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Greening of My World

Digital Moms Survey Reveals How Much We Engage Online and How Marketers Should Take Note

By Guest Blogger, Donna DeClemente, Donna's Promo Talk

According to Nielsen NetRatings, there are 32 million women in the U.S. who have children under 18 and go online, which translates to about 40% of all women online in the U.S. today. Since moms are typically the key influencers and purchasers for both themselves and their families this group of women is so critically important to most marketers and the brands they represent. So how have these moms changed with the way they utilize today's media and what is the role of digital technology in their lives?

Digital_Moms  "Digital Mom", a two-part study conducted by Razorfish and CafeMom, surveyed 1,500 online moms who are reported users of at least two Web 2.0 technologies and have actively researched or purchased online in the last three months, to try and answer this questions and a few others. What they found is by far nothing that we "digital moms" don't already know, but it is interesting to read that we're not alone. Since this blog is focused on marketing to women online it seems appropriate to report on this survey's findings.

Yes, us moms today are the ultimate multitaskers and we're utilizing online and emerging technologies more than ever before because they help to make it all easier. According to they survey, more of us today are interacting with social networks (65%), SMS (56%), instant messaging (55%) and gaming (52%). These join email (94%), search engines (74%) and news sites (51%) as major parts of our digital lives.

The following channels are now also considered mainstream since they are used by roughly one-third of us Digital Moms: online video (36%), online consumer reviews (33%), blogs (29%) and DVR/TiVo (29%). The niche or developing channels which are used by less than 25% of us include: RSS (21%), audio/video podcasting (10%) and mobile browsing (10%).

The report tell us that us Digital Moms are multidimensional in our online behaviors, and our interests extend beyond parenting. Well of course they do. There will always be a few women we all know whose lives seem to revolve around their kids, but the majority of us have many diverse interests.

The report goes on to say that Digital Moms are more likely to connect with friends than with family using digital technologies, and they are not afraid to seek advice or companionship from known or anonymous friends. I would say that depends on the person and their family. I have two sisters who are my "best friends" and we live in different places so we stay connected in many different ways (although I am the most advanced when it comes to emerging technologies, I have to be, I'm in marketing).

Additionally, interests like Clothing/Fashion and Cooking/Food remain the most popular, and consistently so, regardless of age; while other category interests like Baby/Parenting, Telecommunications, Medication/Medical Condition are lifestage-oriented and change as their children grow. I really don't think these interests have really changed over time, except probably the telecommunications category. We now can seek out this information online, but it all still available offline in some degree and has been since our moms were raising us.

The report does show differences in Digital Moms based on their age and the age of their children. Moms under 35 are significantly more likely to favor the newer technologies such as social networks, SMS and mobile browsing; while moms 45 and older are more comfortable utilizing informational tools like online news, consumer reviews, and podcasting. I find this number interesting since I reported in this post that Facebook's largest growing segment today is women 55+. Perhaps since this survey was conducted  in October of 2008 it may already be out-dated. Also, the majority of us "older women" who have teenagers have to use SMS because it's the only way to really keep in touch with our kids today!

Online video consumption (41% vs. 36%) and gaming (57% vs. 51%) are highest among moms with children 12 and older (vs. moms with children under 12) which makes sense since the older kids tend to get their parents exposed to gaming and it's an activity they can share with each other.

When they specifically surveyed the women who researched or purchased a product in one of twelve major product categories in the last three months it was clear that online and digital channels are highly influencing their purchasing decisions.

So what does this report tell us about marketing to us "Digital Moms"? What once was considered niche activities are now mainstream so it is vital that marketers embrace these channels and start to engage with Digital Moms through them. Marketers also should start investing in online video, blogs and DVR since these channels are very close to being the next ones going mainstream. Mobile is also on the verge of being the next frontier. As smartphones become more popular and mobile browsers improve this channel will catch on with moms very quickly.

Another key learnings for marketers is to be aware of the differences that do exist with the ages of the moms and their children and to segment their audience as such...younger moms with younger children vs. older moms with older children. In most cases these will be the two main subsets, however there is a growing population of older moms with both older & younger children and some with just younger children. So we can't have a one-size-fits-all strategy.

As a mom with older children I'm always looking for ways that can help me stay more connected with them. As I mentioned before, using SMS more is a perfect example of this. Now my husband and I also communicate with each other more this way since we started doing it to stay in touch with our daughters.  Marketers now have the opportunity to engage me by providing resources that will not only help make my life easier but also those that help me connect with and understand the needs of my kids better.

The hardest thing for marketers today is the need to better understand how their products and services intersect with us moms while we're in different mindsets. It's hard to be a "mind-reader" however if marketers want to begin using communication channels like social networks they need to be aware of the fact that this is "social" time for most moms. We're not in a research or information seeking mindset as much when we're on Facebook or other social networks. So, you can still speak to us, but do it differently than you would if we were already at your website.

This post gives an overview of the major finding of Part 1 on this report, with of course some of my own perspectives thrown in. You can download the full report here.  I'll be back with Part 2 in my next post. If you have your own perspectives to add to this, please comment.

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