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The Cultural ROI of In-Language Marketing

Best Practices for Meeting Your Customers' Language Preferences to Drive Awareness, Engagement & Revenue

Every day, millions of Americans search the internet in languages other than English. How much thought have you put into reaching them through your language marketing efforts? If you’re dragging your feet on creating and implementing in-language marketing campaigns, a close look at the numbers might be the motivation you need.

Let’s explore the current landscape, then dive into some best practices for meeting your customers’ language preferences to drive awareness, engagement, and revenue.

One-fifth of the population doesn’t speak English at home

Today, approximately 20% of people in the U.S. don’t speak English at home and over 41 million are Spanish speakers, according to the U.S. census.

Spanish is one of the fastest-growing languages in the country, having increased by over 200% since 1980, according to Pew Research. In fact, the U.S. has a higher Spanish-speaking population than Spain and is second only to Mexico in terms of Spanish speakers.

With one-fifth of the total population speaking a language other than English at home – and this trend expected to grow in coming years – the success of your marketing depends on how well you engage customers in the language of their choice. Without in-language marketing, you risk losing a growing customer base and cutting into potential profits.

Not sure where to start? Here are some key focus areas for enabling customers to connect, learn, and purchase your products or services in their preferred language.

Expand your audience by improving website accessibility

One of the most important steps you can take to accommodate a diverse customer base is to make sure your website is accessible in any language.

While customers may be able to speak and navigate comfortably in English, household purchasing decisions often happen in a language other than English, so you need to let them choose how they view your information.

Here are some options for translating your website content:

  • The Google Cloud Translation API is an easy, automated solution that gives your customers access to many languages quickly. The downside? It’s not always perfect when it comes to details like slang and expressions. If you choose this option, you may need to adjust your English content for a cleaner translation. Small details, like making sure your dollar sign doesn’t translate to a yen sign, are important for maintaining the meaning and accuracy of your content.
  • Working with a human translator typically produces the best results. Trained human speakers can capture the nuances and intricacies of the language. But it’s also the most expensive option, at 10-25 cents per word, depending on your industry. It can also be limiting because you have to choose just a handful of languages for your content – unlike Google’s Translation API, which can translate more than one hundred languages.
  • Translation using a human-automation hybrid approach is cost-effective and still guarantees a great outcome. Consider using a free web service like Google Translate and then sending the content off to a human translator for edits. Let the service do the bulk of the work but invest in finishing touches to give your copy more impact and a native speaker’s flair.

Language Marketing

Engage more customers by building in-language campaigns

Language spoken at home has a major impact on how people search. In order to build effective campaigns, you need to support your customers’ needs and preferences by letting them interact with you in the way that’s most comfortable and convenient for them.

Here are some key elements to consider in your digital campaigns:

  • Phrase research – You should already know what keywords perform best for you. Start there and use a free online tool like Google Translate to build your translated keywords. Use Google Keyword Planner to validate what your customers are actually searching.
  • Translated ads – Again, you should already know your top-performing ads based on insights from your analytics. Start by translating the best ones and, for those with limited character counts, use a human or a human-technology hybrid approach to get the most bang for your buck. Once you see how the ads perform, experiment like you would with your English ads by testing out different calls to action, phrasing, and messaging to see what resonates best with the audience.
  • Target language keywords on English-language browsers – Casual internet users may not know they can change the language setting on their browser, meaning many people are searching non-English keywords on an English-enabled browser. Make sure you target your in-language terms and corresponding in-language ads with this English browser setting to capture this audience segment.
  • Target language settings – More advanced users change their browser setting to reflect their preferred language, and that setting is targetable. Target your new keywords and ads using the language setting to make sure you’re getting the most exposure to customers who speak languages other than English at home.

Commit to making the whole experience awesome

No matter how you choose to engage your non-English-speaking segment, do it with honesty and integrity – and make it a positive, supportive customer experience from start to finish.

That means, if you’re investing in in-language marketing, make sure the rest of your business is set up to support the non-English language speakers you want to target. There’s no sense in bringing them into the funnel if you’re not able to meet their needs and preferences all the way through.

Support is a critical ingredient of that experience. If you target customers who prefer to do business in a language other than English, make sure you have team members available every step of the way to deliver quality support and customer service in their language.

Getting started

If your time and budget for implementing in-language marketing are limited, it’s best to start small.

About 60% of those who speak languages other than English at home are Spanish speakers.

Focus your efforts there and, once you see success, expand your program to include other languages based on the customer base you serve.

Expanding your languages of business doesn’t only grow your footprint and bring in new leads – it also enhances the entire customer experience by delivering greater ease, comfort, and convenience.

Need help getting started? As a global company with extensive in-language support and campaign management experience, ibex can help. Learn more at

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