Author: Justyna Wilner, Director of Know-How, Webcertain
Many large, western brands are already reaping the fruits of their investments in the country, however other e-tailers are still at the expansion planning stage. The following common topics regarding targeting Russians online are very often discussed with our customers and hopefully will help you plan your strategy.
Russian Language Challenge
Some claim that the Russian language is one of the most difficult in the world. Whether that’s true or not, the Cyrillic alphabet as well as complex case nouns definitely add to the difficulty. However, simply hiring someone to translate your existing website content, keywords and ads into Russian will not be sufficient. What is absolutely crucial in order to be successful is localising your offering. What this means is that before you even start planning your translation work, you need to do your research. Find out who are your potential customers in Russia, what they need and what pricing structure as well as messaging would be most appropriate for them. Many companies have not been successful in Russia, simply because they failed to understand the intricacies of what we call ‘the Russian soul’.
Google is king, but is it?
Don’t assume that just because Google has presence in Russia, it is the best way of reaching potential customers. In fact, Russia has its own search engine, which is used by almost 60% of all Russian internet users on a daily basis! It’s called Yandex and its offering goes far beyond search. Some call it the gateway to the Russian internet because it offers plethora of services such as news, traffic, maps, weather and many more, and most of them are the number one websites in their respective categories. All of them offer advertising options, which can help you reach the audience in different ways.
If they don’t trust you, they won’t buy
Many Russians (especially those from outside of Moscow and Saint Petersburg) are relatively new to the idea of buying online and therefore can be quite suspicious when it comes to choosing a company with whom they will spend their hard-earned money. In general, it will be much more difficult for you to increase your sales in this market if people are not familiar with your brand. That is why many companies invest in display online marketing or TV advertising first before they look into expanding their other online campaigns, in order to build the all-important brand awareness.
Do you deliver to Kamchatka?
Russia is the biggest country in the world, which means that delivery to some of the locations within this country can be challenging and expensive; especially as the state-run Russian Post is not the most reliable carrier and 83% of the nation’s internet users live outside the capital. If you find searching for a local delivery supplier challenging, check out Yandex.Delivery, an aggregator of many different, reliable delivery companies which can be installed on your website. The service not only simplifies delivery to the regions, but also reduces the cash gap, meaning that stores can speed up their business processes.
How do I pay for my Matrioshka?
Russians prefer to pay cash on delivery over any other option. While this is often not possible for international companies to offer, you at least need to offer popular Russian online payment options, such as Yandex.Money, Webmoney and Kiwi. Having a local payment system that is known and trusted by the audience that you are targeting increase significantly your chances of gaining a sale – Visa and MasterCard just won’t cut it in Russia!
As with any international, online marketing campaign, the key to success is always localising your offering to the needs of the local market as well as choosing the right media to spread your message. Russia is an exciting and interesting market that can bring significant returns on investment if understood correctly. And if in the process you learn how to say a few things in this interesting language, you may end up paying less for your next taxi ride from Moscow airport ;)