According to Donnie Deutsch of CNBC's The Big Idea, 80 percent of purchases are made by women. We're not just talking about makeup and purses here folks. Seventy percent of car purchases are made by women.
On an episode of the Today Show, Donnie Deutsch, Isabel Kallman of Alpha Mom TV, and Connie Van Flandern who coined the phrase "Alpha mom," discussed how advertisers and marketers are going after these Alpha moms because products that please this influential group are likely to sell well. These moms are setting the trends for other women. Marketers are realizing that if they can capture this top tier of moms, other women will follow.
They referenced a Cadillac Escalade commercial that focuses on the Alpha mom and her power in marketing, and how television commercials are becoming more geared toward women.
Think about it. No longer do we just have the traditional stay-at-home mom. Now we have the powerhouse business woman who juggles jobs, children, exercise regimens, and life in general. Many women work from their home or telecommute. Women aren't afraid to compete against men . . . and win.
Women hold credit cards and disposable money in their back pockets. They know what they want and go after it. They're the main gift buyers. Even if you think your online store isn't geared toward women, think again. I have spent a lot of money on and offline in hunting and fishing stores because my husband is an outdoorsman.
So how can you translate this into your online business?
Take a look at your own Web sites. Who do you think are your target audiences? Have you considered that women may be the ones making the buying decisions? How can you appeal to women buyers?
Think about the women who own their own businesses who might be purchasing goods and services from you. Think of buying agents, marketing people, management, and IT departments that are filled with women.
From a professional SEM perspective, think of the small businesses that are operated by women who work out of their homes. Also, think of businesses owned by women who now have an online presence. These are all potential customers for you.
How can you catch the attention of this powerhouse of trendsetters that many others are missing all together because they aren't targeting women?
Try these tips to capture the attention of women buyers.
1. Describe your products and services completely using the five senses. If you're selling an expensive pair of Italian leather shoes, don't expect a woman to click on the "Buy Now" button without letting her feel as if she's slipped the shoes on her feet. When she slides her feet into them, will the leather hug her feet like an old friend? Or, is the leather stiff and more rigid?
Describe the color accurately. Think of the range of colors in the color "beige." Colors are very important to women.
Texture is important too. How does it feel to the touch? Is it knobby or as smooth as a newborn baby's skin? If there are any distinguishing marks on a product, describe them thoroughly. If the product has a scent, describe it, such as the clean, slightly dusty scent of freshly baked pottery.
Women are very sensory. If you put us in the action and use the power of the five senses in your writing, women are more likely to respond. If you're selling wind chimes, how do the chimes sound? Do they sound like church bells or the tinkling sounds of rain on a tin roof?
Make sure that everything in the descriptive content is accurate and matches the picture shown.
Notice the discrepancies in the color of the shoes and the type of heels. There's no explanation as to what "buckle milk" patent leather is, and the buckle looks rose colored in the picture, which isn't mentioned either. The writing is beautiful, but it's lacking in the five senses. It's focusing on the sophisticated woman-the ego. That's fine, but if the store were to focus on how the shoe looks and feels on the sophisticated woman as well as fixing those marketing mistakes, the sales message could be much more powerful.
The one smart thing they did say was, "Limited quantities." Ah yes, the sense of urgency. However, I'm not feeling very urgent because there are several unanswered questions.
2. Women love bargains, so have a bargain section of your Web site, if appropriate, and prominently link to it from the main page of your site. Update it regularly, because it could be one of the most popular sections of your site. Include different price ranges, gift sets, and different sections based on the type of site you have. Offer free gift wrapping and anything else to make it easy for women to shop.
Offer an area where visitors can sign up to be notified of updates to your bargain section. Make it easy for us to shop at your online store. Plus, we might buy gifts ahead of time if we find something on sale.
3. Offer a "Most Popular" items area, if appropriate, because women like to know what items are considered by others to be very popular. This might sway us into buying if we know that other buyers really like it.
Think about how important this can be in a store where women might not ordinarily shop. If I go to a hunting store and look at the most popular items, I can feel safe in buying my husband a gift that other outdoorsmen like.
4. Be sure to offer gift certificates, which many women would rather purchase so the receiver can pick out his or her own gift. Give a long expiration date on the certificate, and don't make the receiver purchase everything at one time. The way Amazon handles their gift certificates is a good model to follow.
5. Offer a gift registry at your store. Fashion it after the typical bridal registry where the person registers and picks out the gifts he or she wants for Christmas or birthdays, and gift givers can visit your online store and buys whatever they choose from the list. Those gifts are then crossed off your list. Reminder notes can be sent out to people of the registrants choosing to remind them of upcoming dates (graduation, wedding, birthday, Christmas), sales, new gifts added to the list, new related items in your store, etc. This is a great way to promote your Web site and get repeat customers. Remember: women are the gift givers in the family, so capitalize on it!
6. Offer a "What's New" section so we can see the new items on your site. Send out this information to members of your list.
7. Suggest related items for us. We don't necessarily want to know that someone else who also bought this item bought some other item that may or may not be related to our item. For example, if we're buying a topaz bracelet, is there a topaz necklace and earrings to match? That's more important to us than red earrings that someone else bought at the same time she bought her topaz bracelet.
If we're buying coats, suggest matching gloves. If we buy a dress, suggest a pair of shoes and the jewelry to match. If you show us a whole outfit from top to bottom, we're more likely to buy. But if we have to do your job by spending the time rushing all over your store, we won't.
A good sales person suggests these items. Be a good sales person online by making these suggestions to us. Even if we don't buy that day, we may continue thinking about it and come back later. A smart online store would send out a reminder notice a week later about those accessories to see if it could make a follow-up sale.
8. If we buy certain items from your store, for example, watches, don't send us unwanted e-mail about every sale you have. Yes, we're your customers, but once we start getting too much e-mail that isn't targeted specifically to our needs, we begin to ignore it. However, if you target us specifically, we'll appreciate it and buy more from you. If you were to send us e-mail about sales on watches, on the other hand, we'll immediately click on the link.
The answer is simple. Target your individual customer's specific needs. Few companies do this effectively. Amazon doesn't, but you can. Try it.
9. With big ticket items like cars and houses, we often begin our research online. I bought a new car this year, so I have personal experience to pull from. Even the dealerships we talked to suggested we visit their Web sites first, because we could view pictures of their vehicles on the Web. In some manner or another, the Web is helping to make those car sales.
With car sales, "little" things like color matter to women. I had one color of car in mind and one type of car, and I wouldn't settle for any other color or type. The smallest details matter to women, so don't forget the details.
10. Donnie Deutsch in the Today's Show interview said that Alpha moms spend at least 90 minutes per day on the Internet. The clock is ticking. As a group, we're too busy with our work and lives to dash around the Web needlessly.
Make it as easy as possible for us to find your goods and services. If we can't find what we want fast, we all know where the back button is. One of my favorite sites requires me to go back to the main page of the site to find some of the site's most important links. This is extremely annoying. I would spend a lot more time (and money) if they would improve their navigation.
Bottom line: I want information, and I want it now. I'm a buyer.
Do you want to sell your goods and services?
11. Regarding Professional Search Engine Marketers, remember that details matter to women, and women don't like hard sell approaches. Women who own their own businesses need to feel very comfortable with you, so you need to establish trust with them. They may have been approached by typical snake oil SEO sales persons in the past, so honesty and being forthright with them is the best approach. Tell them how you can help them, and set realistic expectations. Don't trash your competition, and if you can't help them, be honest and say so.
In Conclusion . . .
With women being one of the largest target audiences, follow these simple guidelines in how to market to the group that makes up 80 percent of buyers. It's hard to argue with statistics.
Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.
Robin Nobles is the Co-Director of Training of Search Engine Workshops, where they teach "hands on" search engine marketing workshops in locations across the globe. They also provide a networking community for SEOs called The World Resource Center for Search Engine Marketers and have expanded their workshops to Europe with Search Engine Workshops UK.
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