15 posts categorized "Websites"

Providing Access to Your Website's Spanish Language Content in a Subtle, yet Relevant Way

EnieWe have been working on a way to clearly, but un-intrusively, provide access to our client's online Spanish content. The "En Español" button or hyperlink is simply boring (and it disenfranchises a percentage of the site's visitors), the Flag - be it from Spain or Mexico - even though helpful, to a certain degree leaves out people from other nationalities/heritages.

So in this new world where Social Media is pervasive, we found a way to "stand in giant's shoulders" and take advantage of the ever-present icons leading people to a company's social media pages: Sneaking in between the facebooks and twitters of the world a little icon with a simple "ñ" - enie. If in doubt of what it means, whenever someone hovers over it, a little text message appears which reads "En Español". Click and estarás en el contenido en español del sitio web.

Screen shot 2011-12-21 at 10.57.09 AM

Yes, the "ñ" is not exclusively used in Spanish but it has become a symbol that universally represents it.

Check our the unveiling of the Eñe Icon at our client's site: http://www.finishatut.org/ , The University of Texas System's new online bachelor's degree completion program.

Screen shot 2011-12-21 at 10.54.18 AM

Internet Gold Rush

Thanks to Latino Magazine for including my "dos centavos" on an article on their latest issue!

Internet Gold Rush
By Kathy Adams

SanchezcoverWhether the Latino niche sites will survive is a matter of how unique and relevant they can be, said Juan Tornoe, founder of Hispanic Trending, a blog that tracks trends in Latino marketing and advertising.

“I think that they have to be something that is really, truly relevant, something that is not out there or not being offered by anyone in a better way,” he said. “Because just me going out there and saying, ‘Hey, I’m a Latino site, buy from me or read from me,” it’s not enough. You have to truly step out from the crowd.”

For example, “Why would Latinos subscribe to a Latino-only social networking site when they can use Facebook?” Tornoe asked. And Latinos don’t add the word Latino to their searches online, so Latino-centric sites have to feature content that will pop up in their results organically. “You have to really, truly be able to provide a product, a service, an experience that is not obviously Latino but takes into consideration the wants and needs of the Latino community,” Tornoe said.

While enthusiastic about their cause and optimistic about their viability, it’s too soon to tell which sites will succeed, especially for those still in the startup phase. Sites such as Descuento Libre may have a hard time being unique enough to compete, Tornoe said. Some have already dissolved, but sites such as NewsTaco seem compelling enough to endure.

“I think some of the big spur of Latino-centric sites will begin to fade,” [Tornoe] said. “The ones that have the stamina, have the staying power both emotionally and [financially] and are offering a needed product or service or source of information, they will remain.”

Click here to read the entire article.

On Lowes.com in Spanish

By Juan Tornoe

LowesLogo_432_SpanishSu I remember back in May 2009 – “Medieval Times” it seems with the way the web is developing, the closing of The Home Depot’s Spanish website took me by surprise. They really had no online competitors back then; Lowe’s “En Español’s” site wasn’t more than a colorful placeholder. Still, The Home Depot made the tough decision to bring the site down and it has stick to its guns up to this day.

August 17th, 2011… Right there in my inbox: Lowe’s launches Lowes.com en Español. No, they didn’t just update their old site, or added a couple more pages in Spanish; they did not hold anything back! This is what I call a comprehensive site; check it out for yourself. Anything and everything you need/want to find in Cervante’s tongue is there – well, not in the Castilian of that time, but you get the idea. From information, to buying online, all the way to a great do-it-yourself section called “Ideas Creativas”. You can tell I’m impressed.

Their press release quotes Gihad Jawhar, Lowe’es vice president of Lowes.com saying, “Our No. 1 priority at Lowe's is to ensure our customers have the best possible experience shopping with us, whether they plan a project with our employees in the aisles of their local store or at home through our online tools and services. Providing a Spanish language option on Lowes.com is a natural next step as our website develops to provide improved customer service.”

All this information was intriguing enough to make me reach out to Lowe’s and engage in an email exchange with their spokesperson, Sarah-Frances Wallace. Out of those messages came the following Q&A, which I am pleased to share with y’all:

Juan Tornoe: How was the process to come with the decision to launch a full-fledged Spanish site?

Sarah-Frances Wallace: Our top priority is meeting the needs of our customers and making sure they have a pleasant shopping experience in store and online.  The decision to offer Lowes.com in Spanish came to fruition as we listened and responded to the needs of our Hispanic customers, who told us they needed the right tools and resources so they are able to find exactly what they need easily and wherever they choose to shop with Lowe’s.  And as our Hispanic customer base continues to grow, we will evaluate other opportunities that allow Lowe’s to better communicate with our Hispanic customers and offer them a positive, welcoming shopping experience in our stores and online.
JT: What are your goals for the e-commerce side of it?

SFW: Grow awareness of the Lowe’s brand among Hispanic consumers by providing them the right tools and resources in Spanish needed to inspire them and help them identify the products and services they need to continuously improve their home.
JT: What did you think about Home Depot's decision a while back to close their US Spanish site? Did this influence your decision?

SFW: We won’t speculate on the decisions of Home Depot. But we are confident this is the right decision to meet the needs of our customers and make sure they have a pleasant shopping experience in store and online.  We’ve been offering in-store signage in Spanish for our customers for a long time now. So, offering our Web site in Spanish is a natural extension of the welcoming, accessible environment we provide to our Hispanic customers in store. We’re proud to now have a Spanish site available so our Hispanic customers’ experience is seamless whether they are in our stores or shopping from their home computer.

JT: How are you promoting the site amongst Spanish Speakers?

SFW: We’ve spread the word about Lowes.com en Español through print, broadcast, radio and digital advertising.
We’re also currently offering a $10 of $50 project starter for the first 150,000 customers who register with the site. Visit Lowes.com/español and register today to get your project starter and check out the site.
Our La Cancha Lowe’s mobile tour will also be promoting the site. Lowe’s started the La Cancha Lowe’s Fan Experience tour in 2007.  La Cancha Lowe’s is a traveling mobile rig where customers can interact with the Lowe’s brand at select soccer and cultural events throughout the US. In 2011, the La Cancha Lowe’s will travel over 40,000 miles to some of the nation’s largest soccer (World Football Challenge) and Hispanic cultural events (Cinco de Mayo, Fiestas Patrias, Festival Telemundo).
LowesCreativeIdeas.com also launched in Spanish. Customers can access the Spanish language content by visiting www.LowesCreativeIdeas.com/espanol. Lowe’s Creative Ideas offers inspiration to first-time homeowners and savvy DIYers alike. Ideas Creativas de Lowe’s will launch in print this September in collaboration with Siempre Mujer magazine, followed by a Holiday 2011 edition.

JT: What reactions have you received from customers & the industry?

SFW: The site is still very new and we are currently gauging the response from our consumers so we can continue to adapt and improve the site to meet their home improvement needs.


It seems to me that Lowe’s is in it for the long run. I’ll be keeping an eye on the site and so should you.

The Truth About Hispanics Online

By Juan Tornoe

Don’t get me wrong by what I am about to share with you. I am Google’s #1 admirer and avid customer, using them for just about anything I do online, on a daily – or should I say minute by minute – basis. Bottom line, I am not in a crusade to discredit them in any way, shape or form. Still, there are certain minor details or nuances that seem to have passed undetected on their recent outreach efforts to sell Google as the ultimate tool to reach Latinos. I’m certain that using the web, and Google specifically, is a great way to reach out to a very interesting segment of the Hispanic market, but you must really understand the different segments of the Latino community before making any serious investments to connect with them; you must really know your customer.

Google’s insightful results come directly from interviewing 4,117 Hispanics who are anywhere within the English-Spanish language spectrum, and are US residents age 18+, INTERNET USERS, who in the next 6 months intend to purchase items within at least one of the following categories: Auto, Retail (like a pair of socks at The Gap), Tech, and CPG (I’m guessing a pack of Trident gum counts). A quite broad, although interesting range of people.

Now let’s take a look at the pool from were this individuals were taken from. There are several estimates out there that put the number of Latinos currently online at least at 60% of the entire US Hispanic population. What is not mentioned along with such headlines is that “being online” is defined as “accessing the internet at least once a month for information or entertainment.” At the same time, we have been informed that only 1/5 of online Hispanics are “power users”, defined as those who spend 24 hours a week – about 3.5 hours a day – on the web. According to this last definition only about 12% of Latinos are “online power users.” A much less exciting number than the previously mentioned 60%, don’t you think? It takes one spending three and a half hours a day online to be considered a power user? In that case, I am a Triple-Platinum Ultra Super Power User! But I digress…

So, all the great information included in the Google “Four Truths About US Hispanic Consumers” presentation is definitely useful and worthy of notice, BUT it does not apply to the almost 47 million Latinos living in the US today, nor to the approximately 30 million Hispanics who access the web at least once a month, but it does to the 6 million (give or take a hundred thousand or so) Latino Power Users. Hey, although Latino Power Users still represent the population of a small country, and more importantly the kind of customer most companies salivate over (or should be salivating over), there are 24 million “online Latinos” for whom these numbers might not fully reflect their current web usage.

The Pew Hispanic Center reported in 2010 that 47% of Spanish-dominant Latinos use the internet, compared to 74% of bilingual Latinos and 81% of English-dominant Latinos. By taking these numbers into consideration along with the information shared above and the wealth of data included in the Google presentation, it is likely that most of those Latino Power Users are either English-dominant or bilingual.

Curiously, the Google Insights report along with its case study videos actually reinforces this fact. The “Four Truths About US Hispanics Online” as well as “Connecting with Hispanic Moms Online” videos show English-dominant Latinos sharing how they are connected to the web on a constant basis visiting sites like TED, The Weather Channel, Newsweek, facebook & Gmail (using English language interfaces), The Colbert Report, Fandango, Sports Authority, Macy’s, Orbitz, searching for “best price for tvs” on Google… You get the picture.

Then, when you watch the case studies for Kraft and General Mills, you see takes of the same English-dominant Hispanics, actually navigating the web in English combined with others takes of the corporation’s staffers sharing their success stories and of their Spanish Language websites.

Yes, Kraft’s Comida y Familia and General Mills’ Que Rica Vida are Spanish-only websites that, independently of the great results they are certainly getting, I don’t believe are the first choice for obtaining this kind of information on the web for the “cream of the crop” Latino Online Power User that is being presented.

There is one thing that is being overseen here: Hispanic Marketing is NOT Spanish marketing! The Latino market is quite complex and diverse, with a wide range of levels of acculturation, assimilation, language preference, etc… When you are marketing to Latinos, it is quite risky, and inaccurate, to say that you are helping them navigate life in the US… What about those 2nd, 3rd, 4th+ generation Latinos that have only been exposed to this lifestyle since the moment they were born? They might just be listening to Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re an American Band” on their iPads, as one of them is actually doing on one of these videos!

Yes, I am using and will continue to use the internet and Google specifically to reach a very profitable segment of the Latino Market, and recommend you do as well. Yes, I believe there is a great opportunity to reach out to Spanish-dominant Latinos using the web – as Kraft and General Mills have been doing – and will continue preaching just this. Still, you must be careful on how you build your case; the worst thing that can happen is having many advertisers jump into the “Reaching Latinos Online in Spanish” bandwagon, just to become disenchanted because their results don’t meet the high expectations that were set. It is much better to follow one of Tom Peter’s formulas for success: under promise and over deliver.

Comunidades virtuales acortan distancias

September 21, 2010
Al Día, Dallas - Fort Worth, TX 

Aldiatx Juan Tornoe, director de mercadotecnia y socio de Cultural Strategies, una firma de mercadotecnia latina en Austin, dice que la experiencia de vida de los inmigrantes ha evolucionado.

Para los inmigrantes de finales de del siglo 19 y principios del siglo 20, por ejemplo, mantenerse en contacto con sus seres queridos era extremadamente difícil, cuando no caro.

En tiempos más recientes, el advenimiento del teléfono y medios de transporte modernos aligeró esas trabas.

Pero hoy es una historia totalmente distinta.

"El solo hecho de que la tecnología esté avanzando a un paso tan acelerado, ayuda mucho para mantenerse en comunicación con sus seres queridos en casa y establecer nuevas relaciones", dice Tornoe.

"Si nació en Estados Unidos o creció aquí, (sirve para) trabar amistad con personas de su país de origen o para conocer sobre su pasado".

De hecho, Javier Abonza, estudiante de la Universidad Metodista del Sur, es un ejemplo de lo que dice Tornoe.

De 21 años, Abonza nació en Dallas, pero sus padres son de Ciudad Altamirano, México.

No viaja mucho al país de sus padres, pero mantiene comunicación constante con sus abuelos a través de Skype.

"Se siente más personal", dice Abonza. "Para mis papás es importante porque se comunican con sus padres".

"Aquí viven en un mundo que habla inglés, muy distinto a donde ellos crecieron. Conectarse con México los hace sentir más en casa, más a gusto".

Varios estudios indican que cada vez más jóvenes latinos usan las nuevas tecnologías y se integran a las comunidades virtuales; pero como sucede con sus mayores, los nacidos en Estados Unidos como Abonza usan la tecnología más que aquellos que no nacieron aquí.

Este verano Abonza enseñó a sus padres cómo usar Skype. Han estado en Estados Unidos desde hace unos 25 años, pero últimamente no han podido visitar a su familia.

Julio Abonza, de 52 años, dice que él y su esposa ahora usan Skype más que el teléfono para hablar con los padres de su esposa.

Hablan cada tercer día y ahorran más dinero que cuando usaban sólo el teléfono.

Don Julio dice que hay otras ventajas con la comunicación virtual.

"Es diferente porque vemos la persona", dice. "Nos ayuda estar más unidos"…

Tornoe dice que el acceso a esta tecnología sigue siendo un problema. Se tienen que tener los medios para estar en línea o vivir en una ciudad donde haya conexión, dice.

Pero dijo que puede ser sólo cuestión de tiempo. En América Latina son cada vez más las personas que utilizan teléfono celular.

De modo que, aunque algunos puedan no tener los recursos para comprar una computadora, pueden comunicarse a través de herramientas como Twitter, Facebook y Google Talk en su teléfono celular.

Tornoe, originalmente de Guatemala, dice que es por medios sociales como estos que mantiene contacto con sus excompañeros de preparatoria y universidad.

Pero no todos tienen acceso, dice.

"Cuando hablamos de medios sociales, todavía es un porcentaje reducido", dijo, refiriéndose a los usuarios activos.

"La palabra activo implica mucho; pero si me conecto un par de veces al día o al menos una vez al día, entonces estamos haciendo un buen uso de la tecnología para mantener contacto con amigos y familiares".

Click here to read the complete story. (in Spanish)

When Bad Translations Happen to Good People

I was thrilled to learn earlier today that the Internet Innovation Alliance was launching an effort to reach out to Spanish speakers in the U.S. informing them about their efforts to achieve universal broadband availability and adoption, "Because every American should have access to broadband Internet". 

Unfortunately, when I eagerly visited the site, I stumbled into a welcome message, in big bold letters which greets visitors to the Spaniard (as in from Spain) section of their site, rather than the Spanish Language one (as in "En Español"): Bienvenido a IIA Española.

 IIA Spanish

There are other translation mistakes on this page snapshot, but the one mentioned above stands out because of how prominent it is, not to mention that it appears twice.

That's why I always say that a good translation is worth MY weight in gold!

Home Depot’s Spanish Outreach: in Their Own Words

By Juan Tornoe

Curiosity did not kill this gato (although it almost drove him crazy!). I’m alive and kicking, thank you very much (and borderline sane). Honestly, I was going berserk because I did not have access to the whole scoop regarding the sudden closure of Home Depot’s Spanish website. Yes, I did read what was said in the news; cathartically posted my own POV on the subject, and interviewed another big box retailer who’s maintained a Spanish online presence for quite some time… Through it all I did gather some insights, but there is nothing like hearing the story first hand from those directly involved in making these complex decisions.

So I reached out to Home Depot’s Corporate Communications, who promptly replied and in no time set up an appointment with Leonard Wortzel, their Multicultural Manager, who stepped into this role just 7 weeks ago. Leonard has been with The Home Depot for 4 ½ years, working in various advertising and marketing roles. Prior to that, he spent several years working mostly creative side advertising, with a small agency in Dallas, as well as with the BBDO and Grey affiliates in Costa Rica.

Following, please find the interview/conversation I had with Mr. Wortzel…

Juan Tornoe: What was your U.S. Spanish online presence prior to the launch of the now closed site?

Leonard Wortzel: We had some minimal how-to content on a secondary website.

JT: Why the closure of your Spanish Site only 4 months after turning it on?

LW: When we launched the site, our research told us that this was the right thing to do. The reality was, it wasn’t; not in this current environment. It just simply did not perform the way we thought it would. Because of the very robust solution that we adopted, maintaining the site would require a good amount of manpower behind it. It would have not been simple to just maintain a piece or portion of it, technically it just didn’t work that way.

JT: Why not leave up general company info, store locator info, How-To guides, etc… and lead people into buying in English OR visiting their nearest location for some “Skin time” with a bilingual associate?

LW: The landing page that is there takes you to the store, takes you to our online site, or it takes you to apply for a job. There are a couple of resources that we still have out there: You can shop our online circulars in Spanish and a bilingual employment site. What we’ve heard and learned from our customers is that we need to engage them in the stores, person to person. So right now that is where every ounce of every type of effort is being placed; serving this customer where they told us they want to be served the best, right there in our isles. 

JT: It was cited on the Wall Street Journal that one of the reasons the site was closed was that half the visitors came from other countries… Only 33% of Univision.com’s traffic comes from the U.S. Although we’re talking about completely different business models don’t you believe there could’ve been a way to keep at least a part of the site up and running – referring specifically to the How-To guides?

LW: Again, it wasn’t a simple transfer of data. The amount of resources and effort that would have been required at this particular point in time to keep that part of the site live led us to making a decision on where do we want to put our efforts right now; is it going to be in the digital space or are we best served serving our customer in the place they want and need our help the most, which is in the isles every day?

JT: Was a good chunk of the international traffic coming from México?

LW: Without getting into specific numbers that is pretty safe to say.

JT: Couldn’t you have redirected that traffic to your Mexican website and/or stores?

LW: Although Mexico has a pretty robust site, it isn’t an ecommerce site.

JT: Could you comment on your Spanish site’s conversion rates and customer satisfaction?

LW: Again, without getting into any specifics, we made the decision to shut it down because it wasn’t performing anywhere near where it needed to be.

JT: Is there a future for Home Depot en Español online? If so, what is it?

LW: Without talking about specific plans, we are always looking for the best way to serve our customers and we are always researching and developing new ways to fulfill our Hispanic customers’ needs. To say that Home Depot is done with the digital space for the Hispanic customer, or that we dipped our toe in the water and said, “No, we are done with this”, is absolutely untrue.

JT: Excellent! That is really comforting to learn. One final question… By the way that your current Spanish landing page addresses the Latino community, it seems that The Home Depot is assuming that all Hispanic clients are Spanish-speaking clients. What about Bilingual and English-dominant Latinos? Don’t you believe that specifically addressing Spanish-dominant Hispanics on that one landing page would be more appropriate?

LW: I think that is a valid point; I am going to get back with Vidal [The Home Depot’s Hispanic Agency of Record] and have them take a fresh look at that.  One last thing, I enjoyed discovering your blog, I think you’ve got a lot of good content on it.

So, there you have it. Don’t know about y’all but I am quite satisfied with Home Depot’s answers. They do clarify many of the questions I had written on my initial post on the subject. Hey, I even got a chance to do a bit of free consulting for Vidal… You are very welcome guys! I’ll make sure to add it to my CV. :-)

Christine Webster Moore on BestBuy.com en Español

May 7, 2009
By Juan Tornoe

Two days ago I had the opportunity to have an interesting conversation with Christine Webster Moore, VP of Business Initiatives at Best Buy. Christine is part of BestBuy.com and works with the Latino initiatives team, helping support their Latino customers across all their channels: Online, in their stores, in their call centers, as well as being responsible for BestBuy.com en Español. I believe that given the recent shutdown of another major U.S. Retailer’s Spanish language website, it is important for you to get inside the head of one of the decision-makers at Best Buy, a big box retailer which actually is putting all its chips on the growing Hispanic market.
Juan Tornoe: When and why did Best Buy launched their Spanish Website?
Christine Webster Moore: We soft-launched in September of 2007 and the intent was and is part of a holistic strategy to better serve our Latino customers, and especially those Latino customers who were interested in engaging with us in Spanish. We felt that it was important to be able to have an in-language experience for these customers whether they were walking in our stores, whether they were going online, or whether they were calling our call center. We believe that an in-language approach is of particular importance when people are dealing with products and services that are more complicated; they need to be able to understand what they are, how they work, and if they meet their needs.

JT: What has been your experience with the Spanish site?
CWM: We have learned a lot! We measure the success of the Spanish site in three ways. One, it is important that the kind of relationship we have with our customers, from an overall standpoint, is one in which we are able to say that we reach out to them in-language across our channels; this is something we believe our customers recognize positively. The second way are the transactions done on the site; we are continuing to see progress in this particular area and will continue to improve our efforts in growing the business specifically for the channel. The third area is what we see in terms of the online space and specifically the Spanish site as an initial step to going in the store. We know that our Spanish speaking customers are going online, and doing research, looking at products, looking at our store locator, comparing different products, and then going into the store to actually make a purchase or to have more a conversation with one of our sales associates in the store. We feel that all three of those together are huge benefits to the dotcom business and to the whole company.

It is hard to track exactly what percentage of business online drives into the store. Still, we hear employees telling us more and more that people are coming in with printouts from the Spanish web page and/or employees are using the kiosk inside the store as a way to access the Spanish site and get more information or deepen the conversation with a customer.

JT: What feedback have you received from visitors to the Spanish Site?
CWM: On a monthly basis we track customer satisfaction and we find that the feedback continues to be overwhelmingly positive and is higher actually than what we see on our English site. We think we are getting a little lift because there are not many retailers out there with a fully translated site. We hear that customers like the translation; they are able to find what they are looking for, and that they have a really positive experience on the Spanish site.

JT: Conversion...That's the name of the game. How do the Spanish and English site's conversion rates compare?
CWM: The Spanish site has lower conversions and some of that is due to the fact that a good chunk of our traffic is from outside of the U.S. and we are currently not able to fulfill outside of the U.S. So, obviously the conversion will be lower. But what we are doing, even though we cannot ship outside the U.S. we are trying some different things that would allow customers who are shopping from outside of the U.S. to make easy payments using international credit cards and/or shop from outside the U.S. and then pick up in the U.S. if they are planning a trip; which would be essentially in-store pickup that originated internationally.

JT: Do you have information on what percentage of the visitors to your Spanish site come from outside the US?
CWM: Without sharing any specifics, we can say that a good chunk comes internationally. We are seeing a lot of traffic coming from Mexico, Venezuela, Spain and Brazil; these would be the principal sources of traffic outside the U.S.

JT: So, what's the future of Best Buy.com en Español?
CWM: We will continue with our commitment to the Spanish site as part of our holistic strategy to better serve this customer. We will continue to build awareness around the site and the capability that it offers customers. I think that’s the focus right now. We think we have a great capability that when customers find it, are really happy with it. So we are staying the course!

Well folks, don’t know about you, but I am a happy camper after learning Best Buy’s commitment to serving Spanish dominant Latinos.

Online Latinos say Adiós to Home Depot

By Juan Tornoe

A good friend sent me a quite disturbing message late last week: “Home Depot is shutting down their Spanish language website”.

I was quite perplexed given that just a couple months ago Home Depot was announcing with much fanfare the site’s launch, “a replicate of the English language e-commerce site, with 40,000 products available to online shoppers”.

I agree that maintaining 40K plus pages up to date can be a Goliath-sized feat, especially in the midst of this economic crisis, but completely eliminating all Spanish language online presence is quite a radical shift. Wasn’t there a middle of the road compromise? At the very least they could have kept (as they had before) a basic Spanish language online presence, sharing, in their own words, “know-how information for home improvement projects”. From there they could have clearly redirected people to buying online IN ENGLISH or to visit any of their convenient locations where bilingual personnel would be willing and ready to serve them in their own language (ad jargon intended).
Home Depot
It has been reported that the main reason of shutting the site down was “that half of the visitors to the site were from other countries”, which is not the same information that Spanish speaking do-it-yourselfers now encounter when visiting espanol.homedepot.com: “Hemos escuchado a nuestros clientes hispanos y lo han dicho claramente: el lugar más importante para centrar nuestros esfuerzos son nuestras tiendas”. Paraphrasing in English: We have listened to our Hispanic clients’ voices loud and clear: Our stores are the most important place where we should center all our efforts. Hmm. Can someone please tell me how these two statements relate? It is a well known fact that many U.S. Spanish language sites get a fair amount of traffic – to say the least – from Latin America. Given the lack of quality information currently available from South of the Border websites, Latin American web surfers are attracted, like flies to honey, to U.S. based sites, especially if they are in Spanish. Just check Univision.com in Alexa and you’ll see that only 33.1% of their traffic comes from the United States… Wow! They are even in a worst position than what Home Depot en Español claimed!

To say the least it is quite disappointing to see one of the largest retail companies in the U.S. take a step back on this arena. I've always said that giving Latinos access to INFORMATION in their language of choice is of primordial importance to any company in America. Also I have said that companies should not expect to get the same results they are getting from their English site on its Spanish counterpart. Traffic will most likely be lower; visitors will be mostly looking for information, rather than to buy online, but those who do end up buying will be delighted (if the experience is a good one) to be able to purchase right there and then in their own language, from a brand they’ve come to know and trust. Thankfully, there are other major retailers, like Best Buy, who are still committed to maintaining a Spanish online presence.

Having a Spanish language section of their website is now part, from where I stand from, of a company’s  cost of doing business. If the largest minority in the States were from Denmark, I’d say they’d have to also have their sites in Danish! Bottom line, it is all about dollars and cents. If early on you manage to turn some of those visitors into paying customers that would be some very sweet icing on the cake. At this point in time you are mostly establishing a relationship with, and gaining the trust and goodwill of, the small but growing number of online Spanish dominant Latinos, knowing that they will become more sophisticated online consumers as time passes and they will have your company’s name right there at “Número Uno” when they are ready to purchase online whatever product or service you are offering.

Then there’s the emotional aspects involved with establishing deeper, more emotional and profitable relationships with English-dominant Latinos who will see your company as one they want to do more business with, given that it openly recognizes, through – among other things – the investment in the Spanish language site, that the entire Latino market is important to you. 

As far as getting traffic from outside the U.S., it is actually an opportunity. Through geo-targeting you could sell advertising on your information pages while at the same time develop partnerships with similar companies in Latin America, with whom you could service clients in the region. Doesn’t Home Depot own stores in Mexico? They do! And even have a website for it: http://homedepot.com.mx BTW, it is (drum roll please) En Español!
Home Depot Mexico
Giving credit to part of Home Depot’s strategy, indeed it is important to cater face to face to Spanish dominant Latinos at your place for business, and it is good business practice doing it through the use of signage and the hiring of bilingual staff. That said, not all Latinos are Spanish dominant and you must never mistake Spanish outreach with Hispanic outreach. The Latino community is way too diverse to try simplifying it that way.

I truly hope that Home Depot reconsiders its decision.

Reaching Hispanics Online

By Juan Tornoe

I am a big proponent of bilingual sites for U.S. websites. By now almost 15% of the Nation is comprised by Latinos and among them 47% is Spanish Dominant (Pew Hispanic Center, Latinos Online, March 14, 2007). Even thought the latter are not as “connected” as their English Dominant counterparts, they are certainly catching up thanks to cheap computers, cheap high-speed internet connections and to the iPhone!

I’ve always advised that you should give your site’s visitors the OPTION to get the information they need from you in the language they prefer. It does not have to immediately be a full-fledged version of your English site, but at least a work in progress (make sure you accentuate this on your site) that shows Hispanic visitors that you consider them an important part of your online customer base.

Young_latinos_online That said, there are the other 53% of Latinos of which 30% are bilingual and 23% are English Dominant. So roughly 10 million Latinos prefer to speak, read, and write in English; they are not proficient in Spanish. That’s the size of the population of a small country! Now, these folks are culturally Hispanic, but you just won’t be able to reach them with any kind of Spanish communication, they want, need, and prefer to access their information in English. And all sources confirm that these are the ones more likely to be online right now.

Even bilinguals to a certain extent, might prefer to access online information in English; be it because they’ve been conditioned by the bad Spanish language quality control on certain sites or because they were simply led by any means into the English site, felt comfortable there and did not feel the need to reach out for the information they were looking for in Spanish.

My advice to you is that you should begin to understand Latino culture and subtly begin to weave it into your website’s design and more importantly, content. Please note I am not talking about language here, I am talking about Culture; independently of the language spoken, there are scores of cultural nuances that remain with Latinos.

If you are able to include these seamlessly within your site in such a way that they speak, even whisper, almost on a subconscious level to Hispanics you will be connecting with that other 53% of their population that very likely are visiting your English site. You will be able to notice if you have implemented this successfully by the “ca-chings” of your cash register, since without alienating your general market customers, you will be connecting on a deeper level with English dominant Latinos, who without even knowing what hit them will be more willing to buy from you.

So what are those cultural cues you should be so aware of? That will be the subject of another post.

Note: Originally published on FutureNow Inc's GrokDotCom