Developing Your Digital Marketing Strategy for China

 Dandan Cheng, presenting at the ACSME Roundtable, 29 May 2018

Dandan Cheng, presenting at the ACSME Roundtable, 29 May 2018

Guest Speaker: Dandan Cheng

  • COO from Sinorbis (a digital marketing agency based in Sydney)

  • Lives in Shanghai

  • Focuses on cross-border business and trade, especially e-commerce

  • Facilitates international teams and clients to tap into China (build websites, WeChat accounts, SEO optimisation)

  • Sinorbis has mainly B2C clients, including: UNSW, TAFE, Nature’s Way, MOELIS, Sydney Airport, Galaxy, UTS,...

Developing Your Digital Marketing Strategy for China

China’s Digital Landscape

  • Due to China’s Great Firewall, most Western websites are completely locked out

  • 20% of the world’s Internet population lives in China

  • 40% of the online shopping volume (A$ 940 billion) -> China is the biggest e-commerce market in the world

  • 722 million Internet users -> 35 times more than in Australia

  • 65% Internet penetration rate -> Tremendous potential to grow

  • 98% access the Internet via mobile phone -> China is mobile-centered

Contribution to the Australian Economy

  • Contribution of $7.3 billion in the education sector

  • 1.3 million Chinese tourists

  • 122% increase of the search volume for Australian health supplements

Perception of Australia and Australian Brands

  • Australia itself is a very strong brand

  • Association with blue sky, healthy people and clean air

  • Natural, nutritious, safe

Comparison of the Australian and Chinese Ecosystem


*Each of them has a substantial user base, so don’t just focus on one

-> All different companies to what we use in the West

-> It’s important to adapt to the Chinese ecosystem - from your website being searchable to leveraging it on Social Media; if it is not visible for Chinese, all your efforts are in vain


  • 1.1 billion individual users (772 million in Mainland China)

  • Great majority are Mandarin speakers

  • Users are very active and spend 30% of their time on their mobile (35% spend more than four hours on WeChat)

  • Functions: Wallet & M-commerce, social interaction, location based sharing, communication, games and tickets

  • Number 1 mobile payment platform in China at the moment

  • Also widely adopted in business

Decision Making Journey

  • Awareness

    • Search vertical portals, forums

    • Browse WeChat posts, ads

    • Friends’ referrals

  • Consideration

    • Search and visit official website

    • Follow official Social Media accounts

    • Search and check reviews in portals and search engines

  • Action

    • Transact at official website or send enquiry

  • Advocate

    • Share their experience on Social Media

    • Refer friends

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Dandan’s Recommendations

  1. Be on the digital channels your Chinese consumers use

  2. Build your Chinese website - visible, adaptive, responsive

  • 94% of Australian websites built for China are invisible

  • 98% have poor or no localisation in China

  • 89% are not optimised for Chinese search engines so they can’t be found

  1. Leverage the power of search

  • 90% of Internet users are influenced by search

  • Search terms are usually life necessities and problem solving

  1. Promote your brand on WeChat

  • Link your Official Account to the official website

  • Publish content, acquire followers


David’s Insights from his China Visit

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China 2018: the view from ground level

I have just concluded a short visit to Guangzhou in China to meet with our local business partners and ....[CONTINUE READING]


The next ACSME Roundtable topic will be on the China International Imports Expo (‘CIIE’) on Tuesday 26th June 2018, and how SMEs can profit from this game changing event. Register now via the button below.

You can also sign up for ACSME Membership to receive priority tickets for future monthly Roundtables.


All Things WeChat

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Guest Speaker: Dr Matthew McDougall

  • Lived in Beijing for 14 years

  • Social Media agency based in China since 9 years

  • Daigou Sales, automated retail:

  • An advanced WeChat user

“All Things WeChat” event

  • Not a lecture, more a facilitation - Matt inspired a fun and interactive discussion

  • To explain the many functionalities and how they work in business

  • The room was divided into thirds, with an equal number of beginners, intermediate and advanced users

General facts about WeChat

  • 700-900 million monthly WeChat users - compared to only 700 million Chinese Internet users

  • Chinese people don’t respond to their emails but usually answer immediately on WeChat

→ A WeChat account is essential when communicating with the Chinese

Personal account functions

  • Chat:

    • Translate button

    • Reminder button (= alarm to remind you of tasks)

  • Connect with others:

    • Scan QR code: Scan their QR code; they then have to accept your request

    • Friend Radar: Search for people nearby and then easily add them

    • Shake function: Find people by shaking your phones at the same time

→ Mostly used in promotional campaigns (The audience loved this, all shaking away!)

  • Set up a group chat:

    • ACSME April 2018 private group; join by typing in the 4 digit code

    • Mute notifications so you won’t be interrupted by irrelevant messages in the group chat

    • Sticky on top: important people appear at the top - even if they don’t message you

  • Send a Red Packet (红包): Last Chinese New Year: $16 billion transferred this way

→ Used by marketing companies (“Share something and receive RMB 2“)

→ It’s now possible to link foreign credit cards in your Wechat wallet (very new function)

  • Mini Apps → Everything is in WeChat - no need to close it - the Chinese don’t!

    • Mini App was released a few days ago

    • McDonald’s, Mobike, etc. all have their own Apps/programs

  • Moments = personal news feed

  • Search function: Similar to Google Trends; search for competitors or certain topics (in Chinese)

  • WeChat Wallet: In China, you don’t need cash anymore, you can pay via WeChat everywhere

    • Pay for taxis, gas bills, train tickets, etc.

→ Add a Chinese bank card or now a foreign credit card

→ Limited security

→ You have to pay a fee if transferring money of a certain amount

WeChat as a business tool

Account management

  • Types of accounts

    • Service Accounts: App-based experience, WeChat websites, post 4 times a month

    • Subscription Accounts: appears in Subscription folder, post 1 time a day, used by KOLs/bloggers

    • Domestic accounts

    • Overseas accounts: can’t be seen by Mainland Chinese

     → Know your purpose and get an agency to verify you, so you are seen by the Chinese

  • What is required for a Verification by Tencent?

    • Valid passport

    • Account Operator (This person cannot later be changed)

  • Content platform

    • Content creation is critical

    • Know who you are writing for - so know your niche

  • KOLs = Key Opinion Leaders (= online influencers)

    • Create visibility and get followers by sharing your content

    • More influential than influencers on other channels

    • They’re critical to WeChat success

    • Get KOLs through agencies; it’s important to know who they are, why you need them and how to measure the effect

    • WeChat KOLs are much more authentic than Weibo KOLs

    • Get a KOL who’s specialised in your industry (e.g. B2B)

    • Grassroot KOLs on average cost $5,000 per post (absolute minimum is $1,000) + a performance bonus

→ It’s important to keep the balance, don’t focus just on sales (e.g. “buy this house, it’s only $1.5 million”)

  • New trend: WeChat-based sites - like websites but on WeChat

  • You can’t promote Taobao or TMall strategies on WeChat, because of a firewall

The next ACSME Roundtable topic will be ‘Developing Your Digital Marketing Strategy for China’ and will be held on Tuesday 29th May 2018. Register now via this link.

You can also sign up for ACSME Membership to receive priority tickets for future monthly Roundtables.

How Austrade helps SMEs in China

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Due to wide interest amongst ACSME members in Austrade’s China operations, we needed a larger venue for our ACSME Roundtable in March. We therefore partnered with Sydney University to host this event in the beautiful old Quadrangle Building.

ACSME members and guests were given the opportunity to meet and hear from the Asia lead for Austrade, Ms Bing Liu, who shared her insights on the many ways Austrade can help SMEs in China.

In summary, Austrade acts as a ‘bridge’ between Australian SMEs and the China market and provides support in navigating the complex Chinese business environment. The services offered by Austrade are:

  1. Research on your target market(s) including providing advice, introductions and support on the ground from their 11 local offices, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. For a full list of Austrade offices in China, including local addresses and contact details, click here:

  2. Connecting your business to the right customers, suppliers and partners for your products and services

  3. Supporting you through the process of opening and closing a deal, with the Australian Government behind you (can be particularly valuable in China)

  4. Helping you understand and navigate the cross-cultural differences and learn how to conduct business in China from local trade experts.

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Bing also brought our attention to a major event that is a world first. The China International Import Expo which will be held in Shanghai from 5 - 10 November 2018.

Personally endorsed by President Xi Jinping, the Expo will have 150,000 Exhibitors, making it over 7 times bigger than any previous Expo. However, what makes it a real game changer is the total focus on importing, so the exhibitors will be buying FROM you, not selling TO you

As the Expo is not industry specific, it will be a challenge to identify and attract the right buyers and stand out amongst the thousands of other businesses who will be there to sell. But fear not, ACSME and the China Australia Events Association (CAEA) are offering assistance to ensure you find the right customers and get the most out of this incredible opportunity. We will be sharing more information with you about how you can participate and profit from this Expo.

Austrade will also be providing assistance in November and can be contacted by:

Email:         Phone: 13 28 78

The next ACSME Roundtable will be back at our normal venue at 1 Bligh Street and will be on ‘All Things Wechat’ on Monday 23rd April 2018. It’s almost full with just four seats left so register now via this link.

You can also sign up for ACSME Membership to receive priority tickets for future monthly Roundtables

Recruitment in China

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At the February Roundtable, David Parker of Geddes Parker & Partners shared his experience and insights on recruitment and HR management in China.

The key takeaway? Although everything on the surface seems different in China, some of the HR issues are actually remarkably similar to those in Australia!

The main points David made..

  1. In the past, it was possible for some foreigners to secure jobs in China without the language skills. However, in just the last 5 years, it became mandatory for all candidates to speak fluent Mandarin. No exceptions.

  2. The employment rules, regulations and practices in China are very similar to Australia. You can only employ locals directly if you operate a ‘Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise’ (WFOE) where you have sole legal responsibility. If you participate in a Joint Venture, your local partners are likely to take care of recruitment and HR.

  3. The process of identifying candidates in China is straightforward with online job seeking sites, advertising in local media and referrals, etc. However, it can be challenging to reference check due to cultural differences and it is usual to seek references from people other than former employers.

  4. Turnover of white-collar staff in China is around 19% per annum, which is only slightly worse than the average turnover in Australia (16%).

  5. Employment Contracts should be prepared in both English and Chinese with both parties signing the two versions to ensure no misunderstandings.

  6. Annual leave is based on total years in the workforce, not years of work under one employer. For the first 10 years of working, Chinese employees are entitled to annual leave of just one week. This extends to two weeks after 10 years, three weeks after 20 years, and so on.

  7. It is customary for Chinese employees to receive a one month bonus on Chinese New Year.

  8. The most desirable employee benefits identified by Chinese employees in 2017 (in order of priority) were:

    • Health benefits

    • Flexible work arrangements

    • Training benefits

    • Increased annual leave

    • Travel allowance

    • Child care benefits

    • Car allowance

    • Gym membership

  9. The Top 5 HR Challenges identified by foreign companies in China are:

  • Finding and attracting top executive talent (two-thirds of companies have difficulties finding the necessary skills and talent)
  • Increasing labour costs (real wages have increased 12% per annum in the past decade)
  • High employee turnover (19% per annum)
  • Lack of suitable qualifications (only 10% of Chinese candidates are qualified to work for a foreign company)
  • False Resume data (20% of candidates have discrepancies in their resumes and applications)

10.The primary motivation for most employees to change jobs is to climb the next step in their career ladder. It’s not always about the money.

To attend the next ACSME Roundtable on Tuesday 27th March discussing "How Austrade Works with SMEs in China Roundtable", please click here.

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Managing Relationships in China

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At the recent ACSME Roundtable on 30th January 2018, Vanessa Xing of Think Global Consulting outlined her ideas on how to build and manage long term sustainable relationships with Chinese clients, partners and investors.

1. Take your time

Having lived and worked in Australia for the past 20 years, Vanessa believes that despite growing up in China, she has adopted a "Western approach" to communicating. This means she gets to the point quickly, asks direct and probing questions, moves the conversation quickly to the business objectives, and doesn't waste time on frivolous conversations.

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In the last 5 years she has spent more time working in China and now adopts a more "Chinese" approach to relationship building. This involves long conversations about "non-business" issues, including the weather, the food, families (particularly the hopes and dreams for their children) and the differences between China and other countries. Often business is not discussed at all, or at the very end of a dinner, after all other conversations are exhausted.
It's important to remember that as a foreigner (whether you have a Chinese or western face) you are building familiarity, confidence and more importantly, trust with your Chinese counterparts. This takes time and patience. Build relationships first and the business will follow.

2. Respect Hierarchy

Unlike our egalitarian society, where everyone is treated equally and our organisation structures are “flat”, Chinese people are totally comfortable with a "hierarchical culture". Decisions are made by leaders at the top (whether Government, Business or Family leaders) and are then implemented by senior, middle and junior managers depending on their level of seniority. It's important that you understand this and also respect and recognise everyone's role in the process; particularly the juniors who often get forgotten and are rarely praised for their contribution to a successful outcome. Vanessa always makes a point of singling out the important role played by the implementation team on her visits to China.


It's also important for Australian organisations to mirror the Chinese hierarchy by lining up the same way. That is. Chairman to Chairman, CEO to CEO and deputies and middle managers with their counterparts. This is critical to getting a deal done because whilst the seniors will make high level decisions, they will only happen if the juniors do the implementation work.

It also requires smaller companies to be creative about how they line up in China, for example, engaging a Non Executive Chairman to be present when the Chinese Chairman is in the room; and to ensure your lower level staff are available to work with the implementation team and to answer their detailed questions.They see their role as protecting their bosses from making decisions without all the facts, so you need to be fully prepared for exhaustive questioning.

3. Be willing to put on a Show

The Chinese are often impressed by the size of your office, the view out of your window, the strength of your team and your brand of car. Don't hide your success from them (as you are likely to do amongst your fellow Australians) but be willing to flaunt it! The Chinese want to deal with successful and influential people, so be a lot more willing to play up your connections and success rather than be humble.

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Of course, you mustn't tell lies or fake your success as this will likely backfire on you. But play to your strengths and Australia's strengths. The Chinese are envious of our lifestyle in Australia, our clean and safe environment and our friendly and open culture. Invite them to come here, show them what we have and repay their hospitality in your home town. Take photographs and share them on WeChat to give ‘face’ and you'll be surprised at how quickly this leads to a successful business outcome!

To attend the next ACSME Roundtable on Tuesday 27th February discussing "Recruitment and Human Resource Management in China", please click here





1. 成功的关键因素










2. 文化差异













3. 思维与行为方式的不同













Think global, act local

Walking around Sydney’s CBD, it is hard not to notice the ever-growing Chinese population. Whether they are students, tourists or migrants, the numbers of Chinese arrivals in Australia have been growing exponentially over the past decade. Whilst there has been some progress and focus on opening up China to Australian exporters through the various tariff reductions introduced by the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, China’s inbound activity into Australia is expected to provide even more opportunities in the short-term for Australian businesses of all sizes. However, we believe there is still a long way to go for Australian businesses to fully realise this opportunity.

The numbers

At the end of 2014, there were 859,500 visitors to Australia from China, but in just 5 months, this number shot up to 921,800 visitors. Three years ago, it was predicted that there would be 1 million Chinese visitors to Australia by 2020, however, with the current trajectory; we may actually reach that number by the end of 2016! Chinese tourists are also spending more than before. By May 2015, Chinese tourists generated A$6.4 billion in revenue, up from A$5.7 billion at the end of 2014.

The Chinese community in Australia has also experienced similar growth. The number of Chinese-born Australians has doubled over the past 10 years to reach 450,000 and is still growing. And last year, our Australian universities recorded over 150,000 enrolled Chinese international students. 

The opportunities

With this kind of growth, Australian businesses are in a unique position to engage in the ‘China opportunity’ without actually leaving Australia. As an example, luxury hotels, retailers and high-end food and beverage providers can expect a boom in business since Australia overtook France as the number 1 international luxury destination for Chinese tourists at the end of 2014. The Chinese community also provide an effective testing ground for Australian products before exporting to China. And businesses may not need actually need to export their products as tourists and international students are sending more and more Australian products back home to friends and family. As you may have read in the news, many local Chinese people are purchasing infant formula from Australian supermarkets and bringing it into China with them to give to their family and friends. In the services space, small and micro businesses can develop tailor-made services targeting the wealthy Chinese in Australia. I recently met with the owner of a small family-run beautician in Sydney which was providing specific skin treatments to the wealthy Chinese living in the local area. Similarly, I also came across a small restaurant in Sydney which had developed a website hosted in China to advertise their business after they saw a rise in Chinese customers.

There is still some way to go…

Despite the opportunities in exporting and selling Australian products and services, the local Chinese community are not fully engaged by Australian businesses. In 2014 the Diversity Council of Australia released a report in which found that whilst the Australian labour force is 9.3% Asian born, only 4.9% make it to senior executive level. In ASX 200 companies, only 1.9% of executives have Asian heritage. These percentages would be even smaller if we just looked at those with Chinese heritage. Australian companies are also very reluctant to hire Chinese international students as interns and to recruit and sponsor them after graduating.

We predict that the Chinese community in Australia will eventually become the bridge for Australian businesses wanting to engage fully with the Chinese market. However, businesses need to realise that China’s inbound activities in Australia do not only present an opportunity for selling and exporting products and services. By hiring a Chinese intern or full-time employee, the worst thing that can happen is that you will have a hard-working, diligent and talented person working for you in your office. The best thing that can happen, however, is that they could use their connections through family, friends and colleagues to open the door to invaluable business opportunities with China.

Is Australia overbought?

With the well-publicised growth of Chinese investment into Australian commercial and residential real estate; and the surge in property prices, many have been asking if Australian property is becoming ‘overbought’.  

Despite an easing in the overall amount of Chinese investment into Australia in 2014, for the first time, investment into commercial real estate and infrastructure accounted for over half of the total transactions and was dominated by investments made by high net worth individuals and private enterprises. Also in 2015, Melbourne and Sydney overtook London as the second most popular destination for Chinese investment (Manhattan in New York is currently number one). With numbers like this, it is easy to understand why so many are concerned about the sustainability of Chinese investment into Australia and are worried that it may grind to a halt. However, I believe that the wave of Chinese investment is only just beginning and we still have a long way before Australia could be regarded as ‘overbought’. 

Over the past decade, China has accumulated large reserves of foreign capital due to the disparity between its outbound FDI and inbound FDI. However, since 2008, outbound FDI has started to increase dramatically and in 2014, it was almost equal to inbound FDI for the first time. And it is expected to grow even more – by approximately 10% year on year according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM). This is driven not only by the Government’s ‘Going Out’ Strategy and the new ‘One Belt, One Road’ Initiative (China’s new foreign policy encouraging infrastructure investments and developments across Asia and Europe), but also by encouraging private individuals and enterprises to invest overseas through a number of well publicised initiatives, including the Qualified Domestic Individual Investor (QDII) scheme, the internationalisation of the RMB and the push for greater diversification of assets overseas. With such a large wave of outbound foreign capital and a national priority to invest overseas, this indicates to me that the wave of investment from China has only just begun, and is likely to continue well into the future.

2014 was a significant year for Chinese investment into Australia. Even though overall investment decreased slightly from 2013, it was the first year that Chinese private sector investment exceeded state-owned enterprise investment. And also the first time that investment was diversified away from the mining and resources sector into new sectors, such as commercial real estate, infrastructure projects and the tourism and leisure industry. Also, Australia represented around 6% of China’s outbound FDI in 2014 indicating that there is still plenty more room for this number to grow. As China increases its outbound FDI by 10% each year, and with the growing interest in overseas property and infrastructure, we can expect to see new Chinese private enterprises, individuals and property development companies entering the Australian property market.

Chinese investment into global commercial real estate

Chinese investment into Australian commercial real estate

According to Knight Frank, for the first time ever in 2015, Chinese outbound investment into global commercial real estate reached USD$30 billion, double that of 2014. But what was particularly notable was that Australia received nearly 15 percent of this amount. I believe this is extremely significant because it demonstrates China’s commitment and interest in Australia’s property market. From travelling around China, particularly to the second and third tier cities, and my discussions with lesser-known but comparatively large property development groups, many are developing their own ‘Going Out’ Strategies and are drawn to Australia because of the well-established bilateral relationship, our well-regulated and relatively stable market government and our ‘clean, green and safe’ credentials.

 Source: Knight Frank Research

Source: Knight Frank Research

So who can we expect to invest into Australian property? Besides wealthy Chinese individuals and private companies investing into off-the-plan properties or new property developments, research from Knight Frank indicates that Chinese insurance companies are also expected to participate in the next wave of investment. Currently, only Sunshine Insurance has invested in Australia (they purchased Sydney’s Sheraton on the Park Hotel and ‘The Vintage’ resort in the Hunter Valley) but the table above indicates that more than half of the major insurance companies have expressed interest to invest offshore. Of course there is no certainty that they will invest in Australia but the growing trend is evident. Taking into account the growth trajectories, the bilateral relationship and Chinese Government policies working in our favour, it is reasonable to assume that these companies may begin to start making significant investments across Australia, only adding to the ‘demand side’ of the equation.

Interestingly, it is not only ultra-rich Chinese individuals who are investing in Australian luxury properties; ultra-rich Indians are also becoming increasingly interested in the market. According to Agent Ken Jacobs, the head of Christie’s International Real Estate in Sydney, more ultra-rich Indians are embarking on ‘due diligence’ checks. Whilst these have not yet translated into sales, he expects this to happen in the next few years. In addition, ultra-wealthy investors from other Asian countries, such as Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, are also expected to follow Chinese investors and become much more active in the Australian property market (residential and commercial).

To answer the question, no, I don’t believe Australia is overbought. There is every indication that Chinese investment into Australian property will continue to grow and we can also expect new players to emerge from other parts of Asia, including India, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. The bigger question is whether Australia will be able to meet this demand. With Sydney and Melbourne’s CBDs becoming increasingly overcrowded; Governments, town planners, businesses and entrepreneurs have a once in a generation opportunity to capitalise on future inbound investment to design and build new residential, commercial and infrastructure projects to contribute to the growth of the outer suburban and even regional areas across Australia. This process of “nation building”, which is now so prevalent in other Asian countries, could be transformational for Australia as we grapple with the challenges and opportunities of living in the Asian Century.