Live from Directo Days: 10 Best Practices for Hispanic Online Marketing

New York–During the past year the number of Hispanics online has jumped by 1 million people, to 15 million, according to Captura Group principal Lee Vann–which is all the more reason for multichannel merchants to focus on the demographic.

That means going beyond cloning your Website and converting the language to Spanish, Vann pointed out Monday at the DMA Directo Days conference. Hispanic users want Websites that relate to them; they want to be able to compare Spanish-language sites to the English counterparts; and they want to be able to toggle between the English and Spanish sites, when they’re extremely similar, as a way to better understand English.

Of the 1 million new Hispanics online, 93% are Spanish dominant. Of the 14 million who had been online, 80% are English dominant, according to statistics from Reston, VA-based ComScore Media Metrics. But as Vann pointed out, the 14 million that have been online now have at least one year of Internet experience under their belts, making them more savvy of a demographic for marketers and merchant.

“The Internet really has to be integrated into your whole Hispanic marketing mix,” Vann said. “It’s a critical part of how you should reach your Hispanic audience.”

Vann went into what he said are the 10 best practices for online marketing to Hispanics;

  1. In-language: Invest in original content for a true in-language experience. If you’re going to copy content from an English Website to a Spanish-language Website, do not rely on machine-assisted translation; a word or a phrase can mean different things to people from different countries of origin. Be sure to run a language test to evaluate the relevance of the message.
  2. In-culture: Language communicates, but culture connects. Vann cited the Website of Pfizer’s Lipitor medication as one that shows a cultural connection, taking families into account—because Hispanics place greater emphasis on families than non-Hispanics–and educating with facts about high cholesterol rates among Hispanics. Also, Hispanics tend to read Web pages as they would a book, so the Lipitor site hits on that by telling readers to “click here to continue” at the bottom of each Web page.
  3. Access: Your general Website may be the best source of Hispanic traffic. Track your referrals to the Spanish site from your general site,and provide prominent access to your Spanish site from your general site as well. Vann cited a client whose traffic to the Spanish site increased three to four times in one month after it moved an “en espanol” button from the bottom of a page to the top.
  4. URL strategy: Four things can be used here: dedicated unbranded URLs, dedicated branded URLs, subdomains ( and subfolders ( A dedicated URL should be considered for search engine optimization, tracking, and advertising purposes.
  5. Comparability and maintenance: Hispanics tend to compare Websites to make sure they are getting the same deal on the Spanish site as on the English site. This does not mean you need the same exact site, just a comparable one. And if you upgrade your English Website, make sure the content can be translated for the Spanish Website.
  6. Notification: If you are taking visitors to an external link or if software such as Flash needs to be downloaded, inform the consumers.
  7. Toggle: A bidirectional toggle function enables users to select a language of choice for any given page, then seamlessly switch to the other language without losing the position on the Website. Many Hispanic users take advantage of toggling as a way to learn English; the feature also helps bilingual families search Websites together.
  8. Interactive features and functionality: Features and functionality that enable communication and sharing, such as e-mail a page, are especially salient for Hispanic users.
  9. Integrated operations and marketing: Integrate with internal operations and external consumer touchpoints for seamless customer experiences across all channels, not just the Web.
  10. Hispanic online advertising principles: Consider out-of-the-box online advertising solutions for a maximum ROI when targeting Hispanics online. Integrated online sponsorships and content sponsorships will help build your database and strengthen your e-mail marketing position. Cingular Wireless, for example, tapped into this with a sponsorship on the website of Spanish-language TV network Univision, building its credibility among the audience, Vann said.