In this blog, I want to focus on Mainland China and talk about the nuances of managing this particular country, as well as listing some of our successes and challenges.
Our offices in both Taiwan and China are managed by Meilin, our local director, and these two regions were established in 2011 and 2013 respectively. Let’s first focus on China.
Management of these regions of course is challenged by the huge time differences and the peculiarities of the business practices within these areas. For example, the phone is heavily used as a sales tool in both Taiwan and China. In the western world of North America and Europe utilizing the phone as the primarily sales tool is highly discouraged as people prefer email or other online methods.
Another challenge within China is purely cultural. First, our Chinese customers mostly don’t practice the idea of permission-based email marketing, this concept is a bit foreign here. They simply want to get a bulk list for as little money as possible and blast. Quick results from their marketing efforts are a must. Our local specialists have their hands full convincing them of the benefits of permission based marketing and ongoing customer engagement, some do understand this concept for sure, but it’s not widely practiced.
An additional big challenge is turnover. The typical employee has low loyalty when compared to other countries. They are constantly searching for better salaries and less work hours, some will jump from one job to the next for as little as $50 per month increase. Obviously, with China’s growth, employees are constantly looking for the latest and greatest thing. We do provide flexibility and a great working environment with competitive salary packages, but many times that is not enough.
Actually, providing our email tools within China itself has not been easy. Even though we utilize a content and application delivery network company that provides us with good SSL speed, within China itself we are still affected by the Internet Censorship and speed reductions that the government imposes. In addition, even though we have local native language support it’s difficult at times delivering email into these domains (QQ.com or 163.com and sohu.com, these companies don’t actively publish guidelines on best practices for email delivery) which are very large within China. This has forced us to focus on local companies that want to market outside of China to the rest of the world.
With regard to competition, local competitors are now starting to heat up. However, their feature mix typically does not stack up to ours, though they are improving. Lastly, as we grow and have success it’s difficult to transfer money outside of China (we take local currency payments and pay our employees from a local bank account to offset this issue), and we incur taxes of 16% or more. That is not based on profit, but simply based on transferring money outside of China.
The benefits of being in China early are that the economic globalization and world multi-polarization is being accelerated. Mainland China is willing to absorb Western experience to enrich its own. With our local sales and support teams playing an important consultative role, Benchmark Email’s solutions are actually the right tool for them. We are not only selling the tool, but teaching clients how to implement strategies with their marketing process. The power of A/B Testing, Automation Pro, Signup Forms and other key Benchmark tools are strengthening their understanding and usage of permission-based email marketing tools, while enhancing their overall marketing strategy.
I hope this gives some insights into our process within China, I will expand upon other regions in my next blog.