SEM Campaign Pre-launch Checklist

This simple guide intends to answer a commonly asked question: “What do we need to do to launch a successful Baidu search engine marketing campaign?”

While the response can vary based on the situation, there are a few points that are common to almost every SEM campaign we do.

We hope to make this list concise and actionable. It’s meant for the marketing manager that would oversee a Chinese SEM campaign as part of a larger campaign. Also, while relevant to Baidu, it is also relevant to Chinese-language advertising on other search engines.

Missing any of these items could cost you a successful campaign.

1. Make sure you have the budget
2. Create a Chinese-language landing page or website
3. Make sure your website quickly in China
4. Choose who will be running your SEM
5. Choose who will communicate with potential customers
6. Setup payment methods
7. Gather the documents required for account setup
8. Make sure your SEM team has the data and assets they need
9. Configure your analytics
10. Brainstorm
11. Prepare the campaign
12. Double-check any conversion processes

China SEM

1. Make sure you have the budget

Baidu requires that you buy at least 1,500 USD worth of advertising credit on your first purchase.

If you are managing the account yourself, you will need to invest time in building out the account keywords and ad creatives, as well as managing the campaign on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, if you are using our services, you can find pricing on this page.

More of the points on this page should help you understand the full range of things you’ll need to invest time or money in to complete.

2. Create a Chinese-language landing page or website

Your English page won’t cut it!

At the very least, you need a Chinese-language landing page written with the intent to get your Chinese visitors to convert.

There is also a Chinese landing page tool called Jimuyu (基木鱼) provided by Baidu. Currently, Baidu requires that companies operating in the fields of healthcare, consumer goods, enterprise software, business services and logistics use Jimuyu landing pages. Check the FAQ page to learn more about Jimuyu.

3. Make sure your website loads well in China.

Website in China checkup

Here’s a useful tool to check how quickly your page loads in China now.

We also recommend checking manually from within China, because tools can’t tell you everything.

It’s possible to make your website load faster in China by:

  1. Getting hosting in China
  2. Making adjustments to WordPress or whichever content management system your website users.

4. Choose who will be running your SEM

You will need an agency to set up your Baidu ad account, but should they manage your campaign?

The person or team who runs the campaign should have experience with search engine marketing and the ability to read & write Chinese. These are the entry level requirements, like saying the people you put on your soccer team should have “eyes and legs”. However, like soccer, Baidu can be quite competitive.

5. Choose who will communicate with potential customers

Chinese consumers expect rapid support provided to them in Chinese. If you hope they make purchases on-site, we recommend live chat availability on Baidu’s chat tool and WeChat.

If you are generating leads for B2B or an otherwise in-depth sales process, we recommend having live chat available just to get the lead to arrange a meeting.

We recommend this be done in-house when possible. However, we also offer these services for companies that cannot provide live support.

6. Setup payment methods

If you’re selling on your site, you should offer Alipay and WeChat Pay as payment options. If you use Stripe as a payment process, this is often simple to setup. See this guide.

7. Gather the documents required for account setup

In all cases, you’ll require a certificate of incorporation (business license) for the business to be promoted, as well as a document showing bank account details. See account setup guidelines here.

8. Make sure your SEM team has the data and assets they need

When we are managing Baidu ad accounts, we ask for these things:

  1. Google Analytics access, so we can see what users do on the website. This allows us to optimize the campaign to achieve the most leads, sales, etc.
  2. Original image design files and branding guidelines, so we can create ads that look great and are in-line with the global brand image.
  3. Access to edit the landing page, so we can improve the conversion rate.

9. Configure your analytics

We usually use Google Analytics, and sometimes use Baidu Tongji as well.

We also use Google Looker Studio to merge data from Baidu, Google Analytics and a Baidu SEO tool in one place. Learn more here.

A few points to cover:

  1. Configure goals and/or e-commerce settings.
  2. Determine how to tag ads with Google Analytic’s UTM parameters.
  3. Make sure filters aren’t removing valuable data that can be used to improve the Chinese SEM campaign. For example, data from an English-language Google AdWords campaign can be a useful source of inspiration.

10. Brainstorm Keywords

China SEM Keywords

Get your team together and brainstorm keywords for the campaign. Start drawing out some keyword topics, ad copy concepts and a potential account structure.

People you should have as part of this conversation:

  1. The SEM campaign operator
  2. Whoever runs English SEM campaigns
  3. Chinese customer support/salesperson
  4. Whoever is in charge of the marketing strategy a level up above this campaign.

Aim to add keywords for your brand, products/services, and problems you solve. Add keywords in English and translate to Chinese, or add Chinese keywords directly.

If you’re new to this, we would build out keywords for you, and then ask for you to review.

11. Prepare the campaign

Now, finally, it’s time for the nitty-gritty campaign preparation. Write your ads, finalize keywords, add negative keywords, build out the account structure, etc. Set parameters like budget, device type, geography, etc.

We have some planning documents we use that help bring potential issues to the forefront. Then we share those with everybody from the step above.

We could probably write a whole book on the topic.

12. Double-check any conversion processes

Go on the site yourself and check the contact forms or purchase process. Have somebody from within China manually check them too, just in case certain elements don’t load properly in China. For example, Google Captcha’s that don’t load could prevent people from submitting a form.

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