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Do Women View The Web Different Than Men?
Posted 19 May 2007 - 08:04 AM
I'm not talking about women being more likely to view sites like baby gifts or cosmetics, but all sites in general. For example, a real estate site, or restaurant site, or business/office supply vendors, etc.
I'm not sure I've seen this addressed on this forum, but I'm sure there are some definite differences in marketing here. As a manly-man (you know us, we never read maps, lord of the manor, always buy the most expesnsive grill-and still burn everything we don't serve half-raw), maybe I'm missing something.
Posted 19 May 2007 - 08:25 AM
There's definitely a difference in how you should write your copy based on who your target audience is. She will surely be 'round to speak on that. In the meantime, you may want to read some of Karon's Articles from her site as I believe she has addressed the issue of writing for different audience segments there.
Posted 20 May 2007 - 07:42 AM
This very subject is what first led me down the road of doing a lot more Conversion Analysis in fact.
Are you looking for generalities? Getting into specifics is a pretty deep subject and may be more than can be covered here in the forums.
Posted 21 May 2007 - 02:13 AM
Posted 21 May 2007 - 03:11 PM
Here's some interesting research about color preferences by age and gender, for instance. (Well, at least I thought it was interesting!)
This is but one aspect of what makes (and keeps) conversion analysis so interesting!
Posted 21 May 2007 - 06:06 PM
Following on from the fact that we don't read maps - we do find things by land marks don't we. With regards to that point:
I read a book (honest) called the 'New Marketing Paradigm' it was about integrating your communications (Drucker I think).
Something I took away from it, was the fact that we now use image more than text when navigating around sites. Think about the ORANGE ads - and different logos for different service, play station controller, putting your DIY furniture together.
Hello Magazine - or their agency must of been on the ball as they now offer loads of social media tools on their site, we are just soooo technically apt.
Someone once told me the best form of marketing is Television - then Telephone and now it's
Tele woman (sorry couldn't resist) Maybe there are more women online now, just because of word of mouth, and we can now save time online, with handy tools, and more time to spend in the shops is a bonus for any woman, surely.
Don't call me surely/shirley !!
With copywriting for women I think focus should be on benefits - tell me why i should be on the site, why I should come back and I will tell my mates and we will rule the web pretty pink world (or is that just me !)
Posted 21 May 2007 - 08:44 PM
Focusing on benefits is something I can relate to and work on.
So what other things do women look at that men may not. If I may use an example, my biggest client is a developer - big time adult lifestyle communites, not focusing on houses (how big the kitchen is, etc, they sell properties, not houses) but more on the value of the lifestyle in this community. So what do I need to do to convince a woman that there is more value in my products and services in this area that would differ in what a man relates to? This target age is more baby-boomer than any other age group (I'm one, too).
FYI, Jill was right, Karen has some great info on her site, very helpful, but not anything there that particularly addressed this issue.
Edited by donp, 21 May 2007 - 08:52 PM.
Posted 21 May 2007 - 09:09 PM
Like Torka pointed out above, it's more than just about the Copy. It's about the overall design, the images you use, the placement of those images, etc. etc. As Sarah pointed out it even involves the use of certian colors, and the results can vary depending upon the age range and gender you're shooting for.
And before the question gets asked, Yes you can construct a site to have a high appeal to both men and women. Even men and women in slightly varied age ranges. We're wired differently, but there are ways to satisfy both market segments. FTR, most of the response to these factors happens completely in the subconscious. People don't even realize what's happening or why they choose one site over another.
Some quick hits regarding the gender marketing research I've done since I'm short on time today. Hopefully it makes some sense considering I'm winding down from a 16 hour (totally kick butt!) Monday... Obviously, these are all very, very general.
Things that help when your target market is women:
1. Women tend to be extremely visually oriented. This doesn't necessarily mean that you should just use pictures, but that you need to use the right type of pictures. More on this concept below.
2. Women rely heavily on their own past experience to when considering whether to make a purchase or not. If they've had a favorable experience with you or something similar to what you're selling before, the level of fear and anxiety is greatly reduced. Thus the conversion rates soar.
3. Benefit selling is especially important if your target market is women. Potential women customers put a heavy weight on explanations that help them to avoid present or future problems. Which is what benefit selling is all about when performed correctly.
4. If a woman potential customer does not have any or has little personal experience to rely upon, she will read and place some significant weight on the experiences of others. Testimonials can thus become quite important.
5. Even given #4, women tend to not rely Totally on testimonials or such experience of others to make their final decision. They will take in the information and use it, but will not believe it blindly like many men will. They know and accept that testimonials can be a self-fulfilling tool for the advertiser.
6. Women do not buy solely for the Now benefits. They are more calculating in their purchases, typically needing an answer to the question of how your product/service is going to help them 3 weeks or 8 months down the road. Women just don't make immediately gratification purchases like so many men do. Which is one of the reasons why you may see more women making repeat visits before making a purchase when compared to men, if you track that sort of thing.
7. Building on #4 and #5, if you can conduct an effective buzz marketing campaign and get it in front of women in your target market it can be a quite effective marketing tool. Women do tend to be heavily influenced by what can best be described as Gossip Marketing, or what some may simply call Word of Mouth advertising. This sort of consensus tends to carry a heavier weight with women since not all of the opinions can be as easily manipulated.
8. Back to the Visual element for a second. The fastest way to convince a woman to do whatever it is you want her to do on your site is to show a picture of another woman she can identify with doing exactly what you want her to do. Or show a picture of a woman who has gained the benefits you promise by taking you up on your offer.
Things to remember when your target market is men:
1. Men live in the moment. Which makes them more susceptible to making an Instant Purchase or to accepting without question those obvious marketing shams of someone needing to Act Now in order to get whatever deal.
2. Men tend to base much of their decision on positive influences, often devaluing negative influences. Meaning if someone else has had problems with something they'll often ignore the negative and put more weight on the positive. eg Jim, Joe and Ed bought it and it didn't work out for them, but I know I can make it work.
3. Even if a man has had a previous bad experience (as long as it wasn't with you specifically) he won't automatically close the door as most women would. Men are fixers and gamblers by nature, so they're willing to take a shot that they can fix anything.
4. Men can be heavily affected by copy or images of problem situations being solved by what you have to offer. Often this alone will subconsciously persuade them to make the purchase.
5. Unlike women, men do not factor so-called near-term benefits (a few weeks) or far future benefits (months) into their buying decision. They want something to fix a problem they have Now. (Have you ever seen a man run to the store to get a tool or part for something he's working on, only to go back to the store an hour later to get another tool/part that he needed to complete the task?)
6. Men will not purchase if they feel Threatened in any way. Even if everything else falls into place if they feel an abnormal amount of anxiety they will not buy.
7. Men respond to Leaders, especially to depictions of male leadership. Whether that be an image of a male Boss talking to his staff or words on the page that make you a Leader doesn't matter much. Though the image is obviously processed faster and on a more subconscious level. An important point ... If you're using copy to depict this concept of leadership to your male target audience be careful not to be too preachy. It's easy to go overboard, so it's best to get the point across in a subtle manner.
There ya go. That should give you something to gnaw over for a bit.
Posted 21 May 2007 - 10:46 PM
Posted 22 May 2007 - 08:58 AM
1. The above very general info is derived from my own testing on my own sites, so is not an acceptable sample size in my opinion. Though I do use it as a starting point once I've figured out who my target market really is and it does match up pretty well with the things I've read from others involved in similar study.
I can also tell you too that 90% of the site redesigns I've done over the past couple of years is because --being a male-- my original designs when I'm first rolling a site out tend to be more Male Oriented. It just happens. So most of my redesigns have revolved around making them more appealing to potential female customers. Thank goodness I have a couple of female web designer friends who can put their touches on my general concepts, helping me to clean up my mistakes.
2. There is absolutely, positively No substitute for testing. None. Never has been, never will be. So you'll need to test any theories for your own site and your own market.
When I'm doing gender marketing tests I'm most often making use of CSS capabilities to conduct what most would call Radical Redesign experiments. Where entire page layouts, or in many cases the layout of each page on a site is being completely swapped out. The text and navigation tend to stay the same, but in my radical redesign tests one site version almost never resembles the other from the visual/design angle.
Posted 22 May 2007 - 09:42 AM
In addition to showing pictures, if you can get the audience to actually read or skim the text copy, the kinds of words and phrases used can paint a more powerful picture in a visual person than an actual picture. This is because if you can use the right language that is ambiguous enough so that people paint their own personalized pictures in their minds, it can be much more powerful on an emotional level than showing them the picture about something specific that might have seemingly minor details that turn them off in some way. This is why non-specific symbolic pictures are often (not always) more powerful for a wider audience (e.g. a silhouette of a person instead of a photo that shows skin color, age, color of clothing, etc.).
That's a great list you provided Randy - and you were right to underscore that it's very general. For instance, there can be large target female audiences that lean toward the auditory and likewise large target male audiences that lean toward the visual. For this reason, gender can often become very secondary to the emotional triggers and sensory preferences. While this needs to be calibrated for the target audience with testing like you said, it's great info to start with if you have nothing else to go on.
Examples of phrases targeted toward 3 of the senses:
visual bias - getting some perspective, i see what you mean
auditory bias - talking things over, i hear what you're saying
kinesthetic bias - things have been rough this week, I'm under a lot of pressure
For my day job, the company is made up of largely males while the customers are largely female. It's very difficult to help them understand that they don't know the target audience as well as they think they do (it's not about what appeals to them) and that testing needs to be done-or at least additional perspectives heard. It's ironic that it's so difficult to help them understand this when many of them often talk about how they don't understand their own wives.
Again, this is just bias and preference. Each sense gets stronger like a muscle the more it's used. Similarly, each of us tend to prefer using one hand more than the other - so while not as strong as the other due to less use, this doesn't necessarily mean the other hand is weak.
Edited by bluenote, 22 May 2007 - 12:07 PM.
Posted 22 May 2007 - 06:17 PM
Posted 23 May 2007 - 04:39 AM
As my oft quoted dear old granny used to say ... There is a method to the madness.
I'd honestly like to see what others have found to be successful or not in the whole Gender Marketing sector. Not only would it be interesting, but it would probably help me to build upon what I've been doing with it since I started paying attention a year or so ago.
That said, I saw a report somewhere (can't remember where unforuntately) that the majority of web sites these days are Male Oriented. It's swung back and forth over the years with the late 90's having more sites apparently being designed to appeal to a female audience. To me this is a bit of an oddity and I'm sure not being done on purpose. In fact it's completely backwards in my opinion if you think back about the number of men vs women buying stuff on the web back in the 90's and the same sort of figures today where women supposedly account for more than 50% of all sales on the 'Net.
My guess --from personal experience I noted above-- is that this Male Orientation swing is probably a product of who is responsible for either designing the sites or who is responsible for making the final decision.
Back in the day there were more men code jockies, but a lot of the layout was often done by women who had an artistic flare and a copy of Photoshop. That's the way it was for me for the most part. A (female) graphics designer churned out the design and I made it work in code. Today I think the swing back is probably more a product of men bosses being the final decision maker for coporate sites, so they're naturally going to find male oriented sites more appealing. And where small businesses are concerned a product of men being gamblers, which is sort of a requirement if you're going to try to start a business on the web. These solo shops are basically one guy doing all of the work and producing what he thinks is best.
Anyway, it's a subject with all sorts of fuzzy edges and very few absolutes. Sort of like SEO/SEM. However I do attribute many of the increases I've seen over the last year or so with my own sites to my finally paying attention to Gender Marketing and Conversion Analysis.
Posted 23 May 2007 - 07:22 AM
Can anyone give me an example of a female oriented site versus a male one? I'm not sure if I'm totally following.
Posted 23 May 2007 - 01:02 PM
Seriously, I don't think I've ever run across a single site that encompasses all of the factors correctly for gender orientation. Especially for the Female side of the equation since there are fewer to choose from. Though I have consulted on one that gets pretty close.
Many of the Female Oriented site out there (the biggies especially) make pretty good use of images of women or women's products, good use of varied colors, good use of a warmer color palette in both images and text, and are even pretty good where ease of navigation and speaking in an informal language is concerned. But by the same token most of these biggies don't do a very good job of creating a free flowing design or one that has rounded corners instead of straight lines and blocks, which can be important factors.
For those biggies think the likes of:
Jessica McClintock - jessicamcclintock.com
Ann Taylor - anntaylor.com
Liz Claiborne - lizclaiborne.com
Nordstroms - nordstrom.com
Jones Apparel - jny.com
and similar big retailers who have the bucks and know how to focus on women customers.
Try to ignore the pictures, though they're certainly an important element. Notice the use of different colors and lots of pastels? And how even when they're in a straight line/block design they're softening the harsh edges? Also notice the use of different color text in set off sections of some of the pages? And the colors of the dominant text itself in some cases?
Contrast the above with most of the sites you see, or if you want a comparable list of Male Oriented designs:
Exxon/Mobil - exxonmobil.com
Ford Motor Company - ford.com
Citi - citigroup.com
IBM - ibm.com
General Motors - gm.com
Notice the significantly greater use of straight lines and blocks? Notice the starker lines in the overall designs? Notice the absence of softer colors?
Which designs would attract you more easily?
So what are more of the elements? I can almost hear ya asking...
Gloria Moss and others at the University of Glamorgan published one of the first studies about Gender difference when it comes to web sites a couple of years ago. e-consultancy interviewed her back then, a copy of which you can read on the Glamorgan blog here. It doesn't give a huge amount of minute details, but is an easy read and will give you some things to think about. If you want to read the much drier research papers to get into the details of the research Moss and others at Glam have conducted, there's also a linked list here. Though it's a terribly dry read, the Angling (as in Fishing) vs. Beauty paper is quite funny if you have a slightly wonky sense of humo(u)r. And points out the problem of having a web site that isn't constructed to speak to its users' gender.
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