Strategizing for Your Russian Online Holiday Shoppers

The holiday season has arrived! Building your holiday advertising strategy takes a lot of planning and thought about the best ways to promote the right products or services to holiday shoppers. The season’s increased interest in shopping, website traffic, and online sales demands attention to secure as many conversions as possible.  Preparing for the holiday season in one country is challenging enough but adjusting to foreign markets offers an entirely other set of hurdles.  Russian Search Marketing is glad to provide some information to help form your best practices in Russia during the holiday season.

Many of the adjustments made for holiday marketing, like adding happy holiday images or simple double checking the speed of your site, should most certainly be done across the board. These preparations are a given but there are few more tips and tricks to add to your plans for the Russian market. This blog walks through some unique aspects of user behavior in Russia that should be factored into your holiday season.

Russian online traffic expectations during the holidays:

Similar to other areas of the world, the end of November marks the start of the holiday shopping period. In recent years, Black Friday combines with Cyber Monday for a weekend long sale period to kick off the Russian holiday shopping.  The shopping event is still relatively new in Russia so it will continue to develop as an important part of the holiday season.  More shopping traffic should start during this period but will be busiest during mid-December. Unlike most places, webmasters and advertisers should expect holiday traffic to last well into January.  As users get closer and closer to the New Year holiday, which is the big gift-giving day, they will continue to research gifts, compare prices, and make purchases.  However, gifts are still exchanged during Russian Orthodox Christmas celebrations so users continue to shop later than Western areas.  Keep your holiday campaigns and sales running into January so you don’t miss out on the last minute shoppers!

As seen below, for a very specific holiday query on “Christmas Tree Bazars,” traffic still carries into early January, which is common for other holiday related searches and purchases.

yandex search by month1

Yandex ad text and bidding advice for online shoppers:

Due to the New Year being the holiday for gift-giving, ad copies should include phrases or words for the New Year.  Utilizing the word Christmas in ad copies will not produce the same kind of conversions as it may in other places.  Using the keywords  “New Year” and “holiday” are preferable terms over “Christmas.” Of course, adjusting your keyword list for this is just as important.  Russians searched for “The New Year” over 15 million times last month, they searched for “Christmas” 1.4 million times. Big difference. Of course other words in the query and different context contributes to the search volume but there aren’t any popular Yandex searches for gifts relating to Christmas whereas there are millions of queries for New Year Gifts.

Russians, like the rest of us, sometimes don’t know what to buy others and often search for gifts by entering queries like “holiday gifts for teenage girls.” Cater to these shoppers who need a little help from retailers and use text in your ad copies to show shoppers you can help and have “great gift options for teenage girls.”

Yandex campaign tips:

Remember that Russia is a pretty big country with 11 different time zones. Especially during the holidays when you are running special promotions and ad campaigns that accompany them, make sure not to exhaust your campaign in a few hours in a single region.  Assuming you want to reach a wide audience, adjust your campaign settings properly so shoppers across Russia see you ad at the right time and you don’t use your entire budget on a small portion of your target audience.  Sure, it is a safe assumption that you will find success by targeting Moscow and St.Petersburg regions where users are more developed Internet users and online shoppers but don’t forget the rest of your shoppers! As seen below, the top two regions searching for New Year Gifts include Nenets and Chukotka. The darker the region, the higher the search volume for holiday gifts.

Yandex 2015 Russian holiday gift searches

The holidays are a great time to run re-targeting campaigns for shoppers who are getting gift ideas and deciding what to buy their loved ones. If you aren’t already familiar with Yandex retargeting campaigns, read on to learn more. This is also a great time for e-Commerce players the utilize the new e-commerce data collection feature in Metrica that let’s you track things like shoppers with items in their carts and their visits to product pages.

Reach Russian online holiday shoppers on multiple devices:

Russian shoppers use both mobile devices and desktops while shopping.  Shoppers sometimes switch from one device to another before making a purchase.  Around 30% of Russian online shoppers make purchases from their mobile device.  However, only 18% of Russian optimized sites also have mobile versions. Yandex recently started marking pages for mobile devices to encourage more webmasters to adapt to Russia’s growing mobile audience.  The easier you make mobile shopping for customers, the better.   According to Yandex.Wordstat, mobile searches for New Year’s gifts make up about 20% of all searches, with the other 80% coming from desktop and tablets.

In the past year, Yandex.Direct also began offering mobile specific ads and device bid adjustments. To ensure you reach all your potential customers, additional mobile campaigns are a good idea to include in your holiday campaign plans.

yandex-direct-mobile-ads1

Russian eCommerce Reminders:

A few things about Russian eCommerce to keep in mind during the holiday season that can contribute to more conversions and happy Russian customers. Russians expect multiple payment and shipping options including cash-on-delivery. Russians are still learning to use e-payments and credit cards, making cash the most popular and trusted payment option.  If you already aren’t offering free shipping in Russia, you definitely need to figure out the logistics to do so.

russian ecommerce payment methods

While this blog is geared to strategizing for your Russian online holiday shoppers, those in the travel industry can also apply these tips to their Russian travelers who will be taking advantage of the holiday breaks to take vacations. Generally speaking, after the shopping period webmasters and advertisers in Russia can expect drops in traffic while Russians take holidays through mid-January.