February 26, 2003

Marketing to Women Via Email -- 4 Key Factors to Improve Your Results (Hint: Pink's Not One of Them)

SUMMARY: 'Marketing to Women' book author Martha Barletta has researched the very different ways men and women shop, use email, and react to marketing messages. Our in-depth article based on her findings includes:

Factor #1: How to maximize word of mouth

Factor #2: Women seek \"the perfect answer\"

Factor #3: Add \"people\" to your creative

Factor #4: Test milestone marketing

The sexes are different in more ways than you thought.
"Women think email is the greatest invention since the telephone. Maybe it's even better," exclaims Martha Barletta, Author of the new book 'Marketing to Women.'

However, she warns marketers away from creating an obviously "pink" email promotion.

"If you paint it pink, if you start going Barbie, women hate it. They feel it's the equivalent of the diminutive." Adult women do not want to feel like your brand is giving them a patronizing pat on the head.

Instead, get women to respond in higher numbers to your email campaigns by taking advantage of four female factors:

-> Factor #1: How to maximize word of mouth

Women are far more likely than men to pass email along. (Yes there is a genetic reason why your mother sends you newspaper clippings and forwarded jokes.)

Aside from the obvious (sticking a big fat forward-to-a-friend button on your creative), Barletta suggests you find ways to incorporate forwarding suggestions in your message copy.

"Women are always aware of what's going on with other people. She may not be in the market for your product yourself, but she's got a whole clan of people she's keeping in mind who she'll redirect communications to. So, instead of saying 'This is a great product' perhaps your copy could say, 'Do you have a relative who loves gardening?' 'Know any teens who are heading off to college who might need a computer?'"

You can also tap into viral forwarding power by running an interactive quiz. Women love self-knowledge quizzes. If you are offering one on your site or in your email, to make sure results include an emailed note saying 'Ask your friends to take the quiz too so you can compare results.'

It is a great way to grow your list as eMode knows (they went from zero to millions of registrants using nothing but a simple emailed quiz offer).

-> Factor #2: Women seek "the perfect answer"

Men and women shop differently, so you need to adjust your emailed offers and your landing pages to account for this.

Barletta says, "Men are just looking for a good, fast answer. They tend to strip away the detail. If something solves their problem they are ready to buy. They don't need to find out about the other seven options. They linearly solve the problem and move on to the next one." Short pitches, a few fast facts, a hotlink, and men are good to go.

However, "women are the precise opposite of that. Women are looking for the perfect answer. Any old thing won't do, they'll look at all the marketplace data, do due diligence, get more details."

"They are reluctant, skittish to make a decision. They are always wondering if there might not be something better right around the corner. 'This is pretty good, but what if something else has three more features or it goes on sale?'"

How do you get around the female reluctance factor?

a. Educational email: Women are the perfect audience for a regular newsletter with educational articles about topics relating to your product. Example: Jiffy Lube's site offers general car-owner educational materials that women love. "Women are voracious for information."

If you are only sending your customers sales alerts now, consider also offering an educational newsletter. This tactic has worked well for eBags who offer customers their choice of either or both.

b. Warranties and guarantees: Make women feel that choosing your product, service, hotlink, is not risky.

c. Promise strong support: Women feel safer and more inclined to buy if they know you have a team of support staff who are easy to reach if there are any problems afterwards. (Men do not care until the problem actually happens, women what-if- worry ahead of time.)

d. Limited time offer: Force her to move off the mark.

e. More details: Yes, put your first link high up in the email so people who want to click without reading can do so. Try testing long, longer and longest copy options. If you pack more details onto your email, you may get fewer clicks, but the conversions may be so outstanding it is worth it.

Also test longer copy on your landing page. How much useful detail can you provide? Go wild and see if it raises sales.

-> Factor #3: Add "people" to your creative

Women tend to trust more and buy more when there is a connection to other people like themselves. Selling with empathy works far better than selling with aspiration.

Four easy ways emailers can take advantage of this:

a. Add people to your photos. If there is a way to get a human being in the product shot, do it. Do not pick a perfect-looking model. Instead pick someone who appears to fit in with your target market as they are now.

b. Use story-telling in your copy. Lands' End's email newsletter is perfect example of this. It often tells the story of a real-life customer and how they use the product.

"Experiment in terms of headlines," advises Barletta, "Example, 'Lisa's sister needs a backpack for her hiking trip...' It suggests an anecdote to follow."

c. Use testimonials from typical customers. "Women get in the mindset of 'That sounds like me.' Testimonials can convey a sense of the target audience and the fact that I belong there."

d. Send your email from an individual person. Women will respond better to a newsletter that includes a first-person note from one of your employees, such as a department head, a customer service person, or even an invented personality such as 'Mama Ragu' than they will to content written from your company or site as a whole.

-> Factor #4: Test "milestone" marketing

Database marketers definitely should be emailing based on "milestone" data in customer and prospect records. This might include upcoming weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, retirement, graduations, moving house, etc.

Milestone marketing is *not* just for products obviously related to the event. Often one big change in a woman's life makes her consider other changes as well. For example, women getting married may be switching credit cards and researching insurance.

Barletta explains, "Women are more affected than men by the big events in a family's life because women typically handle the logistics of these occasions. It's very stressful. How can you help her? Not many companies have figured out that nobody's talking to her when she most needs help."


Link to our Case Study on Land's End's email newsletter:

Improve Your Marketing

Join our thousands of weekly case study readers.

Enter your email below to receive MarketingSherpa news, updates, and promotions:

Note: Already a subscriber? Want to add a subscription?
Click Here to Manage Subscriptions