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Email Marketing to Hispanics – ¿English or Español?

Lynette Rambo | December 21, 2015 

Email marketing today is all about personalizing the customer experience and taking the individual subscriber on an engaging journey with your brand. If your customer base represents multiple cultures and languages, personalizing the individual journey gets more complex. In this article, we will focus on marketing to Hispanics in the U.S.

Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States

The Hispanic population is diverse. When specifically targeting Hispanic consumers, companies should develop multiple customized strategies that reflect that diversity. A “one size fits all” solution will not garner optimum results.

There were 54 million Hispanics in the U.S. in 2013 according to Pew Research Center in its report “Statistical Portrait of Hispanics in the United States, 1980-2013. That’s 17.1% of the total population with the majority residing in the states of California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois.

Research published by Nielsen Mobile Insights projects that Hispanics “will account for more than half of the population growth in the U.S. by 2020 and nearly 85% of growth by 2060.” This will also impact their already significant $1.4 trillion spending.

English Proficiency among Hispanics

According to Pew, the number of Hispanics who speak English at home or who indicated they speak English “very well” rose to almost 68% in 2013 — up from 59% in 1980. This growth has predominantly been driven by U.S.-born Hispanics, 89% of whom purport proficiency in English. Contrast this with the 34% English proficiency rate among foreign-born Hispanics.

Immigration from Latino countries has declined significantly since 2010, as the chart below indicates. What this means is that the main driver of Latino population growth today is from native births rather than from immigration and that the number of English-speakers within the U.S. Hispanic population will also continue to rise.

The 2014 Hispanic Market Overview presented by López Negrete reveals that Hispanics largely prefer English-language media. Based on statistics gathered by Experian Marketing Services, the report states that “roughly 1 in 4 (26%) Hispanic adults mostly speak Spanish, while close to 1 in 5 (19%) Hispanic adults only speak Spanish. But when it comes to their preferred language when reading or when consuming all kinds of media, it’s all about English.” In fact, only 13% of Hispanic adults exclusively use the Internet in Spanish. (NOTE: this report is very large and may take some time to download).

What Does This Mean for Your Business?

Bilingual marketing — especially English/Spanish — continues to be a relevant topic for marketers. However, before you decide your organization should take the plunge, ask yourself the following questions.

  • How many Spanish-speaking customers interact with your brand?
  • Of that number, how many ONLY speak Spanish?
  • Which Spanish-speaking countries are represented in your customer base?
  • Do you have or are you prepared to provide a Spanish version of your website, landing pages and email Profile Center?
  • Are you currently tracking language preferences?
  • Are you tracking subscriber behavior and analyzing the data regularly?

The answers to these questions will help you determine whether marketing in both English and Spanish is relevant for your consumer base.

If your company decides to add bilingual initiatives to your email marketing strategies, ListEngage has some recommendations.

One Size Does Not Fit All

The Hispanic population is diverse in terms of home countries, length of time and number of generations in the U.S., geographic disparity, and age and family makeup differences. Therefore, companies should develop multiple customized strategies to reach Hispanic consumers. A “one size fits all” solution will not garner optimum results. Communications should utilize the version of Spanish and images that best represent the nationality and culture of origin.

Use Automation

Make sure you’re using an email platform that can handle more complex digital marketing, such as, The Salesforce Marketing Cloud. We strongly suggest eMarketers utilize automation and dynamic content as much as possible. Not only does it save time and effort, but it’s an efficient way to personalize the email with information — including the language of choice — that is most relevant to each individual customer.

We’ve seen some companies choose to do English and Spanish messages within the same email. We don’t recommend this for the following reasons:

  • The Spanish version will most likely be longer than the English version, which may put the design off balance.
  • The email will be much longer and may be confusing to the reader, increasing the chance that important information may get overlooked — especially on a mobile phone.
  • The cultures of English-speakers vs. Spanish-speakers are different, so trying to do a “one size fits all” email may not generate the best results from either group..

Take a Mobile-First Approach

It’s a must today that emails be easy to read and attractive on a mobile device. While mobile usage continues to increase across the board in the U.S., an even higher percentage of Hispanics are mobile-only internet users. According to comScore, 21% of all Hispanics and 40% of Hispanic millennials exclusively use mobile for Internet access.

In his blog post for Experian Marketing Services last year, John Fetto writes, “Marketers courting the influential Hispanic consumer must … take a mobile-first approach to ensure that online marketing efforts, including everything from email to websites to e-commerce, are designed to engage the customer as effectively on a mobile device as on a computer.”

In the report, “Mi Móvil: Hispanic consumers embrace mobile technology,” published as part of PWC’s Consumer Intelligence Series, health attitudes, preferences and behaviors related to accessing care, insurance, and information were studied from the standpoint of mobile technology usage. The report found that of those polled, 92% sent and received email using a mobile device. A variety of other studies show that U.S. Hispanics of all ages have embraced mobile technology at higher rates than non-Hispanics and prefer using their cell phones. This is especially true among millennials.

Make Sure You Test

Testing, in general, is an important aspect of knowing which email strategies are working the best. A/B testing is an especially useful method for determining which types of emails get the highest open and click-through rates. Some areas you might want to test include:

  • Subject lines
  • Preheaders
  • Body Content
  • Days/Times sent (the ideal may be different between cultures and ages of recipients)
  • Which language (English or Spanish) gets the highest clicks among Spanish-speakers

Ensure Privacy

Trust building and providing reassurance that personal information will be protected is critical. Regarding privacy concerns, PWC states that, “Hispanic consumers report that the need for trust is central to their cultural acceptance. They tend to be very cautious, especially because they are often in a new country, and are often concerned that giving out too much information can be detrimental … More than non-Hispanics, they are reluctant to give out any information at all, regardless of the reward in providing it.”

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Lynette Rambo

Lynette Rambo | Marketing Consultant

Lynette Rambo is a Certified Email Marketing Specialist and a Marketing Consultant for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud. She has over 20 years of marketing, communications, design, and public relations experience for both small businesses and larger corporations. As a Marketing Consultant for ListEngage, Lynette consults clients on email marketing best practices, strategic planning, content creation, campaign management, and provides training and demos on the Marketing Cloud. She also works with the Salesforce CRM and connecting Sales and Marketing initiatives. You can contact Lynette at lrambo@listengage.com.