China Chinese Markets Digital Marketing Marketing

What is the future of content marketing in China

Content Marketing in China

Recently, Thoughtful China released a new episode about content marketing in China. They sat down with Lincoln Bjorkman, Wunderman’s global chief creative officer, to talk about how to produce content that is targeted, engaging and effective at achieving its objectives. The talk is interesting and you can watch it below.

Click here to view the video from inside China.

Content Marketing

What is content marketing and how is it carried out in China? The first question we need to answer is “what is content marketing?” I would define content marketing as: content that is produced by a company with the goal of communicating a non-commercial message through non-advertising channels. Let’s break that down. All content (ads, videos, blogs, brochures, etc.) are designed to communicate, that is marketing’s first job. Marketing is about communicating a message about your brand, product, company, event, etc.

How is content marketing different than advertising? Advertising is usually designed with a product or service specifically highlighted for the purpose of selling that product or service. Content marketing is often times created to inform, entertain, or educate the target audience, not specifically sell something. The goal is to create trust and authority, which will ultimately drive profitable behavior.

What do I mean by communicating a message through non-advertising channels? Most times content marketing is carried out in the form of a blog or email list. Other platforms can be video hosting sites or social media. The message is usually non-commercial in nature and posted for ‘free’. This is not to say that companies do not spend money on advertising to promote their content, but that the content itself is not posted has advertisement.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, “Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Content Marketing in China

When I was working for an agency here in China, we did a lot of content marketing and social media marketing for brands looking to enter the Chinese markets. My job was to create compelling content that was usually in the form of stories related to the brands the agency represented.

For example, the agency worked with universities that were interested in attracting Chinese students to study abroad. Instead of running traditional advertising, we would often write stories about students that studied at the university. After we had written an interesting story, we would get it posted on a popular site. These stories would have more impact because the audience was more targeted and interested in the content.

Running a traditional advertisement is difficult to track and often leads to wasted views because the TVC or print ad is less targeted. Posting articles on study abroad websites or education portals or even the university’s blog had a greater impact because it was better targeted.

As you can see content marketing in China is very similar to content marketing anywhere else. The difference is the sites, platforms, and behaviors of the target audience. Content marketing in China, just like the rest of the world, is about better targeting and creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience. This can be done though video like Thoughtful China, a blog like this one, or social media like Burberry’s WeChat.

Here is an interesting podcast talking more about content marketing in China. Cas McCullough from Brilliant Content put together this podcast about content marketing in China titled “How Content Marketing is Done in China.” You can listen below to hear her opinion about content marketing in China:

How will content marketing in China change in the future? Here is a great infographic about the changes we can expect to see throughout 2015. This infographic was found on Wall Blog.

Key insights: 31% of companies in China are planning to reduce traditional advertising budgets and reallocate those funds to content marketing and new media. Companies using WeChat will increase use and the main goal of content marketing in China will be to increase sales and brand awareness.

Content Marketing in China

Currently, content marketing is the sweet heart of the marketing and advertising industry but companies must not get caught up focusing on the wrong metrics and measurements. It is tempting to chase vanity metrics like ‘Page Views or Likes’ and forget that all marketing is about driving profitable customer action.

With millions of articles, videos, infographic, photos, etc. being published each month, it is becoming more important to understand your audience and provide the ‘right’ content at the ‘right’ time in order to drive profitable customer actions. The companies that can understand and implement proper strategies will benefit from content marketing in China, but if you are looking for viral success or quick sales boosts than traditional advertising is still the best option.

Here are a few other infographics and articles you might find interesting:

What are your thoughts on content marketing and how do you think content marketing in China will change? Leave a comment; I love to know what others think.

Content Marketing in China

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  • Reply
    August 5, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    Nice post.

    I see content marketing as being closely related to social (as mentioned in the video), but also related to SEO. Actually, it was SEO that formed the background for me.

    So with that in mind, Baidu is still quite a bit behind Google in terms of actually being able to deliver quality content results in the SERPs, and I see less excellent content on Chinese websites than I do on English websites still. We’re working on improving this – increasing content quality for use with SEO.

    I’d be interested in hearing more about what you learned about educational content marketing. We know a fair bit about this too.

    • Reply
      Chairman Migo
      August 11, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      Hey Tait,

      Thanks for commenting. I think the new content marketer will be a jack of all trades. Content marketing is starting to pull more and more on Social, Email, SEO, and Relationship marketing. I think Baidu still has a long way to go to bring better content into the SERP and until Baidu fixes their algorithm marketers and content producers will continue to produce lower quality content. Marketers often do the lease amount of work to ROI, so, it is on Baidu to improve.

      In terms of educational content marketing there is a lot that universities or institutions can do to attract new students. When I was working for an agency, I tried to convince my boss to run a full content campaign that followed a cartoon character around campus and created content about and around the things he did everyday. I think this would be a great way to introduce a university to a potential student. We didn’t run the campaign, but this is just one idea for educational content marketing. Other ideas would be to focus on the area not the school, interviews with past students focusing on jobs/careers after graduation, content about one or two main majors and develop thought leadership in those fields. There are many ways to move forward with edu content marketing, but the top 10 reason to study abroad posts are old and unoriginal.

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