Did you know that cosmonaut is one of remarkably few Russian words borrowed into English? A few others include mammoth, sputnik, pogrom, troika and, of course, vodka.
Despite the surprising lack of loanwords, as a language, Russian has left an indelible mark on humankind. It is the sixth most natively spoken language in the world, sprawling across Eurasia. Just what is its importance to your business prospects, however?
Regardless of your sector, product or service - there are new leads for those of you out there who speak Russian. Read on to discover just why Russian might be the key.
The language itself: a language of space, but also 265 million people
“Learning Russian has been the single most difficult aspect of my training.”
Those are the words of none other than astronaut Major Tim Peake. Interestingly, a working knowledge of Russian is essential for any aspiring cosmonaut - the systems of the International Space System are in both Russian and English.
Descended from the Old East Slavic language, Russian shares a lot of similarities with Ukrainian and Belarusian. It uses a Cyrillic alphabet and has over 265,000,000 speakers.
And, just as the USSR’s ventures into space technology have left their linguistic mark, the countries of the former Soviet Union share a similar kind of legacy. Russian is an official language in the Russian Federation (of course), Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan.
As well as being one of five major languages of the UN, Russian-speaking people can also be found in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. Phew. Certainly more relevant to your business prospects than outer space, we’ll wager.
Use the Internet!
As many as 7 years ago, Russia became the biggest country in Europe in terms of unique online Internet users. The Runet - the Russian-speaking community on the Internet - numbers over 108,772,470 as of July 2016 (76% of the population) according to the CIA Factbook. Not to be sniffed at.
Russian people want to read content in their own language - and if your business isn’t providing them this, you may well be missing out. As of March 2018, Russian accounts for 6.5% of Internet content, which, whilst it may not sound like too much - makes it the second most popular - with German at 5.9%. There’s a gap in the market for content in Russian.
Localisation is your best friend.
Whether online or offline, we’ve established that there are lots of Russians waiting to hear from your business. We’ll drink (a shot of vodka) to that!
How do I convert them, you may be asking? Not in English, that’s for sure - only 3% of the population speak English fluently.
Regardless of the language, localisation is crucially important when translating your content into a foreign language. This is especially the case for Russia. Although there has been improvement, the Romir research project found that, in 2015, that only 20% can read and translate English with a dictionary. A language service provider is your undoubted key to accessing them.
It’s well noted that trust and loyalty are crucial to Russian consumers, so error-strewn website content will not lead to conversions - rather, it could offend and turn off. As with all other foreign marketplaces, authenticity is the key. Fill your prospective Russian customers with trust and make sure your website’s content is well-translated and optimised for their viewing.
Do your Russian SEO a favour in the meantime - and beat the competition.
One sure-fire way to torpedo trust in your website, therefore, is for it to be shoddily translated. On the other hand, a localised website will be pulled into search engines like Yandex because it will contain terms that Russian people search for. Ker-ching.
So how do I actually go about optimising my content for Russian speakers?
Potential Russian customers are more likely to make the effort to interact with your product or service if it looks like you have, too. The study of 3,000 consumers, Can’t Read, Won’t Buy, affirms exactly that - “a substantial preference for the consumer’s mother tongue”. Know who your audience is, and choose an experienced language service provider who can provide authentic, trustworthy rendering.
Achieving that all-important authentic means nailing all the cultural nuances. A native speaker, translating into their mother tongue, will be able to help you achieve you this - and experienced account managers will make accessing Russian-speaking people all the more seamless.
It’s been done before.
A growing number of businesses have recognised the potential of the Russian customer, but there’s still an incredible opportunity for those who think they have something to offer.
Translating for the Russian-speaking world can be a piece of cake. Or rather, a slice of kulebyaka. Our friendly team would love to chatabout your business’ Russian translation ambitions.