Search Marketing: Get Started With 5 Simple Strategies
Marketing to U.S. Hispanics via search engine marketing (SEM) is a bit trickier than your regular SEM programs because of language and cultural considerations, but it's well worth the effort. Online U.S. Hispanics use search extensively -- and a recent study by Media-Screen found that Hispanics are more likely than the general online population to use search for sophisticated tasks such as comparing prices on products, finding coupons and rebates, and finding out about new products and services. The search engines used by U.S. Hispanics include: Google: 87%; Yahoo Search: 68%; MSN Search: 40%; Ask Jeeves: 32%; Altavista: 12%; Lycos Search: 11%; and Other: 7%.
According to Comscore Media Metrix, 52% of online Hispanics are English dominant, 21% are Spanish dominant, and 27% are bilingual. While Spanish-dominant users are the fastest-growing online segment, many U.S. Hispanics are comfortable searching in both English and Spanish. It's important to set up your SEM efforts with this in mind. Here are a few practical pointers for launching a U.S. Hispanic-focused SEM program.
• Language matters. It's easy when you're a native English speaker to take for granted what you instinctively know about the language. These nuances, of course, also exist in Spanish. For example, if you translate "debt" into Spanish using Babelfish or a dictionary, you'll get the term "deuda." But when Spanish speakers are searching for solutions to their debt problems, they actually use the word "préstamos." So, you will need a native Spanish speaker to put together your keyword lists and text ads. A native Spanish speaker will be able to spot common usage problems that a translation tool cannot.
• Be creative about ad creative. Do you know there are at least four different ways to say "car" in Spanish? Further, Spanish sentences, on average, are 26 characters longer than English. Direct translation not only doesn't make sense, but can also easily exceed text ad character limitations. Further, you don't just need any native Spanish speaker, but a native Spanish speaker who can write snappy, search-optimized copy. If you don't have compelling ad text that encourages your target audience to click on your ads, those keyword purchases were worthless - no matter what language they are in.
• Think large and small. Search is both a national and local tool. The U.S. Hispanic market is fragmented and is comprised of many different sub-cultures and language preferences. Hispanics also live all across the U.S., so if your offer is regional, it may make sense to craft text ads with colloquialisms specific to the dominant Hispanic population of that region. For example, if you are advertising a Cuban restaurant in Miami, you may test an ad that uses vernacular Cuban vs. an ad with language a Mexican would use. It's subtle but can pay results. If your offer is national, use a neutral form of Spanish (often that of Colombia), and be sure to present a consistent brand image across your different Hispanic SEM campaigns.
• English AND Spanish. Test both languages when setting up campaigns to reach U.S. Hispanics. In order to reach English-dominant U.S. Hispanics, it is important to not only think in terms of language, but also culture. If your text ads are in English, a culturally relevant message can still resonate and set your campaign apart from general market campaigns. But remember to be consistent. If you have one ad in Spanish that communicates an entirely different offer or brand image than one in English, that might turn off this audience, which often jumps back and forth between languages. The end goal is to connect with the Hispanic online audience - not make them feel like they are being targeted with a different set of offers just because they are Hispanic.
• Land your Landing pages. Where you send your audience is just as important as you how you get in front of them. If you start the funnel in Spanish and land the visitor on an English site, you may defeat your own purpose. You don't need to translate your entire site, but a landing page in Spanish goes a long way in keeping a Spanish-speaking consumer on your site. Start with the specific goal of the campaign, and translate only that portion of the web site that will help you reach your goal. Be sure to test results by varying the funnel: test Spanish keywords and text ads leading to Spanish and English landing pages. The best combination will depend on your offer. And don't forget: get a native Spanish speaker, adept at copywriting, to write your landing pages.
Lastly, the Hispanic market is young: 65% of the Hispanic market is under the age of 35. As every study shows, young people use the Internet differently than their parents - frequenting social networking sites, messaging friends, watching videos, etc. -- so while the SEM opportunity is great, it's only one tool in the many effective ways there are to reach Hispanics online.