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Sep 04, 2008

Special Report: Marketing to Moms, Part II: Tap into Mommy Power: Use Credibility, Email, Segmentation and More

SUMMARY: The buying power of mothers tops $2.1 trillion a year, and they control 85% of household income. Is it any wonder moms are among the most coveted consumers in the U.S. market?

Part II of our Special Report on marketing to moms includes:

- Tips on creating effective email campaigns for mothers
- Components of successful messaging strategies
- Segmenting the market
- Info on mom panels
- Marketing to mothers of color
5 Components of Effective Messaging

For mom messaging to be effective, it has to be credible, connect quickly, be holistic, be consistent, and be relevant, says Kelly Skoloda, Partner and Director of Global Brand Marketing, Ketchum, an international PR and marketing firm that focuses on corporate and product positioning.

Let’s break down this model by looking at the individual components:

->Component #1. Be credible

Moms perceive blogs to be very credible sources of information. This is why major agencies suggest campaigns that involve engagement with mom bloggers.

Do it by advertising on mom blogs, forming partnerships with them or finding some other way to get a company or product mentioned by mom bloggers.

TIP: If it's numbers you’re after, use Technorati to find out which mom blogs have the most links from other blogs. Try searching for keywords like “mom blog” or “parenting.”

Find the number of blogs that link to the site where it says “authority” next to each result. The higher the number, the more popular the site.

Target these popular mom blogs with your messaging. (Read the section on how to build relationships with mom bloggers before doing so.)

->Component #2. Connect quickly

Moms are busy, so you really must connect them to a message quickly to get a response. Brevity is a good way to do this; use concise language.

->Component #3. Be holistic

You need to communicate to moms in more than one dimension. Gone are the days when all you needed to reach stay-at-home moms was a commercial during the daytime soaps.

More and more moms use the Internet to make purchasing decisions and connect with other moms.

Multi-channel messaging is the way to go. Here are a few steps to get started:

--Step #1. Think about where your mom market might be

Is she a member of the PTA? Is she spending those few precious hours between her children’s bedtime and her bedtime on a computer, in front of a TV, or curled up with a book or magazine?

--Step #2. Pick your channels

Do the moms you’re targeting spend a good portion of their time online? Consider what sites she frequents. Which blogs? Which social networking sites?

Sites like Café,, and offer free online communities for moms to join and chat with other moms, share experiences and seek advice.

After choosing online sites, think about how to appeal to moms through offline channels, such as print advertising in their favorite magazines. Moms continue to read magazines geared toward them, even as online media and blogs grab their attention, Skoloda says.

Make sure your campaign has an effective email component as well. (Read the section on email marketing to moms for more information.)

--Step #3. Don’t forget radio

Marketers often forget that moms spend plenty of time in their cars either stuck in traffic on their way home from work or waiting while their kids are finishing up an activity. Yet, “there is very little female focused radio,” says Bridget Brennan, Founder, Female Factor Corporation, a consulting firm on marketing to women.

Car time is prime time for moms thinking about what to prepare for dinner, for instance, she says. Look at this as an opportunity for broadcasting take-out specials from restaurants and grocery stores, for example.

--Step #4. Offer services

To really impress moms, offer services that will make their lives easier. Brennan says she hears a lot of women say, “I have enough stuff, what I need is a wife.” This comment is testament to the time factor. Moms simply don’t have enough time to get everything done.

Helpful services for moms:

- cleaning companies that offer to run errands as well as clean
- airlines that make it easier to navigate an airport with children
- furniture stores that offer evening deliveries
- retail stores that offer car seat installment sessions at point-of-sale
- easy return policies

Example: Nordstrom does a good job of minimizing the amount of time a mom has to spend in the store, Brennan says.

“Even women who feel they can’t afford Nordstrom often will tell you that the fact that they can walk into a store and have a sales person glom onto them for the three items they want to buy, makes it a more efficient trip than hunting for items somewhere else.”

Example: Whirlpool offers a water filter subscription to customers. The service ships water filters to their doorsteps every six months so customers don’t have to worry about where to go to buy a filter. They don’t have to worry about getting the right one or about going way past the expiration because they don’t have time to deal with it.

->Component #4. Be Consistent

Consistent messaging across all channels is the only way to truly reach moms. They have to recognize the brand and message in different mediums.

->Component #5. Be Relevant

Don’t talk down to moms, says Audrey Reed-Granger, Director of Marketing and PR for Mass Brands at Whirlpool. “Don’t just put pink on it and say it’s for women...They are very sophisticated, very smart consumers.”

Speaking to them in a way that’s relevant is a good way to prevent talking down, she says.

Example: Whirlpool launched a new dishwasher in partnership with OPI, which offers professional nail care products. “We wanted people to know you don’t have to pre-scrub and rinse dishes before putting them in,” Reed-Granger says.

The team conducted a survey to find out how many women believed washing dishes was the biggest threat to manicures. More than half agreed. So they came up with the campaign slogan: “I Don’t Do Dishes” and OPI created a new line of nail polish with colors like “Rinse Charming.”

Consumers received free nail polish with a purchase of the dishwasher. They could also sign up for free polish on OPI’s or Whirlpool’s website without purchase.

“It was the perfect connection,” Reed-Granger says. “That increased traffic to the website at a ridiculous rate. It was perhaps the biggest draw to the website that year.”

4 Tips on Email

Firms are attracting moms by creating specific campaigns for them. But few are following up with effective email campaigns that keep moms privy to cost-saving discounts
and offers. They are missing out on the way to truly win the hearts of moms.

Consider these statistics from the Lucid Marketing/ EmailLabs 2005 study on effective email marketing to moms (sample size: 695):

-63% get newsletters or special offers from 1 to 5 senders
-35.3% prefer to receive email weekly
-32.9% prefer email monthly
-22.6% prefer email every two weeks

Here are some tips on creating successful email campaigns:

->Tip #1. Start sending emails immediately

Once a mom opts-in to receive promotions, start sending them right away or she’ll forget about it. Start with a confirmation email. Let her know her email address was received. Then ask her how often she’d like to receive email.

->Tip #2. Get to the point

Moms don’t have time to read the detailed features of a product or service. Email messages need to be concise and clear. If offering free shipping, don’t leave out the requirement to buy $50 of merchandise to receive free shipping. If offering a discount, show the price to be paid after the discount.

“When they look at a brand and are thinking if they should opt-in or not...that brand needs to communicate the value proposition very clearly,” says Kevin Burke, Founder, Lucid Marketing, a mom marketing firm.

Indeed, 59% of moms base their opt-ins on perceived value.

Example: Anne Taylor’s emails are very promotional, Burke says. They offer discounts and coupons for in-store purchases with very clear and succinct messaging. All email copy fits onto one screen.


- Include photos/pictures of product
- Include a website navigation bar that connects users to the main website from the email

->Tip #3. Make sure “from” line is consistent

“We found when moms are browsing their inboxes, the ‘from’ name is very important to them, more so than just the subject line,” Burke says. “They give the ‘from’ name more interest.”

It’s very important to communicate the brand in a consistent way, therefore. No abbreviations or alterations should be made to the name of the brand in the ‘from’ name. It should be the same as on your brand’s website.

->Tip #4. Offer a discount or free shipping

Consider these stats from the Lucid study:

- 72.5% of respondents cited a subject line promising a discount as most attractive
- 60% cited free shipping
- 37.4% cited specific product mention
- 26.9% cited specific brands

Segmentation: 4 Suggestions

There are perhaps too many ways to segment the mommy market. You could segment by generation: Gen X, Gen Y (a.k.a. millenials), Baby Boomers.

You could segment by first-time moms versus second-time moms and stay-at-home moms versus office-working moms. Then there are moms of color – a whole other segment.

And, finally, alpha moms (a.k.a. mom influencers or mom mavens). These moms are very involved in their community. They belong to the PTA or PTO. They lead a Girl Scouts troop. They volunteer on school or government committees.

Here are a few suggestions on segmenting:

Suggestion #1. Segment by age of child

Try segmenting based on the age of the child, not the mother, says Bridget Brennan. She finds it’s easier to create messages for women with kids the same age who face the same challenges.

Women of a certain generation have very different challenges because they could have children at any number of stages in development.

Suggestion #2. Segment by behavior

Some experts warn against segmenting moms based on generalizations about Gen X, Gen Y, alpha, soccer moms, etc.

“It’s a lazy way of getting out of the hard work involved in figuring out what kind of relationship to build with who in the niche,” says Kevin Burke.

Burke suggests segmenting moms by behavior. Take a product like software that teaches children about finances, for example. Reach out to moms on sites or destinations they frequent to find educational products for their children.

The point is to do the research to find out who your target audience is, he says. Then tailor the outreach to them.

Suggestion #3. Focus on working moms

Most moms work – at home or in an office. They all juggle multiple responsibilities – work, family, personal care – at any given moment. Any marketing message that offers a way to make their lives easier is the way to go.

Suggestion #4. Segment by product

If it’s a technology product, market to Gen X and Gen Y moms. They use technology more than Baby Boomer moms, Bailey says. Your campaign should include a strong online strategy.

If it’s a baby product, the same approach applies. Gen X and Gen Y moms are having more babies, she says.

External Experts, Mom Panels, and Moms of Color

This section explores two tactics and one segment of moms. Find out how marketers are seeking advice from outside experts and mom panels, as well as some tips for marketing to moms of color.

A. External Category Experts

Outside experts come in handy, especially if you’re a Fortune 500 company or a large agency that can probably afford them.

Ketchum hires experts who’ve either written books on a topic or are well known authorities on a topic, such as Baby Boomers. These experts help them formulate campaigns, such as marketing to moms in the green marketing space.

To use these experts successfully:

-Consult with them regularly
-Ask them to help review and provide feedback on client programs (for agencies)
-Ask them to help review and provide feedback on campaigns (for companies)
-Have them conduct training sessions for in-house staff

B. Create a Mom Panel

Ketchum created a mom panel to help test and come up with ideas for its campaigns targeting moms. Employees who are also moms make up the panel. The agency tests things like messaging and product positioning with its in-house mom panel.

Similarly, Bailey says, companies are finding success by forming panels consisting of moms outside of a company who answer consumers’ questions about products.

One example is the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. It’s a forum on Disney’s website that allows moms to connect, ask questions, and give advice to other moms about the ins and outs of visiting Disney World.

Bailey says this works “because for today’s moms, particularly the millennials and the Gen Xers, it’s all about real...they want to hear information that’s real to them.”

C. Moms of Color

Consider these stats from Miriam Muley, Founder and CEO, The 85% Niche:

-35% of the U.S. population is Hispanic, African American, Asian, and Native American
-42% of all mothers are moms of color

From a product point of view, Muley says, messaging should be filtered through the lens of cultural relevance and language.

Muley says, “There needs to be recognition of the intensity of the burden that mothers of color have relative to women in general.” Adds Muley, moms of color generally have a greater number of children than moms in general.

TIP: Incorporate television, Internet, and print advertising.

These are key channels to get messages to moms of color. Television is very efficient in reaching Hispanic and African American moms, Muley says. Internet is effective because moms go there to connect to other moms and find information.

Print ads are effective because magazines such as Ebony, Essence, and Latina Magazine reach a large number of moms of color.

TIP: Fragrance is a major motivator.

Scented cleaning products, baby products, and personal care products sell well in Hispanic markets, Muley says. If your company has scented products, target this demographic.

Useful links related to this article

Creative Samples from BlogHer:

Past Sherpa Article links
New Study Data: Moms Spend 13.2 Hours Per Week Online (vs. 7.6 Watching TV):

How to Market to New Parents - Tips from Baby Einstein Founder Julie Aigner-Clark:

How to Change Your Web Site to Appeal to Busy Moms Shopping Online: Survey Results From Gymboree:

How Signed Up 400,000 Ultra-Busy Moms in Just Five Months:

Mom blog networks and ad networks


The Mom Blogs:


BlogHer Ad Network:

Parent Bloggers Network:

Baby and Parenting BlogAds Network:

Social Networks for Moms





Mom Magazines:
PTO Today



Print Magazines for Moms of Color:


Latina Magazine:

Online Network for Moms of Color:

Walt Disney World Moms Panel:


Whirlpool “The American Family” podcasts:

Whirlpool Mother of Invention Grant:

Whirlpool and OPI “I Don’t Do Dishes:”

Competitive Insights, helps Whirlpool measure responses in the blogosphere:

Maria Bailey and BSM Media’s Blog and Website:

School Family Media:

School Family Media case studies:

Female Factor:

Lucid Marketing:

The 85% Niche:

See Also:

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