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How to set up online presence in China? (Part 1)

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How to set up online presence in China? (Part 1)

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As more and more UK businesses start switching their eyes onto China market, how to have an online presence there has become one of the most asked questions, as apparently, having an online presence is a more cost effective way to reach out to potential customers in that country.

When talking about “online presence”, the first thing that would come to one’s mind is website. Indeed, according to Digipanda,having a Chinese website in place is actually the very first step that a UK business should take if it really wants to expand to China. Of course, it is quite easy to build a Chinese website and host it on a server here in UK, by adding a Chinese flag on the homepage of the English site and link to a “cn,****.uk” or “****.co.uk/cn” webpage. However, if you know the existence of the so-called “Great Firewall” on the internet in China, you will understand the practice that is mentioned just now is by no means a right and smart choice. One of the effects of that “Great Firewall” is that it would remarkably extend the download speed of any websites that are not hosted in mainland China– please note, Digipanda would like to stress the word “mainland China” here, because Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, although are claimed to be part of China, they are all outside of that wall. This means, if you host your Chinese website in Hong Kong or Macau, it can only bring your website more geographically close to Chinese audience, but it still cannot penetrate that “Great Firewall”.A even worse effect brought by the “Great Firewall” is that your Chinese website would simply be blocked, which means although you have a Chinese website, your target audience in China just cannot get access to it. Meanwhile, if you host your Chinese website outside of mainland China, you will not expect a good ranking result on Baidu, the dominant search engine in China, as Baidu gives a generous bonus to websites hosted in mainland China.

Knowing about the above information, you may well begin to think about host your Chinese website in China. Well, that may be the beginning of more hassles. First of all, according to Chinese regulation, any website operated by a business, should apply for ICP (Internet Content Provider) certificate, and put the ICP certificate number on the website homepage. To apply for ICP, you need to submit your China Business License.This means, if a UK business wants tohave a Chinese website hosted in mainland China, it has to get a China Business License. At this stage,mostUK businesses would choose to stop theirfurther exploration by simply hosting a Chinese website here in UK, no matterhow bad the user experience is among their potential customers in China. Some others may begin budgeting for an office and a team in China. Of course, if the need is really there, a real offline presence will be a good choice. However, if setting up an offline presence is only for the purpose of getting a China Business License, that does not make any sense. Digipanda’s partnership with Tianjin Free Trade Zone enables a UK business to get a China Business License via the unique “virtual presence” model, with a fairly low cost, which means UK business does not need to really rent office space and hire employees in China and they can still get the China Business License they need. Interested parties can write to info@digipanda.co.uk for more details.

If you still think the cost for having a virtual presence in Tianjin Free Trade Zone and then hosting your Chinese website in China is too high for your business, well, you may consider another option, that is producing an HTML5 page using one of the platforms that allow users to produce HTML5 files, whichare highly mobile and WeChat friendly. As the HTML5 page produced by you will be hosted on the concerned platform, you will be able to have a De Facto mobile website hosted in China. There are several this kind of platforms, some famous ones include rrxiu, eqxiu, maka, xiumi, etc. Following is several pages of the HTML5 produced by Digipanda for Buckingham University:

Having an HTML5 file to play the role of a mobile website has several advantages: 1)As HTML5 is extremely mobile and WeChat friendly, it can be easily shared via WeChat. The following image shows that an HTML5 file can be easily shared to a contact on WeChat, or a WeChat group, or via WeChat Moment, or even by email. 2) As the file is hosted on the server of concerned platform (rrxiu, eqxiu, etc), the user experience of your target audience in China will be satisfying. 3) You will be able to get access to statistics of the performance of your HTML5 file.

However, adopting such an HTML5 as your online presence in China has several apparent disadvantages. First of all, you will not have your own domain name, which is not good for your branding in China. Secondly, the user experience on desktop end is no as good as on mobile end. Thirdly, it’s not good for ranking performance on Baidu.

Of course, having an online presence in China includes not only a Chinese website or an HTML5, but also presence on mainstream Chinese social media, such as Weibo and WeChat, as well e-commerce platforms, such as Tmall and JD.com. For travel & tourism & hospitality businesses, word of mouth or buzz on major OTA, vertical travel sites, search engines, etc., can also be regarded as another form of online presence in China. We will discuss the presence of social media and e-commerce in the second part of this article.

Article supplied by Digipanda Marketing

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