With the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement expected to take effect soon, the China market has never been more accessible to Australian companies.

Boundless opportunity. Lots to get excited about. But also riddled with complexity and confusion.

In this post, we give you the lowdown on the five must-haves you need to reach China digitally.

But first, why digital?

Get this: China has twice the number of internet users compared to America’s total population. As of June 2014, China had 632 million internet users and 527 million mobile internet users. That’s a massive number of people! So how can you reach them?

1. Build a Chinese website

Time-poor consumers in a busy world don’t want to wait for your website to load. That’s one of the reasons you need a website hosted on a server in China or Hong Kong. This also reduces problems related to the Great Firewall. The other benefit is that you get better rankings on Chinese search engines. Here’s a tip: It is much better to have the whole website in Chinese — translated in a culturally appropriate way (read: not via Google Translate!).

2. Invest in Chinese SEO

85% of Chinese Internet users don’t go further than the first page of search results. Therefore, to gain visibility in China, you need Search Engine Optimization. Baidu is the leading search engine in Chinese internet, also ranked 5th in the world. Optimizing for Baidu search is completely different to Google and is something you need to invest in.

3. Explore e-commerce

E-commerce is exploding in China because it provides Chinese consumers who live in small cities online access to different kinds of products they couldn’t find before. The ability to compare prices online is also very attractive, as price is a powerful buying trigger for Chinese consumers.

Tmall.com and JD.com are platforms you should definitely explore if you want to do e-commerce in China.

4. Get on Chinese social media…

Where are all the Chinese consumers? On their phones! Having a presence on Chinese social media is one of the most effective avenues to create brand awareness. Social media platforms you should harness include WeChat, Weibo and Youku.

5. …especially WeChat

WeChat (called weixin in China) is a vital key to accessing the Chinese market. Personal chats, work discussions, news, banking…you might not believe it but everything happens on WeChat on the other side of the world.

We’re looking forward to helping you understand and harness Chinese social media in the coming posts – so stay tuned for more!

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