For any company looking to target Chinese customers, the first and perhaps the most important strategy is to build a useful website for Chinese customers.
In 2019, China’s online market had a value of almost 2 trillion USD. This makes it a gold mine for local and international companies. And if these foreign brands are hoping to successfully tap into the market, they must first create a website to suit the needs of Chinese customers.
However, launching a Chinese version of your website can be stressful if you aren’t sure where to start. Keep in mind to create an accessible website in accordance with China’s internet policies.
In this article by Tenba Group, we reveal 7 proven ways to easily and readily build the foundations of a website for Chinese customers. This will help you market your brand to match their styles.
Solutions to Building a Website for Chinese Customers
Building a website for Chinese customers is not about simply cloning an English website and using a .cn domain. Sure, it seems like the easy fix to consider translating your website not only in Chinese but also in many languages.
The challenge is that your potential Chinese customers are quite different from the customers in other parts of the world. As such, your Chinese website should reflect these unique differences if you want your brand to be compelling. Below are the 7 most important methods to build a powerful website for Chinese customers.
1. Use a Local Domain Name Extension
The internet in China follows strict regulations and guidelines. As such, many foreign websites and servers are blocked in mainland China for failing to meet these requirements. Hong Kong operates as an autonomous region in terms of internet authority.
To ensure that your website ranks higher on Baidu, a “.cn” domain name is helpful.
Your company will also need to obtain a business license to operate in Chinese cyberspace if you use a local server. There are two types of ICP (Internet Content Provider) licenses issued by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) at the provincial level.
- ICP license 京ICP证 – for commercial (operational) websites. This applies to any website that allows a customer to purchase goods or services online.
- ICP recordal 京ICP备 – for non-commercial (informational) websites, including those that don’t do direct sales.
Keep in mind that your ICP license must be displayed in the footer of your website.
2. Host your Website on a Chinese Server
Accessing websites in China can generally be slow when the connection is from outside China as the country’s internet policies ban many websites.
Hosting your website in mainland China helps to improve the speed and stability of your website to reach Chinese customers. However, using a local server in mainland China requires that you apply to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license.
And ICP licenses are typically only for companies with a physical presence in the country. So, unless you plan on building physical structures in China, this is not a viable option. However, agencies in China are offering this ICP license to foreign companies and Tenba Group is excited to help your business with this service.
A great alternative is to host your website in Hong Kong. This way, your brand can enjoy the benefits of geographical proximity to mainland China, which increases the accessibility of your website to Chinese customers.
If you do not intend to use a Chinese server, ensure that your chosen server is not blocked in China by following up on the latest regulations and policies. Otherwise, your website may be inaccessible to your intended target Chinese audience.
3. Optimize for Chinese Search Engines
Baidu is to China what Google is to the rest of the world. Like Google, Baidu has its own unique search algorithms that influence the ranking of a website. However, SEO for Google is different from that of Baidu. Thus, for your website to have a high ranking in China, it must be specifically optimized for Chinese search engines such as Baidu.
There are several other differences between Google’s and Baidu’s ranking systems. Make sure that your SEO strategies addresses those differences to improve the visibility of your website for Chinese customers.
4. Match the Language to Your Target Market
China is a huge country – the largest in population and the third largest in landmass. So, it is not surprising that certain parts of the country have different languages. For instance, while people in mainland China use simplified Chinese, people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macao read traditional Chinese. Depending on your target region in the Chinese market, you may need a website in simplified Chinese, traditional Chinese, or both.
First, you should carry out initial market research to help you determine your target area and audience. This can help you decide if your website should have simplified or traditional characters.
Regardless of your final decision, our team of experts at Tenba Group can help you with market research as well as craft your desired website for Chinese customers. Get in touch with our team and let us help you explore your options.
5. Localize Your Content and Style
It is important to tailor your content on the website specifically for Chinese customers. Simply translating your content from English to Chinese will not cut it. Use cultural and social references in your content to keep engagement consistent and current.
Making it as real as possible for the Chinese reader lends more credibility to the content and consequently, your business. Adapting your content to suit your customers is one of the most effective ways of winning new customers and being connected with current consumers. Another way to ensure that your website attracts Chinese customers is to use different content mediums. One of the most significant mediums for Chinese internet users is video content.
6. Digitalize Your Website to be Responsive & Mobile-Friendly
With 840 million users in 2019, China is home to the biggest internet community in the world. And 98% use mobile devices to access the world wide web. Therefore, building a website that is responsive to mobile devices will give your brand more visibility and customers.
Now, the average Chinese internet user spends almost 6 hours every day online, mostly mobile. They chat, research, shop, use services, and more. As everything is on-the-go, unsurprisingly, around 75% of ecommerce sales are generated by mobile users.
Smartphones contribute a great deal to the ecommerce landscape in the Chinese market. So, building a mobile-friendly website for Chinese customers puts your company in the hands of millions every day.
7. Offer Payment Options Available in China
If you are building a webshop for products or services, incorporate payment channels that are available in China. The most common online payment platforms are AliPay, Union Pay, and WeChat Pay. These options are all connected to major banks within China and have millions of daily active users.
Building a localized website for Chinese customers is an incredibly worthwhile business strategy. A localized web presence helps you to promote your brand in China and build your image in the Middle Kingdom.
Beyond ensuring that your website is accessible, it is important that your site appeals to Chinese consumers. Stylistic elements, content attributes, and digitalization tools are part of the techniques.
Talk to our team at Tenba Group and let us craft your China market entry strategy with a powerful Chinese website and social media marketing strategy. To find out more about digital marketing in China, check out our FAQ section.