Hong Kong is a very unique place to market a website. With influences from both Chinese and Western cultures, websites need to be set up and marketed in a specific way to ensure they target the right customers in their industry sector.
In this post, we look at some of the key elements you should be focusing on to ensure your digital marketing strategy is optimised for Hong Kong.
Does your website need Chinese and English Language in Hong Kong?
Well it all depends on your target market really…
What you need to remember about consumers and web users in Hong Kong is that they use websites and search in different ways. This is dependent on what industry your products target and also what consumer segments and demographics you are targeting in Hong Kong, as there are many.
The first step is to make sure you have your market research nailed because this will help you understand who you should be setting your website up for.
Some examples that highlight this are:
- Websites that promote and sell luxury items in industries like the fashion industry need to have English sections to their website, as consumer search and demand is often in English that ensures brand focus.
- Sites that target local focused consumers need to have their websites predominantly in Chinese and additionally focus their website promotion strategy in Chinese. A personal finance website or a blue-collar jobs website are good examples of industries where local focus is much more important.
- Websites that target mainly the expat market may only need to be English. If your product is mainly focusing on products more suitable to this demographic, then it may not be worth investing in time and resource in a Chinese section on your website.
- Websites targeting a certain age or generation may also need to be more focused towards a certain language. For example, an older audience is more likely to be unable to understand English and so may need to have a higher weighting towards a Chinese language site.
There is also the decision on whether to include two version of written Chinese on your website, which brings us on to the next question…
What version of written Chinese does your website require in Hong Kong?
If you are including a Chinese section on your website or your entire website is in Chinese targeting Hong Kong, then you need to put your website in Traditional Chinese. Cantonese is spoken in Hong Kong and the text used is in Traditional Chinese characters.
If you live in Hong Kong you’ll know this already, but worth bearing this in mind. This is particularly pertinent If you are creating a multinational, multilingual site that includes Hong Kong, but you do not have a base in Hong Kong.
How should you configure Multilingual Websites in Hong Kong?
We suggest using /zh-hk and /en-hk as a subfolder on your .com or .com.hk website.
If you believe that your website will have a primary language in Hong Kong then you may want to have a no /language-country subfolder for your main language and only use a /language-country subfolder for you secondary domain. e.g.
Specify when you are using Traditional (targeting Hong Kong) and Simplified Chinese (targeting China) in your language code, in your subfolder URL structures and in hreflang code (which helps search engines to understand what language page version to show).
- Language code to include in HTML language settings: zh-Hant
- URL structure to include www.example.com/zh-hant
- Hreflang code to include <link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.example.com/” hreflang=”zh-hant” /> along with other website language page variations on the same page
- Language code to include in HTML language settings: zh-Hans
- URL structure to include www.example.com/zh-hans
- Hreflang code to include <link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.example.com/” hreflang=”zh-hans” /> along with other website language page variations on the same page
Should you be using Chinese URLs on your website in Hong Kong?
This really depends on what type of website you have and which location you are targeting.
- If you are targeting the Chinese mainland as well as Hong Kong you may want to use Chinese URLs to help to rank in China’s Baidu search engines. Chinese URLs are not necessarily favoured in Baidu but this could help
- If you have a lot of local content on your blog that targets local phrases and themes, then you may want to use Chinese URLs in your blog posts
- If you have URLs that include content related to international themes or international brands then it may be better to use English URLs
One good way to decide could be to check out the search volumes in Chinese and English before deciding. Alternatively, you could look to see if both Chinese and English words are used in the keyword search phrases used.
How important is mobile in Hong Kong?
The majority of websites in Hong Kong should be developed and marketed with a mobile-first approach as more people use mobile than desktop to research and browse the internet. This means making sure your website is mobile optimised by checking it through the Google Mobile-Friendly tool and also testing it on numerous devices. If you have a Google Search Console account set up Google will also send you mobile usability reports via the Google Search Console
Desktop Still First for Conversions
Whilst mobile is the leader for online browsing people often still prefer to convert on a desktop as shown in a recent Google Consumer Survey in the graph shown below as they have more trust in purchasing or filling in forms on desktop. They often do this on the 2nd visit to a website on Desktop.
Although mobile access is clearly important, it is obvious from the above graph that ultimately people choose to make their purchase through a desktop computer. As previously stated, this may be due to a lack of confidence about completing purchases over a mobile network. Alternatively, people may be more confident to carry out their purchases at home rather than on the move, where they have more time to ensure that all information is correct. From a digital marketing point of view, it is therefore important to adapt your website to ensure that it is adaptable to all forms of access.
App Optimisation in Hong Kong
If you have an app and want to promote the app in app stores in Hong Kong then you need to remember that Apple has a much greater market share in Hong Kong than in other parts of Asia, where Android is most popular. So, your app promotion strategy may need to be focused more on the Apple App Store and your iOS app.
How do you build your brand and promote your website in Hong Kong?
There are a few ways in which you can build your brand and promote your website in Hong Kong. One of the key initial tasks to carry out is to research your niche industry in great depth. This will help you to understand who your potential customer demographic is in Hong Kong and then, in turn, helps you to decide how you should set up your website.
You should also decide whether you are going to be local or more expat focused in your branding or maybe you need to decide whether you need a branding strategy for both demographics?
Next, you need to decide what social media channels you should use to reach your target audience(s). Using Facebook is likely to be more effective if you want to share video and blogs to a local audience for many B2C markets. LinkedIn is still used to a certain extent but more so within the B2B and expat focused markets.
Finally, a core part of the strategy is the fact that you need to decide what type of content you should promote. Podcasts are not very popular in Hong Kong for example but watching videos is extremely popular as shown in the graph below taken from The Connected Consumer Survey 2017.
As well as video being a core activity that people engage in on their smartphones, social media also plays a key part in Hong Kong’s online activities, so your social media strategy needs to be as much of a priority as your website strategy. Smart to consider the use of social media in an overall digital marketing strategy.
Another key area stated in the data above is to the use of search engines, so having a clear Search Engine Optimisation strategy and also potentially a paid search strategy (depending on your industry and what demographic you are targeting) is important.
The need for holistic online and offline strategies into the purchase funnel
Data from the Google Consumer Barometer Survey 2014/15 suggests that the majority of people in Hong Kong still make their purchase in a store or outlet. This means that people carry out the research online before going on to make a purchase in person. Online and on the phone still plays a part in purchasing, so this needs consideration in how best to encourage people to go on and buy a product or service. Perhaps some thought is needed in how to encourage people via a digital strategy to act on their impulse to purchase.
Having an optimised Google MyBusiness account can help provide a link between your online strategies and offline strategies. As it means that when internet users are searching for your brand in Google they will be able to find your store locations easily from where they can purchase products in-store. There are a number of new features in Google MyBusiness that you can also leverage to gain further visibility online to offline.
Your Digital Marketing Strategy for Hong Kong
Ensuring you know what Digital Marketing Nuances are most applicable to your brand and products is the most important thing to start and from there you can decide how to prioritize some or all of the factors mentioned in this post.
At Taksu we can consult and assist on all the digital marketing strategy areas mentioned in this post to ensure you follow the best digital strategies to help your business grow in Hong Kong. For more information, you can visit our Hong Kong Digital Marketing services page to find out what marketing channels we can help you with as part of your wider digital marketing strategy.
Understanding your market, what language they use and how they access information and make purchases is crucial to define an effective digital strategy in this very unique place.