Hispanic online expectations lost in translation


The newest AOL Hispanic CyberStudy includes some great data that has inspired me to share a theory I have about online Hispanics.

My theory is quite simple: Most Hispanics expect Hispanic websites to be poor quality and as result, use the general market version of a site even if Spanish is their preferred language.

Do you agree?

Online Hispanics will scour your website to find mistakes and experience gaps

It’s a fact: most Hispanic websites are inferior to their general market counterparts. Hispanic budgets are smaller and resources more scarce. Most online Hispanics are comfortable enough in both English and Spanish to compare sites, and they do. Online Hispanics will evaluate Hispanic sites to try to find the mistakes that will invariably be there.

The most common mistakes found on Hispanic websites are language related. Spanish websites are riddled with translation errors, grammatical mistakes, missing accents, tense inconsistencies and incorrect punctuation. Most disturbing to me is the emergence of machine translation on several high profile websites such as Recovery.gov. (Perhaps the Government should have hired professional translators to localize Recovery.gov which would have resulted in a better experience for non-English speakers and even created a few more jobs.) In my opinion, machine translation is simply not an option for converting websites or any other communication. Even though machine translation services such as Google Translate are free, I believe that the negative impact on user perceptions are simply too high. What’s more, if a user wants to translate a site with a machine, they can do it themselves.

Even high quality translated websites can fail to make an emotional connection

Don’t get me wrong, there are many Spanish websites that are impeccable translations of English versions. That said, they are just that, translations. Online Hispanics might not find any language mistakes on such a site, but the content may miss the mark because it was intended for the general market and doesn’t make a connection with the Hispanic user. After reading a few sentences, Hispanic users may sniff out the translation and lose interest. It is far better to develop original content for Hispanics or adapt English content so that it resonates and connects with them.

Online Hispanics know they’re missing out

In addition to language issues, Hispanic websites are often not as deep and don’t have the same features and functionality available on the corresponding general market site. This essentially tells Hispanic visitors, “you are not as important to me as the general market”. Sadly, Hispanics have come to expect poor online experiences in Spanish. According to the AOL Study, less than 3% of online Hispanics think that Spanish sites have more useful information than English sites, so they may just bypass Spanish sites all together and go straight to the English site.

Develop a great Hispanic website and you will be rewarded

Online marketers are faced with an interesting challenge and opportunity due to the fact that Hispanics have low expectations when it comes to Hispanic sites. On the one hand, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get Hispanics to even a visit a Hispanic site due to their prior negative experiences. On the other hand, there’s an unmet demand for high quality, culturally relevant Hispanic websites that provide comparable value to the corresponding general market site. Such sites will delight online Hispanics and have a high likelihood of driving marketing objectives. In addition, as I have discussed previously, Hispanics are extremely engaged with social media and are likely to share a good site with family and friends.

For the last 10 years, my goal at Captura Group has been to create compelling Hispanic online experiences that change the expectations of online Hispanics.

I invite you to join me in this pursuit.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Mark Lopez

    You do not need a Spanish website to start a conversation with your Hispanic consumers. There are plenty of examples of companies using great creative execution and content integration in premium publishers to deliver their message to their target consumers. Unilever’s Degree campaign running in Terra.com and other premium publishers is an example of great creative execution without a company website. Does a good website help your marketing strategy? of course! However, a lot of clients limit their Hispanic outreach because they do not have a ‘good enough’ Spanish website…this is very dangerous. There are over 20 million US Hispanics online every month…let’s talk to them about your brand today…with or without a website!

    Mark Lopez
    Terra Networks USA

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