If you ever wondered if it’s possible to promote your products in China using channels established by other people, then the answer is: yes, it is possible. There are two ways to make it work; option one is working with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) – which we talk about here. Option two is affiliate marketing, which, in China, means working with an affiliate network, similar to a popular affiliate called LinkShare used in Western countries.
Note before you even start considering affiliate marketing in China:
Affiliate marketing in China is not very different from the rest of the world. You share your revenue with the affiliates and they promote your products. However, instead of working with the affiliates directly, you sign a contract with an affiliate network which belongs to the CPS Union (CPS联盟). It is an advertising network, where the cost of advertising is calculated based on actual sales. It’s a channel providing the most direct results. CPS Union promotes a brand on many websites at the same time and charges one-time admission fee & a commission based on sales. For example, if we rely on the classic affiliate model, we only advertise on a shopping-guide website like Shenme Zhide Mai (SMZDM) or we rely on a KOL. But thanks to the CPS Union, an ad we create is shared not only on SMZDM but also by Weibo KOLs and other websites. The CPS Union adds more partners and therefore boost the sales and brand visibility.
For example: you sign a contract with Yiqifa and they look for suitable affiliates and negotiate a deal with them. Then, after you sell the product, you transfer maybe… 10% of the revenue to Yiqifa and your part is done. They take care of the payments to the affiliates (KOLs, shopping guide websites, etc.).
You can also work with Chinese affiliates through foreign platforms such as LinkShare. But the more in-between you have, the lower commission is paid to Yiqifa, and the lower the quality of the affiliates – foreign platforms usually work with Chinese networks, not affiliates directly.
I mentioned that affiliate marketing in China is not a budget option – just like most of the marketing solutions in China btw.
Most of the platforms belong to the affiliate networks in China, therefore they work very similarly, and agree on the same fees. The commission you must pay is based on your sales volume, products’ popularity, and the industry. I said 10% earlier, but the commission can go as low as 5% or as high as 40% in the adult products industry.
You must also consider the initiative fee that’s required by the platforms. It’s a yearly fee you pay to the platform so that one may use it – and it’s usually between 20,000 to 30,000 RMB (2,900 to 4,500 USD).
Another thing to consider is hiring an agency to help you with the campaign. Of course, if you have a Chinese person in-house familiar with the topic and with lots of ideas and free time, you could skip this step. Affiliate marketing requires a lot of planning – the better you’re prepared, the better ad position you get, and the higher the chance you get into the promoted page. The agency (or your Chinese staff members) need to plan promotions, product display and banner ads, and negotiate the ad position and commission with the platform.
There are five platforms that allow foreign companies:
Affiliate marketing is a safe way to boost sales and promote a brand. Many foreign brands have already worked with affiliate platforms, check here.
Do you have any experience? Share it with us!