Having 100 million active shoppers on the platform, Tmall Global, the cross-border section of China’s largest online marketplace, is filled with abundant opportunities but also stiff competition. In 2021, more than 5,000 new overseas brands have launched on the platform, while more than 2,000 small- and medium-sized businesses achieved annual sales of over RMB 1 million.
To understand and create benchmarks for best practices on Tmall Global, we analysed 40 consumer brands selling on the platform from the Baby, Beauty, and Vitamins & Supplements categories in our Tmall Global Benchmarking Report. The brands were assessed against a set of criteria that measures how well their Tmall Flagship store and top three product listings performed.
Following an introduction on how to refine your brand’s Tmall Flagship store to recruit and retain Chinese online shoppers, this time we examine how Western brands’ marketing effort on Chinese social channels help to boost their sales on Tmall Global.
Why social channels are essential for selling in China
While Tmall has done a great job of expanding the range of marketing types within its platform, including livestreaming, it’s necessary to also use external marketing channels, particularly social channels, to build your Chinese customer base.
Unlike in the West, social channels play a massive part in the marketing mix in the Chinese market for brands to maximise their discoverability, and acquire, engage and retain customers. Influencer marketing is one of the most widely adopted approaches on Chinese social channels, while social channels and online marketplaces have built their livestreaming platforms to facilitate brands working with a wide range of influencers.
You can check our previous articles on the importance of social selling in the Asia Pacific Region, and how to create a successful influencer marketing campaign for practical tips on launching your influencer marketing campaigns.
Western brands yet to master marketing on Chinese social channels
Our benchmarking research reviewed the 40 brands’ official accounts on three leading social channels in China, namely WeChat, Weibo and Little Red Book (Xiahongshu). Thirty of them had their footprints on all three channels, and the rest were on at least one of the three channels. However, the magnitude of their presence on those social channels widely varied.
Overall, only around a third of the brands reviewed demonstrated the best practices for the number of followers on their social channels. We consider 50,000 or more Weibo followers and 10,000 or more Little Red Book followers optimal to achieve the ecommerce goal. 30% of the brands met this standard on Weibo, with an average of 135,000 followers, while 27.5% of them achieved that on Little Red Book, with an average of 37,700 fans.
Only a minority of the brands could meet the best practices we set for the quantity and quality of content on the brands’ social channels. We found 37.5% of the brands with more than 500 relevant posts on Weibo, and 20% of them with 5,000 or more posts on its Little Red Book account, matching our recommended best practice. Besides, 35% of the brands had more than 500 average reads of their posts on WeChat, which we regarded as the best practice.
In general, Little Red Book saw the most mediocre performance of these brands. 55% of the brands had less than 5,000 followers and 37.5% of them generated less than 1,000 posts, both deemed not up to the standard required. We recommend Western brands further leverage this platform for brand awareness and demand generation marketing, as it is an ideal channel for promoting fashion, beauty and other premium and luxury Western items, thanks to its user base of young, affluent Chinese consumers – predominantly female.
How Pattern can help
Most of the Western brands reviewed tried to leverage local social channels to engage with Chinese consumers, but only a minority of them could successfully exploit these platforms for their off-platform marketing effort. It comes as no surprise, as social media marketing relies on highly localised content.
For this reason, our local Chinese professionals take a data-driven approach to trading the brands we work with on Tmall Global, leveraging insight to plan and implement social media marketing campaigns and initiatives to support our brand partners’ growth in the marketplace.
We partner with brands through a unique model where we buy our partners’ stock and sell it for them on online marketplaces, such as Tmall, JD.com, Lazada, Amazon, Shopee, Coupang and eBay. As one of the top 5% of authorised Tmall Trade Partners, we provide our brand partners with a comprehensive service that helps them protect their brand in China while driving profitable growth.
Contact us to learn more about how Pattern can help your brand grow in Tmall Global.
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Peak season is almost upon us and with all signs pointing to it starting earlier than ever, with Christmas gifting searches now ramping up in August and September, it’s time to start preparing for peak. In this article, we’re sharing our top five tips for planning and preparing for peak season with Google Ads and the strategies required to get your Paid Search ready so you can drive success over this crucial period.
In 2021, gifting search terms started increasing in popularity in August. The general trend is that people are looking, researching and weighing their options early, so it’s best to start your Paid activity early to ensure that you’re capturing that early research traffic. This will help drive revenue alongside aiding those consumers who are in their research phase.
From 2020 to 2021, spend during Cyber Week actually only rose 2% but in the weeks leading up to it, it increased by 16%. However, Cyber Week is still the biggest period during the latter half of the year, accounting for 23% of all online spend by consumers over peak. Being prepared and starting early will help you to maximise your time during this period.
According to Google, 48% of global consumers have stopped buying or using a service due to privacy concerns. Privacy is front of mind when consumers are shopping online and we know that Google is phasing out 3rd party cookies in 2023. This is going to make it much harder to track users online and it’s something that brands need to think about this now – waiting isn’t an option.
From a Google Ads point of view, you want to ensure you have set up the Google Ads tag across your site and have enabled ‘Enhanced Conversions’, which ensures all conversions are tracked and allows you to monitor other actions such as ‘Add to Cart.’ This is relatively easy to set up, especially if you use ‘Google Tag Manager’.
It’s also vitally important that you build up your first-party data during this time as this is data you own and it can be used when targeting consumers that have provided your brand with their email address. Pattern’s own experience shows that by segmenting and using first-party data, you can see a 10% improvement in revenue and ROI.
A full-funnel approach is now more important than ever as consumers become more discerning and have more choices than ever of where to shop.
Pattern has seen success with Google Ads’ ‘Discovery Campaigns’ (image-based ads that appear on Google platforms such as Gmail and the Google app), which have driven success both from a traffic and revenue perspective.
The performance of these campaigns is significantly enhanced by adopting a segmented and nuanced approach to first-party data and incorporating these into your campaigns. Other options for a full-funnel approach include YouTube and testing bidding on keywords that are more representative of the research phase. (e.g. ‘best baby clothes’ for a baby clothes brand)
Earlier this year, Google announced that they were moving away from Smart Shopping and launched Performance Max. This is a new campaign type that incorporates features and placements from Smart Shopping but expands them onto other platforms such as Gmail but also alternative creative options, such as images and videos.
Since Google has already started automatically upgrading Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max, expect to see some fluctuations in the first 2 weeks following the switch over but results generally seem positive. We recommend upgrading sooner rather than later to limit any potential impact to peak period.
Peak period will be even more competitive than in 2021 and you’ll need your budgets to support this period, we recommend boosting budgets in October to start capturing that early peak traffic. As we enter November and the Cyber Period, start early and make sure you are capturing those consumers looking for early bargains, ensuring you are being nimble in your optimisations and reacting to the data that you are seeing.
Overall, peak period is vital to help drive your sales and by preparing early, you will see strong results and drive success for your brand. If you want to discuss how your brand can navigate this next peak period, contact us to discuss your options with our performance team now.