Multicultural Special Report: Tune in to Espanol
Direct response television (DRTV) advertising that targets Hispanic audiences has proven to be an effective way to reach a growing segment of the U.S. consumer market whose purchasing power is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2010. According to Nielsen Monitor-Plus, Univision, the Spanish-language network, reported increased ad revenues of 13 percent for 2005. As a comparison, overall U.S. ad spending grew only 4.2 percent.
The opportunity is undeniable. However, there are a few, key back-end operations you need to consider when setting up a Hispanic DRTV effort to make sure you maximize your investment.
Increased DRTV ad spending usually means increased response from Hispanic consumers for companies that include a call-to-action, such as a toll-free telephone number, in their media. This increase in response, however, poses a unique problem in the DRTV format: It typically produces call spikes—high, short-term increases in call volume.
Call spikes are a challenge for any call center, but Spanish-language calls pose a bigger challenge since there are fewer call centers that can handle DRTV-driven calls. As a result, understanding how media buys impact call spikes and service levels will minimize lost calls. The ad format and the number of times the call-to-action is aired impacts the flow of calls, and the time and location of the ad affects volume. If given a media schedule in advance, a call center experienced in handling DRTV-generated calls will be able to provide a 90 percent service level.
Generally, calls driven by a Spanish-language DRTV offer will last 20 percent to 30 percent longer than a similar call generated by a general market offer. Because immigrants comprise a healthy percent of this market, customers may ask more questions about your company and product. This longer call time will increase your costs, but the increased product understanding and rapport with your customer usually leads to a higher conversion rate.
If you are trafficking DRTV calls to an internal, Spanish-language call center, ask yourself if it has the staff and technology to handle the projected frequency and volume of call spikes. If in-house resources are not sufficient, consider outsourcing your call center operations to a third party.
When selecting a vendor, consider its capacity, experience, client services structure and reporting capabilities—not just cost. In the DRTV sector, a shared environment where sales agents handle more than one client program is the norm. Charges typically are incurred on a per-minute basis when the agent is on the phone handling a call. With consistent, ongoing inbound volume, using a dedicated agent with a per-hour charge may make financial sense.
If you decide to outsource the handling of your DRTV response, a Spanish-language call center usually is preferable to a bilingual call center. While bilingual agents often are well-spoken in a second language, they may not have mastery of the language—and that can affect sales. In addition, we’ve found that, on average, 99.3 percent of respondents to a Spanish-language TV ad aired during Spanish-language programming will prefer to speak Spanish.
Now that you’ve answered the call and closed the sale, it’s time to take care of the final transaction: payment.
Credit and debit card payments are the standard form of payment for products or services sold via DRTV ads. While this also is true in the Hispanic market, credit card penetration has not yet reached the universal usage that exists in the general market. As a result, a company using DRTV to reach Hispanics should consider alternative forms of payment such as cash on delivery (COD).
Of the 2 million calls Global Telesourcing fielded last year from the Hispanic market, approximately 30 percent of callers didn’t have credit or debit cards, or didn’t want to pay for purchases using credit or debit cards. Given the option, 50 percent of customers that do not pay by credit card choose COD.
The power of the U.S. Hispanic market can’t be underestimated and shouldn’t be ignored. When you reach out to Hispanic audiences, make sure you have all the tools to effectively handle response. Only then can you tap the full potential of the market.
Chris Purdy is executive vice president at Global Telesourcing, an Alexandria, Va.-based company offering comprehensive Spanish-language customer care and sales solutions. Purdy can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.