Building Trust Online
Another big reason Hispanic customers might not be making deals online comes back to the trust factor. Many Hispanics hesitate to finalize their business online because of communication hurdles, says Carla Briceno, cofounder of Bixal, a company that provides strategic communications and marketing for organizations targeting the online Hispanic market. Most websites are not bilingual, and those that are typically use machine-generated translations.
“Machine translation is not good enough yet,” Briceno says. “Even a professional literal translation of your original general market materials is usually not effective.” A better approach, she says, is to identify your audience, take steps to understand their unique needs, interests and demographics, and develop original content. At the very minimum you should create Web pages that speak to your audience in a cultural and linguistically appropriate way.
The AOL study found many Hispanics even prefer English content because they mistrust sites in Spanish. The study also found Hispanics prefer Spanish marketing tailored to them and written for them—not just a literal translation—because it makes them feel closer to home.
“By doing your research upfront to understand the perceptions of the members of the specific segment you’re trying to reach, you can develop an online presence,” Briceno says. “Whether it be on your website or on some of the key social-media platforms, the message should be culturally relevant and focused on providing the information the growing online Hispanic audience is looking for.”
There are several ways self-storage operators can improve their websites and online marketing campaigns to entice more Hispanic tenants.
Write clearly. Rather than translating your English marketing material and ads, find someone who’s fluent in Spanish to compose materials intentionally for the Hispanic market. Some phrases and words simply do not translate well from one language to another.
Create trust. Getting the attention of Hispanic customers online is the first step. Once they visit your store, it’s important they feel comfortable. Have someone available who can speak to them in their language and make them at ease.
Be phone-friendly. Build Internet pages that are mobile-device friendly. Many Hispanics connect online from their mobile phones.
Embrace social media. More Hispanics are using social media, Briceno says. “This offers brands the opportunity to listen to what’s being said about their products or their competitors and engage in two-way conversations that can help them shine a light on their brands.”
Talk about facility features. List security benefits on your website. Many Hispanics are uneasy about security. They also want to know about other facility features such as tenant insurance.
To gauge your facility’s effectiveness in reaching and serving the Hispanic community, Briceno also suggests you ask current Hispanic tenants:
- How do they perceive your products and services?
- How are they using them?
- What are their typical needs in this area?
- What are their language preferences?
- How are they using the Internet and social media?
- What factors play a role in how they might use your products and services?
The important thing to remember is trust is the most essential aspect of working with Hispanic customers. Before starting Bixar, Briceno worked for Sprint Nextel, managing projects for the Hispanic e-commerce site. She found that there were so many poorly translated websites that many Hispanics had lost trust in all sites.
If that trust is lost, it’s tough to regain. But if the trust is strong from the beginning—with your first impression happening online—then you could have a customer for life.
C.J. Moore is the editor of StorageFront.com, an independent self-storage search engine and marketing company based in Kansas City. StorageFront works with more than 40,000 self-storage facilities nationwide. The website also caters to the Hispanic market with manually translated Spanish pages. For more information, call 913.469.5700; visit www.storagefront.com .