Practical Ecommerce

Capture U.S. Hispanic Consumers with Website Localization

If you are looking to break ground in fresh new markets, you’ve probably by now realized the importance of multilingual marketing. But while you’re expanding your business abroad, are you forgetting the domestic foreign-language market?

The 2009 U.S. Census found that a fifth of the U.S. population speak a language other than English at home, with the majority of those (34.5 million) being Spanish speakers. Does your domestic marketing strategy reflect the cultural diversity inland? Are you really catering for the needs of the U.S. consumers whose first language is not English?

The Growing Hispanic Community

Promoting your business only in English may seem like the right approach. But, in fact, it fails to reflect the U.S. non-English cultural landscape, which is overwhelmingly dominated by the Latin-American community — a powerful and fast-growing yet largely untapped online consumer market.

Let’s look at the facts:

  • The population growth of Hispanics is the strongest in U.S. demographics;

  • In 2008, the spending power of the Hispanic population in the U.S. outweighed the GDP of Mexico and Canada, standing at $870 billion, according to the U.S. Census;

  • The purchasing power of the Hispanic community is expected to hit $1.3 trillion in 2014, according to University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth — available here as a PDF;

  • By 2009, the total online Hispanic population had grown to 11 percent of the total U.S. online market, according to comScore, the Internet tracking firm.

These figures are self-evident. The natural step to striking a chord with Spanish speakers and boosting your e-sales at home would be to create a Spanish version of your website. Still, you’ll be surprised to learn that websites localized for Latin-Americans in the U.S. are, in fact, hard to come by.

Importance of Hispanic Localization

The good news is that, since you’re addressing a consumer group within the domestic market, you won’t need to change your shipping, payment or logistics arrangements. But there’s a major caveat — simply translating your website into Spanish doesn’t guarantee your e-business a boost overnight. You’ll be in a much better position to localize your web presence by tuning it for the growing Latino web community.

This isn’t exactly rocket science. All you need to localize your website is a native professional translator who will be aware of the culture specifics of this consumer group, and use keywords and colloquialisms that you may not otherwise be aware of.

It’s also worth doing some research into the Hispanic e-purchasing patterns and incorporating them into your digital marketing strategy. For example, did you know that the majority of the U.S. Latin-Americans use the Internet for shopping, social networking and transferring money? You can reflect this fact into your e-marketing strategy by focusing on social media and advertising.

Some companies have blazed the trail and have experienced significant returns after localizing their websites for the Hispanic community inland. Best Buy’s decision to make its website bilingual yielded considerable profit, with the electronics retail giant reporting that Hispanic users spend twice as much as their English-speaking counterparts.

The power of Spanish-language domestic digital marketing is best demonstrated by the success of banners ads on MySpace Latino, found to be 15 to 20 percent more effective than English ads according to eMarketer, the research and publishing company. And, American Family Insurance duplicated all its web content and created a range of local social media in Spanish.

You don’t need to look far to reap all the benefits of the e-market — the opportunities are right on your doorstep. All it takes is a carefully localized Spanish version of your website. There’s nothing to lose, and with the return on investment for localization likely to be very high, localizing your website for the domestic Hispanic market can put your business on the crest of the U.S. ecommerce wave.

Christian Arno

Christian Arno

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