China is one of the largest consumer markets in the world with the e-Commerce sector rapidly growing with a projected growth to $81 billion in the next 5 years as disposable incomes increase. China is one of Australia & New Zealand’s biggest export markets and many retailers are actively attempting to expand into this market. It can be hard to get products or services in front of this captive audience of approximately 513 million users however, with one of the most effective ways I have found being Baidu.
Baidu is China’s answer to Google and they currently have a 67% share of the search market with Google itself having just a 3.3% share. Baidu has a huge focus on paid adverts with up to 7 ads ahead of any organic results and even more advertising on the right (a direction I see Google going). While SEO is still possible, paid advertising is essential to include in any marketing strategy.
Baidu Paid Search
The first step to advertise on Baidu is overcoming the language barrier through the use of a translator or an agency. Both the ads and the landing page or website will need to be written in simplified Chinese, and even using the paid search interface will need at least a basic knowledge of written Chinese.
Once you are comfortable that you have the language and analytics issues sorted, the next step is to set up an account. This will cost US$195 and require you to submit a business certificate and deposit to start advertising with. I also recommend setting up an Analytics account with Baidu Tongji for your website or landing page as English analytics programs don’t tend to integrate well.
Once your account and website are ready to go, the next step is to build the campaign itself. Once your campaigns are built the ads will go through a ‘Baidu Relevance Audit’ which is essentially an approval process to check the relevance of your ads to your keyword types.
- Exact Match – similar to Google’s matching type, Baidu’s relevance audit will check all exact match keywords used and make sure both the ad and the landing pages are extremely relevant. If they are, the ad in the exact keyword group will appear above the organic results on the left.
- Broad Match – this matching type is similar to Google’s Broad match type but the keywords chosen still need to have relevant ads and landing pages or they will not pass the relevance audit. These ads appear on the right of search results and compete with ‘right match’ ads for position.
- Right Match – if you are struggling to pass the relevance audit for some of your keywords these will need to be changed to right match. Essentially using this match type you can bid on any keywords you want no matter how relevant the ad/landing page.
Once your campaigns are live the same principles apply as to any paid search campaign; make sure to track conversions and optimise based on these results. This can be hard if you don’t speak the language so I recommend hiring a professional from the start to run your paid advertising campaigns.
When using paid advertising keep in mind that in China social signals play a big part in the success of online marketing campaigns. I recommend setting up the following sites to coincide with the launch of the paid adverts:
- Sina Weibu – China’s equivalent of Twitter
- Baidu Baike – The Wikipedia of China
- Baidu Space – A Baidu community page which is favoured in search results
- RenRen – China’s equivalent of Facebook
- Youku.com – China’s equivalent of Youtube
It can be a lot of work to get all of this set up, but as this is a rare barrier of entry online, your competitors will likely not bother. This should mean a lower cost of advertising and a higher ROI overall – definitely worth considering.