Making Direct Marketing Work to Reach Hispanics

Survey: Find Out Target's Preferred Language, Level of Acculturation

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Almost half of direct marketers (48%) use bilingual promotions to target Hispanics, while 20% use only English and 12% use only Spanish, according to a recent survey by the Direct Marketing Association. The remaining 20% use separate English and Spanish versions.

The DMA did the survey with outsourcing company PSA and Hispanic agency Zubi Advertising. An online questionnaire was completed by 105 direct marketers in late 2008.

In an analysis of the results, PSA cautioned that a bilingual piece works best if the recipients' preferred language is unknown. And for a bilingual program, it's better to translate from Spanish to English, rather than the other way around. Written Spanish takes about 25% more space, so cramming a Spanish-language piece into a format created for the general market sacrifices response.

A neutral or colloquialism-free form of Spanish should be used, and Zubi said telephone marketing may not be a cost-efficient channel due to higher cost per call because Hispanics tend to chat more.

PSA also recommends that direct marketers identify their audiences' ethnicity and level of acculturation. That often doesn't matter with mass media such as TV or radio, but a mailed credit-card offer, for example, is more effective if the offer, language and creative are in line with the recipient's level of acculturation.

About one-third (35%) of those surveyed said internet marketing increased their response rates among Hispanics, but 25% said they didn't find it an effective channel. Half of those surveyed said search-engine marketing is effective, while 23% said it isn't.

According to Zubi, the growing reach and low cost per contact of Spanish-keyword search should make it part of Hispanic media plans.

Source: Direct Marketing Association study with PSA and Zubi Advertising
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