How to Develop a China Digital Marketing Strategy to Enter China

Why you need a China digital marketing strategy

China is a dynamic market and, in terms of the internet environment, China is so different from the rest of the world. For example, Baidu is a major search engine in China, not Google, and Weibo is their own social media, not Twitter. 

Also, WeChat is the most popular instant messaging app in China, not WhatsApp. That is why having a China marketing strategy will help businesses promote their business to the right audience in China market, especially for western brands and western marketers unfamiliar with market regulation and the environment.

Based on your business strategy

Before you develop a marketing strategy, you should ask yourself what your business strategy is. Your marketing strategy should be based on your business strategy and brand strategy. Your marketing strategy is not equal to your business strategy. 

Below are three things you need to identify before you develop your China marketing strategy.


  1. Your business goal for the Chinese market.
  2. Your business model for the Chinese market
  3. Your main product or service for the Chinese market
  4. Your brand perception and identity for the Chinese market

The answers to the three questions above are the foundation of China digital marketing strategy.

Don’t just copy your marketing strategy from other markets

Some companies will directly copy their marketing strategy from other markets and think what works in other markets will work in China. It is a mistake lots of businesses made. The truth is you need to have a specialized marketing strategy to fit the specific markets. No two markets are alike.


How to develop a China digital marketing strategy

Digital marketing or Offline marketing

When you develop your China marketing strategy, you need to identify whether your marketing channels is digital marketing or offline marketing channel. Depending on the business stage and business model, you might prioritize one of them. Eventually, your business might need both. 

4 steps to develop a China marketing strategy

There are 4 steps to develop your China marketing strategy. 



Evaluating is the first step to understand where you are from a marketing perspective.


  1. Evaluate your existing digital and offline channels, and marketing/brand assets. Your business might have been doing marketing in China in the past. You can list all of the assets, e.g. content, CRM, you have and evaluate how each of them performed. Also, you can review what channels, e,g, social media, search engines, or e-commerce platforms, you have used in the past and evaluate the performance.
  2. Audit current and past digital marketing campaigns. Your business might have executed marketing campaigns in the past. You can list all of your campaigns and review their performance to see which one works or doesn’t work. 
  3. Competitor Marketing Analysis. There is always competition in your space. It is important to understand how your competitors or their brand are doing in terms of marketing. Doing this will help understand what they have done currently and in the past. We can even analyze what might or might not work for them and improve from there.



Foundation is the second step to lay out the basic information about your company goal, services/products, and buyers. Without that information, you won’t be able to have the direction for your marketing strategy. 


  1. Identify company goal. Your marketing strategy should be aligned with your business strategy. Before you lay out your marketing strategy, try to spend some time reviewing your business strategy and identify what you want to achieve through marketing strategy to help achieve the goal of business strategy.
  2. Identify your core products and services. Based on your business strategy, you need to identify your core products/services for China market. The real situation is not all of your services and products will fit China market. It will be much more effective to choose your core products/services in the beginning. 
  3. Build your buyer personas. Understanding who your Chinese consumer is and what problem your Chinese customer wants to solve is crucial. As soon as you have a clear picture of your Chinese audience, you can customize the right marketing plan to reach them. 
  4. Identify where your buyers are. Once you know whom you want to reach, spend some time thinking about where your buyers are in online and offline channels. Without knowing where they are, you won’t be able to reach them.
  5. Identify your brand identity and brand perception. It is easy for businesses to ignore the brand effect when they are in the market entry stage. But a brand has numerous intangible influences on a buyer's decision. If businesses can make sure they have the right brand perception and brand identity for Chinese people. It goes without saying having the right brand positioning will help their marketing campaign in the long run.



Now you know your current situation (Evaluating) and your direction (Foundation). The third step is to map the current situation and your direction to develop concrete steps.


  1. Develop a process to push the target Chinese audience down the marketing funnel. Now you need to define a marketing funnel to lead your target audience to go through each funnel stage.
  2. Define the marketing channels, e.g. social media, and tactics to reach the target audience Once you define your marketing funnel, now you need to define marketing channels and tactics for different funnel stages. The goal here is to reach the target audience in different funnel stages.
  3. Identify tools and map out the process for lead generation and lead naturing Now you have the marketing funnel process, channels, and tactics, e.g. KOL marketing. It is time to decide what tools you need to use to achieve results. 



After you have concrete steps for your strategy, the fourth step is how to implement each of your steps and track the performance.


  1. Implementation plan. The strategy won’t be successful without execution. You need to have a plan to execute your strategy. You might need to decide timeline, recourses, and task owners. 
  2. Performance tracking plan. In addition to the implementation plan, you will need to have a performance tracking plan. Once you start to execute your strategy, you will have data. It is crucial to analyze and track data. More importantly, you need to optimize your marketing plan all the time. Also, reviewing your strategy at least once every six months will be very helpful.

China digital Marketing Flowchart.png


A China digital marketing strategy is just a beginning

After finishing the four steps, you will have a concrete China marketing strategy to implement. But remember that a strategy is just a blueprint for you to navigate. More importantly, you need to periodically review and optimize because your strategy is a forecast and plan. 

In the real world, the market is changing all the time. You will always need to optimize your strategy, according to the real-time market situation. 

What is your process to develop your marketing strategy? And what is your biggest challenge to execute marketing strategy? 

Please feel free and comment below. I would love to know.