Sep 18, 2001
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More women than men in North America are online. And according to PC Data Online’s research, by last year women between the ages of 35 and 44 were a dominant e-retail force. Online stores with female buyer demographics, such as JCPenney.com and BestBuy.com, took over the Net’s top 20 sales rankings. Women also bought more gifts online during the last holiday season than men did.
So, how can your business successfully market to women online? Here are three top tactics:
1. Keep Strong Ties with Offline Brands
Used to be every offline company wanted a cool new name for their online presence. But if you’re trying to appeal to women the last thing you should do is change your name when you add a dot-com to it.
Women like brands they already know and trust. Plus, by keeping your offline name you have a better chance at fighting your way through the noise generated by too many dot-com start-ups in the same space. And chances are, your current customers are already looking for you under your own name online.
If some other company has already grabbed your name online, you can either buy it from them or get them to run a banner ad on their home page redirecting people to your site. How much should you pay? Ask them for a copy of their traffic logs to find out. If a lot of visitors dive in for a few seconds and leave quickly, they were probably looking for you instead of what they found. Decide for yourself how much that traffic is worth.
If you don’t have a well-known brand name, you should consider partnering with someone who does. It’s smarter to set up a boutique within a major site lots of women already traffic than it is to try to get traffic to your own little store by the side of the road. Luckily lots of sites are interested in deals of this type.
There are two main types of partnership deals (and thousands of variations in between): the first is a “microsite media buy.” Instead of buying a regular banner ad on someone’s site, you pay them to construct special site section which you are the sole sponsor of. The Charles Schwab company pioneered this arrangement very successfully with iVillage’s “ArmChair Millionaire” site section a few years ago.
The second type of partnership deal is a “co-branding” arrangement whereby your boutique store or small site appears within the bigger site as though it’s an organic part of it. You’d be surprised at how many of the sites you already visit are made up of sections all from very different owners! Sometimes your logo will appear somewhere on the page, and sometimes the main site will just visually pretend the section belongs to them 100%. Usually you share the revenues that are generated.
2. Create a special site section just for women.
Lots of general interest or general consumer sites don’t think to create special sections for women, “why should we?” they ask, “both men and women visit this site!”
OK, step back and think about it. You know that men and women are different. You also know the more targeted your marketing message is to a particular audience, the better your results will be. Guaranteed.
That’s why many general-interest sites such as Hollywood.com and iWin.com are launching special sections of their sites just to appeal to women. These sites’ marketers have told me that those special sections made an enormous difference in their success. iWin.com saw a 30% increase in their traffic just a single month after they launched their special section for women. Hollywood.com’s special Women in Film section helped advertisers such as iVillage get up to a 52% click-though rate.
Remember, women in America make up to 80% of purchasing decisions for cars, homes, groceries, health-related products, and more. If your site doesn’t have a special section to appeal to them, you are missing the boat in terms of hard dollar sales.
3. Maximize your use of email newsletters
A survey conducted by a 3rd party research firm on behalf of FloNetwork, revealed that 91% of women online like opt-in email newsletters. 91%! Another study conducted by Pew Internet Research revealed that 65% of women really like email -- as opposed to 55% of men.
So, to maximize this opportunity your company should be doing three things:
a. Offer your customers and site visitors a free opt-in email newsletter. Make sure the sign-up form is in a highly visible place on every main page of your site. Make sure the tone is friendly and personal instead of corporate. Women prefer newsletters with practical information written in a personal tone.
b. Divert some of your regular advertising budget into placing space ads in other company’s email newsletters. More than 50,000 email newsletters are published right now that accept some form of advertising or sponsorship. And don’t turn your nose up at the ones that only accept text ads. Usability tests show people are often more likely to read a text ad than they are to pay attention to fancy graphics or dancing GIFs.
c. Make sure your public relations and corporate communications team have added the editors and writers of email newsletters to their press lists. A story about you appearing in another email newsletter may do your sales even more good than if you just advertised. Remember, the subscribers have opted in because they want information on this topic!