Last week I posted about how successful marketing managers view marketing as an investment rather than an expense. If you haven’t read it yet, I advise you check it out first.

This week it’s time to take a look at another extremely important part of setting up your China marketing team to be successful: goal setting.

It’s essential to set the right goals, and focus the whole team on them.

In this post I’ll explain how to set goals suited for marketing in China, and why the entry stage requires special consideration in evaluating progress.

First, what is a “good” goal in a general sense?

A goal must be specific, and measurable over time. It must be relevant to the team involved and the company as a whole. Here’s one example of a goal stated correctly –  “Achieve 700 new customers in mainland China within the next 6 months.”

Who do goals need to be relevant to?

Make sure that the goal you set is relevant to the whole team involved in the China marketing efforts. And this may involve more people than you think!

The team includes:

  1. The higher-ups. Such as your company’s CEO, head of finance, the whole C-suite, etc.
  2. The marketing manager in charge of the China marketing efforts.
  3. Everybody on the China marketing strategy & implementation team, whether they are internal hires, agency staff or freelancers.
  4. Sales & customer support staff.

(I’ll be posting more about the team structure next week by-the-way.)

Once you have a goal, make sure everybody on the team knows it. It should be at the top of your marketing plan, first page of your Powerpoint review files, or perhaps tattooed on your neck.

Wherever you put it, the point is that everybody on the team should know exactly what the goal is, and it should be written in places that make it unavoidable.

The goal needs to be understandable to people of various job roles and likely in multiple companies, so it’s super important that it is clear and understandable.

Of course, to be relevant to everybody, it must also be trackable, and everybody responsible for attaining it should have access to the data necessary to do their jobs. This is important enough to us that we require goal tracking in our contracts.

What are some reasonable goals you might choose for the China market?

First, let’s look at some common metrics you might measure.

  1. Revenue
  2. Leads (and corresponding conversion rate)
  3. Sales volume (# of units sold)
  4. Number of new customers
  5. Return on ad spend, or return on total marketing spend
  6. Number of new followers/subscribers/free members

I suspect all the metrics above are familiar to marketers inside and outside China. Any of them could be relevant to measure your overall progress in China… but your end goal is only a viable evaluation tool once you get to the stage where you’re providing your Chinese customer with the minimum viable customer experience.

That’s the key point. And a bit wordy I know. I’ll explain.

Doing business in China isn’t like moving over to the next state or even from one country to a more similar one. If you aren’t yet ready to make the whole customer journey easy for your customers, they’ll get snagged at one or more point in the process and be lost to you.

Here’s an example – we worked on an e-commerce project where we started with just pay per click marketing on Baidu. The client didn’t take our advice to provide real-time customer support and improve the website localization. Sales in the first two months sucked. Only 1 customer. Some companies would stop here.

But that would be unwise choice. You can’t cross a chasm in iterations, and I saw it as inspiring that even one customer made it through to purchase.

This company decided to act on our earlier advice. We added real-time customer support and helped improve the website, particularly the checkout process and landing page. In the next two months, sales went up to 6 and then 18 customers.

Through customer support, we gained even more feedback that allowed us to improve the business further. Now they get hundreds of customers per month, and this is all with only a 50% increase in ad spend over time.

Actually, China is the greatest source of revenue for this business now, more than double the value of their home market, USA.

What’s the takeaway here?

Respect the market. Your end goal will likely take time to achieve, especially as you’ll need more time to adapt to such a different market.

Instead, in the early stages, look for indications that users are moving towards that end goal, and remove barriers in their way.

The 1 customer in the example above actually wasn’t an important data point – it wouldn’t have mattered if it were 1 or 2 or 0. What was interesting was that users were arriving on the website, reading multiple pages and some were even starting the checkout process, although not checking out.

The client trusted they had a good product, and we could see competitors were doing good business, but customers weren’t buying. Some might say “well, this isn’t worth the investment.” That’s not respecting your customers. Instead, listen to them, and make the buying experience easy for them.

Focus on the End Goal + Watch Progress Indicators

You’ll need patience and flexibility to get on track with your China marketing goals. During the early stages, evaluate progress based on metrics that indicate you’re making it towards your end goal.

Here are some metrics I recommend watching, and the questions you can ask yourself to learn what to do next.

  1. Inquiries.
    Do potential customers ask about your service but then not buy? Why? Fix it!
  2. Ad clickthrough rate.
    Do they seem to want what you promise in your ad, but they aren’t buying on your website? Why? Find a way to talk to them, or analyze website behaviour, then, fix it!
  3. Steps leading to conversion.
    Are people starting the checkout process? How about viewing the contact page? What are they doing that indicates interest? Why are they doing it and why aren’t they following through?
  4. Social interactions.
    Do people comment on your posts? Retweet them? Why are they interested in your brand or content? What do they say about you?
  5. Content views.
    Which of your site content seems to be of interest to people? Which content are they sharing? Returning to? Is some content doing well in organic search?
China Goal Setting
There are marketing models such as AIDA that you may be familiar with. If you aren’t familiar, just know that there are many different such acronyms that attempt to help us conceptualize the customer journey. My approach is to customize the model for each project, and avoid trying to stick to an exact number of steps.

For example, we’re working on an e-commerce website that sells brand name accessories for a low price. One barrier we’ve found is that many users think the products must be fake, but they aren’t. We are using content marketing along with social media, and will ramp up SEO over time. For the near-term, we might model the customer journey metrics like this:

  1. Social content views
    How many people are seeing our content? Who are they?
  2. Social interactions + interactions via the on-site chat function
    How many people are talking to us? Why do they buy or not buy? What percentage of people that view content actually interact with us?
  3. Number of customers, sales revenue & total return on marketing spend.
    How many customers are buying? How much money do they spend? Which products are they buying? How much money do we make back in revenue for each dollar we spend on marketing?

At the current stage, about 4 weeks into the project, we’ve moved onto stage 2. There’s no problem getting some interaction with potential buyers. In order to improve sales, we’ll need to improve trust in the site through branding, improving on-site CRO, providing excellent customer support, reacting to customer discussions online, and other methods.

What do you think? What are your challenges in setting goals for China marketing efforts? Would the framework I use work for you too?

Next week I’ll be posting about team structure. In other words, what roles should be on your China marketing team? And how should everybody work together?

Start With a Free Consultation

Contact us for a free initial consultation. Whether it’s through email, chat, or a scheduled video meeting, we’re here to help.

We’ll identify the potential obstacles hindering your expansion in China, and we’ll recommend the best course of action based on your individual needs.

If you think we’re a good fit, you’ll receive a proposal within a week.

    This site is registered on as a development site.