What’s the current strategy of Taiwanese corporations for customer outreach?
Trade fair is one of the favorite channels of Taiwanese manufacturers to reach new customers. The largest one is the Canton fair held once a year in Guangzhou, China and welcoming visitors from all over the world.
Before the rise of search engines and marketplaces, attending to and/or exhibiting in trade fairs made a lot of sense. That was one of the only places where buyers and suppliers could meet.
Nowadays, the situation is quite different. Search engines are sophisticated and know how to match the user’s intent with matching content while marketplaces are widespread used.
Trade fairs became interesting mostly for new product launches and networking rather than genuine customer hunting.
Exhibiting is expensive taking in consideration the price of the booth, the production of marketing materials, and the salary of the staff on the booth as well as the hotels/plane tickets/….
This budget invested in digital marketing instead would surely have greater ROI.
Not to mention the current COVID-19 pandemic that forced most of trade fairs organizers to cancel their events for an indefinite period, or to organize them online.
Selling on marketplaces is a great way for a company to start selling products quickly online using its own resources to register the company and publish the products.
A popular marketplace for Taiwanese manufacturers targeting an international audience is Taiwan trade. Most of Taiwanese manufacturers are registered on this government managed platform.
Another one worth mentioning is the famous Alibaba that hosts a lot of Taiwanese company profiles and products.
It is definitely a plus for a company to be involved on those platforms but it shouldn’t be the main strategy to acquire new customers because:
- Buyers are not customers: Buyers don’t buy a brand but a product for a certain price. In most cases, many suppliers offer the same product. So the buyer’s choice is product focused: it is only based on the price, reviews and shipping conditions of the vendor. Moreover, there’s no interaction needed to purchase the products so the buyers don’t get to experience or create a relation with the vendor. In those conditions, it is almost impossible to create customer’s loyalty.
- Low profit margin: Often, marketplaces take a percentage on the amount of products sold by the vendor. They might also offer a “premium” type of subscription that allows better ranking on search result page. In the end, a vendor that sells a product on a marketplace will generate fewer profits than if he sold that same product directly to the client. Below is the prcing table on Alibaba:
- High competition: The level of competition on marketplaces is very high. As an example, on Alibaba, when you search “USB cables”, you get 130,675 matching offers. Only a very few suppliers can actually make good money onplatform. Others get orders from time to time but it’s often not enough to keep the machines running.
Sending newsletters is a good way to keep in touch with existing customers and prospects.
It is generally not a good marketing idea when used to reach companies that don’t know about your business at all yet.
It is common to see Taiwanese companies purchase online database. For example, each year, it is easy to find and purchase the canton fair’s buyer database after the event.
Using the email collected from this purchase file to send a newsletter will cause deliverability issues and the company will end-up with 98% of the emails sent in the spam box or not delivered at all.
Not to mention the harm a bad IP reputation can cause when you try to reach real customers.
International SEO: Why should it be the priority channel for Taiwanese suppliers to reach the world?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is the practice of optimizing the pages of your website to rank higher on search engine result pages on targeted keywords.
In the SEO world, there is something we call “long-tail” keywords. Those are key phrases composed of several keywords that make sense together.
For example, a Taiwanese keychain manufacturer could try to rank its website on the keyword “keychain”.
The monthly search volume for this keyword is high (266,000) but:
- It is very difficult to rank on it because the competition is quite high (38)
- The user intent is probably, in this case, not to find a manufacturer.
This Taiwanese manufacturer should rather focus on ranking on long-tail keywords:
The monthly search volume for this keyword is much lower (100) but:
- The competition to rank on this keyword is 2 times lower (16) than on the “keychain” keyword.
- The user intent matches with the product/services the company offers. Therefore the conversion rate on long-tail keyword is much higher.
Manufacturers generally supply rather specific products.
Therefore, there are plenty of long-tail keywords that they may target to generate qualified traffic and ultimately leads/sales.
If the International SEO strategy implemented is efficient, they will be able to outrank marketplaces on the search engine result pages on those specific keywords.
They get qualified traffic to their website and can introduce themselves to their visitors as a brand (in contrast to marketplace). They get in touch with customers who look for them (in contrast to them looking for customers) which is a step further in the sales process.
SEO is a complex process that requires expertise to implement. Therefore, working with an SEO agency is a must. The cost of working with an SEO agency might seem high at first sight. But it is only a fraction of what exhibiting in trade shows cost while it creates all year long business opportunities.
International SEO prerequisites: the obstacles Taiwanese manufacturers face
To optimize a website for SEO, we need to submit it to 100-200 ranking factors.
The main challenges I can identify for Taiwanese industrial companies to perform in International SEO are:
Responsiveness: Many factories’ websites in Taiwan were created 2-3 decades ago and are therefore not responsive. At the time, there was no need for responsive because there was no smartphone. But time and research dramatically changed the way we use our phones and nowadays, having a responsive website is a basic feature.
In terms of SEO, Google now ranks website based on their mobile version (mobile first indexing). That means that a non-responsive website just can’t compete in Google ranking.
Example of unresponsive website here
Use of elements that search engine can’t read: It is common to find websites that are using flash and/or that display texts as pictures. Flash is a software widely used 10-20 years ago by designers to create animations that can be used on the web. The problem is that search engines have several difficulties dealing with flash content.
Also, an easy way to create a webpage with an advanced design is to put everything in a pictures, texts included. Nevertheless, search engines do not read picture's content.
An example of what you shouldn't do here.
Poor texts: Most of the industrial company’s websites in Taiwan are in English because their business is export oriented. But often the English used is poor. Moreover, they frequently make sentences composed of a series of noun and adjectives that put together don't make sense. That's obviously bad for the readers but this is also harmful for International SEO because search engines can't identify what the page is about. A good example of what you should avoid here.
It is highly recommended hiring a professional translator to work on the website content. The price is reasonnable and the benefit is great.
No design: Design and user experience aren't pure ranking factors. But working hard on International SEO is useless if the user experience on the website is bad. A preliminary condition to implementing a successful SEO strategy is to offer a good experience to your users. It is not worth spending dollars in SEO if you lose your visitors as soon as they land on your website.
Here is a website that needs a serious update.
Another point worth mentioning is that many SEO agencies in Taiwan don't do a serious job. They play with the search engines rules to get quick results but will get you penalized in the long run. Those agencies do what we call "black hat SEO". More about black hat SEO here.
Depending on the level of communication we have with our clients, it can be hard competing with blackhat seo agencies as a legit agency. Their prices are cheaper while the results are quicker. But once your website gets penalized, you probably won't see Google's first page ever again.
Below is the kind of offer you should be careful with:
Many industrial production businesses were created in the 1980s during Taiwan's industrialization period.
Those businesses were created by a generation that is now 70-80 years old. At the time, the success of a company could be measured by its production power and the value for money of its products. Marketing was just not a topic and client outreach was very limited.
Nowadays, business is different. Marketing is everywhere and digital marketing is growing faster than any other types of marketing channel.
It is therefore crucial that Taiwanese manufacturers catch up with their client outreach strategy to stay in the game.
Good news is that the old generation is progressively passing the business management to younger generations who are more aware of digital marketing as well as the untapped potential of international SEO.