It’s the most populated nation on Earth, its biggest market, and the chief manufacturer of most of our goods. China is the largest market for ecommerce in the world, and its still growing, with predictions it will reach $1.1 trillion by 2020.
The Chinese market is understandably very attractive for many companies looking to go global. But while this massive market presents huge business opportunities, entering China poses its own set of unique challenges. Here are our five tips for tapping into the Chinese market.
#1: Recognize regional language differences
China’s population is far from homogeneous. With over 1.35 billion residents, it’s actually incredibly diverse—comprising multiple ethnicities and countless cultural differences between its regions. This means one translation approach doesn’t fit all. Instead, your localization strategy should be tailored to the language and culture of the demographic you intend to reach.
Still, we can paint a general picture to help inform your language translation strategy for China. Modern Chinese typically involves two main forms of writing—Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese. In an effort to increase the literacy rate in the the end of the nineteenth century, the People’s Republic of China simplified the written Chinese language. Thus, two versions of written Chinese came into being.
If you’re targeting a specific geographic region, it is fairly straightforward to decide which to use. As a general rule, Simplified Chinese is the standard writing form used in Mainland China, Malaysia and Singapore. On the other hand, the Traditional form is primarily used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
#2: Focus on mobile app localization
Mobile commerce isn’t just important, it’s everything. China is now the largest market in the world for App Store revenue, and mobile shopping accounts for around half of ecommerce activity in the country.
The typical mobile user in China spends 30 minutes on phone-based shopping every day, according to research firm TNS Global. That’s why many companies seeking entry into China take a mobile-first approach. When planning for your launch into China, it’s imperative your app or site is optimized for Chinese mobile users.
#3: Optimize for Chinese search engines
In the same way Google dominates search in the United States, Baidu is the main player in the Chinese search market. Over 70 percent of online searches happen on Baidu, China’s primary search engine. So if you want consumers to find your website at all, your SEO efforts should be focused on Baidu, not Google.
There are slight differences in Baidu’s ranking algorithms compared to Google. For example, meta keywords and tags carry more weight than links. However, the most important difference is the language. Baidu only indexes Chinese characters. So obviously, you’ll need to have a Chinese version of your site in order to be discovered in China.
#4: Customize your social media
In addition to catering to Chinese search engines, it’s also imperative to have a presence on Chinese social platforms. Forrester Research describes the Chinese as “hyper social,” which makes Chinese consumers more likely to share information on shopping experiences, satisfaction, and promotion on social media. In particular, social media giant WeChat holds a status unlike any platformn in the U.S., combining features of email, instant messaging, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn all into one.
Furthermore, it’s important that you’re present on niche forums and communities that share industry-specific content such as:
This is the space where you can add competitive distance from your competitors, build brand awareness and gain a strong foothold in the Chinese marketplace.
#5: Work with a trusted Chinese translation partner
We’ve all seen examples of foreign companies’ hilariously mistranslated English ads, and you can bet that Chinese consumers have laughed the same way at poorly translated Chinese. The fact of the matter is that inaccurate translations kill the effectiveness of your marketing. Forget about machine translation—there’s no substitute for an experienced team of native linguists.
Professional human translation really isn’t that expensive, and it’s definitely worth the cost. Not only does human translation make your message more comprehensible, it helps build brand credibility and consumer trust, which is absolutely necessary if you want to gain traction in China.
Have you set your sights on China as part of your global strategy? If your business is looking to enter the Chinese market and would like to learn more about Chinese translation, our team is always happy to discuss and answer any questions that you may have.
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