Image by Sam Kelly via Flickr
By Jesus Hoyos
Miami is well known as the hub for doing business in Latin America as well as the center for many Latin Americans to shop at the many stores in South Florida. It is well known that many Colombians travel to Fort Lauderdale over a weekend to buy for special occasions. Many Mexicans shop at Miami malls during Thanksgiving, especially on the famous Black Friday. This trend is evolving, since many Latin Americans have U.S. forwarding mail boxes in order to shop at Amazon.com or Target.com. For example, they purchase a Wii or Playstation using a Miami address and once the shipment gets to Miami, it is then forwarded to the final destination in the region. One clear case is also the customer experience, I know many of my friends shop online at Victoria Secrets or Bath & Body Works, and are anxious to have local stores in many of the countries to be part of the in-store customer experience. There are more than 1,500 friends in Facebook requesting that Victoria Secrets opens a store in Puerto Rico.
What this means for your business? It means that your online and brick-and-mortal strategy needs to include the differences of targeting Hispanics and Latin Americans. Differences? Yes. Targeting Spanish speaking customers is not only about messaging and branding, but about segmentation, targeting, execution and campaign follow up (and the Long Tail). Your on-line and off-line campaigns should be appropriately versioned to different Hispanics or Latin American segments. Spanish speaking audiences are not identical and geographic differences play a large role among the different audience groups, such as cultural traditions, country of origin, and the Spanish language.
The challenge is the diversity among all the Latino audiences. This can make it very difficult to achieve your marketing goals, especially if your company does not understand this diversity. The diversity gets complicated when you need to understand that it is the same language but different cultures, Latin Americans living here with work visas vs. 2nd or 3rd generation of Hispanics, bilingual vs. "Spanish only" as the main language, tourists visiting, or simply anybody from any country that buys on-line. Each country or Latino group has its own identity and with their own nuances. You even have regions within countries that have differences in lifestyles and industries, such as Mexico City and Monterrey, or Buenos Aires and Cordoba. Puerto Ricans in New York have differences from Cubans in Florida or Mexicans in Chicago.
Many companies have taken the blanket approach of using the “Se Habla Español” strategy. Who are you targeting when you use this approach in your direct mail, email marketing, web site, store and call center? --- If your business is using the “Se Habla Español” marketing strategy, are you targeting 2nd generation Hispanics, Latinos traveling to the States, Mexican or Argentinians living in their respective countries, Puerto Rican living in the States or the island, or John Davies, Hispanic living in Miami? --- I used to get many promotional emails from a major hotel chain in both Spanish and German. I figured out that I was getting the Spanish email since my first name is Jesus, and the German emails since my last name has its roots in Germany. I also get many Spanish promotional materials at home, but I rather get English promotions, but as of today, nobody has asked me my preferences. They are assuming that I want my promotional materials in Spanish. It is a mass marketing strategy. “Se Habla Español” is a mass marketing strategy. One size does not fit all Spanish speaking customers; there are distinctions in marketing all Hispanics (in the United States) and Latin Americans (from México to Argentina, including Brasil).
A good example of a company not following the “Se Habla Español” marketing strategy is Kraft. Kraft has comidakraft.com, a web site with social networking components to find and exchange receipts of many Latin American dishes. You have the option to have the content in Spanish or English, it is also a multi-channel strategy with emails and newsletters, a call center with bilingual reps and the magazine, Comida y Familia. The key aspects of this muti-channel strategy are that they ask for your customer preferences, and part of their customer engagement is the understanding the Latino and Hispanic customer, understanding the distinctions among the different cultures. Kraft understands that the line between mass-marketing and direct marketing is no longer there, and having this customer knowledge is critical in order to maintain the relationship with the customer. The customer knowledge that Kraft gathers via their multi-channel strategy is helping to segment, target and execute campaigns to the different Latino and Hispanics markets.
What this means to your CRM or Marketing strategy? Latin Americans overseas or Hispanics living in United States should be part of your customer definition as segments, and they can be in multiple segments depending on their purchasing behavior, lifestyle or customer lifecycle. The analytical, operational & interactive CRM systems (and now Social Media) should include functionality and processes to manage the different groups of Hispanics and/or Latin Americans. This means the technology: your call center, campaign manager software, website, IVR, email management, POS, billing system and all other CRM systems. Once the technology is enabled to capture data from your customer, then you need to be sure you have the proper processes and people to manage the customer experience.
If you want to reach and keep Spanish speaking customer either in Latin America or United States, you should consider the following points in your CRM strategy:
- Focus on distinctions between cultures.
- Do not assume that the Spanish in a call center in México will work for customer in Argentina, use accent neutral agents in your call centers.
- Have local search marketing and website strategies in both languages.
- Get to know your customers, personal relationships are very important.
- Create specific profiles to know your customer based on their behavior and preferences.
- Ask them about their language of preference: English or Spanish.
- Content could be in any language as long as your focus on the customer culture and emotions
- Make sure you have a execution plan for each segment – one size does not fit all.
- Map the customer profile with market data about nuances and distinctions based on each segment.
- Your CRM systems need to provide the processes and functionality to develop the relationship with the customer.
- Do not assume when making marketing decisions, use your customer data to make decision about each segment.
- Make sure that your operational CRM has the ability to include the middle and maiden name as well. Your CRM system should be able to accommodate the name of Ernesto Miguel Ramirez Hernandez.
- Partner with local marketing agencies to understand the distinctions between Hispanics and Latin Americans.
- Include mobile marketing & social media in your strategy. These technologies are growing very fast in Latin America. There is a reason why Facebook, MySpace and Google are investing heavily in the region.
- Use marketing automation or database marketing to segment and target the proper segments
- Call Centers are still the prefer channel of communications but include email and your website as part of the strategy.
The more I think about these suggestions, your customer strategy should be the same for all customers, get to know them in order to better market them. Companies should never assume they know everything about their customers, especially Spanish speaking customers. If you want to reach and keep customers, you need to get to know them by understanding your customer data.
This post was originally written for myCRMCareer.