Each month, nearly 11 million U.S. Hispanics go online to meet their banking needs,according to comScore. Although it seems like a big number, it represents only 32% of all Hispanics online. As the economy improves, banks can expect more Hispanics to educate themselves on financial matters and visit bank websites. But are the banks doing enough to proactively engage Hispanics online? It's a question I set out to answer by looking at the three largest U.S. banks and their Hispanic online strategies. What I found was that, although Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo have large numbers of Hispanic website visitors, they are not doing enough to proactively engage with online Hispanics.
Bank of America’s Hispanic Online Strategy
More than 3.3 million U.S. Hispanics visit BankofAmerica.com each month. Of those, 44% use the Internet primarily in English, 38% in both languages and 18% in Spanish. I was happy to find a link to “Español” on the top-right hand side of the website but was disappointed with the amount of Spanish language content available. While the English version of the website offers robust content across approximately 16 topics, Bank of America has content in Spanish for only four topics, focusing on personal banking and home finance. The website has a branch locator in Spanish and as a customer, I know the bank offers a robust online banking experience in Spanish for customers, including small businesses. In terms of Hispanic online outreach, Bank of America does not have a visible presence on major Hispanic websites, search engines or social media. None of Bank of America’s mobile applications or websites are currently available in Spanish.
Chase’s Hispanic Online Strategy
With 2.9 million monthly Hispanic visitors, Chase is a close second to Bank of America but attracts more Hispanics who tend to use the Internet primarily in English. Of Chase’s Hispanic visitors 55% prefer English, 29% are bilingual while 16% tend to use the Internet mainly in Spanish. Chase features a link to its Spanish language website in the top navigation of its English site and offers Spanish language content across 9 of the 16 topics I looked at. Chase offers not only personal banking and home finance content in Spanish, but also content related to investing, loans, retirement planning and small business. That said, the design of the Spanish website seems outdated when compared to the English version, and Chase does not offer Spanish language online banking. As with Bank of America, we were not able to find any evidence of proactive Hispanic online marketing or Spanish language mobile efforts.
Wells Fargo’s Hispanic Online Strategy
Each month, 2.8 million online Hispanics visit WellsFargo.com, and, of them, 53% prefer to use the web in English, 30% in both languages and 17% in Spanish. Wells Fargo’s Spanish site covers 8 of the 16 topics, including small business. Unlike Bank of America, Wells Fargo does not offer Spanish language online banking to customers but does support a robust financial education initiative called “El futuro en tus manos.” Of the three banks analyzed, Wells Fargo is the only one that appears to be investing in Hispanic online marketing buying relevant keywords on Google. Like the others, Wells Fargo does not currently offer a Spanish language mobile experience.
What should banks do to better engage with online Hispanics?
Banks should consider investing more comprehensively in the Hispanic online market. It is not enough just to translate portions of a website into Spanish. Banks need to provide a more meaningful and useful experience for Hispanics, develop a strong social media presence, provide the platforms for mobile online banking and proactively market to Hispanics online.
As a mentioned at the beginning of this post, only 32% of online Hispanics use the Internet for their banking needs. The banks that step up their game now will surely benefit as that number goes up.