Digital marketing is an essential part of e-commerce. The term is vague, and consists of many elements. The term Digital Marketing was first used in the 1990s, but has evolved quickly the past decade. The development of social networks, such as Facebook and Instagram, have accelerated the way companies market their products and services.
Hubspot, a leading CRM provider, describes digital marketing this way:
Digital marketing encompasses all marketing efforts that use an electronic device or the internet. Businesses leverage digital channels such as search engines, social media, email, and other websites to connect with current and prospective customers.– HubSpot
In China, digital marketing and e-commerce are interconnected. Content markting, influencer marketing and videos are all important ‘tools’ for companies in china, and its essential in driving sales, attract potential buyers and keep loyal customers engaged over time. The focus on content and video can not be emphasized enough, it is crucial in order to succeed in the Chinese market. Also, in the Western world, we are witnessing how engaging content is becoming increasingly important in any markering strategy. We can divide marketing into to parts or two ‘tactics’:
- Outbound marketing
- Refers to any kind of marketing where a company initiates the conversation and sends its message out to an audience. This does not need to be targeted to a specific audience, but is rather pushed marketing to a wide audience and includes more traditional marketing methods such as cold calls, and email.
- Inbound marketing
- Inbound marketing refers to marketing where a company shares targeted content to attract potential buyers. Examples of inbound tactics are paid search marketing and content marketing. This form of marketing is easier to track as you draw customers to your site, tracing every move along the way.
In China, inbound marketing is dominating, where content and entertaiment drive sales. People generally wants to stay in control of when and what they buy. Inbound marketing lets companies target their content towards a specific group, and let them control their purchasing journey. This is extremely powerful, as you guide and entice consumers, rather than ‘push’ them into buying. One example and buzzword in the marketing world in China is Social Commerce.
Social Commerce means buying directly in social networks. Social Media has always been important in any digital marketing strategy, but embedding shopping elements in social media networks, you attract potential buyers through engaging social tools such as stories, livestreaming and short videos. This is example of inbound marketing as you attract potential buyers by sharing relevant and engaging content that adds value. Influencer marketing is also powerful in China, leveraging influencers and opinion makers to promote products and services. By leaning on influencers, companies are increasing trust with potential customers. There are two ‘types’ of influencers in China: KOL’s (Key Opinion Leaders) and KOC’s (Key Opinion Consumers). KOLs are highly effective in communicating a brands message as they have a loyal existing follower base. KOCs are brand ambassadors, which are experts in their field, but not necessarily as well known as KOLs. However, many people value KOCs even more as they are ‘unfiltered’ and can be seen as a normal consumer showcasing a product.
Paid advertising is another way of promoting your products or services, setting parameters to target specific user groups. Nearly all Chinese platforms have options for paid advertising, similar to Google in the West. PPC model (pay per click) is a common model where you only pay when someone click on your ad. Therefore, it is critical to target your message towards the right target audience. By narrowing down your paramters directed towards the people who will most likely purchase your products, you are optimizing the money spent on advertising, in other words you will achieve a high ROAS (return on advertising spend). Utilizing paid advertising, you attract potential buyers by showcasing your product in the exact places where your target audience spend their time.
To sum up, there are some powerful ‘tools’ in the digital marketing area:
- Livestreaming with embedded shopping – a new way to promote products and educate the consumers. Easy to make a purchase directly in the livestreaming session
- Social Commerce – social media platforms, such as Wechat, embrace ecommerce by integrating shopping directly in their social networks.
- Influencers/ KOLs/KOCs – Leverage endorsements and product mentions from influencers in social media –people with a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts within their niche.
- Paid Advertising – is important in any digital marketing strategy as you direct and promote your products and services to a specific target audience. With paid advertisement you pay a fee to get your products or services displayed on digital platforms such as websites, search engines and social media.
By combining the social elements with highly engaging content, you are able to reach a massive consumer base. You let the consumer find you, not the other way around.