China’s B2B market is huge — and it’s growing by 30 percent every single year.
Experts predict its value will reach a jaw-dropping $350bn by 2024, driven by the proliferation of companies embracing digital technologies and the latest marketing trends to drive growth.
But it’s not just China-based companies that are finding success in its thriving B2B market.
It’s a fantastic time for international brands to expand into China and build a loyal audience of business clients, though it’s obviously an incredibly competitive field for companies of all sizes.
This high competition can make finding B2B success in China a daunting prospect, even if you’re familiar with marketing to demographics within your own or neighboring countries. You need to identify opportunities, recognize your target audience, and formulate an effective B2B digital marketing in China strategy to generate more leads that translate into valuable sales.
Sounds challenging, right?
But wait — there’s good news! Multiple cutting-edge B2B marketing platforms are available to help make this process easier and more accessible to your company.
In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into:
- The top platforms for B2B you need to try
- The top challenges hindering B2B digital marketing in China
- What makes a successful strategy
By the time you reach the end, you’ll be better equipped to reach your ideal B2B clients in this burgeoning marketplace.
Top platforms for B2B businesses in China
Join us as we explore the top three B2B platforms in China:
WeChat is the biggest social network and online messaging platform in China.
While it offers B2C brands an invaluable marketing channel with an audience spanning diverse demographics, WeChat is also one of the most powerful platforms for B2B social media in China. You can leverage WeChat to:
- Identify leads
- Build brand awareness
- Manage your relationships with existing or potential clients
Believe it or not, WeChat has more than 1bn active monthly users, placing it behind the enormous Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp platforms in the global league of messaging apps.
WeChat is an incredibly varied platform providing marketers with some terrific opportunities to boost their visibility
It actually offers the flexibility to connect to more than 80,000 additional apps, enabling users to:
- Shop online
- Pay their bills
- Make video calls, and more!
This provides marketers with a valuable chance to gather consumer insights crucial to building accurate buyer or user personas and, ultimately, targeting them with maximized relevance.
Various features help WeChat to stand out from other social channels, including the Shake function. This is a simple (superficially, at least) addition that allows companies to interact with potential shoppers close to their brick-and-mortar location via smartphone.
Businesses can also take advantage of banner ads to promote their products, services, or just build brand awareness. These will be displayed at the bottom of articles published on official accounts across WeChat, and can be configured to target prospects based on their location, gender, and age. Multiple types of banner ads are available.
WeChat Moments is another strong feature companies can use for personalized marketing campaigns. These are ads that appear in the WeChat Moments area, and they can be set up to target WeChat users based on their:
- Specific interests
- Marital status
WeChat Moments ads include your company logo, a concise description of your business, and multiple images or video.
But it’s a limited-time promotion: the ad will disappear after just six hours if no users interact with it. This helps you recognize which ads totally fail to engage your target audience or segments, contributing to more effective ads in the future.
Baidu is another top platform for B2B marketing in China. It currently has more than 220m daily active users, and is China’s biggest search engine. Impressive, no?
In addition, Baidu is known for having a better algorithm for interpreting Chinese text more effectively than alternative search engines can, and it offers access to the world’s biggest index of Chinese web pages.
That means the number of Chinese businesses using Baidu to search for products and services — your products and services — will be huge.
Baidu also operates a social network, a maps system, and more, though the search engine is Baidu’s primary purpose. Its layout is similar to Google’s, so it should be more accessible to international businesses looking to understand the search experience within China.
However, search results typically include more paid ads than on Google, which requires users to scroll down if they’re looking for organic results. This helps to ensure paid ads have more traction, and creates more opportunities for B2B marketers utilizing paid advertising. The diversity of services Baidu operates helps you tailor your marketing content to suit different user needs.
You can also use Baidu Index, which features search-volume insights related to specific keywords. Just submit any term you want to search for, and bam! Baidu Index will hit you with all the details on search trends, historical data, and more key factors you could want when building a campaign.
Toutiao (“Today’s Headlines”) is a leading news app in China, with more than 272m daily active users.
This is a content-aggregation and distribution app, using state-of-the-art machine learning techniques to present only the most relevant content to users.
This app’s AI algorithms analyze users’ reading activities and habits to generate a custom feed including only the type of media that falls within their personal range of interests. This may encompass videos, ads, and articles. The aim is to achieve maximum engagement by presenting users with material that they’re proven to read and watch with the highest degree of accuracy.
This means you can use Toutiao for B2B China marketing to reach buyers with a genuine interest in your area.
Every single view that your content receives on this app is highly targeted, and users have the option to share pieces they like with others. This can help your content to reach a wider audience with no direct input required.
The variety of content formats available on Toutiao offers ample opportunity to create diverse media that boosts engagement. For example, clicking the Short Videos button will present users with one brief video after another, typically those of a humorous nature. Where appropriate, you could reach new prospects or reinforce existing buyers’ awareness through branded lighthearted videos.
Remember: there are other B2B platforms in China available, but these are the top options to consider. Every B2B business has to explore these three platforms if they’re aiming to generate more leads and grow their China client base.
Examples of international B2B brands getting digital marketing in China right
Now, let’s look at two key examples of how international brands do B2B China digital marketing for inspiration.
The Siemens Group operates several subsidiaries in China, and it runs various accounts for different target groups, including Siemens Energy, Siemens Home Appliances, plus several others. Most of these are focused on B2B.
With so many different facets to support, Siemens has to appeal to diverse yet specific audience segments.
To help them do this, Siemens utilizes Weibo: a Chinese microblogging site, similar to Twitter only with a tighter focus on multimedia functionality.
Additionally, B2B brands can use Weibo to engage users with various forms of content, specifically on Sina Weibo, a version aimed at a more professional, high-end user base.
Siemens leverages Weibo to share such highly-targeted material as posts on its medical imaging technology. This is obviously a complex topic, but Siemens created an easy-to-read infographic about the technology’s different functions.
As visual content, the infographic:
- Helped to establish Siemens as a reliable source of in-depth information
- Builds brand awareness
- Serves as a fantastic introduction to the products for buyers in that market
Phillips Healthcare is also taking advantage of B2B China marketing opportunities, most notably through its WeChat account. It uses this platform for:
- Generating leads
- Brand reinforcement
- Reaching new prospects
- Boosting engagement among existing clients
Users following Phillips Healthcare’s account can access a range of practical information presented in an engaging, easy-to-digest format.
For example, content includes:
- Instructions and tips for a range of Phillips Healthcare products
- Educational material that demonstrates the brand’s thought leadership
Besides this, Phillips Healthcare also uses video and live streaming to capture users’ interest. However, users must register to access its wealth of content: company, department, role, phone number, etc. are required.
This gated content supplies Phillips Healthcare with valuable new leads, and the material’s high standard helps to justify this restricted system.
Top challenges of B2B marketing in China
China presents B2B brands with some tricky B2B marketing challenges, including:
- Lack of knowledge of how China’s digital channels work, which can make penetrating the market and reaching target audiences harder than you might expect.
- A failure to understand local markets in areas of China that you’re hoping to increase engagement and drive sales — each region has its own characteristics to be aware of.
- Struggling to choose the right location in which to establish your company, where there’s a viable demand for your products or services.
- A lack of awareness of regulations or laws imposed by China that may affect how you manufacture, market, and distribute your goods or services locally.
Failing to understand and trying to overcome these challenges can be a barrier to entering (or strengthening your presence in) the China market. Proper research is critical.
That’s why, so many businesses trust a B2B marketing agency in China to help them get off to the right start.
What makes a successful B2B marketing strategy in China?
Successful B2B China marketing strategies typically include the following ingredients:
1. Building brand awareness in China
This is crucial for any B2B brand.
Sure, you might already be well-known internationally — but your target audience in China might have no clue who or what you are.
Focus on building a presence across relevant channels to boost your visibility. You’ll need a Chinese-language website and social media presence to make this work.
2. Finding a local partner for advertising
Effective marketing in China demands an approach that’s different from even the most successful examples in the West.
Finding the right local partner to advertise to your target audience can make a huge difference to your marketing’s performance. AdChina.io provides you with a cutting-edge, user-friendly tool and the hands-on B2B marketing expertise expected of the best agencies.
3. Adapt your strategy to suit China
You can’t rush in with the assumption that your Western marketing strategy will help to propel you to the top of the local market. You need to think about which cities you’re going to target based on your industry.
- The industrial orientation in Shanghai includes chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electronic apparatus, financial, and petrochemicals.
- Beijing, though, is ripe for IT, communications, and electronics.
Your pricing must be competitive with other local B2B brands too. Be sure to keep local rates in mind to avoid pricing yourself out of the market.
4. Use analytics to measure the effectiveness
Analytics provide you with valuable insights into your website’s current visitors and highlight areas in which improvements need to be made.
It’s vital to track your campaign’s progress to ensure consistent growth, from the moment you enter the China market. That’s why, AdChina.io’s dashboard makes accessing your reporting quick and simple — so you’ll always know what to try next.
Ready to launch your next B2B marketing campaign in China?
We know that launching a new campaign or upgrading your current efforts, is a challenge for any business.
But the rewards are there if you can demonstrate why your company is the only choice local businesses need.
AdChina.io is a B2B marketing agency in China dedicated to helping brands succeed in this fascinating, challenging market. You can advertise on China’s leading media channels all from a single dashboard. Create the ideal campaign to maximize your visibility and expand your reach.
What can we do for your B2B marketing in China? Try AdChina.io for free to find out!