With more than 800 million active users, the PRC has the world’s largest digital marketplace, and it is expected to grow at a rate three times faster than the rest of the global retail industry.
And although the size of the overall opportunity is massive, what is less clear is how a brand can stand out from its competitors in the market.
While there are many different strategies and tactics that organizations can undertake, one of the big differences between those that are driving growth in the market and those that are sputtering is the presence of a .CN website- in other words, hosting a website inside the Great Firewall.
What are the benefit of a .CN website?
What is important to know is that the Great Firewall treats websites from inside and outside the PRC completely differently and having a local domain (inside the Firewall) gives businesses an opportunity to communicate with their customers in a way that those audiences are used to.
Simply put, websites load roughly four times faster inside the firewall than the outside (CDNs rarely solve this), which means that organizations that choose to host outside the PRC are likely to lose their customers, as those individuals wait upwards of 30 seconds for a brand’s website to load.
That sort of delay will prove quite costly in the search for market growth.
How to get a .CN website
The process of acquiring a Chinese domain is not a simple one, as the PRC’s government sets strict regulations to ensure the credibility and authenticity of businesses, and reduce cybersquatting and other digital abuse.
An ICP License is a state-issued registration number that is required for an organization to host a website in the PRC, behind the Great Firewall. Under Chinese regulations, all sites inside of China are required to have an ICP license- otherwise, they will be denied hosting.
The registration process requires filling out various application forms and providing company identification and commercial license documentation. All the documents must be provided in Chinese and are a part of China’s bureaucratic process, meaning it is likely a process with which most Western companies are unfamiliar.
Brands who want to resonate with Chinese consumers cannot simply translate web copy and assume their task is finished. Rather, it is important to go deeper by optimizing websites for the audience and appealing to their customers’ preferences, and meeting their cultural and functional expectations.
To ensure that a website is user-friendly in China, it is important to start with a proper, professional translation into Chinese and ensure that the new copy reflects every ounce of nuance in the language.
Meanwhile, in order to meet cultural expectations, brands who succeed will typically customize colours, styles, images, symbols and more, to ensure that the content resonates with the target audience. This includes detailed changes such as date and time formats, measurements, contact information, and so on.
Since Google Analytics is not reliable in the PRC and it provides only partially accurate data, getting analytics for an organization’s website is challenging. Fortunately, WPIC has developed and deployed Chinalytics, an omni-channel web analytics platform, that provides accurate insights to a brand’s website performance inside the Chinese Firewall.
Chinalytics has a variety of high-value features, including click-tracking, heat-mapping, in addition to integration with WeChat; tracking Baidu of AdWords; a fully customizable interface; and more.
Baidu SEO / SEM
After a brand’s Chinese domain is set, it is time to register the website with Baidu, China’s leader in search, and a crucial source of web traffic in China (it is estimated that more than two-thirds of all web traffic in China originates from Baidu).
Building an effective SEO strategy with Baidu will maximize exposure to customers and to an organization’s search ranking. However, as with registering an ICP or a domain, Baidu ad accounts can be complicated to develop and deploy, and can be rejected without local assistance to comply with the administrative process.
As with most market entry and growth endeavours in China, by leaning on partners inside the market, organizations can set their websites to succeed. To learn more about developing, deploying and hosting a dedicated .CN website in the PRC, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.