Reaching out to Russia

With 40% of Russia’s population using the Internet, 500% growth in imports of consumer goods into the country over the last decade and the popularity of on-line shopping increasing every year, discover how you can reach Russian audiences online and increase your export potential.

Are you considering the Russian market as an opportunity for expansion? Are you making the most of your website to drive sales in the market? Find out about trends around social media, e-commerce and general on-line buying behaviour in the Russian market to help make the most of your website to drive sales.

Growth sectors in the Russian market

The Russian economy is the ninth largest in the world and still developing with an economy valued at about £1.1 trillion. The country’s main imports include machinery, plastics, medicines, iron and steel, foods, and consumer goods. In fact imports of consumer goods have risen by nearly 500% since 2000 and account for around 49% of consumer goods sold in Russia.

More Russian consumers going on-line

With around 70 million internet users in the country, these users are spending on average around 22 hours online per month, with roughly 65% of users logging on once a day or more. Internet usage is growing fast – it is predicted that 80 million Russians will be online by the end of this year. This is supported by the staggering growth of Russian as a language on the internet. According to recent research from the Common Sense Advisory, Russian is the fastest growing language on-line alongside Arabic (Common Sense Advisory, ROI Lifts the Long Tail of Languages in 2012 by Benjamin B. Sargent, 2012).

The former Soviet Union is now the largest online community in Europe, after an incredible 14% growth in unique users during 2011 took it above Germany. What is particularly interesting about the surge in new users is that 90% of them are located outside of the country’s major cities, indicating plenty more potential for growth.

On-line shopping on the up

In Russia, the internet is still very much in its early stages and as such e-commerce has not penetrated the market as much as in other major countries. Nevertheless, the online shopping market is growing by 16% yearly, and will continue to increase as more businesses and individuals become comfortable with online buying.

It is predicted that Russia’s share of the online advertising market will increase by at least 28% in the next three years and e-commerce rates are expected to double. These figures are an excellent indication of a country on the verge of significant technological advancements with numerous opportunities for companies to establish early competitive advantage in a fast growing market.

Yandex – a local search engine dominates Internet Use

In Russia, Google is dwarfed by a local search engine, Yandex. Yandex is actually a major player in the internet industry and is the only comprehensive, global search engine other than Google and Microsoft’s Bing. Yandex has a 60% market share in Russia and is used by 19 million Russians every day. Yandex has 47.1 million unique visitors per month and is the homepage of 44% of Russian internet users. It is Russia’s largest internet business, with $622 million revenues reported in 2011.

Of particular interest to businesses is the fact that Yandex is Russia’s leading online advertising platform, with a 51% share of the online advertising market – and more than 270,000 advertisers in 2011. By adapting your website SEO to suit the languages and phrases of the Russian popularity, you can build an online presence for your brand within the country.

Make the most of Social Media to engage with Russian consumers

According to statistics, Russians are ‘the most avid social media junkies in the world’. Around 82% of online users have their own social network account, and on average they spend nearly 10 hours a month on social media.

Facebook does not quite have the impact that it holds elsewhere, but it is growing rapidly, with well over one million new signups between October 2011 and April 2012. Facebook’s main competitor is the locally based giant vKontakte which has over 23 million active users and is the second most frequently visited website in Russia.

Odnoklassniki is another popular social network, and also has more Russian users than Facebook. Twitter’s popularity in the country is minimal, but YouTube is fairly popular, with the top five most popular channels amassing over 2 billion views between them. In order to engage with Russian markets, you need to be seen using these channels and doing a lot more activity than just using Facebook and Twitter.

Using Russian Website Localisation Services to Target Internet Users

However, in order to reach prospective Russian buyers, you need to be speaking their language – quite literally. Research has shown that the majority of customers will only buy from websites that have information presented in their own language. The higher the value of the product or service, the more important this becomes.

Website translation, also referred to as website localisation involves adapting your existing website to suit the local language and culture of a new market. More than just translation of the content, it also takes into account specific terminology used in the market together with the relevant style. The project may also involve changing images, dates, addresses and currencies to suit the target audience.
Don’t forget about the keywords. Carrying out research into the keywords is also important before starting translation, in order to come up with suitable Russian search terms. These terms can then be incorporated into the content. Even if your website has been localised, it won’t be very effective if customers can’t find it!

Of course, it is not just through appropriate web content that you can engage with Russian markets but through social media too. Russia has a heavy social media presence and the population will be using much more than the main platforms we use in the UK. This means you also need to understand the social networking websites used by potential Russian customers.

If you have any questions about how to approach communication requirements for new markets or would like information on our Russian translation services, please contact a member of our team on + 44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email

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