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  • Writer's pictureLeaf Digital

B2B Marketing in China

Updated: 3 days ago

The past few years have seen a wave of transformative changes in the way businesses leverage digitalization and online services. The global pandemic, in particular, acted as a powerful catalyst, propelling foreign businesses into a new era where online meetings, cloud computing, and the potential integration of AI have become intrinsic to our daily work lives. This profound shift has unlocked a world of possibilities, especially for foreign B2B companies seeking to expand their presence and thrive in the Chinese market. Foreign B2B companies can use the unique Chinese online eco-system to grow and sustain their businesses in China. In this article we will be looking at topics such as creating visibility towards potential Chinese customers, Lead generation and Cross channel data management. To provide real-world context and inspiration, we will anchor our discussions in the experiences of a Danish design company that has successfully navigated this dynamic landscape: VOLA.

Branding on different platforms - maintaining the VOLA identity As a design brand with a very distinct product portfolio and a strong heritage, it is necessary for VOLA to be present on social media platforms with a tight visual identity in line with HQ guidelines. Main target groups are B2B. Leaf Digital has provided VOLA with a realm of different services, all helping VOLA stand out on the Chinese B2B market, whilst staying true with the VOLA identity.

4 phone screens presenting a VOLA case study
Text box with 4 bullet points

In the images provided above, you'll find VOLA's presence across various Chinese social media platforms. It's easy to spot the unmistakable VOLA brand, characterized by its elegant and minimalist design. VOLA remains consistent with its visual identity, which not only reinforces its recognition but also resonates with the Chinese B2B customer base. Additionally, VOLA effectively harnesses the unique advantages of each platform, customizing their content to suit the preferred formats of these platforms.

Brand awareness and support for offline sales

An integrated digital branding and marketing platform across channels is a strong tool to build up brand awareness in the right segments as well as support offline sales. Here you can see examples of how VOLA have raised their brand awareness on the different platforms:

VOLA case study

1. In depth long form content on WeChat – here an interview with a designer

On WeChat, VOLA invests in creating comprehensive long-form content, such as interviews with designers. This strategy allows them to delve deeply into various aspects of their products, design philosophy, and the creative minds behind them. WeChat's platform provides the ideal space for such in-depth content, fostering a deeper connection between VOLA and its audience by delivering engaging and informative narratives.

2. Branding video on Weibo racking up 255.000 views

VOLA strategically utilizes Weibo to showcase branding videos, achieving remarkable success with one video amassing an impressive 255,000 views. This achievement demonstrates the brand's ability to capture the attention of a wide audience on the platform.

3. Weibo post on the new VOLA showroom in Shanghai

By showcasing their physical presence in Shanghai, VOLA reinforces its commitment to the local market and highlights its dedication to providing a tangible, immersive experience for customers.

4. Content example from Xiaohongshu – one of the most popular platforms for design aficionados

In this context, VOLA is leveraging Xiaohongshu's reach to engage with an audience passionate about design and aesthetics. By sharing content on Xiaohongshu, VOLA aims to connect with design aficionados, offering them valuable insights and inspiration while reinforcing its brand presence in a community that values thoughtful and innovative design.

Lead generation

Paid ads, owned domains and visibility and PR

In the realm of B2B marketing in China, lead generation and driving relevant traffic are paramount. However, achieving this can be quite different from Western markets, with paid ads and PR playing a crucial role due to the difficulty of attaining organic traffic. Notably, on Baidu, a larger share of search results consists of ads compared to Google. Moreover, WeChat's closed-loop ecosystem makes follower growth increasingly dependent on paid ads or offline activation. Consistently sharing company news on major news channels is also vital, as it enhances visibility and fosters trust.

Visibility and PR: Companies must prioritize their presence on major Chinese knowledge and news platforms. This strategy serves to drive traffic to official social media accounts and the Chinese website, maximizing visibility. It builds trust, generates leads, and secures hard-to-obtain traffic. Additionally, press releases on major news outlets are prioritized by the Baidu search algorithm. Moreover, having a presence on as many platforms as possible is essential, while obtaining a Baidu Baike (Chinese Wikipedia) page is a necessity. Baidu Baike is an integral component of any serious online B2B effort in China, integrated into the Baidu search engine and boasting more than 300 million monthly active users.

Trade Fairs and Exhibitions: In the Chinese B2B landscape, trade fairs and exhibitions hold significant importance. WeChat can be a valuable tool to maximize the impact of your exhibition investment by sharing promotional material on WeChat through QR codes instead of bulky paper materials, and increasing sales conversion by using trackable QR codes to index new followers from specific trade fairs.

B2B Sales Platforms: Digital B2B platforms primarily target Chinese SMEs with limited online purchasing capabilities, thus opening up new and promising markets. They provide an avenue for sharing company news, products, and capabilities, similar in concept to B2C vertical e-commerce platforms. Suppliers can establish flagship stores and promote them through CPC bidding. Additionally, the Baidu Ai Caigou platform, directly integrated into the Baidu search engine, links to product pages on Ai Caigou, enhancing the online B2B sales experience. Incorporating online B2B sales platforms offer direct access for customers to purchase from the company's WeChat Official Account, providing a seamless transaction experience.

Paid ads: Paid ads on Xiaohongshu and Douyin mainly serves branding goals, and can lead to more likes and followers and most importantly more visibility, while Baidu and WeChat ads serves both branding and functionality goals. Baidu and WeChat paid ads can lead to website visits, official account followers, drive leads through B2B platforms and traffic to Mini Programs as well as branding and visibility.

WeChat paid ads: WeChat Ads target industry professionals through interest-based targeting, geo-targeting and interests etc. Ads should continuously be optimized on targeting/daily budget/post to lower follower cost and increase engagements. Given WeChat's closed-loop social network structure, paid ads play a vital role in achieving scale and expanding brand visibility. With its highly segmented targeting options, WeChat enables precise outreach to professionals in specific industries and geographic regions, making it a potent sales tool, particularly when integrated with B2B sales platforms or other conversion channels.

Expected quarterly performance of B2B paid ads campaign with a budget between 30.60.000 rmb

Cross channel data management

Segmentation: With a social CRM system, it is possible to create detailed user profiles and target followers with articles based on their recent behavior. This is not a comprehensive list of parameters we can use to create follower profiles. This data is invaluable as it can help profiling customers for segmented messaging, paid advertising, future product development, etc.

Additionally, ERP integration offers a multitude of advantages. Firstly, it provides a comprehensive view of customers by integrating ERP and CRM systems, facilitating end-to-end visibility of business processes and enhancing customer relationships. Furthermore, this integration improves efficiency through workflow automation, eliminating data duplication and the associated risks. It also fosters employee collaboration across departments, ensuring everyone is aligned, and expedites sales approvals by providing real-time data access to sales and operations teams.

Social CRM and ERP in relation to each other

As we have learned in this article, the online landscape in China presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities, distinct from what we encounter in the West. It is crucial to approach your online endeavors with a well-thought-out and holistic strategy that leverages the strengths of different platforms. Engaging your sales team on the ground in China is equally vital, as their insights can be invaluable in navigating this complex market. Paid advertising and PR are indispensable tools in a crowded Chinese marketplace, offering the megaphone needed to stand out amidst the competition. It's imperative to avoid "talking into the void" by crafting content that resonates with your target audience. Online B2B sales platforms provide a valuable means to reach Chinese SMEs and integrate seamlessly into WeChat, giving your brand a distinct sales edge. Taking your efforts to the next level involves connecting your social CRM to your ERP system, ensuring the seamless sharing of valuable information across your marketing and sales efforts. This synergy empowers your business to excel in the dynamic and evolving landscape of B2B marketing in China.

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