Comparing SMB Advertising in Russia and the US

Several factors drive a marketing team to decide which mediums to utilize in their marketing strategies. We reassess our budgets and our decisions after reviewing analytics, questioning our conversions, and  figuring out how to get more out of our marketing. For SMBs, getting the most out of tighter budgets requires even more creativity and attention to the success of advertising.  Internet advertising tends to drive a greater portion of SMB marketing due to the reach, detailed targeting capabilities, and conversion tracking among a number of other benefits.

There are multiple options and ways to utilize Internet advertising to reach and convert audiences.  This blog compares surveys that look at SMB marketing strategies in the US and Russia.  While the US is dominated by social media marketing, paid search dominates online advertising in Russia. Ultimately, different Internet audience and varying successes with online advertising aren’t ubiquitous world wide.  These two countries are in different stages of Internet development, user behavior proves different in these regions, and Russia is currently facing economic changes.

SMB Online Advertising in the US

In the US, social media marketing is the most effective marketing strategy for SMBs.  A study of 100 surveyed SMBs by Street Fight Insights found that many still use traditional marketing but overall marketing strategies utilize the Internet.  The survey found that the top three marketing strategies for SMBs in the US are social media marketing, SEO, and email marketing. Paid search and display ads fell in the middle of the pack for the most effective marketing mediums but the bottom of the online advertising techniques.


SMB Online Advertising in Russia

A similar study in Russia asked SMBs about their online marketing strategies and how they have adjusted spend over the past year in relation to the economic shifts.   Generally speaking, there has been an even split in the way Russian SMBs have adapted their spend.  Approximately a third of surveyed SMBs in Russia didn’t change their online marketing techniques compared to the previous year.  Meanwhile, 36% of SMBs increased their online advertising budgets and 32% reduced their overall budgets.  While some SMBs were shifting budgets from other marketing channels, others reduced their overall marketing spend that subsequently impacted their online advertising.

When it comes to the most popular online advertising methods, paid search dominated the Russian SMB study.   84% Russian respondents rate contextual advertising as the best method, followed by 46% on social media, and 34% on SEO.  According to the respondents’ actual spend,  approximately 61% of SMBs’ online marketing budgets are spent on contextual advertising, 12% on SEO and 17% on SMM.

SMB online ads survey Russia

The Russian SMBs’ Internet marketing goals are led by sales (79%), lead generation (56%), and attracting new customers (46%).  The 2300 SMB representatives surveyed in Russia judged the effectiveness of their online marketing strategies by sales, CTR, and profit which contribute to their decisions to adjust their online advertising.  Over the past year contextual advertising increased by 16%, SEO by 4%, and SMM by 12%.


Contrary to Russia, the US did not see such significant economic shifts that impacted how Russian SMBs decided to adjust their marketing budgets over the past year.  SMBs varied when it came to the way they shifted their online budget from one channel to another but paid search continues to provide the most effective means of online advertising in Russia.

SMBs entering the Russian market can take away a few important lessons from their Russian counterparts.  The trends in Russia show what is most effective for SMBs that are currently under more pressure to adjust their budgets. More than half of SMBs are reducing their overall budgets for marketing, while abut a quarter increased their online advertising budgets. Foreign SMBs have the luxury of entering the market with higher budgets and to spend in their local currency against the ruble.

Russians are also putting greater emphasis on the channels that are producing more sales.  Foreign SMBs should consider where their Russian counterparts are finding the most sucess to apply to their own approach.  Different user behavior on social media and the impact of SEO rankings in Russia clearly have less effective results than they do in the US.  Always keep in mind that user behavior and conversions in foreign markets can vary with different channels.  Marketing approaches should never be a copy and paste game.