Tip for marketers: English isn’t everyone’s first language
There are 54.1 million Hispanics in the United States. That’s 17% of the population. Back in 1970, they made up only 2% of the population which makes them one of the fastest growing racial / ethnic groups in America.
Of that 54.1 million, 35 million speak Spanish at home and 38% say Spanish is their dominant language. But in a recent survey of senior-level content marketers, 49% said they never translate English marketing content into Spanish.
It’s one thing to speak only English here at home, but that same survey from Smartling reveals that 70% of marketers use only English-language content even when they’re marking outside of the United States. How big of a problem is this? Honestly, it varies. 63% of those surveyed said that between six and 50 percent of their customers are located outside of the US.
That’s a pretty big range. If it’s closer to six, not spending the money to translate your marketing materials is understandable. But 50%? Even if you take into account that there are other countries who speak English, that still leaves a large portion of potential customers who aren’t being served in their native language.
The main reason companies don’t translate their work is the cost. And then there’s the domino effect. I can have my newsletter translated into Spanish but if my site is all in English is it worth it? To capture the Spanish only speakers, I’d have to translate my website, too and what’s the ROI on that?
Being English-centric might be okay now but Smartling says that might not be an option in the future. More and more non-English speaking consumers are coming online thanks to cheaper, more reliable internet providers and the accessibility of inexpensive mobile phones. The percentage of people using the internet in South America went from 6% in 2013 to 17% in 2014. Africa went from 18 to 38% of the population in 2014.
Let’s go back to talking about just the Hispanic population:
- $1.2 trillion in purchasing power in 2012
- $2.2 billion in e-commerce in the first quarter of 2012
- 79% are accessing the internet on a mobile device
Here’s the big one from Facebook:
- 80% of US Hispanics on average prefer ads that incorporate Spanish messaging
Note: Spanish messaging isn’t just translating and English ad into Spanish, there are cultural references to consider, too.
So what are we all going to do? I don’t know. I suppose every company needs to take a deeper look at their analytics to see if the potential to expand is there. If you already have sales from a non-English speaking audience, then it might pay to pay someone to speak to them in their own language.
Wish I had an easy answer, but right now all I have are some interesting facts that you should consider when you start building your next marketing campaign.