What it Takes to Execute a Successful Digital Marketing in Russia?

Russia is one of the key markets for fashion companies, many well-known brands are already established there through the Directly Operated Stores (DOS) or through the distributors. However, for those brands, which are willing to enter this market, can take the first steps, just now, via digital marketing tactics.

The penetration of internet in Russia is quite high, today the audience of Runet is more than 78 million people, which represents a 63% of the entire population. One of the fastest growing groups are the users older than 45 years and Desktop is still prevalent platform in comparison with the smartphones or tablets, 68% from the total internet users are browsing online through PC, 31% through the smartphones and 23% through tablets, the last category is the one growing on a faster pace when compared to the other two devices. Smart TV is a quite new technology, less than 10% of Internet users in Russia are registered there.

Knowing these insights, it is possible to tell that having a smart Digital Marketing strategy in Russia it's a must for retailers who are looking to expand and increase its brand awareness in this market.Therefore, it is always appreciable that events like #Ruday, held in Milan on May 30th, can inform the audience thanks to experts participation sharing the most important trends from this market to watch out.

In Fashionbi, there was the opportunity to be a part of the #Ruday experience through a keynote focused on the Fashion and Luxury Industry to give an overview of the steps that companies from this industry should take to Upgrade their Digital Marketing in Russia. Hence here is a compilation of the must important insights shared on this event during Fashionbi's intervention:

1. Translation of the online store is a must!

The first step which is necessary to do for the companies is to translate the brand’s website into Russian language, for those brands which sells online in Russia the translation of the online store is a must! It’s true that English language is known in Russia, but people are not ready to study the brand’s shipment or pricing policy in a different language than the mother tongue. While the researches demonstrated that less than 30% of the international brands that are present in Russia or willing to enter this market translated their websites into the local language. Some of the best examples that can be listed are the most internationally recognised premium brands, like Hermés , Chanel , Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana that many years ago decided to execute a glocal strategy and gave the possibility to browse the website content in Russian language, as a result, today these brands are one of the most popular and wanted in Russia.

A Glocal strategy becomes even more important when we speak about countries like Russia, China, Japan, where language and lifestyles are so different from European and American. It’s not by chance when brands are trying to adopt the digital marketing strategy as well as social marketing strategy by launching the separate accounts on Twitter or Facebook for Japan or launch the account on Vkontakte for Russia and Weibo with WeChat for China.

2. Social Media Plays an Important Role for the Russian Web Audience

In Russia browsing on social media is one of the most popular and time consuming activities on the web. Such popularity of the social media has a direct influence on marketing of local fashion brands too, many of them even today don’t have the official up and running websites, but they do have official accounts on Vk.com, Odnoklassniki or Instagram. Moreover, through social media it’s much easier for the brands to implement the Omni-marketing strategy and to turn «Likers» into buyers or increase the online brand’s community, bringing the real customers from the store to the brand’s social media channels.

The most common way among the Russian fashion retailers and brands during the last few months were to empower the customers at the store to share their looks on the different social media with a special branded hashtag, some retailers like Department store TSUM or multi-brand store Aizel had a money prize of 300 000 rubles (what is approximately 10 thousands USA dollars) to the author of the best look/photo.

Another example is the local mass market brand, Sela, who promised the 10% discount during one month to all brick-and-mortar stores' clients, who will show the brand’s promo message on Instagram. In addition, local fashion brands are also very active on VK.com apart from direct products promotions, companies are trying to attract the attention of the potential customers mixing the brand’s products in the collages with the runway trends from Milan, Paris, New York or London, plus attracting the local fashion bloggers for the photo shootings and video interviews. International brands are not so familiar with VK social network, here we can name just few examples like Dolce & Gabbana , Adidas or Bulgari Hotels that open the account in April 2014. Dolce & Gabbana in addition to VK network, has presence in other Russian platforms like Odnoklassniki, LiveJournal and runs the account on Twitter, where brand covers the news in Russian language.

3. Language, Yandex & SEO

Language plays a significant role, including the Search Engine Marketing, here it’s important to note that Google is not the Search Engine number one for Russia, here Yandex has almost 60% of share of voice, after comes Google, Rambler (uses API of Yandex) and search.mail.ru (uses API of Google). Another fact in the spotlight is that a good portion of users search using both search engines to get better results when browsing, but in fact 14% does search exclusively in Yandex and only 4% in Google.

Yandex is a company that is listed in NY with more than 5000 employees around the world, but in fact Yandex is a local search engine that includes only area C.I.S. (The Commonwealth of Independent States which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and others) or rather a common language is Russian, which is translated in little interest on foreign websites (.It .de .fr etc) and in content in foreign language. Moreover, Yandex relies entirely on geolocalization keyword, the service is very accurate and used a lot. The difficulty could be in search of the places or stores, which names coincide with the titles of the places for example Hotel «Moscow»or Hotels in Moscow.

To be well placed on Yandex, it’s important to have a domain .ru, it helps to save the budget for the better placement, alternatively, can be used .com and to provide a well written content in Russian language (not an automatic translation or copy from the other web sources), but a relevant information, at least 400 words per page. Here it’s important not to be super fanatic with the key words and don't repeat them ten times in one article for the better «search», but provide an important information first of all for the web audience so Yandex will give a better position to your website. Important to use the key words in the titles and have a coherent list of the keywords in general, but not to overload the meta tag and content with the same keywords close to each other. Display Advertising on Yandex is possible to do via Yandex Direct, there is also an english version, logic is similar to the Google AdWords. But again, it only makes sense to invest in promotion only if the website’s content is already adopted for Russian clients in terms of language and offer. Such words in title of the advertisements like «presents», «sale», «discount» can increase the CTR (Click-through rate), but here it is always important to remember about the brand’s positioning, since this could work for the mass market or sports brands, but not for the premium and luxury brands.

To conclude, it is important to note that still the biggest impact on the fashionistas and on the brands awareness (either on the web, either in real «not» internet world) in Russia have such classical PR events like Fashion shows, those events about the new opening, presentations, close parties with the brand's designers or the first faces of the company. During the last few months international fashion designers personally visited Russia for different reasons: Philipp Plein came to Moscow to celebrate the opening of the third store, Reed Krakoff presented the book "Women in Art: Figures of Influence", Alberta Ferretti presented the fall winter collection via fashion show, Dolce & Gabbana together with Monica Bellucci opened the beauty corner, Manolo Blahnik came for the opening of a corner in the department store TSUM, Dior arranged a Fashion Show on the Red Square and Louis Vuitton build a giant suitcase in a middle of the Red Square!

These are just few examples of how companies are trying to gain the attention of the consumers in Russia, the key factor of the success is to be present in this market having and omni-marketing strategy with a Glocal approach.

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