Ever since the web was born, people have spent as much time complaining about web pages taking too long to download, as they have complaining about the weather. In the early 1990s, if you were to sneak a listen to a conversation at the table next to you in the lunchroom or at a restaurant, chances were you would hear someone make a wild exclaimation about the "lousy weather." It would have been a conversation opener or maybe the whole conversation, itself. Pity the thought.
Once the Internet and the web came along, people had something else in common to gripe about: slow loading pages. Few people understood then, and few people understand now, the technology behind how the web works (for instance, how many of you know that EACH graphic--and some buttons and lines are images on a web page--download individually, one at a time, meaning sites with a lot of graphics can take a long time to download on a dial-up connection?) making them frustrated when that great web page they're waiting for is taking its sweet time to load.
That's the downside.
There is an upside. According to Reuters, reported at News.com on April 18th, "More than half of U.S. Internet users now surf the Web over a high=speed connection as home users signed up in droves for the faster service in the past year."
Pew Internet and American Life also reported on the increase in broadband usage, saying that:
68 million Americans have access to high-speed Internet connections either at home or on the job.
48 million Americans have high-speed access at home.
Home broadband adoption is up 60% since March of 2003, with half that growth since Nov. 2003.
This bodes well for the small and medium sized business operating e-commerce. Since the online population is now well over 200 million, with females still leading males (in all age groups Nielsen/Netratings), the opportunity to take advantage of this upside has never been better.
Let's consider some information from the E-Tailing Group. In an article posted at Internet Retailer, the results of a survey conducted in Q4 of 2003 found "mass merchants, home-and-garden and apparel retailers" to be using aggressive tactics to reach impulse buyers among their regular customers.
This is an important fact to analyze and digest properly. Just as important is the fact that the contact was through email marketing. The focus was on providing the customer--who had already bought once from the merchant--with information and specials she could use at that moment. According to Lauren Freedman, president of the E-tailing group, "If done properly, targeting customers with relevant messages at the right frequency, email can do more to build loyalty than other marketing initiatives. It keeps the merchant top of mind."
Take a moment to think about YOUR email marketing initiatives. Remember, you don't have to be part of the groups above to take advantage of "top of mind" for the women's market. Books and music, mass merchants, department stores, consumer electronics, home and garden, office supplies and apparel round out the top eight categories showing success by timing their email message and focusing it properly-- I know your niche fits in there somewhere.
If you service computer equipment, you belong in the office supplies or consumer electronics area. If you provide business advice and coaching, attach yourself to the books and music category--lots of business CDs there; the trick is to learn how to partner with other companies. Barring the ability to partner, attract women by posting information on your site that discusses some of the topics above. Build an interactive dialog around this whole topic--email marketing--and see what your visitors have to say about it. It's about innovation--it's about looking at the big picture--it's about TOP OF MIND.
The question of "What do women want?" is not hard to answer. If you want to keep us "top of mind," just ask us what we want. We'll tell you.
What's not to like about that?