5 Ways to Engage Women (And Moms) Online

Women, many of whom are mothers, wield enormous purchasing power. Today, they are responsible for 85% of all consumer purchases, and many are affluent. In March 2009, the "Marketing to Women Datafile" reported one in five women earn more than twice their significant other's salary. In 2005, Gallup reported that one quarter of U.S. women live in a household earning more than $75,000 per year.

Combined with the fact that 63% of web users use the Internet to research a product or service before buying a product or service, these statistics demonstrate the importance of effectively appealing to this influential and profitable female market online. Here are five ways you can do just that:

1. Acknowledge that many women are busy with multiple responsibilities. This means keeping your web site's navigation intuitive and simple - most women don't have the time or inclination to decipher mysteriously phrased links or wade through nine web pages to find the product they're seeking. It also means creating a clean, simple design; "visual clutter" can overwhelm busy visitors and drive them away.



2. Appreciate that women are individuals. Throw away the stereotypes! We all know a successful businesswoman whose dream home includes a mahogany-paneled library with sleek club chairs; she could care less about the kitchen. Lavender and pink are the last colors she would choose ... and she's not alone. If you believe a flowery, frilly web site is a surefire way to snag women, you should reconsider.

3. Benefit from the value women place on authenticity. Women over 50 especially appreciate this; the National Federation of Independent Business notes that baby boomer women pay close attention to a company's practices, especially in terms of giving back to the community, social responsibility, and how respectful and understanding it has been to her in the past. Feature your positive track record and values on your site.

4. Understand that affluent women often expect more. In a Luxury Website Effectiveness Index survey, consumers with an average income of $305,000 said they've been turned off by websites that were "sloppy and disorganized." Instead, you can appeal to affluent women with your website by featuring clean, high-end design. For instance, the use of images on the Vera Wang on Weddings website approaches the level of art.

5. Recognize that women appreciate visual design. You're more likely to increase sales to women if you present information in a visually pleasing way. "Women are taking it all in-much more so than men," say the authors of Don't Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy. "They're noticing the palette of your website, and they're getting a feeling of your brand by reading your site's copy." Don't scrape by here; invest wisely.

12 comments about "5 Ways to Engage Women (And Moms) Online ".
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  1. Stephanie Azzarone from CHILD'S PLAY COMMUNICATIONS, August 5, 2009 at 12:36 p.m.

    Would love to know more about that 20% of women earning more than twice their SO's salary -- and how that further impacts their influence on household decisions/purchasing! Beyond that, the success of the "momosphere" -- mom-focused social media --certainly underscores your point about women appreciating authenticity, at any age. While I also agree that simplicity and attractiveness makes any Web site more appealing, the bottom line of course is the quality of information and its value to the reader.

  2. Maryanne Conlin from RedRopes Digital/4GreenPs, August 5, 2009 at 4 p.m.

    Your points on website navigation struck home. In particular, I have to say having a women owned web design company is a big plus when designing a web site for female consumers, as studies have shown that women do tend to think differently about navigation - on the road and on the web! This must be a great selling point.

  3. Tiffany Jonas from The AIO Group | AIO Design LLC, August 5, 2009 at 5:38 p.m.

    Stephanie, I absolutely agree that the quality and value of information on a website make a huge difference... I've written about that elsewhere and will continue to beat the drum! Regarding high-earning women, you might be interested in reading "The Secrets of Six Figure Women" by Barbara Stanny. It's not her latest book, but in my opinion it's the best... and though it doesn't directly address women's purchasing decisions, it offers insight into how affluent women think. Spouses and their attitudes re: a wife's high earnings come up several times in the book.

  4. Tiffany Jonas from The AIO Group | AIO Design LLC, August 5, 2009 at 6:15 p.m.

    Maryanne, yes, having a woman-owned web design firm is definitely a plus... but there's a caveat! In "Why She Buys" by Bridget Brennan (highly recommended) does a great job telling the story of the hapless attempts of two male advertising creatives to sell canned food to women. (Great quote: "Trey and Steve's creative 'war room' is full of ripped-out magazine pictures depicting their target consumer, and without exception, the mother in the photos look like the kind of women Trey and Steve would like to date.")

    But she also brings up an excellent point; having women on one's marketing team doesn't guarantee success, because women were also trained in the male-oriented advertising school of thought---I am fortunate to have an advertising degree from one of the best schools in the US and can verify that this is true, even at that level, and even within the past 17 years. Because of this, women often need gender education too... and they need to be strong enough to speak up despite worries that "feminine" views will undermine their professional credibility. With so many compelling statistics available these days, that's easier, but it can still be a factor in some corporate cultures.

    In short, being women-owned is sometimes enough, but not always; gender marketing study and a willingness to state (sometimes) unpopular views complete the package. Hopefully someday the latter won't be so necessary!

  5. Jonas Halpren from Federated Media, August 5, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.

    I do agree that their are inherent differences in marketing to men vs. women. However, the points made in this article speak more to good web design & strategy rather than specifics one sex vs. the other.

    Personally, I am an individual, am busy with multiple things, appreciate authenticity, expect more and appreciate good web design and navigation.

  6. Margaret Bjork from Blackbaud, August 5, 2009 at 7:21 p.m.

    Great article, I especially loved the Authentic Suggestion

  7. Mary lee Shalvoy from I28, August 5, 2009 at 9 p.m.

    Great piece! Part of the dynamic of women and moms using the Internet more and more is that we are growing more tech savvy every day! Also, not only will we not return to a site that doesn't appeal to our sense of visual design/ease/usability, we will not recommend that site either. Word of mouth is incredibly important in our world, both online and off.

  8. Beth Cleveland, August 6, 2009 at 12:31 a.m.

    Great article! I love the first point about creating websites that are "intuitive and simple" for today's busy female. Usability is key for retention.

  9. Tracey Stuckey, August 6, 2009 at 9:50 a.m.

    Great article! The first point is important for me as a busy working mom. I shop online frequently and remember websites for their color, design and visuals. It definitely makes a difference on whether I go back to the website to purchase at a later date.

  10. Cb Nelson from PRG, August 8, 2009 at 2:12 p.m.

    Great summation of what really counts. Agreed with every bullet! In fact, I am going to snip and send to a client right now, she said with a smile.

  11. Shauna Heathman from Mackenzie Image Consulting, August 10, 2009 at 3:38 p.m.

    Great Article - I love tips 2 and 3. As a client of Tiffany's and a business owner catering primarily to women, I could not be happier with the overall look/feel of my website that she designed. It's so true that affluent women expect more -- the way my website is designed has definitely helped me to capture this market. So important for what I do. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  12. A Medea, August 10, 2009 at 3:51 p.m.

    Really like the concrete statistics that go deeper than the usual stereotypes. Also interesting that women are such powerful consumers, and they can be turned off by something as simple as sloppy errors. This is going to make me look at my own site with fresh eyes.

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