Whether you are an SEO expert or a business owner, you must have by now seen astounding examples of the potential of foreign language internet marketing to augment sales and increase business presence in overseas markets.
While the need to address consumers in other countries in their mother tongue has become a well-established maxim for many an e-marketer today, there are consumer groups in domestic markets whose cultural and linguistic idiosyncrasies tend to be ignored. Immigrants in the US and the UK wield a massive spending power and yet, few e-markers cater for their needs by optimizing online marketing campaigns in multiple languages.
One may argue that internationalizing domestic marketing is not worth the hassle or the money since immigrants are expected to integrate into the dominant English-speaking society. This can’t be further from the truth, for a number of reasons.
People prefer e-services in their mother tongue
The facts are incontestable – regardless of their place of residence, people feel more comfortable with and are likely to seek information about products and services in their mother language. A recent EU official survey found that a whopping 90% of European internet users prefer to surf in their own language, and a study conducted by the Common Sense Advisory shows that over 70% of consumers are more likely to buy online if the information is available in their first language.
Society is not monolithic
Both the UK and the US are a melting pot of cultures – sporting two of the most heterogeneous societies and continuing to attract even more newcomers every year, the countries are experiencing ever-shifting demographics that should be taken into account when developing a domestic marketing campaign.
In Britain, for example, over two million people speak a language other than English at home (Annual Population Survey 2006), with the 2011 Census expected to show a much more variegated picture due to the influx of immigrants from the new EU member states. There is a tendency for multilingualism to grow, as almost one in six primary school children speak English as a second language. Polish, Indian and Pakistani top the list of foreign languages spoken in the UK, while in the US 62% of the foreign-language speakers are Hispanic.
You can’t ignore the spending power of immigrants
A Weber Shandwick study estimated ethnic minority spending power at £300 billion GBP for 2010, with Polish migrant workers alone spending between £3.5 and 4 million GBP – figures you certainly can’t afford to overlook. In 2008, the purchasing power of the US Hispanic population exceeded the GDP of Mexico and Canada put together, standing at $870 billion USD.
These figures point to a very logical step you need to take if you want to tap into the opportunities that foreign-language communities in domestic markets offer. All you need to do is optimize your marketing campaign to incorporate the culture-specifics and linguistic nuances of the respective community. This could be done through localizing websites, multilingual advertising or including in-country cultural references. One excellent example of successful multilingual marketing is Scottish website s1jobs, which has separate sites in Polish, Czech, Slovakian and Hungarian, alongside its English web page.
In the US, ads on MySpace Latino were found to be 15-20% more effective than those in English (eMarketer). Realizing the potential of the Hispanic domestic market, Procter & Gamble fully customized its “Being Girl” website for the US Hispanic market, including Hispanic cultural references.
Lower cost, higher results
It’s true that internet marketing in foreign languages at home may cost you a little extra but it is more than worth the initial investment. For a start, because of the less competition for keywords in languages such as Spanish and Polish, the return on investment for marketing in those languages outstrips the ROI for English-only campaigns.
This means two things – your localized website will climb the internet traffic rankings faster, increasing your web visibility and you won’t have to spend too much money or effort on SEO optimisation.
Last but not least, it’s important to always have a humanistic approach to your marketing campaign – don’t forget consumers are human beings and nothing will make them more pleased than seeing that you have gone the extra mile to address their specific needs.