Ismail Aly

International SEO: the perks of Latin American Inbound

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How to Start Using International SEO

An Inbound Marketing Strategy in Latin America requires a very precise SEO optimization, in order to grasp the diversity of terms use in the region. There are untapped riches and a great space to grow for demand generation, automation and lead nurturing. Just watch your search terms: we're a very diverse continent. 

Latin America Keeps Growing From Abroad

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), foreign direct investment for the year 2015 in Latin America amounted to US$167.6bn. The top host economies were:

  • Mexico (US$39.3bn)
  • Brazil (US$64.6bn)
  • Chile (US$20.2bn)
  • Colombia (US$12.1bn)
  • Argentina (US11.7bn)

 In 2015, HubSpot’s VP of International Operations and Strategy, Nataly Kelly wrote a fascinating column for The Economist titled “How Marketing Is Evolving in Latin America.”

“Latin America is a modern marketer’s dream, and not just because of its size. By 2020, nearly one out of every 10 dollars in the world economy will come from Latin America. The region will soon represent 10% of the global population and 9% of global GDP, with 640 million customers. It also has the fourth-largest mobile market in the world, with social media adoption even surpassing that of the United States.

Positioned at the forefront of digital and mobile adoption, Latin America provides an interesting look into how new marketing trends are taking hold on a global scale.”

While Inbound Marketing is Growing, it’s Development is Still Largely Untapped in the Region.

Nataly Kelly says that by comparison, very few companies in Latin America use marketing software today, and only 3% of respondents listed automation as their top priority for software features, as marketers are more focused on content creation and SEO.

However, according to the State of Inbound Latin America 2016, Inbound is a preference for companies with less than 200 employees, and one of their top priorities is Internationalization.

However, there is more than meets the eye, and International SEO can be a tricky business if you use a one-size-fits-all approach. With internationalization, trade barriers in Latin America are disappearing, and foreign investment is increasing considerably in countries like Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico.

However, Spanish is the official language of over 400 million people in more than 20 countries. The problem is, they all have different slang, jargon, and customs. Therefore, a good Inbound Marketing strategy for the Latin American market needs to address these perks through a good SEO strategy.

There are cultural, economic and social preferences that you need to address

before entering a Latin American Market.

  • Chilean slang includes words not only in Spanish but German, English, French, Quechua and Mapudungun.
  • The colloquial term for baby in Chile (Guagua) means bus in many other countries in the region.
  • The informal tone in Argentinian and Uruguayan Spanish is completely different from the rest of the region, as they’ve adapted it from the Italian.
  • And so many more…

Here are Some Perks from Many Latin Americans:

1. We Like it all in Writing.

When people agree to something you tell them verbally, many times it just means maybe. In fact, an agreement is better binding in writing.

2. Watch your (In)formal Tone.

The beauty of the English language is that there is a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing someone: you. However, depending on the industry, position or country you’re approaching, the use of formal or informal tones can be key to opening the door, getting a handshake or looking too presumptuous, so study very well how people treat each other.

3. Mind the Local Jargon (or Lose it).

Did you know that in many Latin American countries TV shows like "telenovelas" have to be tuned into a neutral accent, or even dubbed? By themselves, local Latin American media markets cannot expand, but together they can do wonders.

The same happens to an Inbound Marketing strategy for Latin America. In many cases, the use of local jargon can indeed localize your content to one country, whereas using standard terms can expand your reach. Likewise, if you want to target a particular country, you’d better start your research and see what people say casually, without becoming rude.

4. Find Good Personal Referees.

Even though we’re sociable, most Latin Americans will look for good third-party references before building trust from other people. This is an Inbound Marketing predicament. In our experience, once a lead is introduced to a brand from an acquaintance, nurturing works so much better. 

5. Latin Americans are quite different from Continental Hispanics.

Even though we share a common language and traditions, the way we deliver that language speaking and writing, words are completely different. Latin Americans, for instance, have adopted foreign words in their day to day language (like marketing), whereas continental Spaniards are reluctant into “butchering the tongue of Miguel de Cervantes” (the author of Don Quixote).

 Even if you try and localize your website, emails and communications, bear in mind that we use terms in an entirely different manner and context.

6. Lose the “America”.

The fastest way to prompt a rejection is to start a pitch saying vengo de America instead of Vengo de Estados Unidos. Overseas, it's the United States. Period.  

7. We Have a Very Diverse Language.

It’s part of the richness of this vast region. We have our customs, traditions, and manners to address our friends, acquaintances, relatives and even marketing qualified leads. However, don’t try to cipher the do’s and don’ts of SEO for every country in the continent. As locals, we struggle to understand our neighbors ourselves.

Rely on plenty of research, such as local newspapers and trade magazines, social media comments and a good and thorough SEO analysis. Interview local experts and have them join you as a guest blogger.

8. Nurture Hispanics in the U.S. On Their Own Merit.

Americans know it best, as they come from a plethora of cultures that merged into an entirely new continent. They reflect the countries of origin of their forbearers but have become Americans.

Part of my family comes from Continental Spain, and part of it arrived from Northern Italy. They adapted and blended in Chile, and made this country their own. However, when I visited Spain or Northern Italy, I found myself in a strange land, mixing different customs and a series of other similar traditions.  

The same happens with Hispanics in the United States. According to a Pew Research Center report, an estimated 37.6 million people in the United States speak Spanish as their first language and analysts predict the Latino population will reach approximately 128.8 million by 2060 They may reflect the culture Puerto Ricans, Cubans or Mexicans, but they’ve also blended with American traditions.

Therefore, their preferences, search options, and search engine optimization may not fully reflect how the market in their countries of origin behave. Likewise, a good SEO analysis for Puerto Rico may not be a truthful reflection of Puerto Ricans outside their native country.

There is no magic recipe: is it better to extend an entirely new strategy for the region or a specific for each market?

We need to research each market and build our buyer personas accordingly to connect the dots, to create content offers that are unique to a particular market and generic content strategy that can address the entire region.

Where in Latin America do you see opportunities for Inbound Marketing to grow?

30 Great Lead Generation Tips and Ideas

Ismail Aly

Ismail Aly

Inbound Marketing & Sales Enablement Consultant, HubSpot User Group Leader, HubSpot Platinum Partner

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