With the Winter Olympics past us, Russia’s monopoly of the international spotlight has come to a fitting close. Athletes returned to their home countries and the hashtag #sochi (as well as its viral bathroom-centric memes) has withdrawn from trending algorithms. But The Russian Federation has experienced a groundswell of attention for more than just hosting a global cadre of skiers and curlers; it’s also become an emergent host of e-commerce business on a global scale: Morgan Stanley expects the country to account for 5% of all online sales by 2015.
Why else should you look East for new market opportunities? Russia currently boasts the largest Internet-using population in Europe: 80 million Russians are expected to surf the web by the end of this year. And its e-commerce industry, worth 17.5 billion USD in 2013, is slated to reach 25 billion USD before December. In other words, Russia possesses fertile ground for businesses looking to reach a new audience that straddles both Asia and Europe. But where would you even start to explore The RF’s markets and opportunities? Here’s a huge hint: Yandex.
Yandex is the most popular search engine in Russia, accounting for over 60% of traffic in the country (Google, its closest competitor, only accounts for 27%). With features ranging from e-mail to the country’s most-visited news and weather sites, Yandex dominates the Russian Internet landscape. It’s even replacing Google on two Android Smartphones. Given the platform’s ubiquitous role, here are three steps any e-commerce business should use to maximize sales through this online foundation.
Purchase a Russian Website Domain
A Russian website domain is crucial, as Yandex only indexes websites with native domains for searches typed in Russian. So regardless of how relevant your website may be to a given search term, it won’t appear as a link if the search is conducted in Russia’s native tongue. Purchasing a Russian domain, in addition to professionally translating your website content into Russian, ensures a firm digital footprint in the country’s binary real estate.
Offer a Range of Payment Options
Yandex search results are determined by two factors: a Citation Index ranking system (similar to Google) and human raters who handpick key websites. Both the Citation Index and the raters favor sites offering a wide range of payment options, so expanding your payment methods can increase your visibility on Yandex. Cash-on-delivery is the most popular option, as Internet users outside of Russia’s central region tend to mistrust online payment services. Your next safest bets are secure, online money transfer services and bankcards.
Advertise Through Yandex.Direct
Over 45% of Russia’s online advertising is conducted through Yandex, due to the search engine’s popularity and extensive range of advertising options. If you want to increase traffic to your website, then using Yandex.Direct is a no-brainer. Distinguished as Russia’s largest, auction-based advertising service, Yandex.Direct places contextual ads on search results pages as well as on quality websites receiving high traffic. Advertising packages range from automatic options based on your budget to personally managed bid strategies, and ad costs are determined on a cost-per-click basis. To evaluate the effectiveness of your ad campaigns, you can also use a free statistical report tool called Yandex.Metrica.