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Marketing to Women on the Web
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By Dan Muggeo

Land s End. Crate&Barrel. JCPenney. PetsMart. Amazon.
What do all of these online retailers have in common? They all get what it takes to market their sites to a very important consumer demographic women.

As an online retailer, have you consciously thought about how to reach out to women in Cyberspace? Does your online marketing communications address their needs? If not, then I suggest you begin. Fast, before you re left behind in the cyber dust, wondering where you went wrong. But just in case you don t want to take my word for it, consider the following:

  • Sixty-three percent of online shoppers are women.
  • According to a Harris Interactive study, women control 75 percent of household finances and 80 percent of purchasing decisions.
  • A recent report from The Strategis Group showed that women are now the dominant demographic on the Internet.
Do you see the potential ROI here? If not, you might as well stop reading this article right now. But if you realize how lucrative addressing the needs of women on the Web can be, then you ll want to understand what influences their purchasing decisions.

Let me go out on a limb here and say that men and women are different. We respond differently to the same environmental influences. A man and woman listening to the same conversation might come away with completely different impressions of what was said, for example.

So if you want women to respond positively to your site, then you ll have to understand what motivates them and craft your communications appropriately. Consider, for example, the following:

Create a relationship-oriented marketing approach. Studies show that women are more likely than men to provide personal information online if it will build a relationship, but only if you have won their trust. One way to create a relationship-oriented approach is to establish an online chat option, like at Land s End, where consumers can come to exchange ideas, chat and build relationships with each other. Such a strategy will turn your site from a mere shopping portal to its own online community, encouraging repeat visits and customer loyalty.

Address security concerns. According to a study conducted by Cyber Dialogue, security concerns relating to stolen credit card numbers and privacy issues are the primary obstacle hindering women from purchasing online. To address these concerns, clearly post your site s privacy policy and constantly reassure visitors as to the security of their transactions. And never trick consumers into revealing personal information, or you will lose their trust forever.

Understand that women make purchasing decisions differently. Whereas men tend to purchase based primarily on price and availability, women utilize a more holistic approach. Factors such as your company s community relations activities or strategic partnerships might not matter to a man, but might be a deciding factor for a woman. Why? Women are more likely to make buying decisions based not only on what you sell, but on what your company stands for. This once again reinforces women s relationship approach to purchasing. So, if you want to attract women, become involved with causes that are important to them -- and make sure your marketing message lets them know about it right up front.

Keep it simple and informative. According to a survey of 1,000 US households conducted by NetSmartAmerica.com, men and women surf the Net for different reasons. The study found that most women go online to save time, simplify their lives, and to help them make smart decisions, whereas men tend to look at news, sports, stocks and other entertainment sites. As an online retailer, that means the quicker and easier you can make a woman s online shopping experience, the less likely she will be to abandon her shopping cart, and the likelier your chance of turning her into a loyal customer. To speed up and streamline her shopping experience, provide quick-loading pages that don t waste her time, straightforward navigation, and easy-to-access information on your products. Consider other helpful features such as an online chat option with a customer service rep, tools such as sizing charts to help in the decision-making process and product recommendations for repeat visitors.

Build relationships with customer loyalty programs. Generating new traffic is of course essential to your site s success, but don t take for granted the value of your existing customers. On average, only 10-15% of visitors are loyal to a site, but those who are spend one-third more than casual visitors. Since word-of-mouth recommendations play a large role in influencing women shoppers, the benefits of customer loyalty are exponential. Consider implementing loyalty programs such as gift reminder services, clubs and personalized shopping lists for repeat visitors.

Women are taking advantage of the Internet s ability to save them valuable time, enable them to shop at their own schedule, and learn as much as possible about a product before they purchase. If you make it a core strategy to understand what women want online, then you ll be well on your way to creating a lasting, lucrative rapport with this influential market segment.

Article courtesey of Family Business Strategies.

About the author: Dan Muggeo can be reached via email or at http://www.danielsandroberts.com. Daniel Muggeo is founder and president of Daniels & Roberts, Inc., a marketing communications solutions agency located in Boca Raton, Florida. Established in 1986, Daniels & Roberts clients include IBM, Microsoft, Dole and Hunter Douglas.

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