If you’re in the midset of establishing or growing a B2B company in China, you’re likely attending lots of meetings and trade shows in China, and you may even have a dedicated sales team on the ground already – all of which is great, particularly in a country like China where relationships and trust (“guanxi”) are crucial aspects of forming strong business ties.
But sending yourself or your sales team to China without the support of a strong digital presence is like sending firefighters to put out a fire without a firetruck and hose. You and they will only be able to get so far without the proper tools.
Think about it – if you received an international visitor who was interested in establishing a working relationship with you, what’s one of the first things you do? You look up their website and you check out their social media to find out what they’re all about.
It’s the same in China. Around 80% of buyers search for information online before making a purchase, and around 95% of industrial buyers use the internet to find suppliers. So in order to give you and your team the best chances of making a good impression, you need an informative and professional digital presence to back you up.
Here are just some of the advantages of setting up a strong digital presence for B2B marketing in China.
1. It will give you complete control over your brand
When business deals are conducted purely on a person-to-person basis, they’re inevitably coloured by those people’s personal experiences, backgrounds, and some nuances may inevitably get lost in translation.
With a strong digital presence, however, you can completely control your messaging and branding, so decision-makers can make up their own minds about you and your company.
2. It’s super easy to update
With B2B, it’s especially important to have up-to-date materials with the latest news about your products and achievements, so you can show prospective clients and business partners that you’re on the leading edge. And sure, you could update your brochures and printed materials every time you have something new to report, but this is costly, time-consuming and wasteful.
With a website and social media presence, however, it’s easy to update your clients and partners with all of your goings-on, so they always have the latest information at their fingertips.
3. It builds trust with Chinese buyers
Would you do business with someone who didn’t have a professional-looking website and/or social media presence? I’m guessing the answer is no – you’d (quite sensibly) have doubts about their legitimacy and seriousness.
Purely by dint of putting in the effort to establish a strong digital presence, you’re proving to clients that you have skin in the game, and that you are in fact very serious about what you do. And if the website is in Chinese (which it definitely should be), you’ll go a long way towards proving your commitment to the Chinese market – not to mention you will ensure your website is indexed by Baidu, China’s most popular search engine.
4. It’s great for online lead generation
Your website and social media are not simply tools for building awareness. Done correctly, they can become great tools for lead generation.
By creating downloadable content that addresses your clients’ pain points, such as ebooks, whitepapers or how-to guides, and gating these materials behind landing forms, you can capture highly relevant leads – a great asset for your sales team on the ground, who won’t have to waste their time cold-calling.
Having optimised SEO is another way to generate highly relevant leads, helping boost your rankings on China’s major search engines and further enhancing your credibility.
There’s also the fact that having a social media presence is essential when it comes to communicating and developing relationships in China. While in the Western world it’s not generally common business practice to communicate via Facebook or Twitter, it’s perfectly acceptable in China – in fact, to many it’s considered preferable – to conduct business communications on WeChat and other chat services. As a communication mode, email is not as dominant in China as it is in the Western world, so in order to develop strong ties, it’s important to meet clients and partners where they are.
When it comes to B2B marketing in China, it’s important to bolster yourself with a digital presence that puts your company in the best light. Get your business relationships off to the right foot with a visible, localised and optimised website, as well as a professional and engaging WeChat presence.