Eli Schwartz

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China SEO and SEM Guide

Currently the world’s 2 largest economy behind the US but likely to become the world’s largest economy within the current decade. As the result of censorship and many unfamiliar rules, China is the most challenging country for a Western country to enter. China has a strict central government and a local partner’s requirement to participate in any foreign business. China is famous for censoring the kind of content that is available online, and as a result there are homegrown variations of popular Western products like Weibo instead of Twitter, Youku instead of YouTube and WeChat instead of Whatsapp.  Surprisingly, English is not widely understood even in the cities and any local marketing will need to be localized in Chinese. (In my experience, even Beijing police officers and hotel staff could not communicate in English.)

  • Population size: 1.4 Billon
  • Internet penetration 49.5%
  • Most popular search engines: Baidu, SoGou
  • Currency. RMB
  • Language: Mandarin
  • Time zones: GMT +8
  • Major cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou,
  • Most popular Internet TLD .CN

 

What you need to know to run successful campaigns: Unless your servers are hosted in China it is unlikely that you will be able to rank organically or be able to do effectively run paid search in China. Additionally, there is an inordinate amount of bureaucracy in opening a Baidu account, you might be better off working with a registered Baidu agency to run paid marketing campaigns. For SEO, Baidu has its own version of webmaster tools, but it’s only in Chinese. If you are serious about getting ranked in Baidu it would be a good idea to set up a webmaster tools account with Baidu.

Asia

Australia SEO and SEM Guide

When compared to major markets like Japan, China and India, Australia is not that significant with its relatively small population, but it is probably the first country any marketer looking to expand to APAC should focus on given its use of English and close cultural similarities to Europe. Australia has an elected democratic government with a strong rule of law, a world renowned education system, and a stable currency. Many global companies choose to put their APAC headquarters in Australia due to its ease of adjustment for employees relocating from Europe or the US, but make no mistake Australia is very unlike all of the rest of APAC. Geographically and culturally, Australia is as far from continental Asia as Paris is from New York.

  • Population size: 23 million
  • Internet penetration: 93%
  • Most popular search engines: Google
  • Currency AUD
  • Language: English
  • Time zones: GMT +5  to GMT + 11:30 (Sydney & Melbourne are GMT +10)
  • Major cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Perth
  • Most popular Internet TLD: .COM.AU

 

What you need to know to run successful campaigns: Australia uses UK English spelling and grammar so any American terminology will stick out like a sore thumb. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your American campaigns can be just turned on in Australia and they will work out of the box. Keep in mind the vast time differences between US cities and Australian time zones, so if you do decide to just expand a US or European campaign make sure your day parting or any other time based marketing is a fit for Australian time zones.

Asia

Most Asian Retailers Don’t Accept Returns and That’s a Mistake

Many Westerners and especially people from the US are surprised to learn that most retailers in Asia do not accept returns and there are very limited exchange policies. Essentially, when you make a decision to purchase a product, it’s a final sale and barring outright fraud (in countries that have consumer protection), there is no way to get your money back if you change your mind.

I found this particularly jarring only a few days after arriving in Singapore when I purchased a new mobile phone. The retail salesperson was very clear that there was no warranty, and once I inspected the phone after payment the deal was done. This was very unlike the long return policies even on electronics that I was used to at American retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and Costco.

I have discussed the need to always make final purchases, even on high ticket items, with many different people around Asia and most people believe that if retailers accepted returns, consumers would take advantage of them. I have no doubt that this is true, as people in America most certainly return things after using them, but I think the lack of returns actually hurts businesses more than it protects them. The same people that were convinced that flexible return policies would be the end of retailers in Asia also agreed that a lack of a return policy made them less likely to make impulsive purchases.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas analyzed the effects of return policies on purchase decisions and discovered that the value vs cost decision was quicker when the consumer felt like there did not need to be a strong commitment. Furthermore, once the purchase is made, the return becomes less likely as a result of the “endowment effect.” This theory from psychology simply states that people assign a higher value to something once it is already in their possession.

The research published in the Journal of Retailing stated

“Our supposition is that a longer period, i.e. a more lenient policy along the time dimension, reduces the urgency a consumer feels to make a return and thus the act of making a return can be delayed. ‘However, the longer a consumer remains in possession of the product the more salient their possession of the item becomes relative to their dissatisfaction with some aspect of the product, i.e. the reason they want to return the product in the first place. ‘It is surmised that this is due to an individual’s aversion to loss; that is, people dislike the prospect of losing something they possess so much so that they overvalue an item simply because it is currently in their possession.”

If this research is to be believed, retailers in Asia that refuse to accept returns are actually hurting themselves. Accepting returns will lead to higher revenue and less returns than they fear. As an added benefit, a flexible return policy might even be boon to customer loyalty.

 

 

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