Last week here at Search Engine Watch, Dave Davies raised some key points about strategies for optimizing your website for English-speaking foreign markets, such as (for U.S. companies) Canada or the UK.
But there are also huge – and largely untapped – possibilities represented by marketing to native speakers of languages other than English in majority English-speaking countries, such as Spanish speakers in the U.S., or Polish speakers in the UK.
It’s established wisdom that people prefer to shop online in their own native language. The 2006 Common Sense Advisory ‘Can’t Read, Won’t Buy’ found 85 percent of online shoppers needed access to information in their native language before making a purchase, while a 2011 EU survey found that 90 percent of Europeans prefer browsing the web in their first language.
It’s also established wisdom that if you’re looking at localizing sites for a country with more than one official language, then you’ll need sites for every language (e.g., Swiss French, Swiss German and Swiss Italian).
However, there’s a huge opportunity within domestic markets to target native speakers of foreign languages. Twenty percent of the U.S. population (some 60 million people) speak a language other than English at home – the majority being native Spanish speakers. Indeed, 89 percent of Hispanic Americans speak Spanish at home, not English, and they have a combined purchasing power of over $1.2 trillion, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth.
Similarly, in the UK you’d do well to consider a Polish-language site to cater to the 500,000 native-speakers with an estimated spending power of £4 billion (a sensible £8,000 of annual disposable income per person).