As online business owners and marketers, you’ve heard the staggering statistics regarding Internet usage among Hispanics in the United States. Almost 16 million Hispanics will be online by 2007, and their collective buying power is already nearing $600 billion.
Why is it that only one-fifth of web businesses offer Hispanic-centric web sites and online stores? And, why is it that the vast majority of those businesses provide below average to poor Spanish language offerings?
Simple. They focused too narrowly on the language.
Know the Hispanic audience
Like any culture as rich as that pervading the Hispanic community, its complexities and sophistication translate into some significant homework for the small business owner. However, that legwork can pay off handsomely in sales and brand loyalty.
Whether it’s something as specific as knowing that Mexico, for example, celebrates Mother’s Day on May 10 as opposed to the second Sunday of that month, or as general as understanding which colors work best for Spanish-language sites, building a terrific Hispanic-centric site is more than just adapting your content for the language.
Tips for a successful Spanish-language site
However, providing Spanish-language content is still vital, and we’ve got some tips to make yours a success:
- Bypass those automatic translation tools. Language has context, and using a tool – even a good tool – will leave your content looking ridiculous in the eyes of a native speaker.
- Not just any translator will do. You’ll want to invest the time and money in professional translation services. Be sure that whoever you pick not only knows the language, but also understands the context of your product or service within the culture. Make sure your translator is aware of the various Spanish dialects, enough so that he or she can interpret precisely for your specific audience.
- Keep it bilingual. Even if your target market is predominantly Hispanic, studies have shown that Hispanics in the United States prefer content to be available in both Spanish and English. Give them choice and control over their site experience.
- Don’t bury it. The lazy person’s way to create a Spanish-language site is to stick all the files in a subfolder, like this: http://www.yoursite.com/espanol. That’s a no-no. Your Spanish-language website should be customized to satisfy the experience of the Hispanic consumer. Treat it with the respect it deserves, with its own domain name. In Español.