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Does Your Web Site Speak Spanish?

As America’s population and Internet usage continue to grow exponentially side-by-side, it is important to know how many people go online to shop for vehicles, but it’s also essential to know exactly who goes online to research their next vehicle purchase. We can then cater our online marketing to these growing segments of Automotive Internet Users, or AIUs.

A large contributor to the continued rise in our total population and the online population is the Hispanic market, but you might be surprised by the size of this group’s AIUs. Since 2000, America’s population has increased by over 18 million people. Hispanic people account for over half of that total growth. Here’s the beauty for car dealers:  during this same period, the buying power of the Hispanic population has increased over 40 percent, making the annual average buying power of a Hispanic household more than $55,000. The average price of a vehicle currently owned by a Hispanic Internet user is almost $20,000.

However, because the Internet here in the states has been mostly geared to the English speaking population, you might ponder how many Hispanic Americans actually access the Internet.  Well, a whopping 77 percent are broadband users!   

I already hear you asking, “But Jason, how many of the Hispanic people who have access to the Internet actually use it to make a buying decision?”  

“Oh, only about 70 percent,” I reply!

You retort, “OK, smart guy, how many are looking specifically for vehicles on the Web?”

My response, “Over 50 percent.”

As reality sets in, you ask, “So as a dealer, I need a separate Web site built completely in Spanish, don’t I?

“Not necessarily,” I reply, and here’s why.
The Hispanic population has three major categories to characterize how it’s adopted American culture while living here. Of the “mostly acculturated” Hispanic Americans, 86 percent prefer to get their favorite online content in English. Of the “partially acculturated” Hispanic population, 60 percent prefer to get their content in English.

Interestingly, these two groups hardly use the Internet to schedule a test drive with a dealership. Only 5 percent and 13 percent, respectively, sent a test drive request to a dealer via the web. However, of the Hispanic online automotive shoppers, a huge 60 percent said they would go to a different dealer to find a salesperson who spoke Spanish. So what does this tell us? Hispanic shoppers are much more likely to call the dealership and want to talk to someone who speaks Spanish; whether they actually use the Spanish language during the conversation or not.  It’s just a comfort zone thing.

So, my advice on the subject is this:  before you go double your Web site expense on an additional, stand-alone Spanish Web site, simply add a phone number on your home page with the title “Habla Español” and have that phone number go directly to a Spanish speaking individual at your dealership. Most Web sites will allow you to add pages and edit them yourself. Have someone who speaks Spanish type the text you want in Spanish on these pages.  Then, link to them from the home page.  I would recommend that you don’t use Spanish translation software; most don’t translate correctly. 

Post something as simple as this:  “We here at VHF Ford have trained personnel to help everyone with their buying needs. Contact me, Joe Smith, at this number with any questions or to schedule a test drive. I am fluent in English and Spanish and can help with all your needs. Below are a few of our current specials…”

Simple changes can increase phone ups and deliveries by 5 percent to 20 percent from Web site traffic, potentially without spending a dime.

*All statistics from J.D. Power Online Automotive Review and AOL’s 2006 Hispanic Cyberstudy

Vol 4, Issue 3


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