Why Your Marketing Efforts Aren’t Reaching Audiences In China

Early morning on The Bund --- Image by © Ocean/Corbis

Trying to crack the Chinese market? Here are some surefire tips on upping your marketing efforts as the challenges of China’s unique online environment could be hindering your success, writes Charmaine Wong, business marketing coordinator at digital marketing consultancy, Think China.

Charmaine Wong
Posted by Charmaine Wong

A China-friendly website is paramount to marketing any product or service in China. It’s also crucial to your brand image in China, communicating with clients, connecting with potential business partners and collaborating with your staff.

Despite the effort that goes into online and offline campaigns that lead back to websites, it isn’t uncommon for the Chinese teams of multi-million dollar global enterprises to complain that their company website isn’t working in China.

The huge Internet population

Results may be falling short of targets when it comes to website hits and engagement from China because of the country’s large internet population.

China’s international Internet bandwidth was 3.6 Tbps in 2013, up by 11 per cent from the previous year, according to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). It may sound like a big number, but when it’s shared across the Chinese Internet population, it gets diluted very quickly and slows down.

The Great Firewall

Regardless of your content, online censorship in China may be hindering your success.

All web traffic in China is filtered through the Great Firewall. Although most websites pass through without any problems, the sheer volume of traffic puts a heavy burden on the monitoring infrastructure, ultimately slowing down Internet speed.

Referencing blocked features

Chances are the more creative you are when trying to engage online with Western audiences, the more difficulties your mainland Chinese users face when trying to access your website. This is because many developers creating sites for China overlook how various components will load there.

A website developed in Australia or the US will often have references to Google Font, a few embedded widgets from social media blocked in China such as YouTube and Facebook, or even jQuery scripts from the Google CDN (Content Delivery Network) server.

By getting rid of your dependency on external resources, using other CDNs, or loading them asynchronously, you can speed up the rendering of your website.

Serving your website from a distance

Hosting your website from within China or its neighboring countries will increase the speed of your website in the region. As the distance between your site host and target audience decreases, the time needed to load your website reduces and you’re more likely to keep the interest of the user

To check if you should reconsider hosting your website closer to China, we recommend you conduct a speed test of your website to understand the connection between your existing server and the Chinese Internet in different cities.

Websites hosted in China require a valid ICP recordal. If the website serves as an eCommerce platform or news publication, other additional legal requirements need to be fulfilled.

Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea are good choices for serving Chinese web traffic because the short distance between these countries to China is served by dedicated submarine cables. However, it’s important to ensure the hosting company has a dedicated bandwidth connected to the Chinese Internet and is not already over crowded with other websites. THINKCHINA works with a dedicated hosting provider in Hong Kong to ensure your website has a fast connection speed.

What if I’m already in China?

Businesses that already have an office in China should look toward cloud hosting in China.

International CDN provider Akamai also provides a China extension service allowing websites to be served from within China. However, this requires businesses to hold ICP recordal.

Don’t let your efforts go to waste

With all the time, resources and work that goes into websites and campaigns that direct audiences to your landing page, it would be a shame for all of that to go to waste just because your site can’t load in China.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your website is a one-size-fits-all for audiences around the world.