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Why direct marketing in China is different

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I’ve been doing B2B (business to business) direct marketing
throughout the Asia-Pacific region for the last seven years
(including China).

I’ve seen many Western marketers ask me about what are some good
China mailing lists? Should we do our own list research for
names in China?

Here are my thoughts and tips:

* People and businesses in China are moving (changing addresses)
at a regular pace. (just read this article on CRM in China). So
no, no matter who’s telling you that they have a great China
list, I don’t believe them. I know mailing lists for China can
only be good for maybe 4-5 months at best (especially b2b).

* I DO think that using direct email marketing (gathering your
own lists rather than renting external lists) may be better,
especially due to the high penetration of broadband use in the
major cities

* Renting email lists in general is already a shot in the dark.
Renting China email lists is even worse. There are no real
standards in terms of data privacy and most of these so called
lists (they’ll tell you they’re all legitimate) are harvested
from websites or compiled in a not so proper manner. You’ll find
that emailing to these lists can increase the odds of you being
marked as a SPAMMER and your complaints. There are a few that
are worth a try and are legitimate. (i.e. 51mymail)

* They don’t or can’t arrange mail forwarding services which
means mailing them to their last known address will not get your
mail forwarded to your target.

* Address labels in English needs to be translated into
Simplified Chinese

* List researched names can often be completely out of date by
the time you finish the list researching project due to the
rapid movement of people and businesses.

* Mail deliverability is still unstable – we’ve had situations
where it took three to four months before the person actually
received the promo – in Shanghai too!

* It’s not just a matter of taking your direct mail package and
translating it into Chinese and sticking a picture of just any
Asian looking model into the package (Just watch the latest
Memoirs of a Geisha movie – very Hollywood – half the main cast
were not Japanese but Chinese – not that it would make a
difference in Westerner’s eyes, but Asians know the

* If you’re unsure of where to start for your direct mail
campaign into China, try working with Hong Kong based suppliers
who know the market better and have more contacts in China.

The direct mailing business in China will be huge, however, at
this point in time, it would be wise to tread carefully before
you end up throwing all your money in the water.


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  • Posted On July 25, 2006
  • Published articles 283513

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