For an outsider, it’s difficult to see the appeal of the structured text, blurry GIFs and splotches of QR codes that make up a Chinese website. More often than not these elements are all jammed together into a space so tight that even Google Translate can’t help you understand it.
However, rather than indicating a developer’s weak design choices or language barrier, these layouts point to a significant divide in how Chinese and Western audiences view online spaces, especially considering some of the most popular of Chinese websites such as news site Sina use this loaded formula.
Helping businesses understand this divide is Sydney startup Sinorbis, an online cloud marketing platform that develops and markets Western content for Chinese audiences.
Sinorbis was founded by Nicolas Chu and Allen Qu in 2015 with the goal of helping to connect local businesses to the Chinese market – a hugely important market, yet difficult to approach.
Clients approach Sinorbis looking to create or reimagine their content for China. Businesses can choose from a range of services relevant to their goals across social media marketing, web development, SEO, and digital strategies.
A client can either leave with a comprehensive digital marketing strategy to engage the Chinese market themselves, or use the startup’s services to develop and market online content from scratch.
After a project is developed, clients are able to monitor its impact in the Chinese market by using the platform’s online web analytics tool.
The business derives its in-depth knowledge of the Chinese market from Chu and Qu, who both previously worked for international companies who dealt with the Chinese market.
Chu, who has been building and managing online businesses for upwards of 20 years, recognised a large issue for businesses when communicating with China’s online market, a space which he said is twice the size of the US due to the country’s massive population.
Passing beyond the language barrier, most of these communicative issues derive from the vastly different online space available to the Chinese population, an area that diverts from Western trends largely due to China’s strict regulation policies.
“You don’t have Google, you have Baidu and 360. You don’t have Facebook or Twitter, you have WeChat,” explained Chu.
“I saw this explosion of demand for overseas products and services from China, but there were no tools to help businesses to tap into this unique market.”
The cofounders believe the Australian space is limited in the number of businesses which offer services to connect clients to the Chinese market. While various players do exist, the cofounders believe none offer a complete package of creating and marketing content or the ability to monitor its progress using a cloud platform.
“Because it’s so different, you really need an intricate knowledge of the Chinese market or alternatively, be able to invest money to have a team of the ground in China to do this stuff stuff for you,” said Chu.
In the Chinese digital space, this “intricate knowledge” means a marketer or content creator has to comprehensively understand how the unique search and social tools operate, with Chu explaining that these platforms barely translate to how their Western counterparts operate.
“No Google means no Google Analytics, so you can’t even properly understand SEO or how campaigns are running without re-learning the Chinese search engine Baidu,” said Chu.
“Other models work differently too. Say for example subscription models like what Netflix uses, they don’t work well. Chinese people are generally unwilling to commit to paying, especially if you’re an unknown startup or brand.”
Sinorbis is targeting a wide market, offering its online services across education, technology, ecommerce, and finance, amongst others.
The startup has already scooped up some major clients locally, with the Sydney Bridge Climb, University of Western Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and REA Group signing on.
The business has also provided services to technology companies such as Philips, LG and Canon, with Chu accounting Sinorbis’ success to other businesses recognising the importance of visibility in the large Chinese market.
“We’ll help them become visible by working on design, user experience and copywriting, then expose it to different channels such as WeChat and forums which are really popular in China,” Chu explained.
To help get startup off the ground, the founders were able to raise $1.5 million in seed funding and recently an extra $1 million, with the business to look for more further after the platform is fully commercialised.
Headquartered in Sydney, Sinorbis also has offices in Beijing and Shanghai.
“Using extra funding we’ll look to expand upon our existing clients and eventually branch further internationally. Knowing that we already have clients puts us in a very comfortable position where we know we’re developing something that will definitely be used,” said Chu.
Image: Allen Qu & Nicolas Chu. Source: AntHillOnline.