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Azleen Abdul Rahim

How To Best Market Your Business In Asia

Personalisation is key

Photo by Aleksandar Pasaric from Pexels

First, let me share why Asia? Praneeth Yendamuri and Zara Ingilizian quoted in their World Economic Forum article by saying that, in 2020, Asia’s GDP will overtake the GDP of the rest of the world combined. By 2030, the region is expected to contribute roughly 60% of global growth. Asia-Pacific will also be responsible for the overwhelming majority (90%) of the 2.4 billion new members of the middle class entering the global economy. The bulk of that growth will come from the developing markets of China, India and throughout South-East Asia.

By 2040, the region could account for more than half of global GDP and about 40 percent of global consumption. Global cross-border flows are shifting towards Asia on seven of eight dimensions, and the region’s growth is becoming more broad-based and sustainable as its constituent economies increasingly integrate with each other. This is a diverse region, but its different parts have complementary characteristics, and powerful networks are developing within Asia. Patterns of globalisation are shifting, and these shifts are occurring faster in Asia than elsewhere, suggesting that more than any other region, Asia could shape the way globalisation unfolds in the years to come. These are what McKinsey is predicting

Variety talents option and well-organised ecosystem of business infrastructures are among the reasons more and more Western-based organisations are expanding their business, their operations and their market reach to Asia. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, despite the fact that all figures predicted by almost all research houses will have a temporary setback, the growth of Asia is pretty much predictable and unstoppable. 

How to do it impactfully? 

Putting away your Marketing 101 book aside, this is the first thing you must do. It doesn’t work here in Asia. The culture, language, how people behave and live their life here in this part of the world is extremely diverse. In other words, personalisation is key.

With millions of internet users across Asia, from the Middle East countries, Central and South Asia, ASEAN right up to North Asian countries such as Japan, Mongolia, China and Korea, your best bet to make this happen is through the search engines and social media platforms. This may sound a little cliché, it’s not. There is a specific way to play both.

Killian Kostiha, the Founder of GetClicks recommends this for SEO. Knowing Asia, it has been a unique market for SEO since, unlike in the West, Google’s domination is less important and many regions are dominated by locally grown search engines, such as:

  • Baidu and Shenma in Mainland China
  • Naver in Korea
  • Yahoo and Bing in Japan, Hong Kong

In most Asian countries Google has taken over the market, however, there is a notable exception in Southwest Asia, and brands need to take that into consideration for their digital marketing strategies. 

You need to play SEO multilingual in order to win. For example, if you wish to establish your business in Hong Kong, your platform must be available in three languages, traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese and English, which will influence your SEO strategy and your organic reach. Similar goes if you wish to stretch your reach to ASEAN countries. You must personalise it to Bahasa Indonesia for Indonesia, Bahasa Melayu and English for Malaysia and Brunei, Thai for Thailand and so on. Your keyword research must be done by country and by language too. Killian also highlighted that doing SEO for the Chinese market is a different ball game altogether. 

Let’s talk about Baidu. 

It is in Chinese only (Simplified Chinese) and it is mandatory to translate the whole website since users will mostly search in their local language, whereas Google Search Console is a must-have tool in the West. Validating your website in Baidu Webmaster Tools is mandatory to speed-up the indexing process, which is longer than Google, as well as to monitor various technical metrics. 

Baidu gives a priority to websites hosted in China or Hong Kong while Google does not really use that in their ranking algorithms. Having an ICP (Internet Content Provider) license will allow you to have a .cn domain name, which can be an asset to rank in Baidu. Baidu gives more weight to detailed pages and while Google will prefer to have a semantically optimised page, Baidu is more about length. 

For instance, Taobao pages are extremely detailed, and while it provides a better user-experience because Chinese users prefer to have more details about the products and services they are browsing, it also helps web-pages to rank better. 

When it comes to social media, you must know that Facebook is the King of social media in Asia. Statista recorded that the largest population on Facebook is from India with over 270 million users followed by Indonesia at 120 million users or so. And there are slightly more than 1 million monthly active users from Asia alone. All stats here are as of September 2019. 

In China, Facebook is banned. Not only Facebook, China also banned the likes of Google, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat too. You may want to consider WeChat if you are interested in playing the China market. It is one of the dominant social media platforms in the country. Most of the social platforms in China aren’t just for social but everyday life. You can chat, search, share and e-commerce too. 

In Japan, the people in the country prefer LINE to socialise. Despite the fact that LINE is not very popular elsewhere in Asia, in Japan it is estimated that more than half of the Japanese internet community are logging into it every single day.

According to Statista, outside the USA, LinkedIn’s second-largest user base is in India. The platform is very popular among the professionals and business community. There are 62 million users in the country alone. Apart from India, China also registered close to 50 million users, among the largest in Asia too. Indonesia is next with 15 million users while Australia is at 11 million levels, and the Philippines is somewhere around 8.3 million users.

Online, this is the best way to market your brand and your business in Asia. I am referring to SEO and social media. If done right, you will find it to be the most impactful, effective and cost-effective approach ever compared to others. 

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Azleen Abdul Rahim
Written By

Azleen Abdul Rahim is the Co-Founder of Marketing In Asia. He is also a Partner at NSE, a marketing advisory company. NSE consults medium-large businesses and corporates on marketing strategy. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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