March 16th 2006
By Danay Escanaverino
The Hispanic market has been riding the headlines for the past couple of years as one of the fastest growing sectors of marketing. According to the third annual AOL/Roper U.S. Hispanic Cyberstudy, Hispanics are entering cyberspace at rapid pace with over 14 million US Hispanics online. Yet the companies successfully targeting them online in the direct response arena are few and far between. Why is it that something which seems like such low hanging fruit is so difficult to make successful?
There are too many misconceptions about targeting Hispanics to mention, such as the thinking that translation is the key. I know many online marketers who have hired a translator to rewrite their email creative or landing page in Spanish and then waited for the leads to come rolling in. Translation doesn’t mean your campaign is going to work fabulously for every Hispanic on the planet.
The first thing you need to do is figure out which type of Hispanic you are selling to. Geographically speaking, you can split them into 5 major groups, US Hispanic, South American, Central American, European and Caribbean. If you chose US Hispanics, you need to figure out which language they speak, such as Spanish speaking, English speaking or bilingual. For instance, your campaign for a diet patch may work great on Maria who is a 27 year old bilingual professional US Hispanic woman, but it will completely be ignored by her Spanish-only speaking grandmother who emigrated from Mexico in 1957. Likewise, if you translate that diet patch creative into Spanish only, Maria, who tends to frequent English language websites, will never see your campaign.
If you do choose to work with Spanish speakers in the US, you have to make sure you use the right words. There are many words that may be fine for a Mexican but highly offensive to a Puerto Rican. The same would apply to English, where you can feature losing pounds to Americans in a diet patch, but a pound also signifies money to someone in the UK. You don’t necessarily need to focus on dialects, as that would be too confusing, but there are many words that are still highly effective while being all encompassing.
Your creative should also match your target. All Hispanics know what other Hispanics look like, and they will not be easily fooled by an ad featuring any brunette. They have to identify with the model. You can still use a generic one-for-all model; just make sure she looks like the people you are selling her to. The same goes with other elements of the creative. You can make an emotional connection with the colors you use such as warm and vibrant colors from the Caribbean or the Americas, but only if it suits the concept. Don’t just add a tropical spin to a B2B banking offer if you don’t tie it in properly to the concept. When you place your creative in a beach setting, there is a reason for it, do the same here.
Fulfillment in the right language is a must. Back to our diet patch example, if your diet patch offer is not a part of a bigger outfit that includes a Spanish and English website as well as complementary brochures and a bilingual help desk, then failure is evident. Once you acquire those highly sought after customers, how are you going to keep them and how are you going to prevent a negative experience from dealing with a non Spanish speaking customer service department or receiving brochures in English?
Continuous communication must be in the preferred language. If someone came to your site via a Spanish language creative and they sign up for your newsletter, either give them the option to choose their preferred language or send it to them in the language that first brought them to you. After spending marketing dollars acquiring your leads and converting customers, don’t lose them because of badly executed retention measures.
The Hispanic market is ripe for the online marketing industry to target with success. That said, there needs to be proper planning to make sure that you know who you are selling to, how to sell it and how to support it. By planning your strategy well before executing your campaigns, you will be several steps ahead of your competitors who simply translate a website and expect the leads to start rolling in.