digital marketing in china

Digital Marketing in China: 5 Mistakes to Avoid

The Chinese market is understandably one of the most sought-after markets in the world. More and more Western companies see the immense potential within the Chinese market and wish to become a part of its worldwide success. However, with the competition within the Chinese market soaring high, there is a vital need to come prepared. Therefore, finding a strategic plan for entering the Chinese market is the key to success and the only way to ensure a smooth landing.

While developing your strategy, you must put much thought into your digital marketing plan. Having well-executed digital marketing, one that caters to the interest of your Chinese audience, can easily tip the scales in your favor. Chinese customers are mostly very digital-savvy, and so to grab their attention and gain their trust, you must do it by using digital means. 

There is a false assumption that the digital marketing that worked well in the west would work just as well in China. As a result, many Western companies mirror their digital strategy without changing anything and wonder why their digital campaign ended with disappointing results. Using this mindset is a mistake that might cost you a lot of money. In order to avoid these fruitless outcomes, we have gathered in this article 5 mistakes that you should steer clear of when developing your digital strategy.

Mistake No. 1: Knowing Nothing About China

That is a critical mistake that could cost you considerably. Being underprepared when entering the Chinese market is problematic, especially when the competition is this gigantic. However, there is some basic knowledge required before entering the Chinese market or creating a suitable digital marketing plan. Without this knowledge, you could never reach the Chinese audience or might even receive backlash in the worst-case scenario. Before choosing a digital strategy, cultural norms, political standards, and regulations are only some of the basic things you should be aware of. There is a need to be extra sensitive when talking about China’s political landscape, and as a foreigner, it is best to avoid talking about it altogether. You should also be aware of the cultural difference and treat every cultural norm with proper respect. All in all, being respectful, sensitive, and knowledgeable are the three most important approaches that would help you get far in the Chinese market.

Mistake No. 2: Using Western Platforms

Google, Facebook, Twitter, and many more popular platforms are blocked in China. The most important English-language social media sites have been blocked in China, and new ones are added to the list each year. Hence, you cannot rely on these common platforms and must get used to local Chinese social platforms instead. To almost every Western media platform, there is a Chinese equivalent. For example, the ‘Chinese Google’ is called Baidu; the ‘Chinese LinkedIn’ is called Maimai, and so on. It was not too long ago that LinkedIn still worked in China, but it had come to its unavoidable shutdown in October this year. This incident emphasizes the importance of using local Chinese platforms, even when a Western platform is still available. You cannot rely on it being available for the entire length of your digital campaign. Social platforms such as Wechat, Tencent QQ, Sina Weibo, and DouYin (TikTok) are some of China’s dominating social media apps. When considering your digital strategy, you must get familiar with each platform’s unique characteristics and choose the best site (or sites) to use to marketize your brand.  

Mistake No. 3: Marketing Without KOLs

Key Opinion Leaders have much influence when it comes to social marketing. Key opinion leaders are spokespersons, brand ambassadors, or thought leaders. They provide their opinions on points of view, estimations, beliefs, judgments, and attitudes toward a product or brand to the public. Chinese KOLs are divided into three segments: celebrities, bloggers, and WangHong (Internet celebrities). Many Chinese people, especially the younger generation, look up to those influencers and want to be like them. If a popular, well-liked KOL approves of your product, it will be more likely to become successful among its thousands of Chinese followers. A KOL partnership is a prized one, and a company should seek to find a KOL that best aligns with their product and brand. Using a KOL is a fantastic way to reach your target market and build brand awareness and engagement. It is also a sure way of gaining trust from your Chinese customers, who would find it easier to trust your brand when a KOL vouches for it. 

Mistake No. 4: Lacking a Targeting Approach

It is a common mistake to think of China as one big market when there is a vast difference between each region. Though it is an unofficial list, the Chinese tier city-systems do exist, and it is a beneficial list designed to classify each city and region hierarchically. While looking at this list, you must strategize and choose the best-suited tier cities you wish to target. Focusing on Tier 1 cities (like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen) is not recommended when the competition is incredibly high. SMEs with limited resources are more likely to succeed in Tier 2 or Tier 3 cities and focus their minds on these fast-growing cities instead. Once you have chosen your target demographic region, you must study its target audience and accordingly build your digital market strategy.

Mistake No. 5: Choosing a Bad Agency

Entering the Chinese market alone is not an easy fit, and you would most likely need the help of an agency at some point to help you along the way. The mistake of choosing a lousy agency could cost you significantly, and that is why you should do thorough research and find the best, most professional agency you can afford. A good agency would help you in many vital areas, such as:

  • Conducting market research
  • Providing a Chinese spokesperson
  • Finding strategic solutions
  • Tailoring their methods to your needs
  • Creating a faultless digital marketing plan

With the competition surrounding the Chinese market is at an all-time high, having an agency that wants the best for you by your side is a must. 


The best way to avoid these mistakes is through China market research. Having a bad digital strategy does not understand the Chinese market and consumers. Xinergy Global is experienced in helping clients avoid these common mistakes through professional analysis, consumer research, and more. For more information regarding our services, contact Xinergy today.

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Chandan Singh
1 year ago

We are very grateful to you for this information and we hope that you will continue to give us such information.

tester tester2
1 year ago


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