How To Launch An In-Language Internet Program

When our clients ask me whether an in-language Internet program is necessary to the success of their Spanish-language advertising campaign, I ask them if their marketing goals long- or short-term. If a client's goal is short-term testing of a product or service, an in-language Internet program is nice to have but not necessary, but if a client has long-term marketing goals that aim to build loyalty among Spanish-speaking consumers, then an active digital campaign is essential.

While Hispanics are online at roughly the same usage rates as the general market, e-commerce has remained underdeveloped. The reason for this is that Hispanic consumer confidence in online transactions remains low. While some have tried to launch major e-commerce hubs, like Amazon or eBay, that cater specifically to the Hispanic market, many have failed in recent years. Univision, the premiere Spanish-language media company in the country, just recently announced that it will try again.

However, any company that makes a serious commitment to the Hispanic market must commit to an in-language web strategy at some level. There are two ways to enter the market with an in-language web campaign, and really no in-between: passive and active.



A passive strategy typically includes an in-language URL that mirrors the content of the company's general market site. The more content you make available in Spanish, the more you demonstrate your respect for the market. You may not actively market the site or drive traffic with online activity, but at the very least you are able to pay off or fulfill the need for more info.

An active strategy should include a Hispanic-specific marketing hub that serves as a unique resource for the Spanish language-dependent consumer. This approach is best when used to support highly targeted creative that is designed to promote a paid web campaign and community building. A truly Hispanic-focused web campaign should also take cultural, culinary, and customer service to a more relevant marketing level than a company's general market website. Categories such as food and kitchen appliances offer a unique opportunity to drive home the application of a product by appealing to Hispanic consumers' tastes, customs, recipes and food prep culture.

Additionally, internet strategy for active campaigns should be expanded to "digital" strategy, meaning that it should include mobile marketing as a key component. Spanish speaking internet users are largely acculturated, meaning that they have as much or more access to general market search engines and browsers as they do Spanish sites. The same is not true of mobile campaigns. Smartphones are fast becoming the primary gateway to the Internet for less acculturated Hispanic consumers. Low-tech social functions, such as texting, are creating a new frontier for reaching Hispanic consumers.

While all advertising campaigns require a unique approach, one golden rule applies to in-language campaigns just as surely as it applies to general market campaigns: know your consumer and speak directly to them; they will be sure to respond.

3 comments about "How To Launch An In-Language Internet Program ".
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  1. Juan Yanez Carrera, January 21, 2010 at 7:53 p.m.

    have you tried it is a multilingual yellow pages with a search engine feature. also a funny scrolling map to search by country and by language, give it a try, I've had fun using it

  2. Lucia Matthews from DIALOGO, January 23, 2010 at 1:17 a.m.

    Internet usage among Hispanic citizens has skyrocketed. In February of 2009 online Hispanics exceeded a record breaking 20.3 million, representing 11 percent of the U.S. population. At a growth rate four times the national average, Hispanic Internet usage will soon cross the divide.

    Hispanics use technology in sophisticated ways. Once community members gain access they tend to be ‘media meshers’ and utilize multiple channels and devices. Latino technology users are more likely than other groups to text message, search the web through mobile phone and browse social networking sites. Savvy technology habits will play a role in advancing Hispanic business.

  3. Marion Guthrie from Gut3Marketing, January 24, 2010 at 11:56 a.m.

    The significant factor to be considered here is the phenomenal growth of the Mexican American population in the U.S.; weighted heavily toward younger people. Younger folks are all over new technologies as they support their communication needs and younger folks, irregardless of their heritage, are typically raised in the public school system. For the Mexican American student, this produces a person who, yes, speaks Spanish at home, but also writes, reads and speaks English. Interestingly, this young adult often doesn't write and read Spanish.

    If I was introducing a consumer product for teens in particular, as part of my short term marketing strategy, I would be testing social networks and mobile possibly in combination with more traditional venues. Part of that testing would include some in-language but definitely in-culture. It's important to remember that this particular audience segment, probably ages 10-30, have watched their parents make enormous sacrifices to provide a home in the U.S. They're proud to be U.S. Citizens and proud of their Mexican culture.

    Marketing successfully to this population needs to recognize this. Actually marketing successfully these days to any population segment needs to recognize the "in-culture" characteristics in order to build engagement and trust.

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