If you have on online business and you’ve been considering expansion into other markets, this could be the perfect year to start looking at Russia. Though frequently overlooked by UK and Irish businesses, Russia actually has the highest number of internet users in Europe. And according to one source, due to a history of fraudulent local vendors, consumers there may be more likely to trust established brands and companies from elsewhere that come with a good track record and a good reputation.
It’s also a good time to look at expanding into French markets if you haven’t already done so. A report from ComScore earlier this year reported that it is the third largest ecommerce market in Europe.
If you do decide to go ahead with targeting non-English speaking countries, language is going to be your biggest barrier but if you go about everything the right way, it can also become one of your greatest tools and set you ahead of the game.
Firstly, it’s a good idea to set up a local site. Many international sites offer different websites for different countries. This allows you to better target your products, establish your website in local online territories to help you rank higher locally and enables you to speak to your customer in their mother tongue.
It may shock you to know that Google is not the biggest search engine in Russia. Yandex, a Russian search engine actually holds 60% of the market. So while you may be a Google SEO expert here, you’ll need to do your research to find what the priorities are for Yandex.
In France, search engine choices are similar to here, but it’s likely that your potential customers will be searching in French and using French Google – www.google.fr. This will be operating in the same way as Google.com or Google.ie in many technical ways, but will prioritise French hosted sites, French domain names (.fr, similar to the Irish .ie) and sites in the French language.
A basic translation of your website will help. There is no doubt about that. It will help customers find your site. However, when they land on the home page and product pages, you need to not only be speaking their language, but capturing their imagination, holding their attention and giving them reasons to trust you. Would you buy products from a site that had a poor command of the English language? I wouldn’t. Something about it feels less than secure and makes me not want to enter my credit card details. There’s no reason that other customers won’t feel the same.
A great translator with an understanding of marketing, sales and local cultural nuances can work with you to ensure these needs are all tailored to professionally.
If you’re going to do something, make sure you do it right. Check out the great infographic below from Search Laboratory for more information on Russian ecommerce to help you along the way.