Best Buy and American Family Insurance were recently hailed as “the real pioneers and leaders in marketing to Hispanics online” by Joe Kutchera, a Hispanic marketing expert and author of Latino Link: Building Brands Online with Hispanic Communities and Content.
The companies were featured during a recent webinar hosted by Kutchera. The event was presented at IAB.net, the website for the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The hour-long webinar is available for viewing below.
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During the event, Kutchera presented compelling statistics about the growing U.S. Hispanic market compiled by IAB’s Multicultural Council (PDF report here). He then invited leaders from MotionPoint clients Best Buy and American Family Insurance to share the unique insights they’ve gained engaging the U.S. Hispanic market.
Ana Grace, Best Buy's Site Manager, Hispanic Initiatives & Online Catalogs, began by describing her company's current commitment to the Hispanic market - but also acknowledged it wasn't always this way: "(In 2007), we had a tiny Spanish call center. It was hit-or-miss at the store, whether you could find someone who could speak Spanish or not," she told the webinar attendees. "And online, we had a Spanish link on our website that led to our 'return policies' page in Spanish. So, not a great customer experience."
That experience was vastly improved when Best Buy’s Spanish website debuted in time for the 2007 holiday season. The Spanish site had parity with its English counterpart — meaning, both sites featured identical promotions, pricing, product information and images.
The retailer soon aimed to change that strategy, Grace said. Best Buy wanted to create custom content for its Spanish-speaking customers, such as product photos featuring Hispanics and other imagery that would likely resonate with them. The goal: to "build a content team around the Spanish site" that would "produce unique Spanish content, really localise the material," Grace said.
But before Best Buy invested in those resources, it conducted usability studies with Hispanic shoppers. Marketers presented Spanish-speakers with a test site featuring a "localised" look and feel, and images, that were different than the English retail site. Best Buy expected a hit. That's not what it got.
"What our customers said was that they really needed the sites to be the same," Grace said. "They were concerned - they used words like 'discriminatory' - when we showed them content that looked different, or had different offerings. Even when it was the same offer, but with a different photo, they were very concerned. They felt they weren't being offered everything that they should be offered."
The importance of parity wasn't merely illuminated during these studies, Grace explained. Best Buy discovered that, for its business, it was paramount.
"As we went through the different layers of usability, asking (participants), 'Does it matter if we show football in the TV image instead of a american football image?'" Grace recalled, "they kept saying over and over, 'Don't pander to us.' ... Some said, 'I'm not even interested in football. It kind of offends me that you'd stereotype me that way.' So we learned that our customers wanted parity in the site itself."
That commitment to parity has helped the company connect with international Spanish-speaking shoppers as well, Grace told attendees.
“(W)e found very quickly that (many Spanish site) customers were coming from outside the U.S. What we decided to do is really welcome these customers,” she said.
With MotionPoint's assistance, Best Buy developed an interstitial popup web page for its Mexican and Latin American visitors. The philosophy fueling this decision: to clearly and quickly engage these shoppers, and to "convey they'd receive the same great experience (in Spanish)," Grace said. "We wanted the customers to know that this was parity: 'We're not going to give you something else.' And then we invite them to select their language preference.
"We got a huge increase in international visitors, the moment we did this," Grace continued, adding that Best Buy recently debuted a new service, which allows international customers to order from their home countries. U.S.-based friends or family members can pick up the items in Best Buy stores, or can have the products delivered directly to their homes.
"This has been a tremendous programme for us," Grace said of Best Buy's online in-language initiative. "It's brought in some very significant dollars for Best Buy."
During the webinar, Kutchera also featured Jose A. Rivera, Web Experience Manager for American Family Insurance. Its AmFamLatino.com site, translated and maintained by MotionPoint, filled a key gap in American Family's strategy. "It was not actionable content," Rivera said of American Family's online Spanish presence, before MotionPoint became the company's website translation partner. "There was really no identity to the website for Spanish-speaking customers, or prospects."
Rivera described the success American Family has achieved by using in-language interactive applications and experiences to engage customers: "The goal is to offer the content, make it engaging, and give them the understanding of things that may not be top of mind - things they need to protect in their home, whether they are a home owner or a renter…," Rivera said. "We want to provide an experience that would educate, and always have a call to action."
Perhaps the most compelling opportunities for American Family's Hispanic outreach are the emerging social media and mobile spaces. By using in-language syndication tools, American Family can easily post Spanish content to Facebook and other social networking sites, for instance.
"It's all about being in the space that our customers are already going to be in," he said. "A lot of the things we build, we don't want to rely on (our corporate websites) as a single distribution channel. We want to make sure that if you're on AOL or Twitter, we have a branded experience there."
In addition, the company has "seen a lot of success with mobile," Rivera said. Marketing research indicates Spanish speakers use the mobile web more than the general U.S. market. "It's not just about the apps and cell phone texting. We have a full mobile strategy," which is on track to being implemented in Spanish very soon, Rivera said.
"When you're moving to a new country ... walking into an insurance agency to purchase insurance is probably not going to be top of mind," he said. "You would start on the web."
Learn more about Joe Kutchera’s book Latino Link by visiting the author’s website, or watching the webinar below.
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