Many brands are looking to engage with the Chinese market – and for good reason. With over 1.02 billion internet users – who, on average, log over 5 hours each day online – the Chinese market has high potential. Setting up a Baidu account is often a natural first strategic step for those looking to enter the Chinese market.
When done successfully, the ROI from Baidu advertising can be tremendous, thanks to China’s enormous market size and Baidu’s prevalent usage. With an average market share of 75.5% across all devices, Baidu is a Chinese search giant that can help brands reach a wide audience in China. But Western companies must be ready to navigate Baidu’s many setup challenges.
Here’s what to know about Baidu marketing. Plus how you can potentially find an easier entry point to drive marketing localization results in mainland China more quickly.
BAIDU ACCOUNT SETUP CONSIDERATIONS
The “Google of China,” Baidu has the most potential to reach your target audience in mainland China. But setting up a Baidu account is considerably more involved than getting started on Google Ads or Bing.
Setting up a Baidu account takes time
Overall, it will take you at least 12-16 weeks to complete setup requirements before you can begin running ads on Baidu. This includes a business registry and formal application through the Chinese government. This alone can take 8-12 weeks for approval.
Another hurdle in setting up your Baidu account is the banking system. You must have access to a Chinese bank account to fund your campaigns. All media and Baidu PPC campaigns must be prepaid in Chinese Yuan, via direct transfer within the Chinese banking system. No credit cards are accepted.
In-country support is essential
The Baidu interface is in Simplified Chinese. So you’ll need in-country support to help you set up the account and manage the funds for your campaigns on the platform itself. Your marketing budget will need to include room for extra fees to pay for this account support.
In-country resources are also essential for helping launch your site presence on Baidu. As of 2021, all new accounts must build landing pages using Baidu’s CMS, Jimuyu. Jimuyu itself offers many benefits. It’s free to use, ensures faster load times than self-hosted sites, fully connects to Baidu analytics, and includes a relatively simple site-builder tool. However, the Jimuyu interface is, of course, in Simplified Chinese. So you’ll need a local digital marketing specialist to assist with this aspect of setup.
Once your Baidu account is approved, an in-country Baidu expert will be critical to running a successful campaign. As is the case in any international market, an in-country strategist can ensure that your keywords are based on impactful language that’s both natural and search-relevant to the local audience.
ALTERNATIVE TACTICS WHILE YOU WAIT FOR YOUR BAIDU ACCOUNT
If you need a more immediate solution, there are other ways to get started in the region while waiting out the Baidu account setup process.
Social media advertising in China
Although Baidu is the primary marketing channel in China, you can effectively build your brand presence and engage consumers through other digital channels, too. When it comes to paid advertising, social media platforms in China offer considerable opportunity for engagement.
As of January 2022, there were 983 million social media users in China, up 5% from 2021 to 2022. WeChat in particular is a social platform that includes an ecosystem of “mini programs.” (Think lightweight apps that run within the platform.) And Chinese internet users heavily rely on it in their daily lives.
While strict regulation of online marketing is always a reality in China, social platforms like WeChat typically have a less complicated setup process and require less budget than paid search efforts on Baidu. Testing other digital marketing tactics in China can help you maximize engagement online while you establish and optimize your presence on Baidu. And it’s never a wasted investment as the most effective international digital marketing strategy always involves a multi-channel approach.
Advertising to Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore on Google
If the setup lag for Baidu advertising doesn’t work with your desired timeline, you might consider Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore. Conveniently, all three of these affluent markets have a shared preference for Google over any other search engine. These locales provide an easier entry point for US marketers. They make it possible to drive quick results in the short term while setting up a Baidu account and campaign strategy for mainland China. Note that Hong Kong and Taiwan are Traditional Chinese locales, while Simplified Chinese (used in mainland China) is predominant in Singapore.
Advertising on Baidu in China can be a lucrative endeavor, as long as you have the patience and budget to endure the initial setup challenges and campaign funding. If you’re wanting to get up and running in the region more quickly, you may need to investigate other tactics. Consider additional marketing platforms like WeChat, and launch Google campaigns in Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong – all while pursuing the longer-term strategy of managing campaigns on Baidu.
With any approach, the power of international SEO and paid search depends on in-country digital expertise to research high volume, highly relevant, category-specific search terms that reflect how native speakers naturally perform online searches in their market. As your paid strategy evolves, in-market expertise and insight is critical to setting you up for success and driving lasting results.