The Hispanic community is one of the fastest growing online consumer segments in the U.S. It represents some 11 percent of the total U.S. online market and it is, therefore, an important segment for ecommerce marketers to consider.
According to comScore, an Internet trend tracking firm, the U.S. Hispanic online population reached 20.3 million in February 2009, a six percent increase from the prior year. In general, growth among Hispanic web surfers outpaced growth for other groups of U.S. Internet users.
Should Your eCommerce Business Market to the Hispanic Community?
After reading the last few paragraphs, you are probably thinking, “Yes, absolutely, I should be marketing to the vibrant and growing online Hispanic community.” But the first step toward considering the Hispanic market is to ask (1) if that market is important to your business and (2) if you need to do anything specific beyond your present efforts to reach Hispanic consumers.
For many ecommerce operations, it might not make business sense to specifically market to the Hispanic community because either the products being sold don’t fit the Hispanic community’s wants and needs (i.e., The All Things Irish Boutique) or the operation’s current marketing already reaches many members of the community in an effective way.
But you may be able to vastly increase your online store’s traffic, conversions, and profitability by addressing consumers of Spanish descent, if you do not adequately market to the segment now.
To answer this important question you need to understand your customers and your business’s potential in the Hispanic community.
Understand Needs and Remember Content Is King In Any Language
If you make the decision to target the U.S. online Hispanic community, you should start with content that addresses the community’s needs and wants before you worry about what language that content is in or even where to advertise your site.
“As you know right now content is king online and that is more true in the Hispanic community,” said Luis Caballero, of Matador Latino Communications in Fort Worth, Texas, noting that both affluence and English language skills were on the rise with recent Hispanic immigrants and established Hispanic Americans.
“Being smart [about your content and marketing] is identifying the consumer need for any segment. …If you know that Hispanics want x and y, target that,” Caballero said, adding, that addressing the Hispanic community “is more than just putting up a site in Spanish. It is also saying, ‘Hey we have it in Spanish…[and] you are invited to the party, and here is why you’re invited.'”
Caballero’s points dovetail very nicely with what comScore had to say about this community of online users. “It’s well known that the Hispanic market is a growing and increasingly important segment to advertisers and marketers,” said Jack Flanagan, executive vice president of comScore Media Metrix. “However, any business attempting to effectively reach this segment needs to understand the behavior of the U.S. Hispanic online consumer as a fundamental component of their marketing and media strategies.”
To make the most of your marketing, try to understand how Hispanic consumers use, think about, and understand your products, brand, and offers. Determine what should be said to address this community and start to say it in the language your site already uses, i.e., English.
Once You Know What To Say, Say It in Spanish
Once you have identified the Hispanic community’s wants and needs as they relate to the products you sell, and you have effectively communicated about how your site addresses those wants and needs in your native language, you should consider translating your site into Spanish to get the best response from this growing community.
As an example, Best Buy famously reported last year that visitors to its Spanish language pages spent twice as much time on page as visitors to English language pages, presumably because the U.S. Spanish-speaking community was starved for product information.
When it comes to translating your site into Spanish, do not use a machine translation service alone. Instead, invest in a professional translator who can demonstrate fluency in both languages.
Promote Your Hispanic Flavor
After you have developed a communication plan to address Hispanic needs and wants and implemented that plan in English and in Spanish on your website, it is time to promote your commitment to the community outside of your website.
Tactically, you will use many of the same methods you use to address other customer categories, such as pay-per-click ads, banner advertising, email marketing, print advertising, and radio advertising. But both should be in English and Spanish and with your specific segment messaging.
Also consider aiming for more social media.
“The Hispanic community is a social media network in itself,” Caballero said. “So the best way to take it to market on a social basis.”
Ask yourself if your business could benefit from increase traffic from the Hispanic community. If the answer is yes, take action to understand that community and communicate to the community. In a way it is just good old fashioned marketing 101 with a Latin flare.