Latino Link Uncovers Great Ways to Gain Hispanic Customers Online

Latino LinkFunny how some ideas can stare businesses in the face, but the response from leaders never truly changes over time.

In 2004 and 2005, Anita Campbell wrote briefly on Latin American immigrants sending money to their home countries – “In 2004, immigrants to the United States sent home US $30 billion (yes, that’s billion with a “b”).” A year later she wrote that banks that had at first left this market to mom-and-pop outfits decided to court Latino customers again.

Fast forward to today. I learned about another pan-regional opportunity, this time from Joe Kutchera (@joekutchera ) through his new book Latino Link: Building Brands Online With Hispanic Communities and Content. The book, which delivers vital guidance, is distinctive not only because of its insights about Hispanic consumers, but also because of its tips containing nuanced analytic implications for how a business evaluates its online opportunities. I reached out for a review copy from the publisher, Paramount Market Publishing, a small business press based in Ithaca, New York.

Learn what it means to say “Bienvenidos, estamos abiertos para negocios”

One thing you will learn is whether universal or local Spanish should be used for your site content.  That choice is not trivial. Latino Link focuses on Mexican and U.S. Hispanic consumers, and explains how an imbalance in Internet infrastructure investment has inadvertently created a pan-regional effect for Latinos online consumers.

“Spain…invested $960 million in online advertising.  For U.S. Latinos or Mexicans online, it means when they search in Spanish, many sites from Spain appear in their results…Spain invests four or five times more in content than other Spanish-language markets.”

This impacts online behavior analysis and can lead to a missed opportunity to encourage customer visits to physical stores.  For an example, read the polarizing tale of two Spanish-language e-commerce sites from Best Buy and Home Depot.

An enlightening fact Kutchera details — Mexicans shop at U.S. retailers to the tune of $10 billion annually (yes, that’s billion with a “b”). That figure “does not include capital expenditures such as cars, houses or even computers.”  Another sobering fact: Mexico’s middle class is larger than the population of Spain, re-emphasizing the irony that “search engines can send your potential U.S. Hispanic customers to businesses overseas … Thus a U.S. company may reach customers from other countries that they would otherwise not attract.”  The pan-regional effect is a startling contrast to widespread posts encouraging businesses to gain customers locally through location-based social media.

Furthering his point about infrastructure and demographics, Kutchera shows that while Spanish-speaking users are among the fastest-growing Internet segment, Spain is not the largest within the Latin segment; the Dominican Republic is.    Kutchera predicts, “By the time computers, smartphones or tablets cost $100 or less, the Internet will much more resemble the list of top spoken languages in the world.”

Gain guidance that leads to action and connects with the community

One important cultural point: Much of the featured research centers on a US Hispanic-Mexico consumer perspective.  But Latino Link does provide nuanced commentary to guide small business owners and marketers in attracting and serving a diversity of Hispanic customers.  For example, you’ll read about the contrast between one global site with language settings & IP specific pages (globalization) vs a series of country-specific sites (localization).

“If you sell an intangible service, like airplane tickets, music or consulting, the global .com approach might work better for you…If you offer country-specific information, or sell products via distributors…a country-specific website would be best.”

Case studies cover a helpful gamut of the ways localization and globalization can give your business an advantage, such as geo-marketing with online maps and how Hispanics use social networking sites.  One chapter is dedicated to attracting Latina customers online, while other chapters cover developing content communities, launching a website in Spanish and organizing teams.

The points raised are enhanced by personal perspectives from contributors such as Elizabeth Perez, Digital Insights Analyst, regarding the in-language vs. in-culture concept of pushing a birthday person into a cake as they bite it, chanting “Que le muerda! Que le muerda!”:

“A non-Hispanic might wonder why we would do that or think that we ruined the person’s party by doing this.  However, in reality, that is part of our tradition and one very much looked forward to … For reasons such as this, when I have the option to obtain news coverage about Hispanics from non-Hispanic or Hispanic media outlets, you will more likely see me turn to the Hispanic outlet, as it will be the one I will relate to the most.”

What’s truly cool about Latino Link is that some analytics perspective peppers its comparison between online behavior and respect for the intended audience — companies that combine acumen and data reach the insights that truly indications the needed business decision.  Kutchera also mentions some Latin American companies alongside US-based companies, so that readers can broadly envision the best applications while discovering long established successful companies in Latin countries.

A welcome and much-needed guide to digital Latino marketing

Latino Link is a convincing application of social media, marketing, and analytic concepts to real cultural and customer behavior dynamics. I closed the book feeling that readers will quickly think how to best create a solid strategy.  They will invest in Latino Link again and again as an actionable guide to serve Hispanic customers with genuine care.

Note:  For Spanish speakers, please check out the Spanish version of this review, translated by Augusto Ellacuriaga of Spanish Translation.

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Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.

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