The first name that springs to mind when most think of search engines is Google…
If you’re planning to expand into the Chinese market, be it a brand new venture or an established company you wish to introduce to the region, then Baidu is a powerful tool to have in your arsenal.
It’s not easy though – the Baidu platform is largely in Chinese language and the audience responds only to Chinese language and culturally appropriate advertising.
In this blog we are going to share with you our very own winning strategy for advertising on Baidu using SEM / PPC advertising. It’s a strategy that works well for our clients, and we hope it brings you success in China too.
So who or what is Baidu?
Baidu is the web services company in China that you need to know. It’s been around for close to 20 years and its search engine is used for over 70% of Chinese internet searches, having tens of billions of searches each month and it reportedly has over 660 million monthly active users. With those kind of numbers, you simply must be using Baidu if you want to crack the Chinese market.
How to make Baidu work for you
In our previous blog we gave an overview of paid advertising on Baidu – it’s worth a read if you haven’t yet – and in this blog we build on that, by helping you use the tools Baidu has available to make the most of your paid advertising efforts.
The basic PPC campaigns will start to bring in the traffic, and the tips we share with you here will help you optimise for conversions, sales and deals. Let’s take a look.
Part 1: Three Services for Optimising PPC Performance
The first 3 steps in our 7-step strategy are services you can use to gain exposure and increased targeting for you Baidu ads.
1) Promote keywords with Baidu’s search engine
Just as you would do when advertising on Google, you need to target search queries based on the keywords they use, to ensure you are advertising to relevant and targeted traffic.
Since the target language is in Chinese, it’s best to consult an expert for help finding and identifying the correct keywords. Using the Baidu search engine you can target both PC and mobile customers and use multi-unit keywords. Your Pay-per-click (PPC) campaign can be timed for different locations and your keywords can also be used to generate clicks on Baidu Zhidao (or in English, “Baidu Knows”), a collective intelligence site.
This is the start of getting traffic directed to your site and is relatively cheap to achieve.
2) Baidu ads alignment
If your budget is higher then you can use the Baidu Alignments service to have your ads appear on Baidu’s alignments web pages. Your ads will be promoted to users based on their browser history and drive more targeted traffic to your ads and website. This might sound a little intrusive, but research has shown that Chinese internet users respond a lot more positively to tailor-made ads than people in the West, in fact they often view promoted ads as being more reliable at informing which products and companies are best than regular ads.
3) Baidu verification page
This enables your business to appear in the search results with verified information about your company being displayed. You will also see a V on your web page when you enrol in this, demonstrating to others that you are verified and more trustworthy. The more reliable your business is reported to be by Baidu, the greater your Chinese success will be.
Part 2: Four Tools to Enhance PPC Results
Once your ads are running, targeted and you’re getting good exposure, these four tools can help you get maximum results from that exposure. These are the final 4 steps of our 7-step strategy.
1) Baidu Shangqiao
Baidu Shangqiao is a live chat tool. Live chat is very popular in China, in fact you could say that it is expected by consumers. Customers are used to being able to access a sales rep in real time when making a purchase decision, so it is important to be able to answer any queries as quickly as possible. The tool is easy to use and can be embedded to the landing page and displayed on all pages of your website, making it accessible for all potential customers, no matter where they land on your site. You manage the tool from an independent dashboard where you can also check any visit data to your site. You will need a native or fluent Chinese speaker to be able to operate it effectively.
2) Baidu Lixianbao
‘Lixian Bao’ is a call back service that literally means ‘offline protection’. When you are away from your computer (ie. the live chat is not operative), users can leave their number and request a call back when you are online. One to one communication during the purchase process is very important in China, and this free call-back service (free for the customer, but not for you) enables you to respond to each query personally, increasing your sales and sign ups. You will be charged based on the length of the call. Again this tool can be embedded in the landing page so it is visible to all customers.
3) Baidu Company Business Card
Having a ‘business card’ built into the Baidu search engine increases trust and gives your brand an impression of being established and reputable – very important factors in China! The business card will appear as a logo and series of links in the top left of the search results page. The promotion will last for up to 6 months each time before you need to renew the service. If you know more about who you are targeting, then you will have the option to display your card based on location, search query and other factors.
4) Baidu Qiye Baike
Qiye Baike could be considered to be Baidu’s version of Wikipedia. Businesses can use it as a reputation management too, pre-empting questions with answers for the public to see. For a yearly fee your company can have its own page, introducing potential new customers to your brand and helping to promote it. You can manage your page directly from your Baidu company account.
Ready to take action
Armed with this 7-step Baidu SEM strategy you can now confidently approach the Chinese market. Remember though, this isn’t an overnight solution and there are some barriers to entry. However, your potential audience will be 70 million people every single day and this is a business opportunity that is well worth tapping into.
If working in Chinese language and cultural expectations intimidates you – don’t worry, because we’re here to help. At Eggplant we specialise in helping Western companies enter the Chinese market. We are experts in the use of Baidu marketing for growing your brand and increasing sales.
Using our on-the-ground knowledge of the local market, we will create your SEM strategy then execute and manage it for you. If that sounds like it could benefit you, contact us to arrange a consultation.
We are here to ensure your success in the Chinese market.