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China’s digital market evolves at a great pace. The incredible WeChat’s growth over the past 5 years is a clear illustration of China’s capacity and tendency to shake up users' habits, imposing brands to continuously adapt its marketing tactics and strategy in order to succeed.
China’s digital market evolves at a great pace. The incredible WeChat’s growth over the past 5 years is a clear illustration of China’s capacity and tendency to shake up users' habits, imposing brands to continuously adapt its marketing tactics and strategy in order to succeed. Arnaud Rofidal, altima° Asia’s CEO, evokes, in an Interview given to The French Chamber of Commerce in China’s magazine - Connexions: China, The Digital Revolution, China’s market characteristics along with the challenges for brands that these involve, among which the absolute necessity to be responsive to catch up with the latest marketing trends. To read the interview (in french, page 31), click on the below picture.
In China, users’ trust is key. Baidu, which experienced a series of scandals in the past few years due to the exposition of unreliable information, is trying to win back the trust of users on search results.
In China, when it comes to marketing (both online and offline), cultivating users’ trust is key. Baidu, which experienced a series of scandals in the past few years due to the exposition of unreliable information, is trying to win back the trust of users on search results. One illustration is given on the paid search results area, where Baidu reduced the numbers of ads, and made them more explicitly recognizable so that users can easily identify these as actual ads. Baidu also took actions on organic search results. In November 2016, the Chinese giant launched a new feature to protect official websites via its webmaster tool: Baidu Zhanzhang. The tool has been designed to prioritize the ranking of official websites on brand keywords, and therefore to further enhance the credibility and reliability of natural search results. It does happen that sometimes, when users search brand keywords on Baidu, fake brand websites appear in the results, impacting users’ experience and generating potential risks. Obviously, this does not only affect Baidu’s credibility, but also, and more importantly, brand sites themselves. When fake brand websites compete for rankings on brand keywords, official brand websites face challenges on both organic traffic and brand reputation sides. As shown below, a fake site positioned itself on Decathlon’s brand keywords, so whenever users typed in Decathlon in Chinese on Baidu (迪卡侬), it would appear as the first organic search result, before Decathlon’s website itself.  Decathlon's official website was in the 2nd position To solve this issue, we leveraged Baidu’s new tool - Baidu ZhanZhang - and its protection feature, submitting brand related keywords for Decathlon. the submitted brand keywords approved by Baidu After about a week, all submitted keywords were approved by Baidu. We then ran a test, searching Decathlon on Baidu, and indeed, the ranking was changed: Decathlon’s official website went up to the 1st spot, while the previous fake one disappeared from the top 3 results. Decathlon's genuine website now takes the first spot in organic results  Brands can submit up to three brand keywords for PC and mobile respectively. Once Baidu confirms these keywords, official websites are treated preferentially. It is also possible to report fake websites to Baidu, which will investigate and find a solution in order to protect genuine brand sites. Today, more and more brand sites are using this new feature, which has proven its usefulness and efficacy in a world where trust is a key factor of success.
Despite the fast changes the Chinese Internet landscape has experienced over the past few years, search engines continue to be an essential gateway for online researches. SEO therefore remains a well-adapted asset for current marketing challenges as much for brand reputation as for the generation of conversion.
Despite the fast changes the Chinese Internet landscape has experienced over the past few years, search engines continue to be an essential gateway for online researches. SEO therefore remains a well-adapted asset for current marketing challenges as much for brand reputation as for the generation of conversion. During the Breakfast Series organized by Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and held in Shanghai last month, our Managing Partner, Thibault Boiron, and myself, Suki Yang, Senior SEO Manager, shared our expertise on making good use of SEO in China and our knowledge on China online marketing. After introducing China SEO characteristics and China market specificities, we discussed the best way to leverage SEO in China, which revolves around the following three axes: Increasing your brand visibility through the creation of valuable and relevant content for users Maximizing ROI by combining SEO & Paid Search Controlling your brand's online reputation  To download the full presentation, click on the below picture:
With a population lately estimated around 720 million netizens and active at 85% every day, China internet has now become a gigantic node of interactions that brands need to constantly monitor to catch the latest trends and continue delivering successful services & products. At the heart of this new challenge: the tracking of quantitative and qualitative data.
With a population estimated around 720 million netizens and active at 85% every day, China internet has become a gigantic node of interactions that brands need to constantly monitor to catch the latest trends and continue delivering successful services & products. At the heart of this new challenge: the tracking of quantitative and qualitative data. Upon this inaugural article of the analytics series, we will dress up an overview of the Chinese analytics market over its different facets: characteristics, trends, challenges and tools. #1 Paid media concentrate most of attention Paid media (PPC & Display) historically dominate advertising digital investments, driven by the needs of reaching the masses and catching a maximum of visibility. However, while related technologies have gradually improved along the past years, allowing to target much more precisely specific audiences (e.g. programmatic buying), lots of marketers have continued to pilot their campaigns through generic KPIs, originally around ad centric measurement (impressions, clicks, CTR), but also more recently around site-centric measurement (pageviews, bounce-rate, conversions). In addition, Chinese paid media market also includes lots of fake traffic (robots) perturbing global analysis. As a direct consequence, the measure and comparison of the performance (ROI) between the different acquisition channels often remain unclear while efficient solutions actually exist (we will describe one below). #2 The Chinese internet: a complex terrain From a technical perspective now, the Chinese internet remains a constant challenge for digital analytics for two main reasons: Market is split between different ecosystems At the opposite of the West standards, China internet appears to be vertically organized around three pillars: Social media platforms (Wechat, Weibo, etc.) answering specific Chinese needs for feedbacks and interactions with brands Marketplaces (Taobao/Tmall, JingDong, etc.) concentrating most of online shopping activities Third-party websites (brands, portals, etc.) serving the informational needs about products and services And, as no bespoke user-centric analytics solution has been available on the market so far, data need to be aggregated manually from separate sources in order to draw the most accurate picture of the digital property, at the cost of a tedious (and time consuming) work. But one more time, solutions exist. Market is quickly evolving As many already know, China is a place where everything is used to going a little faster than anywhere else in the world. This characteristic is especially true on the Internet where technologies drive constant new usage and ease. 2016 has therefore been the year of the mobile with a penetration rate of over 90% of total Chinese netizens. Here also, this new trend came along with some tracking technical issues such as the accurate recognition of “phablets” (huge smartphones between mobile and tablet devices that knew a certain success in China). #3 Latest analytics trends On top of the specific market & technic issues mentioned above, China digital analytics will also face more global challenges in 2017:     - Attribution: understanding the relations between the different acquisition levers that lead to the final conversion, to optimize advertising investments. - Conversion Rate Optimization: optimizing on-site user experience to maximize conversions without massive increase of investment. - Data visualization: drawing performance report through clear indicators to detect trends ahead and smooth decision-making process. #4 Web analytics tools Originally existing through a myriad of tools developed either by brands or web agencies and mainly based on server logs, Chinese web analytics tools remained for a long time limited to basic tracking only. However, rapid developments in the digital landscape helped revamp the offer. Below is a list of what we believe are the most representative tools on the market today. Google Analytics, the reference Often falsely accused of perturbing page loading time when not of being totally blocked (as is the Google suite in China), the tool still appears as one of the most effective solution available on the market and is often quoted as much for its tracking flexibility (making possible to track international campaigns over different sources and mediums - e.g. PPC, affiliation, programmatic buying), as for its flexible reports allowing to cross metrics and dimensions together, and therefore accessing data at an unprecedented level, eventually driving analytics to its latest extensions: bringing UX and technical insights. Baidu Tongji, the complementary tool As often in China, local competitors imitate leading products: Baidu Tongji is probably the most emblematic example. However, if Baidu Tongji mostly focus on chasing after Google Analytics - but always a bit behind the times, marketers still refer to it for local search campaigns as the tool is, for instance, the unique way to retrieve Baidu SEO keywords. Google Data Studio, the game changer Newcome of the Google suite, Data Studio aims at providing powerful reports that talk to their target thanks to a simple and intuitive layout. While the tool was initially conceived to dynamically retrieve data from Google Analytics, it also supports manual imports allowing the display of data coming from other channels (social media, etc), which turn it into a well-adapted tool for the Chinese market situation, Also: read our detailed introduction of Google Data Studio. Conclusion In 2016, while the Chinese internet has finally found its DNA, China slowing economy has led brands to develop sustainable growth, and yet, only a few of them have chosen to take advantages of the (numerous) analytics benefits, mostly for lack of knowledge. In the next articles of this series, altima° China digital analytics experts will share concrete insights to help you better understand and handle this critical phase in your digital adventures. Stay tuned.
The booming Chinese e-commerce market makes a compelling case for global brands to localise their platform and services. The stake of not adapting is rather high, not to say radically disqualifying. Here, we provide a handful of tips which are worth considering when localizing your e-commerce platform.
The booming Chinese e-commerce market makes a compelling case for global brands to localise their platform and services. The stake of not adapting is rather high, not to say radically disqualifying. Here, we provide a handful of tips which are worth considering when localizing your e-commerce platform. 1) Online Chat Presence “One of the most distinctive online habits among Chinese consumers is the tendency to prefer instant messaging (IM) over e-mail. For instance, 87 percent of Chinese digital consumers use the Internet for IM” - BCG report “China’s Digital Generations 2.0 When it comes to online shopping, most Chinese consumers don’t take it lightly. When encountering an inquiry which requires an answer, according to researches, most shoppers prefer talking directly to customer services over waiting for an email reply. As different as it might sound, potential customers will be more likely to be turned away if a live chat is not properly implemented on your e-commerce site, regardless of how established your brand is at a global scale. In fact, most e-commerce websites in China are equipped with at least 2 formats of live chat for shoppers to choose from, especially highlighted in the product detail page where users need the most support. While localizing its content for the China market,  the korean online shopping site, Stylenanda, implemented a live chat in a prominent place: Booking.com puts its 24/7 hotline at the bottom of the page: altima° helped one of its clients, Thomas Cook, bringing their service to China. Live chat is among one of the UX improvements which was later implemented on their new site. 2) Easy Single Sign In The popularity of emails in China is not as high as in Western countries except for working purposes. Thus, for the local market, there are two common ways to login and register: through third party platforms or mobile numbers. Websites could be directly using the information retrieved from third party platforms by using third-party login, which helps save time for users to register. In addition to that, using mobile numbers to register is not only convenient for users to manage the account, but also good for the brand to ensure the authenticity of users information. Users can login with their WeChat and/or Weibo account on Tripadvisor’s Chinese site. Amazon.cn uses mobile numbers and WeChat accounts as the approach to register. Local social media accounts and mobile numbers can also be used to log in on Sephora.cn. 3) Category/Navigation Bar Major Chinese e-commerce websites use two kinds of navigation bars: the vertical mega menu on the left side, which helps refine the classification of products, and the horizontal navigation bar on top. Case: My protein is an European leading sport nutrition brand. When localizing their online shopping website in China, they split their sport supplements and protein powders into different categories, while it was only one on the original site. Instead of putting sport supplements in the navigation bar, they create a “Foodie” area on their Chinese website, considering that Asians put great attention to food related things. Skyscanner adds traveling inspirations and App downloading on their Chinese website. PayPal translated their navigation to fit the Chinese context, and add the receive the payment of foreign trade part according to Chinese use cases. Decathlon.cn changes their horizontal menu to the mega menu and highlights the sports filter. 4) The Uprising Social Media Tools in China        “ Social media is the key to success for e-commerce companies in China. ” A brand that wants to attract as many Chinese customers as possible do not want to miss out Chinese social media tools, such as Wechat and Weibo. Weibo is known as the “Chinese Twitter”, and it has become one of the most influential Social Network Service (SNS) in China. The other one, Wechat, would be more like a mobile Facebook, adapted to the Chinese market. As most of the transactions on Wechat happen between acquaintances, the conversion rate is subsequently higher on Wechat than on Weibo, given that sharings and recommendations coming from friends are more likely to striking than neutral postings. There is another online social community that’s worth mentioning, which is Zhihu. Zhihu is a Chinese version of Quora which captures a considerable amount of frequent and loyal users. It is no wonder that it has become the rising star among PR specialists from different brands. Overall, most companies use local social media platforms to promote and run campaigns. However, these could also be potentially leveraged to offer better customer services. Users could indeed follow social media accounts to ask questions and gain information on the products and services they are interested in. For example, some airline companies are starting to offer check-in services to users on their Wechat public account. The most relevant function related to social media on cross-border e-commerce platforms is sharing. Share buttons are usually put under the product’s picture or under the product’s title. Sometimes, when there is too much information on the product’s page, websites put share buttons on the right floating bar. To share product pages via Wechat, users can scan the related QR code. Amazon.cn puts local social media share icons under the product title. The Chinese version of TripAdvisor does not only highlight sharing functions on the right hand side, but also promotes their WeChat account under the photo gallery. While designing Bioderma’s Chinese website, we implemented share icons under the CTA, with a highlighted social media account link on the sticky bar, at the bottom. 5) Always Another Promotion Around the Corner! To leverage the mainstream sub-culture, most e-commerce websites regularly provide special local promotions to attract users. In recent years, merchants would manufacture “festivals” such as “11.11”, “12.12”, and “5.20”, to use them as the stunts for sales and promotions. In general, the information of promotion is put forward on banners, on the first screen. Here is how Sephora promotes their 11.11 sales information. Estee Lauder highlights the 11.11 campaign on their Chinese website in order to attract their targeted customers. Amazon.cn puts a slideshow in order to display their series of promotion event. 6) Trust is The Gold It is easy for shoppers to be skeptical while shopping online, hence the need of reassuring your customers on the fact that you are a reliable seller. As a matter of fact, there is very often a message of trust on Chinese e-commerce websites. For example, customers of fashion e-commerce websites are looking for proof of products authenticity and returning policy conditions. Reassuring notices are usually put on the header or on the pre-footer of the website. Clarins displays reassuring messages on the first screen of its Chinese website. Lookfantastic shows trust notices again on the checkout. Clinique’s Chinese website displays messages of trust on the product detail page. 7) Customer Info Regarding customers information, there are a couple of differences as well. For instance, Chinese users are usually not asked to fill in the post code. Unlike other citizens, most Chinese people don't know their exact post code, which anyway does not have any impact on the shipping process. Another specific information is the Fapiao. Fapiao are official invoices, registered at the local tax bureau, which are used as a final proof-of-purchase of a good or service. When purchasing goods for business use, consumers ask for a Fapiao as a proof. Not being able to provide Fapiaos to Chinese customers would constitute a large disadvantage compared to the competition. Estee Lauder has also changed the checkout form to ask for the user’s full name instead of his/her first and last names, in addition to adding a Fapiao field. 8) Tap, Scan and Pay Research shows that more than half of Chinese online shoppers would like to pay through third-party online payment platforms. In China, this business is blooming thanks to Alipay, WeChat pay and UnionPay (Quick & Online). Owned by Alibaba Group, Alipay is by far the biggest third-party payment platform. Aside from facilitating online transactions, Alipay has been diversifying their services, which include Yu’ebao - an online investment fund, and Ant Financial - an online financial service provider. WeChat Pay, developed by the IM giant Tencent, gained its popularity by offering a wide range of public services through it. As for UnionPay, it is the only domestic bank card issuer. While more than 70% of Chinese customers are using Alipay and Wechat pay, UnionPay failed to accumulate a user base as well as killer use cases. Over the course of time, using Alipay or Wechat payment is considered by most consumers as more convenient than using traditional Union Pay channels. Users can directly scan sellers’ QR code which supports Wechat or Alipay to pay the orders. Compared to filling all the bankcard information, scan and pay has quickly became the trend. E-commerce websites Revolve.com and lookfantastic.com added Alipay payment on their Chinese website. Club Med’s Chinese website – designed and developed by altima°, offers Alipay and Union pay as the 2 main methods of payment. 9) Real Inputs from Your Users Due to the lack of trust on product’s quality, more than 60% of Chinese customers tend to make payment decisions through product reviews. On most of the Chinese e-commerce websites, users are allowed to post opinions with pictures, and, are able to ask questions to those who already bought the product. Product reviews do not only allow users to know more about the product, but also encourage them to proceed to the transaction. Lancome’s and Bioderma’s Chinese site have added quite a lot of information on the product, compared to a short description on the original platforms.

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