Comparability and Maintenance: Online Hispanic Best Practices
The principles of comparability and maintenance should be carefully considered before embarking on the development of a Hispanic online marketing initiative, as these principles can mean the difference between success and failure, both in the short and long term. While it may seem that comparability and maintenance are two different principles, they are in fact inextricably interconnected and organizations that recognize this interdependence will be best positioned to ensure the ongoing success of their Hispanic online initiative.
Defining Comparability for the Hispanic Online Audience
Comparability refers to the level of similarity between a Hispanic online initiative and a corresponding general market online program. Hispanic online users, regardless of language preference, will likely access both the English and Spanish versions of your website. Hispanics exhibit this online behavior for a couple of different reasons including:
- Wanting to ensure that the Spanish and English sites offer a similar experience
- Desire to learn English, navigating between comparable English and Spanish sites is a great way to learn the language
- Family bilingualism where members of a Hispanic household might access the Internet together, but perfer a different language
As online Hispanics move between your general market and Spanish sites, they may judge their relative worth to your organization based on the perceived value of the experience that they are getting in Spanish. As such, it is important to consider comparability between Hispanic and general market sites in terms of:
- Information architecture
- Visual design
- Features and functionality
- Hispanic URL strategy
- Depth and breadth of content
It is important to note that executing on the best practice principle of comparability does not necessarily mean that you have to provide identical one-to-one Hispanic and general market online experiences, but rather offer experiences that are perceived to be of equal value to your audiences. In order to define what is valuable for your Hispanic users, it is critical to understand their cultural needs and how they might differ from that of their general market counterparts. This can be effectively achieved through user research and then validated through usability testing once a Hispanic online marketing program has been launched. Remember, it’s not all or nothing! It’s ok to execute a Hispanic online strategy in phases and evolve over it time, as long as the experience provides value to your users.
The importance of comparability should not be overlooked when developing a Hispanic online marketing program as Hispanics feel loyalty to companies and organizations who demonstrate loyalty to them. One way organizations can demonstrate their loyalty to the Hispanic segment is by providing comparable Hispanic and general market online experiences. Comparability is very important as you’re developing a high quality Hispanic user experience; however, you also have to be able to consistently deliver on it over time. The best way to achieve this is by developing a Hispanic online maintenance plan prior to initial implementation.
Maintaining a Hispanic online marketing program
Thus far, we’ve discussed considerations in developing a valuable user experience to ensure initial comparability. However, now we turn our attention to being able to deliver long term value to the Hispanic online market. It is a best practice to consistently and strategically maintain your Hispanic online initiatives. Consistent maintenance is best achieved by developing and implementing a maintenance plan up front. A maintenance plan should be developed during the early stages of a Hispanic online marketing program and outline the appropriate budget and resources necessary to properly support and evolve your Hispanic online presence. As part of a Hispanic maintenance plan consider:
- Content updates
- Technology requirements
- Enhanced features and functionality
- Legal reviews and approval processes
It is also important to develop maintenance plans that address the interdependencies between the Hispanic site, the general market site and ongoing marketing efforts. If for example a general market site is updated, how will those updates be reflected on the Hispanic site? From a marketing perspective, it is important that the Hispanic site be kept in synch with both offline and online Hispanic marketing efforts.
How Comparability and Maintenance are Inter-connected
The notion of comparability is fixed in time – a general market and Hispanic website may be comparable one day, but as one site evolves, the other site will quickly loose its comparability without a proper maintenance plan in place. As such, the best practice principles of comparability and maintenance are interconnected as organizations will be challenged to maintain a comparable Hispanic website experience without a proper maintenance plan in place. By understanding the comparability and maintenance principles in supporting the short-term and long-term success of your Hispanic online initiatives, you will have several of the critical components for succeeding in delivering long term value to the Hispanic online market.