Aug 15, 2000
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For the first time, statistics are showing that women are outnumbering men online in the US (at 50.4%). The sites most visited by US women are not necessarily those that spend vast sums of money on marketing, though -- instead the vast proportion of traffic is being driven by word of mouth.
Is the same thing happening over here? A word with Glenda Stone from Busygirl.co.uk would seem to suggest that it is. Let's start with the results and work backwards for a change...
Busygirl.co.uk launched their online technology portal for women on March 8th (the first International Women's Day of the new millennium – how apt). In the last six weeks, their number of unique users per month has grown from 1,500 to well over 4,000. Thanks to the very handy survey 'how did you hear about our services?' question which new users and registrants are asked, this new traffic can be tracked back to the following sources:
- 52% of users are referred by friends or colleagues (that's viral marketing folks)
- 28% responded to direct marketing or offline marketing
- 20% arrived as a result of online marketing
Busygirl's marketing campaigns are clearly working, but combined they account for less than half of new users – good old word of mouth comes out on top again. Glenda Stone can't say whether this is representative of women's sites in general, but she can offer an explanation: 'we provide reliable, quality services which meet the needs of our users, there are no risks involved, and no strings attached - it's the sort of service that speaks for itself.' And, of course, it's the sort of service that gets talked about: the sudden influx of recent new users coincides with the launch of Busygirl's free Web design courses – 68% of attendants so far had heard about the courses from a friend or colleague.
So, if you're targeting women, viral marketing can an extremely powerful tool - especially if you're offering a product or a credible service with a clear added
"Yes, but it's not automatic, as some companies (including some well-established ones) seem to think. There's still a wide assumption that women, simply because they're women, are some sort of instant market who will respond virally to anything that's thrown at them," says Glenda. Women are becoming increasingly wise to clever-clever marketing, she says, and simply won't fall for any old rubbish. "Women are great networkers and communicators, yes, but that can work both ways, and making a marketing mistake can get you practically blacklisted." You have been warned!!