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Cross border ecommerce in China: the basics of TP

by Webpower China in Blog

Cross border ecommerce in China: the basics of TP

If an international brand wants to establish online business in China, Tmall is the marketplace it can almost never avoid. To make things easier, brands can work with Tmall Provides (TPs). These agencies offer help from A to Z: establishing a Tmall store, sorting out legal issues, protecting your IP and strategizing your marketing campaign…Below are the basics that you should know if having a Tmall store is in your plan.

What exactly is TP?

TPs are agencies certified by Tmall to help sellers with their marketing, logistics, IP protection, IT development and more. In fact, Tmall global accept foreign merchants ONLY if they work with a TP. Such agencies were selected by multiple criteria, including: # of years of experience working with cross-border ecommerce in China, bonded warehousing options and multilingual skills of staff etc. Besides basic store setup, TPs could assist with almost everything. Below is a chart listing out what TPs can do for merchants:

Why should I work with TPs?

Besides the mandatory part, one of the biggest reason for collaborating with TPs is that they speak the local language. They are able to assist international brands with quick responses to consumer demands. They are the expert of the local market – knowing exactly how Chinese consumers are like. Finally, they have rich experience working with foreign brands – being able to bridge the gap between your brand image abroad and domestic.

How does it work?

In general, TPs charge brands in 3 ways: 1) fixed monthly service fee; 2) commission based on sales; or 3) mix of 1) and 2). Working with TPs could be pricy. Typically, a resourceful TP charges anywhere between 20,000 to 100,000 RMB per month (fixed fee); or a 5% – 10% of revenue share. Note that this cost is only going for TPs, excluding platform fees and commissions.

Is there any risk working with TPs?

Yes, there is. Despite that TP could be a great help for new comers in China, it can also bring additional challenges. First off, cross-border ecommerce is still a relatively new business in China. Hence, there are some TPs operating without extensive track record. Secondly, being certified does not guarantee quality. Companies themselves know best about their brand story and heritage. Therefore, close monitoring is required when working with TPs – so that your brand image in China doesn’t deviate from the origin.

What should I look out for when working with TPs?

  • Select on service expertise

TPs usually offer one-stop solution, even though they may have limited experience in some regards. Determine what specialties are most important to you, and make the selection accordingly.

  • Select on product category

Tmall often classify TPs by product category, so as to better assist its vendors. For instance, TPs dealing with food & beverage would have different expertise than those handling baby care products.

  • Select on geographic location

Apart from national regulations, cross-border ecommerce pilot zones may have their specific procedures. Therefore, selecting the right location may give you easier access to online business in China.

(Resources from ‘China Cross-border E-commerce Guidebook’ published by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Shanghai)


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Is my content working?

by Guest writer in Blog

Content.

It’s 2017, and marketers, let’s be honest, we know by now that content is king. That point has been driven home and it is now tucked in bed with the lights off. We know we need it, we make a plan, we write, publish, design and edit and the cycle goes on and on. But is all your toil and labor actually paying off? Or are you just building a useless content mountain littered with keywords and stock images?

How do you know your content is working?

First and foremost – Track it!

Marketing automation software – this is probably the most important (and fun) tool you as a marketer can invest in. Effective software will not only help you to develop the right keywords, keep a regular schedule and automate your social media posting, but it should provide you with all the data you have ever dreamed of and more. Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn provide their own analytics, and this is great, but there is one main problem – you are unable to see how that directly correlates to your business. With software like HubSpot (read more about how we use HubSpot at Brandigo) or Act-on, you are able to see what content brought in the most leads and from where.

HubSpot has some of the most advanced tracking software and once a contact has been turned into a lead – you are able to go back and see every touchpoint that contact had with your content and your website. Let’s say your sales team closes a $500,000 deal with Flowers2GO, you can then go back and see that two months ago, Brian from Flowers2GO was browsing through his Twitter feed and clicked on your blog post about segmentation, he then viewed 5 different pages on your website, and downloaded your whitepaper about The State of Small Business Growth in 2016, needless to say your blog on segmentation was the seed that grew a $500,000 flower.

Once you are able to track your content, you should be considering these 3 things;

1. How are you developing your content?

You should be thinking about measuring your content from the very beginning.
What problems are people having and how can you develop content that addresses those problems in a way that will draw people back to your site. There are numerous tools available that allow you to see what people are searching for. Use them. Google’s trend search tool, Quora, as well as LinkedIn can give you a feel for what questions people are asking at the moment.

2. Did you just get lucky the first time?

We’ve all read tips and tricks on how to repurpose content, and for a number of reasons this is beneficial, but it can also be used as a litmus test of sorts. If you’ve published your content at an optimal publishing time, and it received 5 clicks within the first hour, but no further interactions after 1 day, try publishing at a different time to see what level of engagement it receives. If your content continues to receive clicks and shares weeks after it was published, you know you’ve used the right hashtags, keywords and subject matter.

3. Is your content seductive?

Another way you are able to gauge your content is to track the actions your blog or infographic provokes people to take. It’s great if people like your content on Facebook, comment on it in LinkedIn, and retweet it on Twitter, but truly effective content should prompt that reader to click on a CTA – this can be downloading a whitepaper, subscribing to your blog, or filling out a Contact Us form.

 


This blog post in contributed by Olivia Plotnick, Marketing Manger at Brandigo.

Brandigo is a global brand strategy agency that helps to transform businesses into market leaders. We combine strategy, creative talent and business know-how for fresh, inspirational, personalized marketing and communication campaigns for businesses already in China, or those planning to enter. As a full service marketing agency with offices in Shanghai and Boston, we can create your brand’s Chinese messaging and strategy, produce compelling content, and plan and manage total marketing campaigns.

Contact us if you want to be the next guest blogger!

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Cross-border ecommerce in China: marketing and localization

by haley_webpower in Blog

Cross-border ecommerce in China: marketing and localization

For international companies in China, MNCs and SMEs, localizing marketing strategy is hard. First, it’s a big challenge to sell almost anything in the (over-) saturated market. Second, find the right proposition is also tricky. Resting on the laurels of ‘foreign heritage’ is no longer the way out. With millions of foreign brands flooding into the market, the only way to differentiate yourself is to demonstrate your product value and the unique brand story behind.

Similarly, pricing also matters when it comes to positioning your brand. Most of the international brands believe that their foreign nature allows them to ask for premium price – yet this is only partially true. Many local brands (such as Huawei and Xiaomi) are now leading the domestic market, leaving the premium positioning unfeasible for foreign brands. Besides, mid-income consumers are increasingly interested in purchasing quality and affordable products directly from cross-border platforms. As a result, pricing should be competitive among imported goods, while reflecting your product quality.

Moreover, it’s also a good strategy to offer discounted prices during major ecommerce festivals in China.

(Check out the China ecommerce festival calendar!)

Unique consumer psychology is one of the most drastic difference between China and the western world. It’s fundamental for foreign companies to get through some key points before rolling out any online activity in China:

Purchase cycle

In most of the European markets, consumers start their online purchase by searching through a search engine – even if they know what they want. In China, this is not the case. A typical online purchase path is: discover a product on social media (e.g. Weibo) → search for the product on marketplaces (e.g. Taobao & JD) → Place an order on the platform.

Marketing strategy

KOL

Words from peers and influencers are important references when buying online in China. Therefore, KOL marketing is incredibly effective in boosting brand exposure. KOLs usually operate their own account on social media, and collaborate with brands to deliver promotional content (video, article, live-streaming etc.). However, a common obstacle with KOL marketing is: making sure that you are picking THE RIGHT influencer(s), out of thousands of KOLs, for your target audience.

(Find out how to select the right KOL for your brand)

Social branding

By using a master App such as Wechat, companies are able to both sell and engage their audiences via content marketing. Moreover, Wechat also enables brands to embed loyalty programs into their official accounts.

Personalized communication

While social media such as Wechat is for making a social blast, when it comes to personal communication, email and SMS are still dominating in China. Brands are able to track & store user behavior, and use the information to personalize the message to each consumer.

As for SMS marketing, companies are able to add a unique signature to the text preview, enabling recipients to immediately recognize the sender. In the message, you can also include a URL directing to a webpage and track who has clicked on the link.

Customer service

Local consumers are used to immediate and personal assistance. In China, customer service across different platforms is available 7 days a week, 16 hours a day, at least. Meanwhile, more than 80% of the service takes place via Wechat/live chat/phone.

Timing also matters in customer service. In fact, 90% of the online shoppers would make inquiry BEFORE placing an order.

SMS integration is highly important in customer service. Consumers want to know where their packages are. SMS integration allows companies to update customers about their order, payment and delivery in a timely fashion.

Finding a way out in the Chinese market requires both innovation and localization. It’s essential for brands to deliver the right message, to the right person, on the right time.

 

Check out how to tailor-make your communication in China!

(Resources from ‘China Cross-border E-commerce Guidebook‘ published by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Shanghai)


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How to best tailor your online communication to Chinese audiences

by Webpower China in Blog

How to best tailor your online communication to Chinese audiences

One of the most common statements we hear from international companies is that ‘China is so different!’ Yes, the Chinese market is unique and challenging, but also filled with many opportunities. Don’t dream about being successful here by copying the strategies back home. To win the heart of Chinese consumers, you have to understand the differences and adapt to the local environment.

To begin with, the online landscape in China is different. Forget about Google, Facebook and other worldwide platforms, most of them are not working in China due to the Internet censorship. However, there’s a counterpart for nearly everything: Google is replaced by Baidu, Twitter is replaced by Weibo, eBay is replaced by Taobao (with way more vendors & merchants)… Although these ‘doppelgangers’ bear similar functionalities, when it comes to marketing, the rules are completely different.

Secondly, consumer behavior in China is also unique. When buying online, Westerners usually research for products on Google, and then go to brand stores to place an order. In China, however, everything happens on ecommerce marketplace. People tend to search for products on Tmall or JD (two of the biggest local platforms), and place their orders directly within the platform. Meanwhile, Chinese consumers are used to consult customer service BEFORE they make a purchase (asking about size, delivery, material…), therefore, a live chat tool is essential for your online sales in China.

With all the differences and ‘culture shock’, how to approach Chinese consumers online? The answer is: 1-to-1 communication. Think about the market size here: regardless of what your product is, you’ll find thousands of competitors selling the same, probably even at lower price! Moreover, you can’t count on your western heritage either. With so many international brands flooding in China, imported products are less and less associated with ‘premium’, and the local consumers have switched their focus to quality and the brand story behind. Hence, the only way to win the heart of consumers is to show that you really understand and care about them.

Nonetheless, no single channel fits for all the billions of consumers. Successful online communication in China always involves multiple channels, so as to follow and engage consumers along their journey.

Email

Technical setup for email marketing in China is different. Due to the heavy censorship, emails sent from a foreign server are likely to be blocked. So it’s important for international companies to hire a local server. Moreover, obtaining an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license in China could further secure your email delivery rate. An ICP license is basically a permit to your online activities: building a website, sending email/ SMS/Wechat…you name it. You can apply for such a license through the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), however, be aware that the application process is fully in Chinese.

Meanwhile, Global email providers such as Gmail or Hotmail are not accessible in China. To get your mailings in people’s inbox, make sure that you are complying with the rules from the local ISPs. For example: 1) Add [AD] to your subject line for promotional emails; or 2) Avoid words such as ‘free’ /‘best’, or any sensitive terms.

When it comes to email design, Chinese consumers are big fans of icons. It’s proven that including emoji/icons in the subject line could boost open rate, especially for ecommerce/retail industries.

SMS

Apart from sending promotion info, SMS in China is also combined with email for database cleaning. Once someone subscribes/becomes a member, a welcome email will be triggered. If the email is bounced back due to invalid address, an SMS will be triggered to remind the user of the wrong email address. The user is able to change his/her email address simply by replying to the SMS with the correct one.

SMS can also be connected with social media to enlarge your database. For example, Lacoste included a QR code in its MMS. After scanning the code, users are directed to an H5 page to win a trip to Sanya. Personal information is required for a lucky draw, and in this way, Lacoste was able to both create a social buzz and collect useful information from subscribers.

WeChat

WeChat is by far the No.1 killer app in China, and it’s basically What’s App + Facebook +Amazon all-in-one. On average, young adults in China spend 4 hours on using the app. Nevertheless, when combined with Location-based-service (LBS), WeChat could help to direct foot traffic to your offline stores.

Many Wechat users tend to enable in-app location service, making it possible for brands to track where their customers are on a real-time basis. When a user is wandering around your store, a WeChat message can be triggered to inform him/her about promotions in the store(s) close by; or send a promotion code that can be redeemed in a nearby store. By doing so, brands are able to boost store visit and increase sales.

KOL (Key Opinion Leader)

The use of channels mentioned above requires companies to have their own database already in place. For those who are complete strangers to the Chinese market, how to accumulate massive subscribers within a short time? The answer is KOL.

KOLs in China are centered around industries such as fashion, cosmetics, and the show biz. They garner from thousands to hundreds of millions of followers. The only task for a company is to inform the KOL about the goal of the campaign, and then the KOL would be able to plan online content and execute the campaign on his/her own. KOL campaign in one of the most efficient way to obtain members/subscribers with targeted demographics.

In Chinese New Year 2017, Mr. Bag (one of the most popular Chinese KOL in fashion, with more than 3 million followers social media) collaborated with Strathberry (Scottish luxury brand) to offer a special handbag collection for Chinese consumers. Weeks before the sale, Mr. Bag published posts on social media (Weibo and Wechat) as a warm-up for the product release. These posts got tens of thousands of reposts and ‘LIKEs’. Finally, within only 3 hours after the official release, all the 400 bags were sold out!

In conclusion, the Chinese market is unique and ever-changing, marketers need to fully understand the differences and integrate the right channels to communicate with the right audiences at the right time.


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2017 China KOL report: here’s what you need to know

by Webpower China in Blog

2017 China KOL report: here’s what you need to know

The KOL market in China is massive – not only in terms of revenue, but also the tremendous number of influencers available for brands home and abroad. To help companies better plan their KOL strategy, AdMaster and Weboyi.com released the 2017 China KOL report this month. Here’s what you need to know.

To begin with, when it comes to social marketing, KOL is the main focus (63%) for most of the brands.Meanwhile, setting up and operating an Wechat account is also important (49%). Brands also expresses their interests in Social CRM and live-streaming. Surprisingly, Weibo is losing its glory: only 22% of the respondents show interest.

As KOL marketing is gaining more and more eyeballs, the price increases exponentially. On Weibo, price of influencer marketing in Q4 2016 increased by over 7 times compared to Q1. On Wechat, price for hiring KOLs in the cosmetics industry grew the most: more than 300% increase throughout last year. On both platforms, KOL price for baby care increased the least.

Of course the high effectiveness of KOL marketing in China boosted the price. Nonetheless, it’s estimated that 69% of the statistics has been ‘marked-up’. Shuijun(水军), or unqualified followers, are hired by some influencers to fake up the number of views, likes or reposts of a social media post.

Facing the challenges, how should brand choose the most suitable KOL for them? The report offered us a selection funnel:


Step 1: Find out a few topics that your target audience would mostly be interested in.
Step 2: Search these topics on social platforms.
Step 3: Check out the users who are posting about these topics. You can filter by location, gender…
Step 4: List out which KOLs are these users following in common.
Step 5: Choose from the list of KOLs according to your product, budget and more.

In addition, KOL strategy differ when it comes to different industries. For example:

  • Cosmetics companies tend to invest the most in KOL marketing. Many of them are working with KOLs with over 500K followers.
  • Automobile and baby care tends to work with KOLs on Weibo.
  • Food providers often adopt a ‘cross-over’ strategy by working with KOLs from fashion, lifestyle, entertainment and comedy etc.

In the next few years, KOL will still be one of the most effective marketing channels in China. At the same time, it’s also evolving new social trends:

  • The new era of ‘social video’. As Apps for live-streaming and short video becomes popular in China, social video campaigns will serve both branding and conversion purposes.

  • Influencers on specialty marketplaces. Red (小红书), one of the most trending ecommerce platform in China, is working with KOLs to write about and recommend fashion products. This strategy has tremendously boosted user interaction.
  • Vertical platforms will be the next battlefield for brands. From 2015 to 2016, the numbers of KOL ads on Weibo and Wechat has decreased by 65%; while on vertical platforms (e.g. live-streaming), the number grew by more than a half.
  • KOL marketing for sales. Before, brands collaborate with KOLs mainly for branding purposes. Nowadays, more and more platforms are enabling users to not only view posts, but also purchase directly. More and more brands now are using influencers for sales generation.

KOL is still a relatively new marketing channel in China. For international companies, it’s particularly important to do your market/consumer research to find the right influencer and the right channel.

(This article was original published by Vmarketing in Chinese. Read the original version here)


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Dissecting the mind of millennials in China

by Webpower China in Blog

Dissecting the mind of millennials in China

Understanding the post 90’s consumers are important for many brands in this country, especially for online retailers. According to a study conducted by Hylink Group, the 90’s millennial account for $4 billion of online shopping in China.

The population of the post 90’s totaled to 200 million in China. In general, this group (as well as the entire millennial group) is described as ‘ATM’ by many Chinese: Accumulation shorten, Tingled on consumption and Making no plans. Well, despite of these negative-ish tags, there are more things about them.

Digital native & mobile-savvy

According to the report from Hylink Group, the number of APPs that Chinese 90’s millennials are using exceed American millennials by 3 times. Meanwhile, more than half of the millennials in China claimed that they check their mobile phones at least every 15 minutes. Now that so many things can be achieved on mobile: payments, hiring a nanny, ordering food…Chinese millennials are becoming more and more demanding. If there is a new service/technology available, they are more willing to try it out if it is accessible from a smart phone.

Not hinged on price

Generally speaking, the post 90’s do not make a huge sum of money. It is reported that the average monthly salary in Shanghai for this group is around 6,000 RMB (approx. 900 USD). However, the limited income doesn’t make their consumption price-orientated. They are more concerned about the intrinsic value: How does this product define my personality? Am I being special/cool using it? Are my peers using the same it as well? With that being said, value-added and innovative products/service are favored by this group.

Look-and-feel matters

At the same time, the packaging of products also casts big influence on the purchasing behavior of the post 90’s. If you take a look at the APP Little Red Book, one of the hottest ecommerce platform for imported products, many buyers stated that the only reason for buying a certain product is because it ‘looks adorable’. There is even a hashtag called ‘good-looks club’, generating hundreds of thousands mentions. Moreover, when it comes to purchasing a car, around half of the post 90’s chose ‘look and feel’ as their prime consideration (report from siilu.com).

Tend to over spend

The post 90’s were born at the beginning of China’s market economy era with ‘single-child’ policy. While the liberal market has made families much wealthier than before, the policy drove parents to pamper their only child almost excessively. Therefore, the post 90’s is the generation with least financial burden. Personal loans such as credit card and P2P finance are welcomed by the 90’s millennials. According to ppdai.com, one of the major P2P finance platform in China, 40% of the users in 2015 are post 90’s, and the purpose for borrowing was mainly ‘personal consumption’.

Like brands, but also maintain personal style

The post 90’s are very conscious about brands. They believe that good brand ensures quality, and that the brand you use/wear defines who you are. In apparel industry for instance, the 90’s millennials from top tier cities prefer brands that are simple, casual and ‘cool’. Examples of such brands are Hollister, Gap, :CHOCOOLATE, Aape etc. (study from 36kr.com)

At the same time, the post 90’s are also seeking personalization. Allowing people to personalize colors and design or having names carved on products are popular strategies to attract the post 90’s group.


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Boost foot traffic with email lifecycle campaigns

by Webpower China in Blog

Boost foot traffic with email lifecycle campaigns

Bricks are turning into clicks. With the rocketing development of ecommerce, brick-and-mortar stores around the world are fighting a difficult battle: Macy’s, Marks & Spencer, Central…these are just a few examples of shopping malls
having hard time to catch up with the trend.

Luckily, secret weapons are out there. Email! People often consider email a tool for online sales, nonetheless, an email lifecycle campaign is proved to be effective in attracting foot traffic. ‘How?’ You are asking.

Before we jump on to the ‘how’, let’s solve the ‘what’ first. An email lifecycle campaign is composed of a series of mailings. They are sent out during different stages of customer journey, allowing companies to foster a continuous conversation with its customers. Now, how exactly should retailers design their email lifecycle campaigns to attract visit in store?

A welcome email isn’t merely greeting

When there is a new customer on board, the first thing is to make sure that his/her contact information is valid. You can verify it by sending out a welcome email. If the mail bounced back, trigger a text message saying ‘hey, seems that the email address you gave us was incorrect, could you reply us with the correct one?’ This multichannel approach can be easily automated through marketing automation solutions. In this way, the risk of losing your contacts is significantly reduced.

Coupons to be redeemed in store

Give your members a reason to come to your mall. And one of the easiest ways is coupon. A birthday email well fit into the scenario. Send a ‘Best wishes’ email to a member on his/her birthday, and include coupons as gifts. Unlike promotion code, these coupons could only be redeemed in store. Cordially invite the member to come to the store and enjoy his/her day of privilege.

Another way to send out the digital coupon is via customer survey. After someone fulfills an online customer survey, send him/her a digital coupon as a reward. By doing so, you are not only motivating members to take the survey, but also attracting visits in store.

Product maintenance reminder

If members purchased products that needs regular maintenance (household devices, jewelries etc.), send them reminders via email. In this email, invite members to come to store to have the product checked, and also including some tips for product maintenance. By doing so, you are able to bond with your members, and motivate them to visit your shops.

Event invitation

It is important for shopping centers to not only sell, but also create a community for members to interact and bond with each other. Organize offline events in store and send out event invitations to your members via email. If the event is open for everyone, you can include a link for priority seat in the email for members. By delivering the sense of exclusivity, you will be able to attract more foot traffic.

In conclusion, it is all about defining customer need in different stages of their lifecycle, and offer them a reason to come.

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B2B marketers, wondering the right email strategy?

by Webpower China in Blog

B2B marketers, wondering the right email strategy?

Last week at the B2B marketing forum, Jay Xie, General Manager of Webpower China shared insights on engaging Chinese audience through email in the B2B sector. B2B email strategy in China is unique. For international players, it’s critical to embrace the difference in consumer psychology & technical setup, so as to make the most out of your B2B email marketing.

While the general challenges (e.g. conversion and content personalization) in B2B email marketing are affecting China, we are also worried by more issues. In China, maintain a hygienic mailing list can be difficult, in that people often subscribe with a generic address (info@…/contact@…). Also, besides global corporate ESPs (Email Service Provider) such as Gmail, B2B marketers are dealing with many different local ESPs (e.g. QQ and 163.com). Such ESPs have their own email rules, and you need to fully understand the local rules in order to get your mailings delivered. Lastly, people tend to overlook the design of B2B emails. It’s common for B2B mailings to bear a ‘spammy’ design, increasing the chance of ending up in one’s junk box.

So, how should B2B marketers in China conquer the obstacles and create the right email message for China?

The List

Before sending out anything, make sure that your mailing list is well organized. Sending out bulk emails or to non-existing mailbox could harm your email reputation tremendously.

  •  Healthy & updated database

    On average, Chinese employees change their jobs every 2 years. Of course their business emails also change accordingly. Therefore, you have to update your mailing list regularly and validate all contact information. Additionally, make sure that you are collecting business email addresses ONLY. In this way, your mailings would be checked during working hours, and it’s easy for the reader to forward to his/her colleagues.

  •  Database segmentation for B2B

    Email without segmentation is equivalent to spamming. Particularly for B2B, it’s helpful to group recipients by job function (finance, marketing, IT etc.); job position (whether you’re talking to an executer or decision-maker); and status (prospect or client). And then you are able to personalize communication to each person in your list.

The design

Bad email design not only jeopardizes your brand image, but also causes issues with deliverability.

  •  Avoid ‘spammy’ design

    Unfortunately, lots of B2B emails in our mailbox bear rather unappealing design. There are 2 common pitfalls: either a single picture composes the entire mailing; or there’s excessive text. In fact, the best image: text ratio is 4:6.

  •  Formal design & informative copy

    When it comes to B2B email design in China, recipients prefer formal and business-style design. Meanwhile, images should only be used for branding/visual purposes. Text in B2B emails is always the king – keep it clear, informative and explanatory.

The message

B2B emails are not always about selling, there are so much to include in to content so as to boost engagement.

  • Knowledge sharing

    When you rolled out a new product/feature, use email to inform your clients about the good news. You can also include videos or manuals in the email to explain how to play with the new functions. Similarly, you can also include the latest industry updates (regulations, reports etc.) in your newsletter. It is a good way to demonstrate your expertise and strengthen the customer engagement.

  • Don’t miss the personal touch!

    Personal touch and B2B are not contradictory. In exhibition industry, for example, an email about visa & travel information is triggered if the recipient is tagged with a location outside China. Moreover, you can also trigger an email to give out more information about a specific topic, based on one’s previous email behavior.

The delivery

Now that your list and message are ready, it’s time to get it out! In China, chances of soft bounce is high with B2B emails – since corporate mailboxes are normally equipped with stronger firewall. Therefore, it’s always good to ask your readers to whitelist your sender address. At the same time, make sure that you are sending emails via a local server. Email sent from a foreign server a likely to be blocked/spam-marked.

In conclusion, B2B email should not be ‘cold’ or impersonal. Even though it’s ‘to Business’, it’s a person who is reading your email. The key is to adapt your email strategy to consumer mentality and the Chinese market.

 


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Travel retail: how to attract Chinese consumers?

by Webpower China in Blog

Travel retail: how to attract Chinese consumers?

We are again in the travelling season in China! Lots of deals from travel agencies and some of them feature ‘shopping’ as a top attraction.

The outbound travelling market in China is enormous – and it’s still growing rapidly. According to Lvyoukan.com, around 300 million Chinese citizens traveled to another country/region in 2016. Over the past decade, a total of 500 billion US dollars were spent by outbound travelers.

When it comes to demographics, 56% of such tourists are women. They not only purchase for themselves, but also for gifts and ‘daigou’ (buying from foreign countries and resell in China). Price difference between China and the western world is the biggest driving factor. Consequently, duty-free shops, outlets and factory stores are preferred by local travelers. Besides price, brand (whether the brand is recognizable and reputable), quality, originality (they don’t like ‘made in China’) and experience (e.g. having Chinese-speaking shop assistants) are also important in buying abroad.

What are brands doing to attract Chinese tourists?

Tailor-made products for travel

L’Oreal established a team dedicated for the travel retail business. The company offers special skin care for international travelers – products that help the skin stay energetic even after long flights. In addition, L’Oreal also collaborated with VIP lounges in airports to provide spa/massage services.

Adopt Chinese e-payment method

Two biggest British luxury retailers, Harrods and Selfridge have adopted Alipay in its offline stores. Final prices will be automatically converted into CNY at the cashier. Moreover, customers get 10% off if they pay via these tools.
Not only brands, but also tax offices all around Europe are using Alipay for tax refund. Chinese tourists can get tax directly transferred to their Alipay account in almost any VAT offices in UK, France, and Italy etc.

Convey the message

According to Luxury Society, traveler in airports are more receptive to marketing messages than regular consumers. Therefore, many brands place eye-catching advertisements in the airport to encourage spending within the ‘golden hour’ (1-2 hours before someone boards a flight). Moreover, these store usually hire Mandarin-speaking salesperson to better assist Chinese consumers with their request.

 


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Cross-border ecommerce in China: platforms & entry strategy

by Webpower China in Blog

Cross-border ecommerce in China: platforms & entry strategy

If you are still only thinking about Tmall & JD when it comes to cross-border ecommerce in China, then you definitely need to catch up. In recent years, many western players, especially fashion retailer, have tapped into the Chinese ecommerce market. These platforms offer custom clearance and free shipping services, so that cross-border purchase is almost as convenient as buying from local marketplaces. Meanwhile, local internet companies such as NetEase also established its own cross-border platform, directly competing with Tmall and JD in global business.

Types of cross-border platforms

Chinese consumers almost exclusively shop on online marketplaces, instead of stand-alone sites from brands. In general, there are 5 different types of 3rd-party platforms in China:

Online malls

In online malls, customers are able to directly purchase items from independent merchants. The most famous examples are Tmall Global and JD Worldwide.

Hypermarkets

Hypermarkets adopt a B2B2C model, which is fundamentally different from online malls. Such markets (e.g. Jumei and Koala) purchase from foreign brands and sell in on the platform. Consequently, hypermarkets charge a markup from wholesale price to retail price.

Specialty marketplaces

Such marketplaces also buy goods directly from overseas suppliers. However, specialty markets only focus on a specific product category (e.g. fashion; baby care), target audience (e.g. young female; new mothers) or geographic location (e.g. Korean; Japan). Although traffic is lower, specialty marketplaces usually generate more qualified prospects and thus higher conversion rate.

Flash sales websites

Flash sales sites offer high discounts for brands that just entered China, or excessive inventories from high-end brands. Such websites can be an effective tool for foreign brands to test their product in the Chinese market, before investing substantially on ecommerce activities. Meanwhile in general, flash sales can be used as a marketing tool to boost brand exposure in China.

Wechat stores

Such stores operates on Wechat – the #1 killer messaging App in China. Verified merchants can open an in-app store and sell to millions of Wechat users. Wechat also offers its own payment system for customers and merchants to pay and collect money.

How should I choose the most suitable platform?

As with many other marketing tools in China, no single platform fits it all. Hence, it’s always beneficial to adopt a multi-channel approach. In general, there’re 2 ways to enter China through cross-border ecommerce platforms:

1. Fast growth strategy (high cost, fast growth)

Under such model, companies usually start by establishing a flagship store on online malls/hypermarkets. By doing so, brands are able to quickly boost traffic & brand visibility. Also, they are able to gather first-hand consumer feedback and optimize future plans. Nonetheless, setup cost and regulatory barriers are high, and brands need to invest tremendously to fight against competition within each online mall/marketplace.

2. Organic growth strategy (low cost, slow growth)

Smaller brands often follows the path of Wechat store (market test) → Specialty market/hypermarket (exposure) → online mall (stable business). Under this model brands face less financial risks, and are able to use social marketing to target their audience. However, initial sales volume will be low and heavy investment on branding is needed to attract prospects.

As cross-border ecommerce is booming in China, it’s critical for foreign companies to evaluate your goal and budget etc. before settling down for any platform.

 

Click here to read basic facts about cross-border ecommerce in China!)

(Resources from ‘China Cross-border E-commerce Guidebook‘ published by the Consulate General of the Netherlands in Shanghai)


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