Baidu PPC Advertising: 6 experts share their tips for success

Baidu SEM campaign success tips - blog post

Want to launch a Baidu PPC Advertising Campaign in China? 

Baidu is the country’s largest search engine, dominating the market with a huge 76.05% market share and over 195 million daily active users. 

But what strategies work best for Baidu? How do you make sure your first Baidu campaign as an international brand, is a success?

Well, to answer those questions and more, in this article, we spoke to five Baidu PPC experts to share their top tips and search engine secrets. 

Sound good?

Then let’s get started. 

Tip #1: Use special offers to improve CTR

Baidu SEM success - Offers

There’s no denying that consumers love a sale. But in China, special offers, sales, and discounts are essentially the norm. 

Stuart Cooke, Founder of Levity Digital is a big fan of using special offers to engage users:

“Special offers are encouraged, on Baidu. Whether you have a B2B or e-commerce brand, it’s important to include special offers/sales/discounts in your ads. This tactic proves to be particularly successful in terms of increased click-through rates (CTR).

Be creative and enticing with your copy and be sure to include key offer words such as sale, limited time, and special. Ads that don’t include these terms don’t usually get the same attention or ROI in Baidu. You’ll also get more characters to work with, too, which should help when creating your copy.”

Get started with some of these special offers:

  • Free delivery deals 
  • Buy one get one free offers 
  • Discount deals (20% off, for example)
  • Free add ons 

It’s also a great idea to frame your offers around seasonal events, like Singles Day or Chinese New Year. E-commerce sales skyrocket at times like these in China, as does search traffic for related keywords, such as ‘discounts’ and ‘offers’. 

Building campaigns in line with this, then, could seriously pay off. Just make sure you start your seasonal campaigns early to leave enough time to test and optimize. That way, you’ll be able to resolve any problems before it’s too late. 

Check out our comprehensive guide to sales success on Singles Day to learn more about seasonal campaigns, and how you can make them work for you. 

Tip #2: Implement a tiered strategy and budget

Baidu SEM success - Tiered strategy

Tailoring your marketing strategy to your audience’s wants and needs is 101 in the marketing world. But how does this work in China?

Yujie Tang a Paid Media Executive at The Hut Group suggests tailoring your strategy and budget to differently tiered cities: 

“China is a huge market with a pronounced difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2, 3, 4, and 5 cities. For an international company looking to succeed in their first Baidu SEM campaign, I highly recommend implementing a tiered strategy and budget in line with this. 

Higher-tiered cities usually elicit a higher CPC but tend to convert better as the audience is more affluent and open to overseas brands that are new to them, which isn’t the case in the lower-tiered cities. If we start with a constrained budget, higher-tiered cities would be the best geos to go after.

Use geo-targeting to lower your CPC in Baidu PPC Campaigns

Geo-targeting is not only an effective way to lower your CPC and see your ad performance across different cities in China, but it also provides insights on how to allocate ad budget for other marketing channels.”

For example, if your analysis shows that a particular city is very receptive to your brand and marketing, you can take that as a sure sign that investing in other forms of marketing targeted at that area is likely to perform well. 

From this angle then, Baidu SEM is a great way to build a long-term cross-channel campaign in the that delivers great results — even beyond the search page

Yujie has also tried and tested ways to put this tailoring into action: 

“Baidu has an ads product (行业定投) that allows you to bid URLs instead of bidding on keywords. When a user searches a term that triggers the targeted URLs to show in organic results, our ads would also be showing.

So I’ve tested a campaign bidding on relevant URLs that have higher SEO rankings. With Baidu’s big data leveraged to capture quality traffic (long-tail keywords) that we may possibly miss off, this campaign ended up bringing us a 500% ROI and lower CPC than normal campaigns that bid on keywords.”

This shows us how a tiered strategy, combined with clever bidding techniques, can be a fast track to increasing your ROI and laying the foundations for future success. 

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Tip #3: Don’t rely on Google Translate

Baidu SEM PPC advertising success - don't rely on google translate

Jamie Gemmell, Founder at Search Jam Digital Marketing stresses the importance of getting your translations right:

“Don’t rely on Google Translate to accurately translate ad copy into Chinese! Always, always, always get a native speaker to check it makes sense, and is not offensive to the target market.”

This might seem obvious, but when keywords are at the core of your campaigns, it’s an absolute must to get them right. Both for the reason outlined above, as well as for the success of your search engine marketing. 

Let’s say you’re targeting ‘smartphones’, for example. Use the wrong translation, and you’ll be bidding on the wrong terms, and failing to capitalize on relevant traffic. 

Getting your keywords wrong could be extremely damaging for your brand and reputation in China. If you want to target Chinese consumers, you have to understand them and show that you are a brand that cares about their culture. 

Fail to do that, and you’re going to struggle to win over the Chinese market — no matter how great your product is. 

So, start with the basics, and get your language right. It’ll save you a whole lot of trouble, later down the line.  

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Tip #4: Don’t aim for the top spot in a competitive space

Baidu SEM success - Don't aim for top spot

Thorough keyword research for the Chinese market is so important. Without it, you could end up wasting money on irrelevant searches. 

Harshad Khanapure, Director of Digital Marketing at Paper True is also a big believer in adapting your ad strategy to fit the Chinese market:

“You shouldn’t directly replicate your Google Ads strategy in Baidu, you need to tweak it for the Chinese market. 

In our market, for example, competition is very high on Baidu, and by targeting slightly lower positions, we’ve been able to reduce our CPA and achieve a far higher ROI, as a result.  

This, again, is a great example of why keyword research is so important. Just because you can hit the top of Google doesn’t mean you should try to do the same on Baidu. The markets are very different, and different industries will deliver different levels of success.”

To back up your research with the right content, Harshad and his team recommend trying out some of the following strategies: 

  • Include customer reviews on landing pages (remember, reviews matter a whole lot more in China than they do elsewhere) 
  • Mention you are an international brand with Chinese support 
  • Offer promo codes and discounts to customers 
  • Provide free trials of your services

Tip #5: Optimize for small screens

Baidu SEM PPC advertising success - optimize for mobile in China

Did you know that in 2019, over 872 million people in China accessed the internet through their mobile phone? And that’s expected to exceed the one billion mark in just two years, by 2022!

That makes China the biggest mobile market in the world, and is exactly why optimizing for the small screen is so important.

Justin Kerby, Founder at Something Great Marketing is well-versed in running mobile ads and had a great tip on running a Baidu PPC advertising campaign:

“When running a campaign on Baidu, it’s important to optimize your ads and landing pages for small screens. Keywords should be identified and optimized for phones, as mobile search across China continues to trend upward.  

If you’re a B2C brand, in particular, work with a web developer to ensure that your landing page experience on mobile is a top priority. And, always keep your goals in mind, as clicks mean nothing without conversions.” 

Don’t adapt to mobile-first, and you’ll risk falling behind on Baidu, where savvy marketers know only too well the power of the small screen. 

Tip #6: Build an audience

Baidu SEM PPC advertising success - build an audience

Baidu ads are great not only for generating leads but also for building an audience of potential customers ready to leverage whenever you need.

Matthew Meier, CEO at MaxTours has been adapting his travel company to the “new normal”:

“Since we’re in the travel sector, we’ve had to scale back our Baidu ads because of COVID — but we’re still running brand awareness campaigns, around broader keyword terms, to increase our followers on our WeChat business account. 

When the time is right, we’ll use this channel to reach Chinese customers when travel resumes — and for a much cheaper cost, too, since we won’t be competing with other travel brands that come racing back into the market.”

In this way, a Baidu SEM campaign can be a really great way to build an audience in China, as you can lead traffic to a trusted channel like WeChat

International businesses tend to face issues while opening a WeChat business account, but it’s a great way place to direct customers via Baidu. Just make sure you put your WeChat QR code on your website — it’s a great way to convert the traffic from your Baidu ads campaign. 

Ready to get started with Baidu PPC advertising? 


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