Spanish, the Key to a Thriving Ecommerce

Did you know that the U.S. is the second largest Spanish-speaking country? It became the world’s second-largest Spanish speaking country in 2015, and since then, the number of speakers hasn’t stopped growing. According to the Instituto Cervantes in Spain, the amount of native Spanish-speakers in the U.S. has surpassed that of Spain, the birthplace of Spanish. In fact, the only other competitor for the number one spot is Mexico.

If we also take into account that ecommerce in the U.S. constituted over 11% of total American retail sales last year and it’s a $500 billion market, we can safely conclude that welcoming the 50 million native Spanish speakers that live in the U.S. to ecommerce platforms is a brilliant way to increase sales.

Despite the U.S. being famous for being cosmopolitan,  just 2,45% of its ecommerce sites are multilingual, that means that over 95% percent of U.S.-based ecommerce sites are available only in English. 

If we analyze the multilingual sites, we’ll see that less than a fifth of them have Spanish versions of their website. These pioneers were able to identify an important consumer base and have their eyes set on captivating it.

How to become un sitio bilingüe

The U.S. has lagged behind the rest of the world regarding the creation and design of multilingual websites. Just as in real life, the English language has a great priority over other languages, which translates to ignoring those consumer bases. Business people in the U.S. are missing a great opportunity for financial growth!

Considering the facts mentioned before, it’s reasonable to assume that you are at a great disadvantage if you want to start in the U.S. an ecommerce site only in English due to the vast amount of competition there, but if you add a Spanish version to your website, the odds will change drastically and tip in your favor.

But to engage the bilingual user base is not as simple as copypasting your store content into Google Translate and working with those results. Luckily you are in the right place, this article will tell you how to create a multilingual strategy, but first here are more great reasons for making your store available in Spanish.

Speak English in public but browse in Spanish, that is the bilingual American way

America’s native Spanish-speakers work hard at their English proficiency and most of them are very fluent and use it often in everyday life situations at school or at work, but it is known that they keep their devices in Spanish, their keyboards have an ñ and their AI assistants give instructions in Spanish on how to get to the nearest gas station.

According to Google, bilingual searchers use English and Spanish interchangeably and represent over 30% of online media consumption in the United States.

So how can you attract your new audience?

1. Get a Spanish-language SEO

A key fact: search engines like Google know which language your browser and devices are in. It’s important to play with this aspect of the search engine algorithms and have it work in your favor. If you have your phone set to English, the odds of finding a top search result leading you to a French or Japanese website are very low, the same thing happens with other language settings, you get results in your language first. Sites in Spanish will be prioritized over monolingual English sites.

So if you are based in the U.S. and don’t have your site available in Spanish, you are at a disadvantage, surrounded by competitors. You might want to consider jumping on that bilingual bandwagon as soon as possible. Since this is an untapped consumer base, the sooner you open your store in Spanish, the greater the rewards will be.

Once you do so, don’t forget to check your Spanish-language SEO (ConveyThis will do this for you), this will help search engines identify you as a relevant website available in Spanish. You may have a beautiful Spanish version of your site up and running, but you need the search engines to help your customers find you.

2. Decode the Spanish-language metrics

Remember to review your performance on the Spanish versions of search engines and different agglomerate sites!

Google Analytics gathers lots of useful data like which language version of your site are visitors using and also how they arrived at your website! Knowing how new visitors find you if whether through a search engine or Google or a backlink will help you make sound business decisions in the future instead of betting on unfounded assumptions on how users like to browse.

This Google Analytics feature can be found in “Language” under the “Geo” tab (don’t forget to check the other features, they are also extremely useful).

Screenshot of the different tabs and tools available in Google Analytics. The language button under the Geo tab is selected.

Hispanic Americans, avid internet surfers

Check out this little tidbit from the Think With Google blog: “66% of U.S. Hispanics say they pay attention to online ads—almost 20 percentage points more than the general online population.”

Hispanic American bilinguals are big fans of online stores, 83% of them check the online sites of stores they have visited and sometimes they do this while inside the store! They consider the internet a key tool for shopping, they can make purchases from their phone and also look up information on different products.

This group is definitely a coveted audience for online retailers and it’s very likely that their browsers set in Spanish are making it difficult for you to connect with them. Search engines interpret your English site to mean that you want to attract and English-speaking audience. The solution? A multilingual marketing strategy with bilingual ads and content.

Earlier on I mentioned that merely using a translator application wasn’t going to be enough to achieve success, that’s because it’s not a sound marketing strategy, it’s overlooking a key aspect in advertisement, target culture.

Creating multicultural content

Each language has at least one culture attached to it, so imagine growing up bilingual! Two of each! Two sets of grammars, slangs, traditions, values and more. Some may be contradictory but each person has found their own way to solve those differences and make both languages and cultures a source of comfort.

In the case of public service campaigns messages are straightforward and a direct translation with nearly identical formatting will work perfectly, like in the case of this ad launched by the City of New York to combat predatory lending.

But if your trying to sell a product, the marketing will take more effort and require adaptation. There are two options: modifying an existing ad campaign or creating a new campaign tailored to Spanish speaking audiences in the U.S.

If you decide to adapt, some of the aspects that may require modification are color palettes, models or slogans.

On the other hand, you may want to seriously consider creating something exclusive for Hispanic American customers, like the American discount shoe store Payless did. The Payless ShoeSource strategy consisted of creating TV and online ads that were unabashedly designed for the Hispanic market and broadcasted them in channels that were popular with Hispanic users and not very much with English-speaking users.

Payless español home page. It says "Fabulous styles at fabulous prices" in Spanish.

This strategy – one campaign for each audience – was highly successful, and thus, profitable.

ComScore, an advertising tech firm, has poured all its data into one nifty graph. The information gathered reflects the impact of all three different types of ads: campaigns created for the Spanish-speaking market, campaigns adapted from English to Spanish, and campaigns where only the text was translated (or the audio was dubbed) to Spanish. The results speak for themselves: campaigns originally conceived for Spanish-speaking viewers are clearly preferred over the other types by a wide margin.

The study sample group ranked their most preferred brands or campaigns in comparison to other similar ones. The graph reflects that Spanish-speaking Americans relate better to campaigns designed with Spanish-speaking audiences in mind from the get go.

The most difficult way of reaching a Spanish-speaking audience is with ideas and images that reflect English-speaking experiences and desires. The Think With Google article identified some key cultural elements among Hispanics like food, traditions, holidays and family, these should be researched when planning an ad campaign. For example, a campaign that tries to incite affinity through references to individualism and self-sufficiency won’t work at all because it will clash directly with the importance that is placed on family and community. You’ll have a much better chance to resonate with your audience if you at least adapt your content and, for best results, Spanish-language-market-specific ads are pivotal.

Choosing the best ad placement

There are so many ways to reach the Spanish-speaking population in the U.S. like radio stations, TV channels and websites but, according to the ComScore study mentioned earlier, the best one is online ads, their impact is greater than ads played on TV or on the radio. Be sure to optimize all your digital touch points and campaigns for mobile.

According to data from BuiltWith.com, only 1.2 million of U.S.-based websites are available in Spanish, this may seem like a large number but it only represents 1% of all site domains in the USA. We’re talking about millions of Spanish speakers that have their phones in Spanish and are a meaningful part of the ecommerce user base despite only being able to access 1% of the available websites in the U.S. in their native language. It is the second most widely spoken language in the country but online web content does not reflect that. This is a fantastic opportunity for taking a step into the world of multilingual expansion.

Optimize multilingual advertising strategies

As we discussed earlier, having a Spanish-language SEO will give you valuable insights, but what are they good for? They’ll help you optimize your outbound communication with your Spanish-speaking audience.

To adapt an English campaign so it has a suitable Spanish version you’ll need the help of native speakers, who, instead of translating word for word, will use a process called transcreation, through which they will recreate the message in the original ad while taking into account that the cultural contexts are different and the resulting ad will have the same effectiveness.

The process of transcreation takes a lot of forethought and knowledge about the target audience so it shouldn’t be rushed if you want good results, otherwise you might risk getting something too close to a word for word translation, which, as mentioned before, are not as well received by audiences.

Put care into your multilingual website

Your brand new website design must be of first-rate if you want to captivate audiences. You have successfully attracted them with a riveting ad campaign tailored to them, but that level of dedication and quality has to be consistent at all levels. The browsing experience has to convince them to stay.

This entails following through on this new multilingual expansion project, this, according to globalization-oriented content creation firm Lionbridge, means also having a landing page in Spanish and Spanish-speaking representatives in customer support.

Global website design

Designing a global website is complex. Some changes in layout may be needed, Spanish is slightly more wordy that English so you’ll have to make space to accomodate for those extra characters and lines. You’ll probably be working lots of different elements like headings, modules and images but your site building platform will allow you (with a few tips and tricks) to make your layout adapt quickly to the language switch.

Think like the user

All site design decisions are made with the user experience in mind. We want our users to find the site comfortable, intuitive and for them to have fun using it. We can help you add to your site experience-enhancing elements such as videos, forms and pop ups in the chosen language, and more!

Bridge the communication gap

There is no need for you to speak Spanish to be able to create the Spanish-speaking version of your site. If you desire to expand and attract that untapped market, we at ConveyThis are the best option for a professional translation. Your new multilingual site will be as captivating in Spanish as it is in English.

Make your way onto the bilingual market con estilo

No matter what platform your site is hosted on, the ConveyThis team will ensure you get your website translated into Spanish with regular updates and maintain its SEO on Spanish-language search engine. We’ll create a bridge so visitors can find you and your business will become visible to a population that represents 1.5 trillion in purchasing power.

All of this can be done without sacrificing your brand identity. The journey to multilingual ecommerce is a breeze with ConveyThis.