Smart Man Online: Dane Carlson
Jane Talks Business

Jane Reveals What Women really Want Online

It's often difficult to decide what kind of post to write on a weekend. How many readers are so devoted to their blog reading that they take time out of their already busy schedules to at least click through Bloglines or whatever RSS feed they use, to see who's updated, and if the update is worth reading?

Jane does much of her blog reading on the weekend, however. Therefore, she will attempt to put together something useful for her friends who do the same. That's the reason for the What Women Want Online headline.

What women want is a phrase that is getting a lot of press lately. Women-- as a group -- are getting a fair amount of attention. From TV news, magazines, newspapers, blogs, and, of course, nighttime reality shows and even the newest Law and Order/CSI mysteries. Does anyone other than Jane wonder why the women depicted on these shows are always in low-cut T-shirts or unbuttoned blouses, with plenty of cleavage showing? (if they don't have cleavage at the start of the show, they have it within six months...the result of the magic of TV, or make-up, we suppose). Mariska_lawandorder2

Apparently, women are a hot commodity.

Jane would like you to know that WOMEN DO NOT WANT TO BE A COMMODITY!

Television has its own standards on how to depict women. We find it sad that actresses feel compelled to buy into the producers' requirements for attractiveness and sexuality, to sell these shows. We personally know a woman lawyer who imitates these roles down to the tight shirts and Victoria's Secret push-up bras. We expect that she is the target audience for these shows...although, we sometimes do watch them ourselves.

This is not an expose on how the women of television, however. This post is about women who do business online, and who shop online. We mention the commodification of females, as depicted on TV (we won't get into the commercials) to prove a point: those women are imaginary. They do not exist in real life. They are not going online to buy your products and services.

The women going online to shop and do business via the Internet, are real women. They may seem invisible to you because you only know them through email or online transactions but trust us when we say their purpose is to do business, not be objectified. If you allow television producers to lure you into thinking the women who come to your Web site bear any resemblance to the 'babes' they 'produce' to sell their shows, you will develop marketing campaigns that will go...nowhere.

In ecommerce, women command a great deal of respect. They wield their power with pure intentions: all they want is the best deal you have to offer.

Consider this May report from Direct, "The Trouble With B-to-B" where they give advice on what women want. Writer Richard H. Levy notes that "women are increasingly represented among B-to-B supply purchasers. There are now 10.1 million female-owned businesses in the United States, according to Keith Grabow, vice president of Marketing at NEBS." (Jane is happy to note that they have a headshot of a smiling woman on their homepage. Nice touch!)

Levy goes on to bullet the differences between men and women and how they shop, quoting from Grabow. These are differences we've discussed many times at Lip-sticking, but here are a few reminders, paraphrased to reflect our own research:

-- Women ask friends and colleagues for input on our business purchases
-- Women want information (a prime reason we look for you online first), and take longer to make up our minds
-- Women want to be friends; my, my, how many times has Jane instructed you on how we spell 'sale' at Dickless Marketing: try F-R-I-E-N-D-S-H-I-P.

Levy and Grabow get it mostly right. They've done their homework. But, Jane likes to take things a step further. Jane likes to remind our readers that Jane is a member of this enormous market, and, as such, she advises you to check back on a regular basis to see what new things her friends are sharing with her about their experiences shopping online, both for business and pleasure.

This week: the talk around the cooler is exasperation for Web sites that don't understand search. When Jane goes online to search for a product or service, the search results routinely disappoints her. Learn what terms the women who shop at your store or Web site use to find you. Do a better job of optimizing each page of your site. If you're doing pay-per-click, make that landing page worth our time -- display the product images as thumbnails but offer a way for us to get a larger view, also. We're into details.

This is what women want. Consideration. Friendship. Products and services that are developed with us in mind -- not something your marketing department picked up from watching Law and Order! A recent announcement from Target sets a good example; "Made for me," debuts at Target, so Internet Retailer wrote on September 7th. "Target to a T allows shoppers to customize selected Target brand clothing to a preferred style, size and shape." (requires registration)

Check it out. This is how you win over women. WOW!

What's not to like about that?


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