Commentary

Online Women Are Diverse, Engaged

Sometimes what we find through research just validates what we know instinctively. This was certainly the case in both the two-part study of online mothers as well as the "focus group" panel of seven women which were the opening sessions here at the Email Insider Summit. Bottom line: There is no one single profile of "online mom" or "online female." As through the ages, women are as diverse as ever!

The "digital mom" is the ultimate multi tasker. She uses trusted sources for information, which - take note marketers! - is usually not the brand website. She values the inputs and advice from other moms. She is CEO of the household. And she is using the social aspects of the web to keep in touch not just with friends and family, but with strangers she considers "sources."

These were the top findings of a study done by Razorfish/Avenue A and Cafe Mom last year, presented as the opening keynote on Monday. Email, along with search and news, remains a staple of the mom diet, and is inextricable from the social media activity reported in the study. However, other top online activities were social networks, games, instant messaging and online video. Each of these was reported as a common activity by about half of the respondents. If you are marketing to moms and you do not have a strategy in these media, you may be missing an opportunity to engage.

Despite what seems so obvious in the findings, there are some interesting lessons in the data. Moms represent many faces, not one homogenous demographic. Which, as there are 27 mm+ mothers in the United States, just makes sense. The study of 1,500 women broke down the results of how moms use the internet and social media by age of the mom and age of the child. The study is available for download at www.digitalmom.razorfish.com

The panel of seven women - ranging from a student to a retiree to moms to full time professionals - again illustrated how different women are in their approach to email and the Internet. They all were similar in that they are all busy, some juggling multiple jobs, kids, family and friends. It's a big challenge for anyone to get their attention. Each was connected to her family and friends and kids in a number of dimensions â€" a combination of text, email, Facebook and search.

I took some notes as the panelists expressed their views:

- I use email to get ads. I use Facebook to communicate with my friends. - I will link in to get email coupons from places that I purchase. I print out the coupons. They constantly send me things and let me know about sales. Unless I see who is on the “byline” (subject line) and I know I’m not supposed to be spending money, so I delete it quick. But when I have things coming up, I see what they offer. - I opt in for things that I’m interested in. I would rather get it in email. Paper is wasteful, and I’d rather get it via email. If I know I’m not going shopping this week, I delete it, and I know I’ll get another offer. I think it’s a great way to reach people who are interested. - I went to a Sak’s event and now it’s chaos. They email me every day. I go into their website and I manipulate how many emails they can send me. If you send me coupons I am happy to get them. If you have some sort of incentive that makes me not delete it, and then I remain on the list. - Coupons are great, especially in this economy. - I get newsletters from professional organizations. Mainly education. If am going to buy a product, I’ll take the coupon, but I don’t’ want any email. - I mark everything as spam. (This caused a flurry of alarm in the audience, but when the question was probed, it did seem that this woman actually does mark the horrible Viagra-type spam as spam, not marketing messages.) - I unsubscribe. It takes longer, but it seems to stop it. I report as spam and I still get the spam, but if I unsubscribe that stops it. - My husband has taught me about viruses. God help me if I bring in the virus. I have to never open attachments or click on strange links. - Subject Line is the most important thing to me, but the from line is also important. -Personalization - It gets me a little defensive when they are always trying to use your name. You don't know me. -The only reason I check email is to see if someone contacted me on Facebook. If my email was on Facebook I don’t know what the difference would be. - I’m conscious of relegating you to the black hole of spam. I’m aware of what I’m being sent and why. - I never check my spam folder. If it’s in my spam folder it needs to be there. - I check the spam folder before I close out every day, I always check for customer emails in there. - Computers are more prevalent in our house than televisions. - Email is something approaching a sickness. Help me! - Retiree: I check email every day, I delete most of them. I feel like I am wasting my life away in front of the computer. I get email from five businesses that is because I bought something, I bought maybe one thing one time, online. I get Barnes and Noble, Joanne’s, Skype, Orbitz and Blockbuster. That is it. - Google is amazing. You can learn anything, instantaneously. Sad thing is without opening a book, but this is the future. - I check email from the top down. The most recent on the top. - The computer is very calming for me. I check email to see if anyone from Facebook has contacted me, then I go right there. I don't spend much time in the email. - I open first what is familiar. - I open what is most recent first. - You almost have to use TV to redirect people to the internet. Let me know that I can visit the website if you have a product for my children. - Moms are the decision makers for what kids get. I like being reached through email, and if I don’t have time I’ll hold onto it. - Get to the point. I'm busy.

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