The Chinese Edtech firm Zuoyebang raised US 1.6 billion in a series E+ round. Business Giants like Alibaba, FountainVest Partners, Tiger Global, Sequoia Capital China, SoftBank Vision Fund, and Tiger Global joined the round. So, read below to know why Baidu is funding Zuoyebang, but first, let us answer the following questions:
- What is Baidu?
- What is Zuoyebang?
- Why is China becoming the world’s leader in Edtech?
- Who are the leading Edtech firms in China?
- How can you promote an Edtech firm in China?
An introduction to Baidu & Zuoyebang
What is Baidu?
Baidu 百度 is the world’s largest Chinese search engine. The founder, Robin Li, who was in Silicon Valley at the end of 1999, saw the huge development potential of China’s Internet and Chinese search engine services; and on January 1, 2000, founded Baidu in Zhongguancun.
China’s largest Internet integrated service company centered on information and knowledge, and the world’s leading artificial intelligence platform company. Baidu’s vision is to become the world’s top high-tech company that understands users best and can help people improve.
What is Zuoyebang?
作业帮 Zuoyebang is the spinoff of the Chinese search engine Baidu. It is committed to providing all-subject learning tutoring services for primary and middle school students across the country. The firm has 800 million registered users, over 50 million daily active users, and 170 million monthly active users. It is a leading brand of online education in primary and secondary schools, i.e. K12 online courses.
The learning tools available on Zuoyebang:
- photo search for questions, homework help live class, experienced Chinese assistant, composition search, etc.;
- analysis of difficult problems and the answers to school tests by taking photos, voices, etc.;
- live streaming classes and interactive learning with teachers;
- possibility of discovering weaknesses in knowledge and providing solutions to these problems;
- mobile phone interactive learning;
- communicating with students of the same age across the country to discuss interesting things in learning and life.
Why is China is becoming the world’s leader in Edtech?
This is possible also thanks to China’s government, which wants to transform China from an industrial state to a service-based economy. In China, investments from state and big enterprises in the educational sector are becoming more and more relevant.
During 2020, with the start of the staying-at-home era, the sector picked up considerably since Chinese downloaded 5-30 times more tutoring apps and, more importantly, the value of the Chinese e-learning market reached 315 billion yuan, growing three times as fast as in 2015, and 12,3% more from 2019.
Who are the leading Edtech firms in China (besides Zuoyebang)?
Yuanfudao was founded in 2012 and successfully completed multiple rounds of financing led by well-known funds and giant companies such as IDG Capital, Hillhouse Capital, Boyu Capital, Warburg Pincus, Tencent, etc., with a valuation of over US$7.8 billion. It is the first unicorn company for online education in K-12.
This online school provides all-subject courses for primary and secondary school students. Then, primary and secondary school students in any region of the country can take live-streaming lessons from famous teachers at home. The Edtech company was selected as the “2019 Forbes China’s Most Innovative Companies List”.
17zuoye is a school education platform driven by big data. It synchronizes school teaching methods, covering different educational scenarios such as exercises and evaluations. Through educational technology such as big data and artificial intelligence, it helps teachers reduce burdens and increase efficiency, students cultivate an interest in learning, and parents master academic conditions, making study a good experience. We can define it as a three-party intelligent education platform.
VIPKID is the fastest growing online youth English education brand in the world. The app connects Chinese children with North American teachers. VIPKID uses customized courses that are aligned with the American Elementary School Curriculum Standards (CCSS: Common Core State Standards of the United States) and uses an effective immersion teaching language method to help children learn fast.
In August 2017, VIPKID launched Lingo Bus, the world’s first 100% immersive Chinese education platform for children, and officially launched its Chinese overseas business.
VIPKID was selected as the “2019 Forbes China’s Most Innovative Enterprises List”. Also, the number of paying students on the VIPKID platform exceeded 700,000, and the number of foreign teachers in North America exceeded 90,000. A year later, VIPKID officially announced a contract with Oxford University Press and ranked 70th in the “Suzhou High-tech Zone·2020 Hurun Global Unicorn List” with a market value of RMB 30 billion.
DaDaABC is an online education website for children aged 6-17. The website provides one-on-one online teaching of English for young children through online real-time teaching.
The company collaborated with Chinese Giants as Baidu and Tencent, and partners with American Tesol Institute.
Unlike its competitor VIPkid, the company doesn’t only classes with teachers that has a Native North American accent.
Makeblock is a STEAM education solution provider. It is mainly for schools, teaching and training institutions, and family children’s programming education scenes. It provides complete robot hardware and programming software, outputs teaching content, and creates youth Children’s competition.
In France, Makeblock products have been written into French school textbooks, and are used in 6,000 French elementary and junior high schools; in Hong Kong, more than half of the primary and secondary schools use Makeblock’s STEAM education solution. In Africa, Makeblock cooperated with UNESCO as an officially designated robot supplier to enter the first national robot education center in Mali, Africa.
Globally, the Neuron Explorer Kit was fully launched in the Apple Store in 2018.
How can you promote an Edtech firm in China?
You need to have a Chinese website
First of all, you have to create a Chinese website to make Chinese users consider your brand reliable. After they find your brand thanks to your marketing campaign, they surely will go to check your brand website.
So, to attract their attention, you need to use high-quality images as well as good storytelling. In order to own both these kind of content, you can only rely on good designers and copywriters that deeply know Chinese consumers taste, culture and, obviously language. We linked all the best Edtech firms’ websites, so you can give a look at them.
You need to be rank high on Chinese search engines
Search engines are fundamental in this sector, we already see that Zuoyebang is connected to the most important Search engines in China Baidu.
You need to rank high on them because the first way a Chinese consumer finds you will be to open a Chinese search engine and digit keywords related to your brand.
Then, you can opt for doing SEO or SEA on Baidu. As in western countries, if you opt for search engine paid advertainment you are going to reach higher results in a shorter time, while if you invest in organic search you are making a long-term investment that gives great results in the long run.
Other famous Chinese search engines are Zhihu, Qihoo360 (aka Haosou), and Sogou. However, Baidu owns 70% share of the market.
You need to be present on Chinese forums
The counterpart of Quora in China is Zhihu, but there are other important forums where can be useful to be present.
This because Chinese users usually don’t trust a lot of information on your website, so you need to create conversations and reviews on other Chinese digital platforms.
In addition, Baidu owns Zhihu, so having a link to your website on this platform can help your brand rank higher on Baidu search engine.
You need to have a Chinese social media account
In China, social media are extremely powerful. Live streaming, KOLs, and KOCs are becoming the best way to promote your brand. Due to their increasing strength, the platform that hosts these three protagonists need to consider if you want to compete with a Chinese competitor.
In fact, all EdTech firms in China have at least one social media account.
In general, WeChat can be used to nurture your audience and you can see it as a newsletter. It is also the most social media in China. However, it costs more than any other social media in China to increase your audience and doing brand awareness on it.
On the other side, Weibo is among the less expensive platform for branding. It’s easy to use for promoting your brand since the cost is lower and also the tools are easier to manage (comparable to Facebook). Being an open platform, everyone can look at the content present on it, most of it, reachable even not having a Weibo account.
Then, this means you can reach an extremely wide audience by investing in a campaign on Weibo that involves the right KOL for your brand.
In conclusion, Why is Baidu funding the e-learning search engine Zuoyebang?
After reading the whole article we can draw how the Edtech sector is important for the youngest in China. Parents are more and more interested in online education for their little emperors, so Chinese firms are investing in it.
In fact, Zuoyebang and Baidu’s new funds will be used for developing big-sized K12 classes and improving in the technology field, the other key factor to be competitive in China.
Did you decide to enter the Chinese market with your Edtech brand?
It is a great idea because the Chinese are looking for foreign teachers and relevant foreign schools.
In China, foreign synonym with “high quality”
But to promote your brand in China, you also need a Chinese digital partner agency.
GMA is a digital marketing agency focused on the Chinese market.
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