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Digital Marketing 101 in China:

Email Marketing and Live Streaming Marketing (Part 2/3)

5 min read

A good marketing campaign is often considered the key to success in China. However the marketing tools used in China can be very different to the tools used elsewhere in the world.

In this 3 part series we'll be covering industry secrets and best practices in digital marketing to help your business make a name for itself in China.

3. Email Marketing:

  • A Bumpy Ride in China

Email Marketing in China is taking time to gain traction, even with less scrutiny from privacy and data protection legislation. While Business To Business (B2B) email marketing is sustaining despite the high bounce rates (Rate of viewers who visit a website then leave instead of staying on the site), Business To Customer (B2C) email marketing is on a downhill.

The email deliverability rate is around 30% and the bounce rate is around 2-3% depending on the industry and market type. Additionally, there is a likelihood that marketing emails are not even being delivered to the spam folder.

In order to being an email marketing campaign, it is advisable to consult with a local email service provider (ESPs) such as 163, QQ, or Sina, as most international email providers are blocked. ESPs possess good and trusting relationships with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in China and communicate evaluations between ISPs and ESPs for better email reach.

  • Find a Local Internet Service Provider (ISP)

One of the best things you can do when starting an email marketng campaign is use the services of a local ISP. This is because Chinese ISPs have their own anti-spam tools and they can better guide you in navigating the formatting and structuring of emails.

The generic rules of formatting which most of them follow are finding a balancing act and cultural adaptability between text and images and correct links and titles (depending on what your email is about). As a rule of thumb, images with titles and descriptions will give more clarity in the email filtering process, whilst precise subject lines should help in getting more readership; it's also important to know and avoid using spam sensitive words.

There are heaps of spam trigger words and email harvesting is known to cause high bounce rates in email marketing campaigns, however check with your local provider for a proper list of spam trigger words in China. Spam filtering systems known as false-positives also hinder the delivery of emails.

In China, non-Chinese Electronic Direct Mail (EDM) providers are also known to have 80-90% bounce rates. Overall, to avoid becoming spam, it's important to choose correct words for the subject line.

Generally speaking, trust is an important factor in online marketing, however due to response and feedback being minimal, the opening rate of emails is low in B2C.

  • China Is More Mobile Centric

80% of China's internet traffic comes from mobile phones, thus your website and email template should be designed accordingly, as multichannel integration of email and SMS is gradually growing. As such, a good idea for any email marketing strategy in China would be to make your content mobile compatible, considering Chinese are active mobile phone users.

  • China Email Law

It's also important to take note of Chinese email laws as they can affect the message and interface of your email. For example, your character code in the subject line of emails should be GB2312 or UTF-8 according to your registered internet name. They are the key official character sets registered in China and they are used for simplified Chinese characters. This is used to avoid low open-rates and prevents "gibberish" symbols from appearing in your subject line or sender name. Non-compliance with laws may lead to an IP address or domain being blocked indefinitely, thus making the website inaccessible in China.

Email marketing law in China dictates that a recipient must give permission in order to be added to a mass emailing list. However, permission-based marketing is still at a nascent stage in China and more improvement is required for opt out methods or options for customers to unsubscribe from mailing lists.

For advertisement emails, it is important to incorporate “Ad” in English language emails or an equivalent Chinese word for advertisement in the subject line.  

  • Agencies That Can Help In Creating Your Email Strategy
  • Beansbox

4. Live Streaming Marketing:

  • Takes China By Storm

As of June 2016, China has 325 million live video streaming users and the numbers are expected to grow to 460 million by 2018. In 2012, 49. 4% of Chinese users were watching videos on their smartphone; now this figure is at 76.7%. Presently, there are around 200 live video streaming platforms and Apps available here, and more are expected to be made. In 2015, mobile video advertisement spending was $1.75 Billion. In 2016, 35.5 % users paid for content and this figure is set to rise 18.5 % each year. Watching videos online is such a popular digital platform for entertainment in China it is outperforming online gaming and reading.

  • Using Live Streaming as Digital Marketing

Given the explosive way in which live-streaming has become a popular entertainment tool, it is no surprise that it is becoming a hugely affective digital marketing tool that should be integrated into every marketing campaign to give companies an edge over competitors. Live-streaming's effectiveness lies in the fact that it is unlike other forms of modern-day marketing that are photoshop-laden and passive for the audience.

Live-streaming has a level of authenticity that Chinese viewers crave because they can interact with the product promoter of the experience in real-time. This means that Chinese consumers are more likely to buy a product that they can see working in real-time, or a product that is promoted by their favourite live-stream personality.

For example, Maybelline recently launched a two-hour live-stream with influencer Angelababy trying their lipsticks. This 2 hour live-stream managed to drive a fire-sale which sold over 10,000 products.

Another example is Mondelez's efforts in launching a double-chocolate Oreo flavour in China which saw them use a live-stream of two Chinese singers goofing around with Oreo biscuits on a live-stream. The stream was aired on 4 Alibaba platforms and accrued a total of 4.5 million unique views adding to the overall promotion of the product.

Both streams not only involved celebrities and notable influencers, which added to the product's reliability, but also involved a playful live-stream campaign that allowed users to interact with the product in a stream whose live nature makes it more genuine and transparent.

  • Best Practices for Live Streaming

In order to operate a live-stream that really appeals to Chinese viewers it's important to consider these factors:

  • Type of content: Depending on the product and service you're marketing, you will need to consider what type of live-stream content you want to use. The promotion can be a live show, an interview with a KOL, an instruction video, a virtual tour, etc. Different products and target audiences will appeal to certain content types.
  • Which platform(s) to use: There are currently more than 200 live streaming apps and platforms available in China and each will attract different viewers, influencers, and interest topics. Using multiple platforms will nturally allow you to reach more viewers but this is expensive.
  • Pick a good host/personality: Much of what drives the promotion in a live-stream is not necessarily the experience or content, but the personality or “influencer” who is promoting. Popular and trusted personalities are naturally more likely to promote a product better if users enjoy interacting with them and feel that their opinion is trustworthy. There are three main types of personalities who can promote your product: Insiders (people who work for the company), KOLs and influencers (people with a large social media following and work in a specific topic area), or celebrities. Selecting which of the three personalities to represent your product will depend on your marketing strategy, content, and budget.
  • Tools To Use (Live streaming platforms)
  • Douyu TV (斗鱼直播)
  • Quanmin TV (全民直播)
  • Huajiao (花椒直播)
  • Inke (映客)
  • Panda TV (熊猫直播)
  • YY (YY直播)
  • Huya (虎牙直播)
  • Tao Bao Live (淘宝直播)
  • Tmall Live (天猫直播)


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