Chinese Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is a relatively new concept that has been gaining serious traction with the rapid adoption of smartphones all across the world. It is the strategy of marketing your business while targeting mobile device users. When done well, mobile marketing provides users with a personalised, time and location sensitive experience while they are on the go. The future of marketing is aimed at handheld devices, and today, many businesses targeting the Chinese market have already integrated mobile marketing into their overall approach. 

An effective mobile marketing strategy for China has many moving parts, but the most important consideration is the user experience of their interaction with your brand from a small handheld device. In this article, we will be covering the most important Chinese mobile marketing aspects you should be considering.

Start with a mobile responsive website for China

There are many reasons why creating a mobile responsive site is important, and in China, building a mobile site is common practice. Below, we have listed the 2 main reasons why you need a mobile responsive site for your business.

1. Be where your customers are

According to Statista, Chinese internet users grew to 903 million in 2019 comparison to 2018’s user count of 854 million. Out of these 903 million internet users, 98.6% accessed the internet through mobile devices. In the past decade, the mobile internet population in China grew five fold; and they are spending an increasing amount of time on their devices. In 2019, Chinese mobile users spent an average of 6.2 hours a day on their mobile phones which is 2.45 hours more each day than mobile users in the US.

2. Build credibility and your reputation through a professional mobile presence 

We have all had an experience on websites that are not optimised for mobile usage. The content is hard to read, and buttons are to small to click on. In most cases, we usually abandon the page altogether and find a site that is more user-friendly. Now imagine this happening to users who are interested in your business. Chinese users will not be able to establish the legitimacy of your brand without viewing your content.

What’s more, building a mobile responsive site not only builds your reputation online, but offline as well. Reputation for a company means everything and giving a bad digital experience might hinder your business success in the long run.

Design Considerations for a mobile responsive Chinese website

Generating a mobile responsive website is not as complicated as it seems. A website that is mobile responsive should have design elements that include readable text without zooming, and large call to action buttons to make it easy to navigate with your fingers. If you are interested to learn more about the intricacies of building a mobile responsive website for China, we have put together a detailed guide to take you through the process step by step.

Mobile SEO for Chinese search engines

After creating a mobile responsive site, it only makes sense to optimise your website to generate traffic and drive awareness for your brand in China. Having a site that provides a good user experience on mobile is a prerequisite to even get the chance to appear on Chinese search engine results pages (SERPS). But it’s really only the very first step in attracting organic traffic to your site. If you are serious about achieving results through mobile marketing in China, you need to proactively work on your mobile Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Here are the top 5 things to know for an effective China mobile SEO:

1. Understand the difference between independent mobile sites and responsive sites

Independent mobile websites are developed specially for mobile phones. Responsive sites are designed for a multitude of devices that vary in screen sizes. These will automatically adjust the content layout according to the available screen size.

2. Optimise on-page content to ensure an easy and pleasant browse and click experience

Mobile user experience is one of the most important parts of mobile SEO in China. The ease of use of a webpage directly influences the user experience. Some specific details to highlight includes font size, vertical page scrolling, ads reduction, and navigation design.

3. Double up display to improve content exposure

Plugins such as Flash may not be available for users on mobile. To combat this, use HTML5 instead. You can also check if there is any built-in popup on the page that requires compulsory APP downloading or login to see the content. Furthermore, don’t block CSS, JavaScript, or images. Search engines want to be able to see and categorise the same content that users do. These elements are also critical for helping search engines understand if you have a responsive site or a different mobile solution.

4. Trim down unimportant content and functions

A common practice is to minimise the navigation menu on the mobile version. If the main navigation is entirely retained, it has to be folded and unfolded when users click it. We would recommend five or six top navigation bars at most if needed. Also, it is recommended to use a hamburger menu for a pleasant and simple browsing experience.


5. Accelerate the page loading speed

Because of hardware and connectivity issues, page loading speed is more important for mobile users than desktop users. Due to the Great Firewall, further optimisation on a mobile experience is recommended. You’ll need to optimise images, minimise code, leverage browser caching and reduce redirects.


Launched in 2014, Shenma is a mobile first search engine for China. Shenman holds 2.4% of the Chinese search market share in 2020. Shenma is solely focused on mobile devices and is a hybrid of a search engine and app store. This captures the attention of the population due to the immense growth in mobile device usage. Here is more information on Shenma and other Chinese search engines.

WeChat, China’s most popular social media app, sees over 1 billion active users each month – which is the equivalent of the entire population of the entire Americas. The popularity of WeChat is closely tied to its broad mix of features and functions. From hailing a ride to booking flights to messaging your family, WeChat has it all. It is no secret that WeChat holds infinite potential when it comes to generating awareness for your brand with a wider audience. International brands and organisations looking to expand into the Chinese market sees it as a golden opportunity.

Why is WeChat marketing important?

Within 14 months of its release in 2011, WeChat climbed to 100 million registered users, and six months later this number doubled. Eventually, WeChat reached over 1.2 million active users which continues to grow annually. It is clear that the Chinese population spends an astonishing amount of time on WeChat. Here are some statistics about WeChat that can put into perspective how important this app is to the Chinese population.

  • 46TB of data consumed on WeChat over one minute of the morning rush hour
  • Around 30% of mobile internet time in China is spent on WeChat
  • 1 billion WeChat Pay commercial transactions per day in 2019
  • 2.5 million companies use WeChat work 

Why do you need WeChat marketing for your business?

Due to popularity of WeChat in China, WeChat official accounts are a great way for brands and businesses to reach their target audience. Creating a WeChat marketing allows you to: 

  1. Create content that meets the need of your Chinese target audience
  2. Promote content and attract followers
  3. Drive traffic to your mobile responsive site by integrating it with your WeChat official account menu
  4. Build credibility with your target audience by tailoring your marketing approach to their online preferences. 

What kind of businesses should use WeChat marketing? 

Like creating a mobile responsive site, WeChat is an important channel for a Chinese mobile marketing strategy that covers the entire customer journey. While the app’s user base is demographically diverse, it’s particularly well-suited for businesses looking to target middle-class and affluent Chinese between 16-64 years old. According to Hootsuite/ We are Social, in 2020, WeChat has penetrated 78% of the market for this age bracket, second to Sina Weibo.

Mobile Commerce 

The rise of e-commerce in China has drastically changes modern Chinese society. Traditional 9-5 hours of shopping have since been abandoned due to the convenience of around the clock availability of online shopping. As people spend more time online, physical stores are being replaced by virtual accounts where companies set up shop online to do business directly with customers. Due to the increase in mobile device usage, the shift of e-commerce sales from desktop to mobile devices has already been underway in China. For the first time in 2015, mobile sales accounted for most e-commerce sales in China at 55.5% of total sales. Mobile users in China will spend nearly $1.5 trillion on mobile commerce, which will amount to nearly a quarter of the country’s retail market.

Why is mobile commerce important?

China was never a nation that took on desktops headfirst. Since its inception, mobile usage has always been more popular. And as soon as it became widely available, it immediately changed the way e-commerce businesses approach their customers. Here are a couple reasons why mobile commerce is important for your business:

1. Mobile payment apps 

The ability to pay using your phone is what turned mobile commerce into what it is today. Applications such as WeChat Pay and Alibaba’s Alipay means users can create an online wallet making it quick and convenient for customers to purchase via their phone both on and offline.

2. Social media apps

In China, social media apps are used for many everyday tasks. From booking appointments to planning a trip, all in one apps like WeChat can perform multiple function from a singular application. WeChat also has a mobile commerce function that can help businesses drive purchases through their social media channels. Only recently has western platforms such as Facebook started to roll out this option.

3. Build a reputation

In China, products and businesses reviews that spread organically through word of mouth are trusted more than traditional product ads. The average WeChat user spends 90 min in total during the day on WeChat. Therefore, to grab someone’s attention, your business will need to leverage different platforms to craft engaging and easily digestible content that can be easily shared.

4. Better access

Because mobile phones are now more widely available at a lower cost, 98.6% of internet users access the internet through their mobile devices. Mobile usage allows businesses to gain better access to customers that are living outside of main cities they would not be able to reach otherwise.

Mobile video streaming 

China is leading the world in using live streaming to engage consumers on e-commerce platforms. As well, the use of KOL’s are very prominent in China using them to leverage their fanbase. In 2018, there were 619.5 million users in China streaming videos on mobile. Although already a huge number, it rose even higher in 2019 accounting to 654.7 million streamers.

Why is mobile video streaming important in your mobile marketing strategy?

There are many reasons why you should consider video streaming in your mobile marketing strategy. It allows you to capture the attention of your audience and give them a personable experience when learning about your business. Below, are a list of 5 reasons on why mobile video marketing should be added to you marketing strategy. 

1. Elevates the shopping experience

Live commerce can help brands build trust and credibility through live streaming. Consumers can see the product in use in real -time making sure solidifying the credibility of your product or service. For example, in 2018, live commerce on Taobao generated over $15 million in sales.

2. Video live streaming builds trust

Reputation and trust are a key factor in the success of your brand. The concept of video marketing is based on trust and creating long term relationships with your customers. Video content that aims at igniting a customer’s emotions usually leaves a stronger imprint.

3. Can virtually replicate an in store experience

Video live streaming is beneficial for brands because consumers can engage with the person by asking questions and placing orders directly. Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, the popularity of purchasing products through live streaming marketing skyrocketed.

Who should use mobile video streaming marketing?

Although using mobile video streaming as a marketing tactic seems simple, only businesses that have an established foundation in China and awareness in the industry should start considering this step. Consumers in China hold a high standard in the live videos they stream. A sophisticated setup with adequate lighting and aesthetic background will help add to the overall look of your brand. Make sure that your brand has a spokesperson or a credible KOL that can stream and interact in Mandarin fluently. 

Tencent Social Ad

Tencent is one of the largest companies in China. It is behind a wide range of digital services spanning social media (WeChat and QQ), entertainment, information, software, and lifestyle to name a few. Tencent plays an integral part in the lives of Chinese internet users. It is estimated that over 47% of time spent on a mobile phone in China happens within the Tencent ecosystem. Before you explore integrating Tencent social ads into your marketing strategy, make sure your digital marketing foundations are established in China.

Why are Tencent Social Ads important?

Once your business is established, Tencent ads are a great way to gain exposure to the Chinese audience. Because of Tencent’s penetration into the Chinese population, Tencent has access to an unprecedented amount of user data. Marketers can then accurately target their preferred audience using this data. Tencent is also a highly connected ecosystem. Via their flagship apps such as WeChat, WeChat Pay, QQ Video etc., users can access entertainment, and payment services without ever leaving the platform. Therefore, Tencent has unmatched insight into user transactions and how each step contributes to the overall customer journey. Below we have listed 2 examples of ad types that are beneficial for your business to find potential customers.

WeChat moments ads 

WeChat moment ads are displayed directly in a users’ Moments feed. WeChat users are highly active on WeChat moments, with 750 million users viewing their feed daily. It is also recorded that 84% of users browse their feed several times a day. Users will only receive 2 ads per day making ads on WeChat moments more impactful and memorable than other social media platforms.

Tencent Video pre-roll and pause ads

Tencent video ads are a great way to capture your audience’s attention. With pre-roll ads, users must watch the 15 second video ad before watching their desired video. Furthermore, paused ads are displayed as static images the user will see whenever the video is paused.

Both of these options are great ways to bring awareness to your brand in ways that are not bombarding to your audience. Having your business acquainted with the Tencent ecosystem can help you fully understand user needs and wants. Our article on how to use Tencent ads to reach out to Chinese international students can give you a better understanding of the different tools the Tencent ecosystem offers.

Final words

As you can see from this article, China is definitely a mobile-first market and when it comes to digital, designing your brand experience for mobile marketing needs to be a priority from the get-go. If you’re first starting out, make sure to focus on a mobile responsive website that can be optimised for Chinese search engines. Setting up your WeChat official account can further help you to reach your target audience. 

Once you have those digital marketing foundations in place, you can start looking into tactics such as video live streaming and social media advertising to capture the attention and dollars of Chinese mobile users.

There’s always a lot to learn when it comes to setting up your digital presence in China. But investing a little bit of time upfront to understand the particularities of the local ecosystem can save you a lot of effort and money in the long-term. Sinorbis is a digital marketing platform that makes it easy for international businesses to get their digital presence in China right. Contact us to learn more.