– what do you need to know?
Cyprus – known especially as an attractive holiday destination – is a small island country located in the Mediterranean. Even though its population is fairly small (approx. 1.2 million people, or less than the population of Warsaw), it is notable for its ethnic diversity. Aphrodite’s birthplace is inhabited mostly by Greeks and Cypriot Turks. As such, while planning positioning activities in Cyprus, you should keep in mind that there are two official languages – Greek and Turkish. Moreover, quite a few Cypriots speak English and Russian as well.
Over the past few years the number of internet users in Cyprus has increased substantially. According to data, in the period of 2015–2021 the percentage of local internet users increased from 72% to 93%! This score makes Cyprus not unlike Western European countries where we see similar internet usage levels. Just as importantly, this increase presents prospective entrepreneurs with a substantial opportunity to reach the local clientele.
The inhabitants of the Republic of Cyprus are most likely to browse the web using mobile devices, though computers remain very popular, too. The most popular device breakdown is as follows:
We must not neglect the impact of social media, either, as they are immensely popular among the locals. Obviously, the number of genuine, unique users is difficult to assess, but the sheer number of accounts suggests that practically the entire Cypriot population is present on social media outlets. It is notable that an absolutely massive number of accounts was registered over the course of the past two years, as some 233,000 new users signed up.
As expected, Facebook is the most popular social media outlet there, as almost 76% of the users favour it! The entire Cyprian social media ranking is as follows:
The inhabitants of this stunning Mediterranean island are employed mostly in commerce and the tourism industry. As such, e-commerce is not as well developed there as it is in other EU countries. Cypriots prefer local businesses and brands, though the younger generations are more interested in foreign products and famous global brands.
The economic crisis of 2013 has greatly contributed to this situation. However, the country’s economy has been steadily improving since 2015. As a consequence, local consumers’ shopping habits have been changing, as they have become more accustomed to online shopping, finding it easier to spend money on various goods.
This is likely to result in a notable increase in the number of Cypriot e-commerce users, which is estimated to reach 0.9 million people by 2025. The value of the local e-commerce market is therefore going to increase, as its overall income for 2022 is anticipated to be almost USD 1 billion (USD 986 million, to be specific)!
Given these circumstances, entering the Cyprian market may prove to be a brilliant strategic move to many foreign businesses. Dare we say, it may even be the decision of a lifetime! We should keep in mind that Cypriots are very open, friendly people who put a premium on mutual trust. As such, while planning your strategy you should focus on engagement and community-building, since this will allow local consumers to get to know your brand and make it a part of their individual identity.
of the population enjoys internet access
of users use Google
In terms of search engine popularity, Cyprus is in line with general European trends. As the relevant quantitative data shows, the islanders favour Google. According to this data, Google searches amount for almost 95% of the country’s total. The overall search engine breakdown is as follows:
Since Google is the dominant search engine, that is where you should focus your efforts while positioning your business, at least in the initial phase of your expansion into the Cyprian e-commerce market. Later (based on recent data and trends which can and will change), you can expand your activities to other search engines.
To correctly optimise your store’s website (an essential part of any effective SEO strategy), you should also take a closer look at the internet browsers Cypriots use to browse the web.
Once again, Google dominates, as Chrome is used by 62% of the local users! What about the ranking as a whole? Let us take a look:
It is easy to see that Firefox, though popular in many other countries, is at the very end of the Cyprian ranking. Safari, favoured by almost 14% of the local users, is indicative of Apple devices’ strong presence on the Cyprian market. The high position of Instabridge is an interesting detail, since (as you may remember) it is used to search for public Wi-Fi networks. Its strong presence may have various causes, especially those related to the tourism industry and the large number of travellers who want to access the internet for free while on holidays.
Several factors have shaped the e-commerce market in Cyprus. Specifically, notable variables include the country’s size, its population density, and its economic situation (which remained rather stagnant until 2015). The psychology of the locals, shaped by long-term experience with traditional commerce and local business culture, matters as well. Moreover, Cypriots had never seen the need to digitise either shopping or their financial activities. These days, however, the situation is quite different. This translates into a positive outlook for online sales companies. Still, first things first!
First of all, let us take a closer look at the data on the digitisation of Cypriots’ financial “life”, as it will affect their willingness to shop online. According to the most recent research (of Feb. 2022), almost 90% of Cypriots aged 15 years and older own a financial institution account, almost 1/4 use a credit card, and almost 60% use a debit card. Moreover, 80% of the locals have made or received an online payment over the course of the last year, 32% have made a digital payment for an online purchase, almost 33% have used online banking, and 29% have paid bills online.
This data, though falling short of developed Western European countries’ standards, is nonetheless promising and inspirational! General projections suggest that by 2025, almost 70% will use e-commerce. This means now is the best time to establish a strong presence on the local market.
Cyprus does not have any strong domestic shopping platforms. The most powerful players on the island are foreign platforms. As such, it is hardly surprising that Amazon is the most powerful online shopping outlet. These are the most powerful players:
Another important factor is the payment methods most frequently used by the island’s inhabitants. They are most likely to pay using prepaid cards, mobile payment systems, and credit cards.
If you want to affect the Cypriots’ shopping choices, you must understand their general shopping attitude. An average Jorgos Papadopoulos (a local John Smith) still remembers the economic crisis of 2013. That is why many Cypriots (especially the middle-aged ones with the greatest purchasing power) tend to be cautious and conservative. Their primary concern while shopping is the prices, which should be as accessible and reasonable as possible. Younger consumers, on the other hand, tend to have a different attitude, as they aspire to standards of living comparable to those enjoyed by their peers from more prosperous countries. This, however, does not mean the Cypriot consumer is unreachable. Recommended activities should be based on an intelligent and refined marketing strategy, and encouraging the clients to purchase goods at sensible prices.
We should also keep in mind that (just like in many other countries) the coronavirus pandemic has greatly accelerated the growth of e-commerce in Cyprus. As a consequence of social distancing, many companies migrated online, establishing social media corporate profiles, for instance. This means online market will continue to grow.
According to relevant data, the descendants of Venus tend to favour the international “.com” domain while using internet browsers. National domains such as the Cyprian “.cy” and the Turkish “.tr” are marginal, as they constitute only 2% of the local traffic.
However, while establishing a Cyprian online store you should still add a national extension to the general (international) domain. If you do that, the store website’s address can look something like: mypage.com/cy or mypage.com/tr. As a consequence, Cyprian clients will be more likely to trust the store, and will definitely appreciate this local gesture.
First of all, even though the Cyprian market is not quite as impressive as, for instance, its German equivalent, it still has enormous potential and is characterised by a high level of internet user activity. Local internet users’ attitudes towards online shopping are fairly open-minded, especially due to the greater product availability and lower prices compared to physical outlets.
Cyprian e-commerce has entered a period of dynamic growth. As such, you can build a respected brand at the right time, as local consumers put a premium on trust and integration. Localisation is another pertinent issue. Apart from creating Greek and Turkish language versions of the website, you should consider preparing an English one as well. A well-conceived SEO strategy can greatly assist in establishing a strong presence and maximising online sales profits in Cyprus.
How should you run effective link building activities in Cyprus?
Since the Cyprian market has not completely shed its traditional features, your tactics should stay with proven, conventional link-securing activities. You should certainly come up with a thoughtful Content Marketing strategy, i.e. a series of articles containing predetermined key words and links connected directly to the store website. These articles should be published on strong websites, classified as safe by search engine bots. These activities will strengthen the store website and translate into better search engine results.
Correct store optimisation is essential as well. Creating high-quality content (such as product/category descriptions or a corporate blog) is a good way to embed internal links and incorporate key phrases.
Buzz Marketing is another possible component of a successful strategy. BM is based on placing store links on appropriate thematic and industry forums.
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As mentioned before, the Republic of Cyprus is home to (mostly) Cypriot Greeks and Turks. Your online store should focus on them first and foremost. As such, it is in your best interest to prepare Turkish and Greek language versions of the store. Additionally, many of the island’s inhabitants speak English and Russian. English is practically mandatory if you want to reach a large number of prospective consumers, or if you want to eventually expand into other European markets. Russian speakers, on the other hand, may constitute a backup of sorts.
First of all, you should focus on specific marketing activities. Link building activities present you with an excellent opportunity to communicate with your clients. For instance, you can display meta-descriptions under the website address (in search results) or utilise effective Content Marketing. The island’s inhabitants value online stores’ reliability and prefer local initiatives. As a such, when communicating with them you might want to explicitly refer to the Cyprian culture while effectively combining it with a modern commercial message. Prices and offer variety are other variables that affect the Cypriots’ shopping choices. If you provide them with a variety of products to choose from, your probability of success will increase accordingly.