Chinese is the most spoken language in the world based in language-speaking population relationship charts. If you find this amazing, then you should also know that in 2015 U.S. became officially the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world, right after number one Mexico. According to a study performed by Instituto Cervantes in Spain, there are more native Spanish speakers in U.S. than there are in any other country, including Spain.
Since these figures were officially acknowledged in 2015, the Spanish speaking community in the U.S. has continued to grow in a steady basis. So, taking into account that ecommerce in the states represents today a $500 billion market, and that ecommerce also represented over an 11% of total American retail sales in 2018, it makes perfect sense to say that targeting the bilingual English-Spanish market for the sake of ecommerce development is a winning sale strategy.
Despite the fact that the Spanish speaking community represents a 17% of the total population with over 50 million people, the U.S retail scenario is not multilingual-friendly at all. As a matter of fact, figures point out to a very low 2,4% of ecommerce sites based in U.S. and available in more of one language. If we take this 2,4 % as a reference frame of the whole, we find that 17% of those sites are available in English and Spanish, which is the highest percentage for a single language pair. Right after we find a 16% of them available in French and 8% available in German. Now, there’s something that must be said about that 17% multilingual American e-merchants who have decided to make their sites accessible for the bilingual market, they know what they’re doing and they have already an advantage regarding this major consumer base.
The real-life linguistic scenario in U.S. has made us into a backward country when it comes to going multilingual online, probably because the general thinking among business-owners is that English comes first. As a result, the other languages are not seen as a priority in terms of developing and branching out their businesses.
If you are focused on an English-language oriented strategy, it probably feels that the playing field is not working on your side and that getting some visibility on the market gets harder and harder every day. Creating a Spanish version of your website is a pretty surefire way to increase the visibility of your site on the American web and eventually to increase your sales and success rates on the U.S. market.
How come?, you may ask even after reading about the ever growing presence and power of the Spanish speaking community in U.S. We have listed some of the reasons why translating your website to Spanish will be positive for your margins, and we’ll also walk you through the best ways to adapt your linguistic strategies in each case.
Even if most of American native Spanish speakers speak fluent English and use it as their primary language for daily interaction at work, school, the mall, etc, many of them prefer to keep their device interfaces in Spanish. In fact, over 70% of Spanish speakers prefer to speak Spanish at home. So, although most of bilingual Americans may interact in English, they will keep a large portion of their life set by default in Spanish, i.e. their phones, tablets and computers.
As a matter of fact, statistics from Google reveal that over 30% of media on the U.S. internet is consumed by browsers that use English and Spanish interchangeably. This means that an elevated percentage of the Spanish speaking community prefers to interact in their social media in Spanish, as well as run their searches and view websites in their mother tongue.
Search engines, including Google which is the smartest one, have ranking algorithms to show content consistently with the content that you have searched in the past. They also identify the language a device or browser is set to and adjust their algorithms to prioritize content in that same language.
What does that mean? That your website visibility may be suffering in the United States if it’s not available in Spanish. Think about it. There’s a large potential consumer base that you’re not reaching just because search engines won’t show it to all the Spanish speakers who interact with their devices in Spanish. Therefore, translating your store to Spanish is a winning strategy.
Also, if you want to take it to the next level and work towards getting a top spot on the Spanish speaking American market, you need to start paying attention to your SEO in Spanish. Does it sound heavy and complicated? ConveyThis will automatically take care of this for you. So, what’s the use of this? Isn’t enough just to translate the website to Spanish? Having your SEO optimized means that not only you will have a Spanish speaker-friendly store, but your website will notify to the search engines that you are available also in Spanish. Therefore, your content will easily reach your potential customers.
Once you have translated your store to Spanish, you will probably wonder if that was actually a brilliant idea. Was it? It’s easy to find out by keeping track of the performance of the Spanish-language version of your site.
In order to so, you have a free version of Google Analytics at your disposal. This free version pretty much covers everything a small or medium-sized business might need and it has a pack of very useful features. Google Analytics will let you know what language visitors are looking at your site in, and it will also allow you to know whether they found you via a search engine, a backlink on another website or via Google itself. All you have to do is go to your admin space, click the tab “Geo” right under “Audience”, and check out the language statistics:
American bilinguals are great ecommerce customers. According to numbers provided by Google itself, 66% of Spanish speakers claim to give thought to Internet ads. Another study research by Ipsos found that 83% of bilingual American mobile users check the websites of the stores they have visited in person. Sometimes they even browse the online store to get product information while they are walking around the physical store.
As we said before, there are big chances these Spanish speakers will have their browsers set to Spanish, so if the online store is also available in this language, it will make it easier for them to get the information they are looking for and the store will aim to top client satisfaction and efficacy.
This means that having your content as well as your outbound ads also in Spanish will do nothing but benefit your whole marketing strategy. Of course, let’s not think that putting the whole thing through Google Translator will make the best of the situation. There are a few factors you must take into account when you are to target the huge Spanish speaking market in the U.S.
Bilinguals from all over the world know that growing as such implies more than just the ability of interacting in more than one language. This also means having more than one set of cultural values and references, the one from the birth land and the one acquired. And this is the case of those million Hispanic Americans who interact daily in English as well as in Spanish.
Below there is a campaign against predatory lending practices launched by New York City. If we take a closer look, we can realize that usually these public service campaigns have pretty straightforward messages that may be plainly translated to Spanish and they will still convey the full intention of the campaign. Nevertheless, marketing a product goes past plain translation into Transcreation land, searching for that specific nuance that will make your potential customers feel at home.
People on the translation industry take this very seriously. In fact, a lot of advertisers not only adapt or translate their ad campaigns to Spanish. They create new versions of the campaign in Spanish, using whole new colors, actors, slogans, scripts and cultural references.
Payless ShoeSource is a fine example of the above said. This was a discount shoe store in the U.S. which was specially known for tailoring their TV and online ads to meet the needs of Hispanic American customers. They also launched campaigns that were not even adapted nor translated from English, but created from scratch specifically for the Spanish speaking audience. They would create these campaigns and diffuse them through channels the Hispanic market was more likely to access to.
If you think that looks like too much work, there are numbers that will back up the effectiveness of this marketing strategy. Lets round up a couple examples to back up this statement.
ComScore, an advertising tech firm, conducted a study in which they measured and compared the impact of several types of ad campaigns. They compiled data about the impact of campaigns conceived exclusively in Spanish for the Hispanic market, campaigns originally conceived in English and “adapted” to the Spanish speaking market, and campaigns in which they had only translated the content to Spanish or dubbed the dialogues into Spanish.
The following image illustrates the results. The Spanish speaking audience had definitely more preference for those campaigns which were conceived in the first place for them and created specifically for their market.
It’s right there on the graph. Spanish speaking customer are more likely to prefer and identify themselves with those campaigns created originally in Spanish, meant for the Hispanic market.
Then, as a online retailer whose target is to break into the Hispanic market in the United States, you should know that adapting your marketing strategies is human, but creating specific campaigns in Spanish with the Hispanic market in mind is just divine.
The same study conducted by Google in which we learned about the 66% responsiveness rate among Hispanics to online ads conceived initially in Spanish, also tell us about some of the specific cultural elements which are more likely to spark interest and affinity among the Hispanic-American community. That is “food, traditions, holidays, and family”.
The ever-growing native Spanish speaking community in the U.S. gets more powerful and substantial every year. This fact has given birth to a whole Spanish-language media network in the States through TV channels, radio stations and, of course, websites.
According to the aforementioned study by ComScore, it’s confirmed that Spanish-language ads online have actually a greater impact than ads on TV and radio stations together, which confirms the Hispanic market has a strong, significant presence online. In a comparison between quality online ads in Spanish and quality TV and radio ads in Spanish, the first ones received higher Share of Choice scores for the same marketing campaigns.
Now, if we pay attention to statistics, we can see the number of Spanish-language users and the number of websites or outbound ad campaigns leading to websites, are totally out of proportion. According to data compiled from BuiltWith.com, around 1.2 millions websites in the United States are available in Spanish. That’s 1.2 million out of 120 million websites total, which represents a poor 1%. If you consider the high Internet traffic among the Spanish-American community and their presence online, it’s obvious there’s a massive section of the Hispanic-American market that is not being addressed or taken into account by online sale retailers. That’s why making the move now, may get you on the top ranking among the competitors.
After optimizing your SEO in Spanish for those devices that are set by default in this language, the next step you can take is optimizing your outbound communication to the Spanish-language users that are using those devices.
Let’s see how you can take your bilingual business in the U.S. from human to divine. The first thing you need to keep in mind when launching a bilingual business is the need of working separately on each campaign as we said, and hiring native speakers for each one of them. You can’t work marketing strategies in Spanish if you don’t have by your side a native speaker who knows and understands the cultural frame you will address in your campaign.
This is where Transcreation makes its entrance and replaces plain “adaptation”, that is word-by-word translation in its simplest form. The process of Transcreation goes about finding a way of transmitting the same message, idea or feeling within a different cultural context. Speaking as advertisers and retailers, Transcreation is about finding a way to make both Anglophone-Americans and Hispanic-Americans want to buy the product.
This is not an easy process and those in the advertising and translation industry know it. For Transcreation to be successful whoever is working on it must have a deep knowledge of the audience that’s being targeted, their nuances and cultural references, as well as the judgment to determine which elements of the campaign must be created from scratch for that specific audience.
Then, what? You have made a life-lasting agreement with Univision channel and they broadcast all of your commercials, your ads are everywhere on El Sentinel’s online edition and you optimized your Google Adwords strategy to finally reach Spanish speaking consumer base. Will that be enough? If you truly want the Hispanic audience to find what you’re offering appealing, you need above all things to actually deliver what your ads are promising.
The content creation firm Lionbridge, which has conducted lots of researches regarding social media trends and general media engagement within the Hispanic-American community advices to online retailers to be consistent with their marketing strategies in Spanish.
What does that mean? That you need to make sure you follow through the whole way for your Spanish speaking customers. For example, if you offer customer service in English, then you must offer the same customer service in Spanish as well. If you have a live chat in English to clear out doubts and request, make sure the person in charge is bilingual and can take care of both English and Spanish speakers.
Another thing to take into account is that building a multilingual website implies more challenges than the simple translation, adaptation or Transcreation of content. Having your website available also in Spanish means a potential change in your site design, since switching from English to Spanish will impact your page layout. Spanish text often has a 10% more volume than English text, since this last one tends to be more compact and resource-saving. Then, switching your page to Spanish will change the length of paragraphs, headings and any other text-displaying modules.
As usual, most site-building platforms will have a few tips and tricks to make things easier for you if you are launching a multilingual website. We have a few of those on Squarespace, Webflow and WordPress to make sure all of your page layout elements adjust beautifully to the text display in both Spanish and English language.
When we talk about site design, we’re not only thinking about how it will look and adapt when switching from one language to another, but we’re also thinking about the user experience, how the user will feel when browsing that digital environment you have created and adapted for them. This means ensuring that every bit of information within the site is presented to the customers in their language once they switch to Spanish to enjoy a better experience. We’re talking about all those extra experience-enhancing elements you might add to your page such as visual media, that is images and videos, popups, forms, etc. From our experience, we have managed to compile quite a few tips to help you improve your multilingual user experience.
That’s ok if you’re not a native Spanish speaker yourself. Don’t let that stand on your way to succeed on the Hispanic market. There are other ways in which you may guarantee your Spanish speaking customers a top-notch browsing experience in their mother tongue.
At ConveyThis we can help you make the best out of your multilingual site. We are a especially fit solution since we offer professional translation services to Spanish and any other language if you ever feel like expanding. Do you want to be a rock star when you tap into the Hispanic market? There’s no better way than having a Spanish-native translator working on your site.
There’s a massive Hispanic-American market that remains like a virgin beach waiting for more and more audacious online retailers to launch user-friendly websites for the Spanish speakers. Translating your store to Spanish while keeping an eye on your optimized SEO for Spanish language and remaining consistent on your content and marketing strategies delivery, is the surefire way to finally enter this promising bilingual market.
You can trust all of the above mentioned to ConveyThis, no matter what platform your website is built or hosted on. ConveyThis will take care of your translation customization so you can build your content in Spanish from the bottom up without losing your English site’s identity. We take care of everything you may need for your customers to enjoy a satisfactory and fulfilling browsing-experience, from image to video replacement between languages to SEO optimization. The best feature is probably that you don’t have to lose a second of your time that you can put to a better use!