Lessons from Alibaba’s Content Marketing Playbook

Table of Contents

Last year Alibaba’s singles day sales generated $17.7 billion. Amazon’s Black Friday sale last year made $3 billion. Alibaba’s unprecedented growth has taken companies in Silicon Valley by surprise. In Duncan Clark’s bestseller ‘The House that Jack Ma Built’ founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma quotes “Today is brutal, tomorrow is more brutal, but the day after tomorrow is beautiful. However, the majority of people will die tomorrow night .”

“Today is brutal, tomorrow is more brutal, but the day after tomorrow is beautiful. However, the majority of people will die tomorrow night .”

– Jack Ma, Founder, Alibaba

Alibaba Group’s business today spans from e-commerce, cloud computing to online payments. Alibaba doesn’t need to market itself in China anymore. For people in China Alibaba is a household name with access to 450 million+ active consumers in China. Alibaba’s content strategy is designed not just to create awareness but to generate traction for brands onboard.

Alibaba’ Content Marketing Playbook

Alizila: Content Hub

In 2010, Alibaba launched Alizila by hiring, journalist and former senior editor of TIME magazine Jim Erickson. Alizila cover stories, views, industry analysis and perspectives from the Alibaba Group. Alizila’s content has been instrumental in driving the brand’s awareness in western media. The website today gets over 213K visits every month.

“Our intent is to provide coverage of developments at Alibaba that otherwise might go uncovered, and to do so with traditional journalistic rigor and skepticism.”

– Jim Erickson, Founding Editor, Alizila

Uni Marketing: Leveraging Big Data

Uni Marketing

Alibaba launched its Uni Marketing platform by partnering with Publicis this year. The Uni Marketing Platforms enables brands on Alibaba to address users across universal touch points, channels and map digital journeys across Alibaba properties.

For instance, a retail brand could share its videos on YouKu (Alibaba’s YouTube equivalent in China) to create awareness for Super Brand Day on TMall.com, and the final purchase happens on brands daily deals site Juhuasuan.com.

Brand Databank

Alibaba’s intelligence about consumers in China makes it easier for global brands to sell and create awareness. Brands like Pepsi and Procter & Gamble have already started leveraging the Uni Marketing ecosystem.

UC Web, Youku Tudou & TMall Box Office

Alibaba’s revenue from media and entertainment business grew 30% year-on-year this year. Youku Tudou has 500 million active users in China. Retailers on Taobao and Tmall can place a bid for space in Youku Tudou’s popular online videos using Alimama (Alibaba’s Online Marketing Platform).


UC Web (mobile browser & news) platform has 500 million active users and has a dominant market share in India and China. UC Web’s focus on getting content publishers on board has been one of the main reasons for its growth in emerging markets. Alibaba also launched TMall Box Office its online streaming service on lines on NetFlix’s in China.

UC Web

Alibaba’s content strategies success also lies in its ability to customize content for local markets. AliExpress, for instance, created 55 different versions of an e-mailer for the singles day event to account for localization, segmentation, and personalization (including a video series that focused on a universal message and minimal text to make translations feasible).

Become a smarter marketer for $0

Get the weekly newsletter, keeping thousands of marketers in the loop.

Become a smarter marketer for $0.

Get the weekly newsletter keeping thousands of marketers in the loop.

Unsubscribe any time, no hard feelings.

“My favorite marketing newsletter I’m subscribed to.” — Amit Agarwal, Growth Manager @ First Challenger

Skip to content