Top Things to Know About Entering the China Market

 

This is for MNCs that are thinking about entering the China Market with a web and Internet presence, by summarizing some common questions and ‘need to knows’.

 

 

  • Should I host my website inside or outside of mainland China?

 

It depends on if China is one of your primary target markets and if it’s crucial that your web presence has to be quickly and easily accessible and locally-hosted. If yes, then you will have to go through the government compliance process.

 

Alternatively, using a foreign website, or hosting a website outside of China means that you don’t have to set up a company in China and go through the filing procedures (described in the section “Regulatory Considerations in China”). However, the website may not be completely accessible in China. Even if the website is in Chinese, it may be hard for it to be found on Baidu, China’s version of Google.

 

  • Will my website get blocked by the Great Firewall if I’m not hosting in mainland China?

 

It might, but there aren’t clear, strict rules on what will and won’t be allowed. Sometimes, an entire IP range may get blocked, but web sites hosted on Global Azure are definitely accessible in Mainland China. However, given the network latency and the excess server hops, it could lessen the user experience. 

 

  • How will the Great Firewall effect my company’s website?

 

Your front-end should not be connected to Google

Google, along with all of its services, is blocked in China. If you’re targeting a Chinese market, you’ll need to build a site that avoids using any of Google’s services. You should also find a replacement like using Baidu Maps instead of Google Maps, and self-hosted fonts instead of Google fonts, etc.

 

You should not embed videos from YouTube or Vimeo

In China, both YouTube and Vimeo services are blocked. You should host your video locally or on Chinese video hosting sites like Youku, Qiyi, Tudou or use Azure Media Services. Baidu is the most-frequently used search engine in China, so you’ll have to optimize your website for Baidu using a SEO audit tool.

 

You will need a China-specific social network presence

Globally popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are blocked. Any outreach you’re doing through these channels won’t be effective in China. You’ll need to have a social marketing strategy specifically tailored for the social networks in China (e.g. WeChat, Sina Weibo, etc).

 

Currently, there is no local social network integration (Social Identity Provider) on China Azure offered for these China social networks. However, we have an accelerator offering for WeChat that will help MNCs minimizing the required integration efforts. For more details, please refer to the section “Tools and Accelerators Offerings”.

 

  • What are the major differences in user expectations between those in China and in the West?

 

Below is a few of the most well-known differences between the user expectations in the East versus in the West. For more detailed information and statistics, you may need to find assistance from a local research firm in China.

 

Mobile-centrism

China is mobile-centered, so by the time China caught up with the rest of the world online, cell phones were Internet-equipped. The one-desktop-per-household era never happened, and because of this, mobile devices are seen as the original, the source, the center, of the online world. Your strategy should be equally mobile-centric.

 

QR Codes and Screen-Scanning Behavior

The QR code is popular in China. Because mobile phones are the preferred browsing method in China, all media, either a print ad, a business card, or a desktop website, must provide users a way to quickly get that data into their phone. The commonly used method of choice is via QR code. Not only should your business cards and print collateral offer QR codes, but your desktop website should feature QR codes in either the header and footer, allowing visitors to quickly load the mobile version of the site on their phones.

 

Content Localization

Content localization is more than just translating your content into Chinese. It should mean understanding the digital environment of the China market that you’re preparing to enter and the cultural ramifications of your business decisions. Content should be best tailored according to market needs.

 

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