Yandex.Direct Travel Industry Success Story: Hainan Airlines

One of China’s largest airlines, Hainan Airlines, has become one of the most popular carriers to and from Russia and China since its launch in Russia almost ten years ago. Hainan attributes their more recent marketing success to their digital advertising efforts on Yandex. Since Hainan started advertising on Yandex in 2014, they have seen considerable growth with their online sales and conversions of their Russian customers. Jiang Zhiang, Hainan’s brand marketing manager, recently sat down with Yandex to detail their experiences entering the Russian market and working with Yandex.Direct.

When did Hainan start providing flights to Russia? How did flight options develop for Russian destinations?

We launched our first Russian flight from Beijing to Saint Petersburg in 2007 and we began flying to Moscow two years later. Around the same time, Russia became one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists, so we began to expand our flight map with these new promising destinations. Then in 2009 we opened an office in Moscow. Since then, our passengers have accumulated 10,000 flying hours between China and Russia!

Are Russian passengers different from your customers in other countries? Are there any particularly interesting differences?

Russians are more focused on price. Most of our Russian passengers are businessmen and students, who often buy group rate tickets in advance. As for Russian tourists, they like traveling on their own and rarely go in groups. This is where they are very different from Chinese tourists who seldom fly alone. Russian tourists often buy tickets spontaneously during promotion campaigns. Also Russians’ trips last 10 to 14 days on average.

When did you launch your Russian language website? When designing it, what did you focus on the most?

We localized our website at the end of 2011, when we decided to offer online flight booking. Of course, the most important and difficult thing was to turn all the content into high-quality Russian. This took us several months. Quality text and translations are the most important parts of localization, mainly because customers don’t usually trust foreign companies as much as local ones. However, you can quickly address this issue by talking to your customers in their own language. For this reason, wherever we have a branch of Hainan Airlines we hire a lot of local employees.

What advertising channels do you use in Russia? How do you select them?

We started with newspapers and magazines, different “glossy” and business publications. But with the appearance of our Russian website, we immediately launched contextual advertising. In all the countries where we operate, we spend 50% of our advertising budget on contextual ads, and Russia is no exception. Before deciding where to direct our main advertising funds, we studied the Russian Internet and realized that, unlike in many other countries, its leader is a local search engine. This is how Yandex.Direct became our key channel for attracting customers.

What results have you achieved with your Yandex advertising?

The results were very good from the beginning. Just a week after launching Yandex.Direct ads, our website traffic increased by 30%.  People who come to us from Yandex.Direct ads most often reach our desired goals.

How did you manage to optimize your advertising efforts to get specific results?

We run two different types of ad campaigns. First, we have campaigns on Yandex search. We also have ads configured on thematic websites in the Yandex Advertising Network. This helps us to display different texts on different platforms. For example, for ads displayed in search results, we often use ad templates (when keywords are automatically placed in the text). As a result, our ads better correspond to what people are looking for in the search box. But for content websites, we try to get more creative with our wording and color.

We also run separate retargeting campaigns. This is how we “reactivate” users who visited our website but left without completing their booking.  Furthermore, we make our own advertising campaigns for different regions, to coordinate them with our bonus promotions.

Thanks to Jiang Zhiang and Hainan for explaining their adaptations and strategies for succeeding in the Russian market!

Originally published by Yandex on September 9, 2015