Sounding Off: Denira Borrero “Looking to Delve Into the Flourishing U.S. Hispanic Market?”

We all know that the U.S. Hispanic market is experiencing substantial growth.  In 2000, the U.S. Census confirmed that in the previous decade the Hispanic population grew more than four times that of the general population – and this year’s Census is expected to document an even stronger growth, signaling to retailers nationwide that now is the time to break into this flourishing market.

But wait.  While now is the time – and many marketers and their clients have undoubtedly already begun to expand their marketing to this up-and-coming market  – our research has uncovered a unique variable in calculating the ROI of a Hispanic media campaign.

After having successfully launched direct response (DR) campaigns – both our own and other companies– in the U.S. Hispanic market for the past 10 years, we wanted to determine the buying behavior of the Hispanic consumer.  Specifically, does Spanish media drive purchasing across English language sales channels?

Through a recent matchback study, we discovered that although a product’s Hispanic target audience was most effectively reached through Spanish-language campaigns, the majority of internet sales for these products were being sold via the product’s English-language site rather than its Spanish-language site.

The impact of this is greater than you might think.  Many retailers and marketers create Hispanic campaigns only to judge the ROI based on sales on the Spanish-language site – and not the English-language site.  Meaning, many marketers and their clients might be in the dark as to just how successful their U.S. Hispanic campaign really was – and many might have abandoned their U.S. Hispanic campaigns too soon.

Determined to confirm this notion and simultaneously find the most effective means of reaching Spanish-speaking audiences while maintaining maximum purchasing results, we decided to use two of our branded products as test products.  For a period of 18 months, we ran only Spanish-language television ads for both products, but maintained the English- and Spanish-language search marketing ads and websites for each.

And the findings have altered how we approach this market.

During the 18 months of the study, the percentage of web orders relative to total orders (the rest coming from telemarketing) rose from approximately 10% to 25%.  And in looking at web-data results over a period of two months, 80% of product 1 and 60% of product 2’s orders came through the companies’ English-language sites, despite the fact that no English-language television campaigns had been running.

To test the waters further, we worked with one client to suspend their English-language campaigns to determine how many orders from their Spanish-language campaign were actually coming through the English web site.  Within that period of time, the client concluded that 95% of internet orders generated by the Hispanic media campaign were placed through the English website.

The truth is, there are multiple factors driving Hispanics to non-Spanish-language sites.  Much of it simply has to do with internet intricacies, like Google algorithms.  Search engine analytics usually place those websites with the greatest volume of traffic first, meaning that if someone views an ad in Spanish and then types the product name into a search engine, the first result will more than likely be the product’s English-language site.  Hispanic consumers are also beginning to shift from first generation Hispanic Americans – where Spanish is the dominant language spoken – to second-generation, bilingual, bicultural consumers that are viewing and connecting with English-language media on a greater scale.   

Still, the fact is that many Spanish-language campaigns today are poorly written – showing grammatical errors and typos – and do not resonate with Hispanic consumers.  Kick-starting a U.S. Hispanic campaign involves more than a quick translation of the English commercial, but many marketers and retailers fail to take this into consideration.  And so, for Hispanic viewers, oftentimes it is just as simple to visit the product’s English site, type in their name, credit card information, and be done with the transaction.      

As the Hispanic market continues to thrive, and its population becomes increasingly bi-lingual, marketers will want to dive in and get a piece of the action.  But it is data-driven insights like these that they will need to take into consideration before implementing – much less calculating the ROI of – a Hispanic campaign of their own.

Denira Borrero is Vice President Operations at Omni Direct, Inc. Denira is responsible for all online marketing initiatives, client services and product campaign management.  She currently serves as Co-Chair of the US Hispanic Council and Co-Chair of the Retail Council for the ERA (Electronic Retail Association).