All News

March 20, 2018 |

9 Things You Need to Know When Localizing for China

China is the second largest economy in the world with real chances of surpassing the US by 2030. The Chinese market has huge potential for businesses in all areas. Localizing for China will allow you to enter an online market that registered a 27 percent growth in 2017.

Moreover, the Chinese seem to prefer buying from foreign websites, as owning Western goods is often a matter of prestige. However, you need to put in some serious work to impress your Chinese audience.

When looking to do business in this country, you’ll need to do more than just translate your website. You need to overcome cultural barriers and get ready to enter a completely different world.

Check these 9 things you need to know when localizing for China, to learn what it takes to make it in this competitive Asian market.

1. Simplified vs. Traditional Chinese

Chinese make the difference between the written and spoken language. They speak Mandarin, but they write Chinese. The official language of the country is called Simplified Chinese, and most businesses localize for this language only.

However, in Taiwan and Hong Kong, people use Traditional Chinese (or Cantonese). Plus, Chinese who live abroad seem to prefer the traditional language, as well.

Depending on the population you target, you’ll have to choose which language to use. Or, you could localize for both – differences are small, so doing both languages at a time shouldn’t increase your costs too much.

2. Adapt Your Website to Overcome Cultural Barriers

Chinese consumers have different tastes, in terms of web design and usability. If empty white spaces and a minimal design are appealing to your Western audience, that doesn’t mean Chinese users will like them, as well. Localizing for China means redesigning your website to meet local expectations, which is about more is more.

Chinese internet users generally prefer cluttered websites – links, special offers, discounts, animated interface elements, and many windows open at the same time. This allows them to enter a shopping atmosphere, almost as if buying in a physical shop.

Website localization means changing everything, not just the language. You must adapt your visuals, as well. Photos of Western tourist attractions or happy blond families won’t have any effect on a Chinese audience. You need to use local images, to make people engage with your content.

3. Convert Everything for the Chinese Audience

Besides translating the content and rethinking the design, you must convert everything to stay in line with local trends. This includes currency, data and time format, and addresses. Local specifics are essential when looking to improve user experience. For example:

  • In China, they use the metric system of measurement
  • For registering forms, the full name format is family name followed by given name
  • The address format follows the template country – province – city – street name
  • Chinese don’t use zipcodes on a regular basis

Everything in your website should be geared to Chinese tastes. Bright colors sell better in this country. Gold, for example, symbolizes wealth and riches, so adding a golden touch to your interface can have a positive effect on your Chinese audience. Remove dark colors, like brown or gray. Also, the rainbow is less popular in China than in the US.

4. You Don’t Have to Impress Google Anymore

That doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about SEO, though. You still need to optimize your content, but you’ll do it for Baidu instead of Google.

China’s search engine market is dominated by Baidu, which has a 77.2 percent market share. Google China comes second, but with just 9.66 percent. The third most popular is Sogou, with 8.69 percent.

When localizing for China, you’ll need to start with local keyword research. Translating your original keywords won’t help you rank, as people in China use different words to search for your products online.

Just like Google, optimization for Baidu includes backlinks, besides keywords. You need local high-quality links to and from your website to improve your SERP ranking.

5. Implement a Live Chat to Connect with Your Public

87 percent of Chinese internet users prefer chatting instead of writing emails. So, you need to use instant messages to connect with your audience. The Chinese version of your website should allow visitors to communicate with customer service through live chat.

This way, you’ll make sure your visitors stay on your site. In fact, most e-commerce websites in China provide this service. Some of them even offer two forms of live chat for their online shoppers.

6. The Chinese Love Social Media

If you want to sell in China, you must build a strong online presence for your brand. But, localizing for China means forgetting about Facebook and Twitter, and working with local social media, especially WeChat and Weibo.

WeChat alone has over one billion users, so you’ll need to have an account on this social network. The Chinese appreciate human to human communication and social media channels are the right place to increase brand awareness and engagement.

You can use social media to promote special offers, discounts, and promotions, as the Chinese love a bargain!

7. Email Isn’t Very Popular Among Chinese

Chinese use WeChat and phone calls for everyday communication. Office workers have email addresses, but they usually use them for work purposes only.

When doing localization for the Chinese market, you can’t count on email marketing. So, you shouldn’t focus your attention on growing an email list. Furthermore, you should come up with alternative methods to email registration.

In fact, in China, internet users prefer to register to new websites using their phone number or a third-party platform. Make sure you consider this so that registration is easy and quick.

8. You Need Local Partners When Localizing for China

Localizing for China means working with local specialists. From marketers and copywriters, to web designers, you need a local touch to overcome cultural barriers. Chinese partners can help you to understand your audience and tailor your content to keep them engaged.

A local partner can also help you deal with local legislation, which is very different from the Western world. China practices censorship, for example, which means you need to adapt your content to local standards.

Depending on your target audience, you may need to localize your website for different regions of China, as well. People living in very large cities, like Shanghai or Beijing, have different habits from Chinese people living in smaller urban or rural areas.  

9. You Must Comply with China Data Privacy Standard

Starting from 2018, China will implement new rules to improve cybersecurity and privacy. It’s essential that you comply with these new standards to remain in this market. Localizing for China takes significant resources. You can’t afford to be banned after investing in such a complex localization project.

The new Chinese standard sets rigid rules for collecting, storing, using and sharing personal data – similar to the GDPR.

What’s Next?

Localizing for China is a complex project that can take months. But, a localized version of your website in this country will put you closer to 772 million internet users – the largest online population in the world.

If you think your business can thrive in China, start website localization right away. This way, you’ll increase brand awareness, improve conversion rates, and boost your sales globally.