Search Marketing for the U.S Hispanic Market

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As the U.S. Hispanic population continues to grow and Hispanic online shopping increases, smart search marketers will find ways to incorporate that segment into their marketing plans.

An estimated 43 million Hispanics constitute 15% of the U.S. population, making them the largest minority group in the country. Furthermore, more than half of the population is under the age of 35 – prime purchasing age, according to advertisers. And according to The Direct Marketing Association’s study on the Hispanic population’s direct buying habits three out of ten Hispanics spend over $200 on online purchases while 82% made an online purchase within the last year. What should these facts mean for search marketers? That there is a large relatively untapped consumer segment ripe for targeting.

So, while it’s quite obvious that the online Hispanic market deserves some serious attention from search marketers, how does one actually go about marketing to that segment of the population? How does it differ from marketing to “traditional” segments of the population? Well, the most obvious challenge, and opportunity, to marketing to Hispanics online is language. While many U.S. Hispanics speak English and those most likely to shop online speak English, as well, that doesn’t guarantee that they will always type English search terms into search engines. And even if they do use English when conducting searches, they might be more receptive to a website that offers Spanish features, such as a Spanish translation section. And lastly, but equally as important is the fact that the Hispanic market is quite diverse – Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, etc. – and the actual meanings of phrases sometimes vary depending on where a Hispanic consumer originated.

First and foremost, just as the parameters of any search marketing campaign include initial research, so should a campaign targeted specifically at the Hispanic market. Recognizing that this segment is one with unique requirements including differences in language, culture, and spending habits will go a long way in forming a strong foundation for a search marketing campaign. Just as a website must be user-friendly for the typical shopper, it should also be equally accommodating for the Hispanic market. This could include everything from featuring more images of Hispanics on a website, making cultural references that would appeal to Hispanics in the content presented, or creating an entire page or duplicate site “En Espanol”. Because even if the majority of online Hispanic shoppers do speak English, no one likes to feel left out, and a website that demonstrates that they have considered the wants and needs of Hispanic shoppers is much more likely to convert a Hispanic visitor to a customer and possibly a faithful customer, at that.

Actually getting Hispanic shoppers to a website is where the hard work begins. Research, which will probably cost a little but could foster much more in returns, is essential to ensuring that the correct search terms are being used to bring Hispanic shoppers to a website and not alienate them from it. For instance, one thing that might not be obvious to a search marketer is that Spanish keywords are sometimes backwards to their English translations (e.g. “green blouse” translates to “blusa verde” in English). Also misspellings of both English and Spanish terms should be considered. And, highly important, is the consideration of varying meanings of words throughout the Hispanic community. For example, the Spanish term “cuero” could mean “drums” to a Cuban shopper but have a quite negative and offensive meaning to a Puerto Rican shopper.

Attempting to tap into the Hispanic market is not something that a website owner should take on single-handedly in a free afternoon by picking Spanish keywords that sound good out of thin air and sending them over to his in-house tech guy to optimize and implement on the site. It should include serious preparation and research, and possibly outside help, to guarantee the best returns. But the benefits are well worth the time and initial cost for many online retailers.

Chris Winfield is the President and Co-founder of 10e20. He has written for various organizations in the past and frequently speaks with the media.

Search Marketing for the U.S Hispanic Market
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