Biostime’s China digital marketing challenge
During 2015, Biostime launched a new product SN-2 Plus. In China, word of mouth is a critical element in building brand image and trust around a product, so one of the biggest challenges Biostime faced was creating and building a brand image for SN-2 Plus – a product no one had yet heard of.
Chinese consumers research products thoroughly before making a purchase decision. They search online, via search engines, social media, websites and forums, etc., and their greatest confidence is placed in user reviews and feedbacks.
For infant formula, word-of-mouth recommendations are critical particularly due to the sensitivity of Moms as a result of milk powder scandals in China. New brand or product lack brand awareness among the target audience, so there is no conversation around it, and therefore no recommendations to trust. Also, there is no positive user review or conversation appearing on search engines or in forums. Without positive voices to support a product, it would be unlikely to sell.
The other concern is that where there is no conversation regarding a product, the company is open to malicious attack from competitors or disgruntled customers. If the only results showing in the search engines are negative, the brand will be a failure.
Together Biostime and Sinorbis-Netconcepts set out to promote Biostime’s positive brand image and meanwhile control its reputation from direct or indirect damage. Here is how we executed Chinese online brand reputation management.
How to create a positive online brand reputation
We developed a 12-month plan to create and sustain a positive Chinese online brand reputation for Biostime. It focused on generating and promoting positive content, including the preparation of high quality buying guides to create positive conversations about the product and influence buying decisions. It also addressed the elimination or demotion of negative, useless/out-of-date voices relating to the overall brand which might tarnish the image of the new product.
The approach to positive online reputation management included:
- 1. Deployment of accurate keywords for brand building and traffic generation
- 2. Creating positive voices which are then covered and magnified in key media and core digital channels
- 3. Developing a 360-degree proactive brand-fence in search engines
Deployment of accurate keywords
Based on the search keywords, positive contents were created to communicate the brand story, differentiate the product from similar products on the market, inform and educate Chinese consumers, and establish sufficient trust to encourage them to buy.
Brand keywords: We leveraged high authority channels, such as Baidu Baike (a. Wikipedia equivalent) and Baidu Wenku (an online library) to deliver the brand story from both official and user tones. They deployed keywords such as the brand (Biostime) and product name (SN-2 Plus) to build up brand awareness.
Product keywords: Once the brand was introduced, the focus shifted to educating consumers about SN-2 Plus and its features. We helped the brand to develop content with product keywords, such as milk source and nutritional ingredient information. We also deployed long tail keywords based around related questions which customers might search, such as ‘which milk powder reduces child’s risk of digestive discomfort,’ to further introduce the product and its key differentiators from competing brands to potential customers.
Generic keywords: This is important to a new brand, because in the beginning, people don’t know of you and therefore won’t search your brand online. We deployed generic keywords, such as top 10 milk powder brands, to attract target customers and drive them to understand the brand and products.
For keyword deployment, we not only used them in the content; our ORM experts also optimised the dropdown list and relevant keywords on search engines. The core parts of the keywords were indexed, so when 1 or 2 words were entered, the whole search term was recommended in a drop-down list. This maximised traffic conversion, enhancing the overall brand image.
Example of Baidu Dropdown list
Example of Baidu Relevant search recommendation
Creating positive voices
Once all the content was ready, we published it on various digital channels in accordance with the content strategy. During the first phase of brand building, we helped our client create and publish content on high authority channels, such as Baidu Baike, Wenku, Zhihu and portal websites to build up brand awareness and develop an official voice.
On the second stage, we leveraged the product and industry generic content, and published on news, forums, Baidu Q&A, Baidu Wenku and other important sites, to introduce SN-2 Plus and its features in detail.
At the same time, we also focused on vertical sites, high authority portal websites, mainstream vertical forums, and Q&A platforms to focus on word-of-mouth reputation management.
All those contents that we optimised and released to key digital channels encourage target customers to consider the brand and influence their buying decision. Social media listening also played a key role in managing and protecting a online reputation in China.
Developing a 360-degree proactive brand-fence in search engines
With various digital channels covered, brand positive information automatically created a robust brand-fence in search engines, because we not only helped Biostime to publish the content but also carefully used our SEO keyword techniques to make sure all content was as search engine friendly as possible. This means all the positive content would be quickly found by search engines and users, and it is well written, so it’s clearly about the brand or product being promoted. The SEO techniques also build a positive result which linked to and sourced on high-authority sites, so Chinese consumers know it’s trustworthy.
Given the recent history of infant milk powder in China, it’s quite normal to hear negative voices on the brand or product. This can adversely affect a new brand, tarnishing the name by association. By building up a brand-fence in the top SERP results, it will give an advantage to the new brand, and help eliminate or push down the negative voices in future.
The ability to influence the conversation and generate positive voices relied on the preparation and posting of a massive number of articles filled with useful content and correct keywords, and selecting carefully to supply the right information on the right platforms.
Over the course of 12 months, we created over 2,800 pieces of content, published more than 15,000 URLs cross all the key digital channels on desktop and mobile devices, and achieved total media coverage of more than 5,000 results.
We successfully managed 113 keywords across 5 keyword categories, and increased the number of positive posts in 1st-2nd search result pages by 24 times, achieving top rankings in organic search results.
Our online reputation management project for Biostime also won the 2015 annual digital marketing gold medal in the Top Brand Contributors Annual Conference.
Any brand currently marketing to the Chinese consumer, or wanting to establish itself in the Chinese market needs to take control of its Chinese online brand reputation. We will develop and implement a customised ORM strategy to create a positive image for your brand and encourage potential buyers to purchase your product.