When you think about B2B marketing, your mind might go straight to those offline methods that have been in place for many years, such as in-person connections made at trade shows and sales team relationships. Nowadays things are a little bit different though, especially in China, the world’s most digitalized country where people are super connected (China had about 883 million Internet users in 2019). Over the past 10 years, the digital landscape has played a significant role in changing Chinese society, altering both the way people live and how business is done. Plus, as China’s middle class is projected to boom more than 500 million by 2025, many foreign companies are seizing the opportunity to do business with China. There are two main steps to follow in order to be successful in this country. The first one is to understand consumers unique multi-channel buying behaviors, on top of their different business culture, norms and values, and the second one is to carry out a customized digital marketing strategy especially in the B2B sector.
New Chinese B2B buyers
The focus is now on digital strategies: the majority of B2B purchase decisions are now made online. On the internet it is easier for buyers to search, identify, compare quality suppliers and get the best deal, but also review and comment, because Chinese internet users are very used to do so. The buying decisions are often made even prior to engaging with the suppliers’ company or sales representative.
According to statistics, almost 70% of B2B customers prefer to research independently online, identify the companies they would like to engage with and control the whole process without the help of a salesperson. Only 12.4% of buyers prefer to meet with a sales representative in person or over the phone. Moreover, the new Chinese B2B buyers expect a B2C-like shopping experience. Personalization and omnichannel capability are the top requirements of B2B sellers in China. As Chinese B2B buyers are very digital savvy and they spend more time learning and buying online, B2B suppliers must go digital to deliver a more customized shopping experience and meet buyers’ high expectations.
New ways of doing business in China
In China, half of all B2B buyers today are more and more sensitive to suppliers’ online presence. The main channels to establish a trustworthy digital presence in this sector are either building a Chinese website or having a WeChat account.
What are the requirements for a quality and clear website adapted for Chinese clients?
– Use a “.cn” domain name authorized by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to make the website accessible to everyone in the country.
– Host the website in mainland China or in Hong Kong in order to improve its speed and stability and easily reach Chinese customers.
– Show commitment to the target market by creating relevant contents in Chinese language to attract new customers and stay connected with the current ones.
– For any B2B company with a Chinese website, optimization for Baidu is essential. With more than 70% of market share, Baidu is the top Chinese search engine. In other words, it is to China what Google is to the rest of the world. Baidu search algorithms influence the ranking of a website, giving more visibility to sites in simplified Chinese. This why it can act as a very powerful tool for B2B marketing.
– With 98% of Chinese Internet users accessing the net by mobile devices, it’s quite essential to build a website that is responsive and mobile-friendly.
How to use WeChat for B2B marketing?
If in the West we are used to manage corporate communications via email, in China this happens through WeChat. In B2B, the “super app” by Tencent is used to share contacts, effectively acting as a digital business card, but also to keep in contact with prospects and provide information. In this respect, opening a WeChat Official Account of the company is a good touchpoint for the B2B sector: it allows to spread official information of the company and to establish brand identity in an effective way.
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