She was a beautiful blue-eyed blonde, hair as soft as satin, a wide-open stare that could stop a train in its tracks, and a smile radiating charm across a 20 foot room. There was power in her presence, and she knew it. That sidelong glance, that little swivel of her hips as she pretended to turned away from you, only to return, full-face, letting her tongue slip out the side of her mouth, as if she were licking sweets. It was all carefully planned to melt your heart. And, it worked. On all of us.
This is a description of Samantha, my 18 month old niece, who visited here for 5 days with her parents, my younger brother and his wife. A devil child whose temper tantrums would to put any hockey player to shame. A demanding little bundle of energy that refused to acknowledge her understanding of the word, "No." A child of the moment, fully aware (and proud of?) her ability to bring grown men to tears.
In between the temper tantrums, the glory child shone through. The temptress she will become when she reaches 16. The American beauty she will gradually morph into. A woman you should learn about...because she embodies all women within her soul; she may be more attractive to some than to others; she may use her feminine wiles to good advantange, or not; but she will grow up in a world of fast Internet connections and ecommerce, and she will not give you her business, if you don't the time to learn how to get in front of the women's market NOW!
Jane would like to take time today to list Five Phenomenal Facts You Should Know About Women. In your attempts to lure them to your website to buy your products or services, knowing and understanding these traits will aid you in developing your marketing and advertising creative.
1. Women are very aware of their surroundings. In the bricks and mortar world, this translated into being able to see a blouse of a certain color, from the lingerie department...despite the fact that skirts and blouses are clear across the store. In the Internet world, this translates into needing to get a sense of where she is and how she is going to get to the different sections of your site FROM THE MOMENT YOUR HOMEPAGE OR LANDING PAGE DOWNLOADS.
--- Use the prime real estate section of your site to good advantage. Notice how Jewelry Central captures the eye both with images and text, and makes it intuitive to move around the site by using simple navigation above the images, to the left of the images, and within the prime real estate section itself. Any woman landing on this page is already planning which area she will visit next, because Jewelry Central has made it easy to do so.
2. Women seldom shop only for themselves. I know, you are getting tired of hearing me say it, but you MUST grasp this fundamental fact: women buy for other people more often than they buy for themselves. Today's business woman needs all the same things her husband, brother, father, or uncle needed in their day. And -- here's the main point -- she knows other women as well as men, who also need these things.
--- Notice how designer Kate Spade gets women to click further into her site by offering "What's New" as the link that heads her left-hand navigation. Her prime real estate is taken up by images which are all clickable, by the way (although, she has forgotten her alt text; she is missing out on search engine spiders by not having alt text to accompany those images). Meanwhile, a few clicks into her site, which is fun to explore, even if we're not prepared to buy -- this is window shopping online-- we get to her About Kate Spade page and we find: Jack Spade! Were we shopping for business accessories, or home accessories, and by chance found ourselves at the Jake Spade site, we would be delighted to see that we are able to buy for our favorite guy without having to travel anywhere else!
(Lip-sticking would like to add a caveat: this site, both Kate and Jack Spade, has type that is TOO SMALL! Be wary of discounting the baby boomers and seniors who might come to your site...if they find font this small...you will lose them. Women and men alike will not stay around to browse if you have insulted them with such tiny type. It's to be assumed that Kate feels her target market is Gen Xers, perhaps some Gen Ys, who don't mind the small type. As for the $$$, Jane prefers not to comment on cost. That is as individual as shoe size.)
3. Speaking of cost -- according to Frank About Women's Retail Rituals- Fulfillment or Frustration - Understanding the Female Consumer: "Women consider the big picture, weigh many factors, look for interrelation and take a peripheral approach to brand preference. As spenders of six trillion, signers of 80 percent of all checks written in the US" clearly, women have money to spend.
Jane will not pretend price is not an issue -- of course, it is. But, when we shop, we are not always shopping price. Television has been courting us on price for several generations now but in the end, women will do one of two things when she's shopping; she will have a budget in mind, and pretty much stick to that dollar amount, or, she will be in a mood to throw caution to the wind and decide today is the day she's going to go all out, for herself, her sister, her mother, her father, her boss, her best friends, whomever! No matter what you sell, you have as good a chance to get her to buy from you as Wal-Mart or Bloomingdale's does. The trick is to be fair in your pricing. Build brand awareness on quality and design, on customer service and connections, not on price.
4. Women are individuals who like to travel in packs. This is a hard concept to get your mind around. We want to be approached as individuals, unique in our own skin, with separate likes and dislikes, but you know we're shopping with a friend or two and we will always go to the ladies room together. (We do that because it gives us a chance to...oh, never mind. Some things should remain secret.)
--- The Internet has successfully divided the pack...we now log on from the privacy of our own homes, in the company of...just ourselves. But, in our mind, trust me, we are shopping with our sister, our best friend, our mother, our daughter, and more. When can visit the Mall of America online, IM our best friend to log on at the same time, and click through as easily as strolling along the concourse as if we were truly there, we're more than delighted, we're grateful for the convenience and simplicity. Make our stroll as easy as possible, delight us with choices, but don't overwhelm us, and ask us to INVITE our friends on our next visit.
Did you click through to the homepage of the Mall of America? If so, you must have seen the single most important image on the page. Write and tell me what you think it is...
5. As we approach the holiday shopping season, ecommerce spending is on the rise. ClickZ Stats reports that "The Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce found that e-commerce accounted for $15.65 billion of the $919.0 billion total retail sales for the second quarter of 2004." Impressive numbers, wouldn't you agree? But, don't be fooled into thinking women are not visiting the mall, or their favorite offline store. We still go to The Gap, Old Navy, JC Penney, and the Dollar Tree.
--- Many of us still like the smell of shopping, the feel of the floor beneath our feet, the bustle of all those other women around us, that sense of control knowing we can go through that revolving door as many times as we like. This does not mean you should give up your website. It means only one thing: you must allow us the chance to research and browse online, but buy offline. Or, make returns offline. We don't mind being directed to your website for products and services descriptions and explanations. But, many, many of us still want that physical experience of getting out of the house. Use your website to intrigue us. Delight us enough, and we'll bookmark your site, then decide whether to fill an online shopping cart or an offline one. Give us undivided attention, personal attention (visit The Gap to see how they accomplish this amazing feat using their website). When all is said and done, we will announce you to all of our friends!
Whew! Jane did run off at the mouth today! You deserve a phenomenal shopping season, Jane believes it with all her heart. Learning these Five Phenomenal Facts is just the beginning of the work you will need to do to reach the women's market. We promise, it will be a worthwhile endeavor.
What's not to like about that?