Direct Mail Strategies to Engage a Hispanic Audience

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About the Author

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Alexander Negrete

Alex is an innovative leader who develops sales and marketing strategies that deliver results for IWCO clients. As Head of Hispanic Marketing, he helps our clients get the right message to the right customer at the right time – including understanding the intricacies of Hispanic markets. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BS degree in Graphic Design and Marketing, his favorite business philosophy is “Si te caes siete veces, levántate ocho.” – If you fall 7 times, get up 8. When he’s not in the office he is in the kitchen experimenting with global recipes or cheering on the Minnesota United Football Club.

Today, Hispanics make up 20% of the U.S. population. At 62.3 million, they are the fastest growing population segment that fuels demographic changes, cultural transformation, and economic growth. Yet, many marketers struggle to engage with this large audience and often fail to provide them with culturally relevant direct mail.

There are three myths we hear from marketers when it comes to engaging a Hispanic audience:

  • Myth #1: Hispanics don’t respond to direct mail.
  • Myth #2: General market mailings reach Hispanics; there’s no need for segmentation.
  • Myth #3: Translating content to Spanish is the best way to market to Hispanics.

Marketers need to be careful not to buy into these myths, because when approached correctly, Hispanic audiences can present a huge growth opportunity for businesses.

When it Comes to Direct Mail, Hispanic Audiences Respond

Contrary to the myth, Hispanic households are 3.5x more likely to respond to marketing efforts. Simmons National Consumer Survey found that while 15% of Hispanics make a purchase through direct response, only 11% of non-Hispanic Americans did so. In addition, more than 82% of Hispanics engage with social media ads. With a purchasing power of more than one trillion dollars, the Hispanic market offers huge sales potential.

General Marketing Efforts Miss the Mark

My first question to those who claim that they’re able to market effectively to Hispanics through their general reach marketing efforts is, “Do you want to reach them, or do you want to engage them?” To connect with Hispanic audiences, you need a strategy that is culturally relevant, and this starts with a cultural understanding that goes beyond language. Understanding your audience is pivotal to developing any successful marketing campaign and that is even more true with the Hispanic market.

For Hispanic audiences, it goes beyond the level of acculturation to focusing on insights into lifestyle, behaviors, ancestry, and beliefs. According to the 2020 Hispanic Marketing Council (HMC) study, “IT’S TIME: Ready (or Not) for the Multicultural Majority,” culture plays a critical role in the decisions members of Gen Z and their parents make. But keep in mind that the Hispanic culture is multifaceted. Even in acculturated segments 35% say they prefer ads that reflect their culture.

One of the biggest mistakes I see marketers make when trying to connect to this audience is assuming that we are all the same. While many U.S. Latinos do share similar cultural values and practices, their level of assimilation within the U.S. can vary greatly. These segments need to be individually evaluated to develop and create the right strategy for each Hispanic audience.

Direct Translations Don’t Always Work

Of course, to target this audience using a bilingual approach (messaging in Spanish and English) is a good place to start, but keep in mind that simply translating text is not enough. Direct translations are spotted immediately, and they lack sincerity and honesty.

Communicating “in-language” is the key to engaging to Hispanic consumers, but it brings a unique challenge because this market is not homogeneous, but rather, it is linguistically and culturally complex. Translating marketing copy without a native speaker to review it can lead to catastrophic faux-pas. For instance, the iconic “Got Milk?” tagline translates to “Are You Lactating?”

Trans-Create Your Marketing Message

Instead of translating, trans-create. Trans-creation is using knowledge of cultural attributes to develop creative that connects with each segment of the Hispanic market on a deeper, human level. Marketers need to understand the needs/desires of subgroups and offer messaging that aligns with their level of acculturation and acknowledges their countries of origin (Cubans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, etc.), different Spanish dialects/slang, preferences for Spanish vs. English (or both), and more.

Considering that 35% of Hispanics say they prefer ads that reflect their culture, it can be much more beneficial to your bottom line to spend your marketing dollars understanding the Hispanic audience you’re marketing to (their traditions, preferences, and buying habits), rather than just offering a message in Spanish. If you have to choose between language and culture, go with culture. After all, more than 53% of Hispanics age 13-49 have stopped buying a brand because it offended them or disrespected their values.

Hispanic Marketing Efforts Prove Effective

Bottom line: taking a more targeted approach to the Hispanic market pays off. We’ve seen incredible success across a variety of industries from companies that have taken the time to dig into the data, create targeted segments, and work to make sure culture and language are appropriately incorporated in the creative.

Long gone are the days of an in-language strategy that lacked cultural insights. When you market to Hispanics, your business will grow because you’re reaching an audience with authentic and empathetic messages that your target audience embraces.

So for the marketers who believe the three myths of Hispanic marketing, it’s time to overcome those objections, because Hispanic audiences do respond to our direct mail, because we engage them with culturally relevant creative. And if you need help doing that, reach out to our team today and see how our culturally fluid performance improvement can work for you.

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