ‘great firewall’.
It is therefore essential to build a good Mandarin website in order to give potential investors a first look into your company and the type of property you have on offer. Producing well written content about your property which can be accessed from various Chinese platforms is also advised in helping build both your visibility and credibility. These should include back links to your website in order to increase web traffic and your ranking in the search results.
Remember, some overseas investors may not have the opportunity to come and view the property they are investing into in person. It is therefore crucial to have a wide range of images of the property on offer with very concise details so the investor can have a better idea of exactly what they are getting.
Videos are another great way of giving a very clear view of what you have on offer so generate high-quality walk through videos of properties. Videos, images and your website should all translate well to being accessed in mobile form, the majority of Chinese use their phones for all their web research. This type of content suggested above can be sent to investors directly via instant messaging on WeChat accounts.
Chinese site for Clients ‘Ronald Serry Australian Properties’
Become number one on Baidu (China’s Google)
After creating a strong Mandarin website you need to start increasing your visibility. Baidu (as the most popular search engine across China) is the most important place to start. Statistics show that if you do not appear on the first search page, you are likely to lose 65% of potential internet traffic.
It is highly advisable therefore to do search engine optimization in order to rank on the first page. Finding the right key words that will help you generate the most leads, optimizing your cost per click and bid positioning, and constantly updating your landing page whilst monitoring web traffic are all key in helping you achieve ‘first search page’ success. Ranking highly in the organic results on Baidu drives the highest quality leads.
Sites need to be built with Baidu searches in mind & audited in terms of Mandarin Characters. This Chinese site will be your ‘shop front’ in China.
PPC (pay per click) is also a good way to compliment on-going SEO for a real estate firm. This will rank you in the paid results and for real estate still offers an effective ROI. The combination of the two approaches works best with PPC more important initially when you first enter the market and SEO becoming more viable after a number of months activity.
Social media (WeChat) is integral
As the most popular social media app in China, it is advisable to become highly familiar with the inner workings of WeChat and the ways in which it can help market your property.
Setting up an official WeChat account will give your audience the feeling of having a more direct line of contact with you. It will also allow potential investors to stay constantly up to date with any updates regarding your company.
For example, any new properties you have on offer can be shared on your official account so your subscribers can see them instantly without going out of their way to access your website. Consider WeChat as a communication ‘Swiss Army Knife’ for building relationships with investors. Ranking highly on Baidu is the best way to generate qualified leads, WeChat is the first step towards conversion.
Almost every website in China is accessible by QR codes so include your website QR code on your official WeChat account to give potential investors a smooth transition from your WeChat to your website. This ‘lead funnel’ needs to developed to be as intuitive as possible for all parties.
Property & Investment Forums in China
There are a number of powerful sites such as Zhidao, Tieba, Tianya or Sohu that boast whole content threads devoted to Real Estate. Savy investors turn to these forums for conversation, discussion and advice. You need to develop positive user reviews of your services, investor to investor recommendations are very powerful. This can be created artificially at first but over time testimonials will be placed here and conversation animated around your firm.
The other key point is that these forums rank very highly. When investors are researching your company they will see the results in these forums, either positive or negative so it is important to manage such sentiment closely.
PR & E-Media Coverage
In China exposure in the e-media is essential. It goes along way to winning an investors trust. They search on platforms such as Sohu, Ifang or News168 for relevant information. Quality PR content is essential and must be tailored for the Chinese market to develop the reputation of your services, if you have no presence in the news a serious firm will struggle to gain traction.
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