The maxim is that content is king, so it’s no surprise that content marketing is becoming a business critical issue for companies all over the world. And as new media matures and cements itself within organisations, content marketing is becoming a growth area in China as firms in the country look to reach out to customers both at home and abroad in new, engaging ways.
But as Chinese firms look to expand overseas and use content to start conversations with customers, they need to ensure they have fully developed content strategies in place. Proper distribution strategies, multilingual content and local market knowledge are all important factors.
We take a look at the state of play for Chinese firms’ content marketing plans and discuss some key focus areas going into 2014.
Trends and patterns
Recent research from PR Newswire shows:
95% of companies in China consider content marketing important or critical.
News releases (85.3%), a website or mini-site (76.6%) and Weibo (a Chinese microblogging platform, 73.5%) are the most frequently used content marketing tools.
Some 85.6% of firms have two or more social media accounts.
Companies using content marketing platforms for brand communication campaigns have seen significant improvement in product sales, website traffic and customer loyalty.
Going into 2014
In 2014 focus will shift away from traditional to new media: more than 30% of companies will reduce budgets allocated to traditional media as business content marketing rapidly becomes more important.
Spend on content marketing is set to rise, with budgets allocated to online media forecast for investment.
Some 87.9% of firms say their core goal through content marketing is to improve media exposure and brand awareness.
Firms are also confident that their content will lead to more conversions than in 2012.
Avoiding ‘content clag’: Chinese companies on average used six content marketing tools in 2013, but found that fewer than four of them generated effective results. Focusing on key, successful distribution platforms will become key.
Effective social media management: only 47% of firms had more than 10,000 followers of their social media accounts, with growth having slowed for three consecutive years. Effective social media strategies are set to come to the fore.
Seeing success: measuring ROI remains a big challenge for companies in China. As content marketing investment is ramped up, analytics, shareability and value will become key focus areas.
Local knowledge: Chinese brands expanding overseas will need to adopt local content strategies.
“In a world of media convergence, ‘communications media’ is constantly changing, and every technological change and new platform heavily impacts business communications,” said Yujie Chen, PR Newswire Senior Vice President, Asia-Pacific.
“Content has value that will never die, but it needs to be coupled with strong distribution for effective reach. Business content marketing is rapidly becoming more visual, humanized, real-time and interactive as it continues the transition to social and mobile.”
Importance of translation
“Strong distribution for effective reach.” For years, China’s economy was based on inbound investment as external firms looked to capitalise on the country’s cost-effective manufacturing base, but things are changing, and more Chinese firms are moving abroad than ever before.
Going international can be beneficial, but it is not without its challenges. Chinese firms cannot necessarily apply the business models that brought them domestic success to their international campaigns.
A key focus area for content marketing is accurate translation services. Translation website content from Mandarin Chinese to the language of a new target market, be it English, Spanish, Italian or Dutch, is absolutely crucial if communication between brand and customer is to be effective.
As Natalie Lowe, of the PR firm Weber Shandwick, explains: “Chinese companies going abroad need to build effective communication campaigns that relate to the local market audience, while cementing strong stakeholder relationships.”