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How to set realistic goals for your China B2B digital marketing strategy: Part 1 - auditing your presence

September 12, 2021 |   Maxime Guillaumot

The global pandemic has turned B2B marketing in China on its head. As a sector that has been largely dependent on international trade shows and conferences to fuel lead generation and buyer relationship management, pivoting to a digital first approach virtually overnight was not an easy feat to pull off. Yet, across the world, marketing and sales professionals rose to the challenge.

What’s more, the shift to a B2B digital marketing strategy also came with some unexpected upsides such as improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness in lead acquisition funnels. And while online events are unlikely to ever fully replace face-to-face networking, it’s also clear that the digitisation of marketing in B2B is here to stay.

The challenge for B2B marketers looking to expand their organisation's footprint in China is to develop a long-term marketing strategy that successfully integrates on- and offline activity to support the company’s growth targets.

Setting challenging, but realistic goals for your China digital marketing strategy is a critical factor to set your organisation up for success. It depends on two main factors: 

  1. Knowing where your organisation is starting out
  2. Having quantitative goals for Chinese customer acquisition for the next 3 years

This blog post takes you through the process of auditing your B2B digital marketing presence in China. In the second part of this blog series, we will cover how to set quantitative goals for your Chinese customer acquisition. 

5 questions to answer in your China digital marketing audit

When you’re first developing your digital marketing strategy for China, it pays to spend some time auditing your current setup for this market. Setting realistic goals for your digital strategy will depend on how much foundational work you will need to do in the beginning. Here are some questions you should consider as part of your audit.

1. Do you already have a digital presence in China?

This may seem obvious, but whether or not you already have a digital presence in China will be a key determinant for how quickly you can start driving traffic and leads for your organisation.

At the very minimum, your Chinese digital presence should include a fast-loading Chinese website that is optimised for the local digital ecosystem and audience needs and a verified WeChat official account. As we have covered previously on this blog, there are quite a few things that can go wrong in the initial setup of your Chinese digital channels. The good news is that all of these typical issues are fixable, so it’s best to address them before you are spending more time and resources on driving more traffic and generating leads. If you do need to sort out some problems in your legacy setup, it will inevitably delay any performance improvements you’re looking to implement, so be sure to factor this into your goal setting.

Likewise, if you currently do not own and manage any digital channels in China, give yourself some time to establish your foundations. Depending on your budget and internal resources, it usually takes around six months to build a Chinese website as well as go through the application process for a verified WeChat official account.

You can fast-track the process to three months if you’re choosing Sinorbis as your China digital marketing partner. Our software and partnership with Tencent allow us to deliver much faster than a traditional agency model. What’s more, our digital marketing platform gives you full ownership and control over your website and WeChat content, meaning that performance optimisation is 100% in your hands.

2. How is your current Chinese digital presence performing?

If you do already have a Chinese digital presence, spend some time analysing its performance to inform your goal setting. The sample metrics below give you some idea of what you should be measuring and why.

Metric 1: Monthly website traffic

Why is this metric important?

Your monthly website traffic gives you an indication of the effectiveness of all your marketing and business development efforts combined. While there are always some seasonal fluctuations, you should see some steady growth in your monthly website traffic year over year.

Use your current website traffic data to set growth goals. For example: Increase your average monthly website traffic by 10% over the next 12 months.

Metric 2: Organic search ranking for tracked keywords

Why is this metric important?

One of the key benefits of managing your own website for China is that you can attract relevant organic traffic through search engine optimisation (SEO). Through consistent effort, this portion of your website traffic should grow steadily over time. To understand the impact that your optimisations are having, you need to be able to track the ranking of your branded and unbranded keywords.

Based on your current ranking, you can set goals for your SEO efforts. For example: Get our top 5 most important product or services pages to rank within the top 25 results for relevant keyword phrases within the next 12 months.

Metric 3: Number of website leads per month

Why is this metric important?

The number of monthly leads you’re receiving is an indication of the relevance of your website traffic. And, of course, generating leads is one of the main aims for organisations to maintain a digital presence in China.

Once you have your average monthly website visitors and your average number of website leads, you can use a simple formula to work out your website conversion rate:

Monthly conversions / total monthly visitors * 100.

Example: 30 / 3500 * 100 = 0.85%

Ideally, you should aim for a conversion rate between 1% and 3% and set a goal that is based on your current performance. For example: Lift website conversion from 0.85% to 1.5% over the next 12 months.

Metric 4: Monthly WeChat follower growth

Why is this metric important?

While tracking the number of WeChat followers can sometimes be seen as a vanity metric, steady account follower growth is an important indicator for the relevance of your content. What’s more, you need to reach a certain threshold of followers to be able to reap the full benefits of WeChat and drive engagement.

Set your Wechat follower growth goal based on your current month-over-month average. For example: Achieve an average month-over-month WeChat follower growth rate of 3% by December 31 this year.

Metric 5: WeChat post engagement

Why is this metric important?

As with any social media account, it takes time to build an engaged following. When you’re first starting to post on a new WeChat official account, most of the ‘likes’, ‘wows’, and ‘shares’ you will receive are going to be from your own team and, if you manage the publishing process well, your current prospects and customers.

However, it’s still important to analyse your current engagement levels to be able to improve on them and set goals. Additionally, if you’re seeing a steady growth in followers, but no improvement on the engagement side of things, it’s a good indication that your content needs to be better aligned with the needs of your buyers.

Set your WeChat post engagement goal based on your current engagement levels, no matter how small they may be. For example: Double the average number of post shares every six months.

3. How well-known is your brand in China?

While brand awareness can be tricky to measure, having some idea of how well-known your organisation is within your target market in China will help you to set more realistic goals.

One mistake that B2B organisations often make with their go-to-market strategy in China is to assume that brand awareness and success in other markets automatically gives them a leg-up in China. If you haven’t done any proactive business development or marketing in China, it’s best to assume that you have to start building awareness completely from scratch. On the other hand, if you’re already working with local partners or have a sales team on the ground, you may have a bit of a head start.

But even if you’re just starting out, you will get there! It will just take consistent effort over time - and you will want to set your goals accordingly.

4. How strong is your Chinese customer base?

If you already have customers in China, you should think about how you can leverage these existing relationships to your advantage. For instance, you could invest in the creation of video case studies to show the positive impact your solution or service had on their business.

Having a strong customer base will help you gain traction with your digital presence and increase your organisation’s credibility, so be sure to factor it into your digital strategy and your goals.

5. How would you rate the quality of your leads from China?

Even if you’re already generating a large volume of leads from China, there is still likely to be room for improvement. When you’re setting goals for your digital presence, it pays to take a closer look at the numbers further down the line in your sales funnel.

How many leads are you currently generating through digital channels? Are they of the desired quality? Are your leads converting into opportunities, and eventually, customers?

If you find, for instance, that you receive many unqualified leads and your sales team in China is not interested in following them, you may want to set a goal to improve the quality of your leads through a better data gathering strategy.

Are you looking for more information to help you define your B2B digital marketing strategy in China? Download our latest guide to help you understand the Chinese digital ecosystem and B2B online audiences. 

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