Increase revenue by 20% in 2018 – Non-English Speakers Welcome on your site & in your store
I do not care about your political views – the United States of America is becoming a culturally and ethnically diverse country. Spanish language customers in the domestic (US) market are a major force in consumption. Don’t ignore them – or they will ignore your business.
40 Million people speak Spanish at home in the US. Over 50 Million Hispanics live in the US. Do you do business in Puerto Rico (a mainly Spanish speaking ‘territory’)? Do you even have a Spanish language version of your website? Customer Service in Spanish, what about other languages? Do you care? You should.
ONE TRILLION – ANNUAL CONSUMPTION
Over $1 Trillion of consumer spending – from Hispanic customers – Almost 1 in 5 of the US population are Hispanic – and many of them speak Spanish.
OVER 50 Million people will speak Spanish at home by 2027 in the US. The United States has more Spanish speakers than any other country except Mexico & Colombia.
Did you know that nearly 3 million people who speak Spanish at home are not Hispanic? These people come from mostly European countries but are not Hispanic.
Per the American Community Survey 2015 edition — Other languages matter:
- Chinese by 3.3 million (multiple dialects)
- French or French Creole by over 2 million people
- Tagalog by 1.7 million people
- Vietnamese by 1.5 million people
- Hindustani (0.8 million Hindi and 0.5 million Urdu)
If you are building that amazing high-growth-Unicorn business, scaling your current business or adding another division to your Fortune 500 company – let’s review business strategies and tactics to do it right! It is time to take your business to the next PIVOT (point) and sell directly to these culturally diverse communities in their preferred language.
Build the site in American English (if you are mainly in the US). (International marketing in other countries may require a non-American English site.) I recommend not just translating your site, but find an in-language copywriter, graphic designer, and UX/CX expert to create the in-language site. I would treat every page on the English site as a model, but not a template for the in-language site.
You also need a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) associate to create relevant in-language SEO content for the in-language site.
GOOGLE TRANSLATE – NO!
Smaller companies may not be able to afford all these people on staff, but you can initially outsource these functions. Customers can be forgiving if you make an effort, but make a substantial effort not just a quick translation.
You could have in-language customers review the site – ensure that your pages are reviewed and adjusted for appropriate syntax and cultural attitudes. Consider setting up a product advisory council for your customers – it is very empowering to you and the customers (but that is another article).
An important note, if your in-language customers are all from one country, say Cuba, you might consider hiring Cuban or Cuban Americans for your team. For national companies or even regional companies, you might want a more diverse group of Hispanic employees on site. Listen to your target audience, see what they tell you!
At some point, your company should decide to support more customer service languages.
It is easy to create in-language chat bot responses with the latest technology and the use of templates for some chat answers. You can have your team or outsourced suppliers translate, but whatever you do make sure your team cross-checks your translations in the CARE channel, so you do not make mistakes.
Hiring in-language care agents can be handled locally in many US cities, Near Shore or Off Shore. My experience is with all these options. Each model has its advantages and disadvantages. Explore those options in more detail (but not here).
I suggest expanding from an all English Care facility to an in-language team when you need it. It costs money to support, but you will know when you need it. In-language can cost a few more $ per hour, and bilingual agents can cost more anywhere you go.
I like the option where you have your in-language support team in-house (at corporate) or your local office, help build out the email and chat support bots, and you use agents when you do a major in-language push or start getting calls from paying customers.
In-language – just do it – get the right people to market in-language. I prefer in-language marketers and not translations of existing material, but most companies have to start with existing resources and translate.
However, follow the same rules, get a neutral dialect, put cultural context into the work, and have some customers review it for accuracy and also for “punch.” Is it impactful, does the marketing have an appropriate cultural call to action? Try not to translate English jokes; they do not always translate correctly. Don’t be cute, unless you support it with appropriate in-language marketing – and it matches your brand tone.
Does it work? You may need to alter your message, creative, channels, and call to actions. Do you send email, call customers, use social media or other digital channels? Make your ads in-language – make collateral in-language – append language and ethnicity information onto your database. Create in-language social media handles – don’t mix all your languages in one feed.
Do you use social media influencers in your marketing, then get some relevant influencers to your target audience? Kim Kardashian or her sisters will not cut it for every target audience (hopefully).
Don’t think dubbed or subtitles will do it. Find relevant influencers and speak in-language.
In the end, you should be moving to personalized marketing in-language building an engagement culture with your customers.
You need in-language sales agents and support. Each company is different and has different sales organizations, so you have options to support your clients. I suggest talking to your sales team and find out what type of support they need.
You also need to talk to your customers, find out what language they speak in.
Many people at work, will speak English, but the point of your in-language efforts is to drive sales growth with relevant customer contacts. Would you like to pick up a 10% – 20% increase in sales volume? Changes to your tactical and strategic plans to include in-language sales operations can drive revenue growth!
Don’t cheat your business to business customers just because they might speak English at work, develop and engaging sales team that talks to people in their preferred language.
Fulfill in-language – don’t skimp. Make your material in each relevant language for your customers. You might think that this is easier said than done, and you are right. You may take the Canadian approach, where everything has to be bilingual.
However, since you may have to support other languages, if you go beyond Spanish, you might want to have some variable print fulfillment done for select languages.
Keep it, consistent people. Hire associates that speak in-language in the stores where in-language customers are shopping. Hire according to your footprint. Don’t just hire associates, but try to hire managers in these stores. Build a future for your associates, and let your customers see that you have managers supporting your team in-language.
Wikipedia.org shows Metro area population by Spanish language penetration: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_Spanish-speaking_population
Some Spanish Speaking highlights (Spanish speakers five years or older):
- Los Angeles – Long Beach – Santa Ana, California – 4.4 Million – 37% of population
- New York-Northern NJ – Long Island – 3.5 Million – 20% of population
- Miami – Ft. Lauderdale – Pompano Beach, FL – 2 Million – 40% of population
In certain areas, you might see over 40% of your traffic from Spanish speaking or Hispanic customers, cater to them accordingly with sales associates in-language. I am probably ‘preaching’ to the choir on this note, but it helps those in other areas too. Understand that you still need in-language associates in many other markets. I prefer to visit the stores and listen to the store management and associate team, find out whom they think their customers are, and support hiring based on the local demographics.
TECHNOLOGY & OPERATIONS
Let’s talk tech – what your customers see should be in-language too. Do you have an app? Put it in-language.
Do you have an online customer portal? Put it in-language.
Your developers, technology, and operations team may need to know the supported languages (or find the right resources). QA is important.
In the end, you need people to create the language and culturally appropriate customer experiences. You could hire people who learned other languages at school but temper that option.
Hire people from the culture, in many cases; they would have to be bilingual. Why? They work in your office. They need to speak with customers and your existing English speaking team members.
These are just some thoughts to ponder in our ever-expanding theory to drive exponential revenue growth for your business. Expand your business – grow it exponentially by targeting a more refined target audience. Personalize your messages and speak to your customers and prospects in their chosen language. Your business will have additional costs, and it will have incremental revenue too (if done right).
On a side note, this message is meant for English speaking professional, not for those already speaking in-language – as I am not translating this article – those bilingual executives already know what needs to happen. Do you?
Images are all public domain images from pexels.com except the Meme. That particular Meme may have come from imgflip.com or another similar site. I’d really like to thank the Lord of the Rings producers and writer for that particular photo.