Internet Marketing and Lead Generation in Belarus
Belarus and the Internet
Belarus, known officially as the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania and Latvia. It has an estimated population of 9.5 million people and a landmass of more 80,000 square miles. The population of Belarus is decreasing which creates an aging population. The official languages in Belarus are Belarusian and Russian, and independence from the Soviet Union was declared on the 27th of July 1990. There are estimated to be just over 4.4 million internet users in Belarus which is 46.2% of the population and a higher percentage than Mexico, China, Brazil, Russia and Ukraine. Although the number of internet users using broadband is relatively small, these numbers have been steadily increasing and Belarus actually saw the greatest broadband growth in the world during 2008 according to reports. It was reported that Belarus saw a growth rate of as much as 32.8% during the last quarter of 2008 and continues to grow as Beltelecom consistently improves the internet infrastructure. Nicolai Pantelei, Minister of Communications and Informatisation for the Republic of Belarus, has stated that broadband penetration will exceed 34% by 2015, greater than the US, UK and China.
Internet Marketing Insights
Internet marketing opportunities in Belarus remain potentially profitable with a GDP of 14,948 in terms of purchasing power and one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world at 0.7% and only beaten by Monaco and Qatar at 0.0% and 0.5% respectively. The disposable income of Belarusians is continuously growing and more women work than men suggesting a ready market for female products and services. Reports indicate that the internet users in Belarus are younger than most other countries within the CEE region (Central and Eastern Europe) with 55% of internet users being between the ages of 18 and 34. This may suggest that there is a huge potential for lead generation in the area of products and services for younger people although internet marketers will need to know which websites the below and above 35 year olds frequent.
Top Internet Content in Belarus for Internet Users Above 35 years Old
The topics appearing to dominate the internet in Belarus is news with the top 10 website properties in Belarus being news sites. Using news feeds and news-based websites to create interest and generate traffic could be used to monetise websites by offering news worthy products or services that are hard to find in the general market place. This could be especially successful in the area of mobile internet which is enjoying massive growth in Belarus. Interestingly, the majority of internet users viewing news related content are above the age of 35 years old although they represent a smaller number of users. This suggests a heavy news interest by an aging population and suggests that the average age of internet users will increase presenting future internet marketing opportunities in the area of investments, life insurance and health products.
Mobile Internet in Belarus
A variety of internet opportunities are beginning to emerge especially since the recent shift in interest from fixed-line to mobile internet as more foreign companies have created tariff competition, unlike the monopoly of Beltelecom for fixed-line broadband. Between the year 2010 and 2011 broadband penetration increased from 13% to 15% while mobile broadband increased during the same period from 30% to 33% representing great opportunities in the mobile lead generation and internet marketing sector and now four competing mobile 3G networks are active within the country. With an increasing income and almost zero unemployment rate mobile applications covering news reports could be used by smart internet marketers to increase their web presence and popularity of their web properties. The economy is somewhat mirrored in the social media sphere with a greater number of female users than male.
Facebook and Social Media in Belarus
In Belarus 57% of Facebook users are female compared to 43% male and judging by the age range of most users as being between 25 and 34 (36%) years old followed by 31% between the ages of 18 and 24, 67% of Facebook users are below 35 years old. Given that the most popular Facebook site in Belarus is a restaurant followed by coffee shops and Mazda cars it suggests that while older people read the news the younger Belarusians engage in food, cars and other entertainment matters. Internet marketers would be wise to investigate the potential of mobile apps with social media integration to offer entertainment brands and offers so long as they stay clear of politics. In 2011 anti-government protestors used Vkontacte and Twitter to organise rallies and the government forced providers to shut down social media sites during the period. The Belarusian government has been accused of being dictator-like in terms of the population and the expression of political views so internet marketers should familiarise themselves with the topics to avoid.