5 Reasons For Using Spanish To Reach Hispanics Online

The release of the 2010 Census has re-ignited the debate about which language is best for reaching U.S. Hispanics. With U.S. born Hispanics now outnumbering foreign born Hispanics, the voices of proponents of using English are growing louder. Where do I stand in this debate? Well, it's quite simple: Figure out the language preference of your target audience and use that language, be it English or Spanish.

When it comes to the Hispanic online market, most studies indicate that half of the 31 million Hispanics online prefer English while the other half prefers Spanish or are bilingual. Using common sense and some quantitative data from comScore, I came up with five reasons for using Spanish to reach online Hispanics.

1. Strong Market Dynamics While the U.S. online market has reached maturity, Spanish preferring and bilingual Hispanics are driving the growth in the U.S. Hispanic online market. New Internet users represent an attractive target for marketers looking to make a good first impression. Take a look:



Growth by segment April 2010 - April 2011

  • U.S. Online Market: (1.13%)
  • U.S. Hispanic Online Market: 12.78%
  • U.S. Hispanic Online Market (English): 10.20%
  • U.S. Hispanic Online Market (Bilingual): 13.42%
  • U.S. Hispanic Online Market (Spanish): 19.23%

2. Less Competition Today there are relatively few marketers proactively targeting the 14.6 million online Hispanics that prefer Spanish or are bilingual. Less competition means not only lower advertising costs on platforms such as Google and Facebook, but also higher engagement with a consumer that is not as bombarded by online advertising.

3. Favorable Demographics When compared to English preferring online Hispanics, Hispanics who prefer Spanish or are bilingual fall into a sweet spot for marketers looking to reach consumers who are young, make more money and have a family:

Online Hispanics Less Than 34 Years Old

  • English preferring: 55%
  • Spanish preferring & Bilingual: 65%

Online Hispanics Who Earn More Than $40,000

  • English preferring: 57%
  • Spanish preferring & Bilingual: 59%

Online Hispanics Who Have Children

  • English preferring: 60%
  • Spanish preferring & Bilingual: 66%

4. Low Expectations As I theorized in a previous post, most Hispanics expect Spanish-language online experiences to be poor. Marketers who provide high quality Spanish language online experiences will exceed expectations and make a favorable impression on this segment.

5. Using English is More Challenging Targeting English preferring Hispanics online is more difficult and expensive than targeting Spanish speaking online Hispanics. In addition, marketers already investing in general market online campaigns are likely reaching English preferring online Hispanics.

At the end of the day, marketers looking to reach all online Hispanics need to use both English and Spanish. But if you had to choose between the two, I would start with Spanish. It just makes sense.

¿No crees?

5 comments about "5 Reasons For Using Spanish To Reach Hispanics Online ".
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  1. Jose Villa from Sensis, June 9, 2011 at 11:26 a.m.

    Nice article Lee.

    While I generally agree with all of your points, I question whether #2 "Less Competition" is still true. While it was clearly the case 2-5 years ago that very few Hispanic advertisers were consistently investing in digital marketing, I think today things are very different. In fact, I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a Hispanic marketer that doesn't invest between 2-10% of their media budget in digital.

  2. Lee Vann from Captura Group, June 9, 2011 at 3:14 p.m.

    Jose- Thanks for the comment, much appreciated. I hear your point on competition and am certainly happy the marketers are allocating more towards Hispanic online. That said, I still think that relative to the general market, there is less competition in the Hispanic online market.


  3. Tim Orr from Barnett Orr Marketing Group, Inc., June 9, 2011 at 5:44 p.m.

    Just curious: You show numbers for Spanish preferring and bilingual. Do you have those numbers separately? What happens if you combine English preferring and bilingual?


  4. Sebastian Aroca from Hispanic Market Advisors, June 13, 2011 at 10:33 a.m.

    Nice article Lee. I agree with your points, which are aggregate numbers (at a macro level). I would only add that to find the right allocation of marketing dollars to Spanish vs. English to reach Hispanics online, specific to your case (at a micro level), it would all depend on the industry served, type of product or service offered, and so on. Therefore, I suggest Hispanic marketers to monitor very closely their analytics and learn how to identify the ROI for each effort employed. It's time consuming and requires skills. However, it pays off if done correctly. For instance, if I invest x amount of dollars in Spanish SEO and Spanish PPC, and it's yielding more ROI (whether that is measured in # of traffic, leads, or purchase orders) than the same amount for English SEO and English PPC, why not allocating more to Spanish campaigns? It’s simple Economics, isn’t it? At one point, you will notice a diminishing return, and that's when you need to try something else... Just my two cents.

  5. Lee Vann from Captura Group, June 13, 2011 at noon

    Tim- We posted a graph that breaks down the demographics we cited into English, Bilingual and Spanish preferring. You will see that as a group, or individually, Spanish preferring and bilingual online Hispanics are younger, more affluent and as/more likely to have children.

    Sebastian - Thanks for your comment, I think that marketers looking to reach all online Hispanics should invest in Spanish and also inject Hispanic cultural cues into their English/General market campaigns.


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