Ten years ago, the bulk of online marketing was directed towards men. It was a proven fact that few women even knew about the internet. And the general idea was that women who did use the Web belonged to a small minority that wasn’t worth anyone’s marketing dollar.
Fast forward to the present. The tables have been turned—research shows that women under 65 are at least just as web-savvy as men, and a growing number of them have even surpassed men’s proficiency levels. To the online marketer, this means your strategy may be in need of a major shift.
How men and women use the Internet
A 2005 study by Pew Internet and American Life showed that men used the Web primarily to read the news, check sports scores, download music, buy and sell stocks, and make travel reservations. Women, on the other hand, spent more time reading health, spiritual, and support group websites, and keeping in touch with friends and family.
What does this say about people’s online habits? The key point is that men go online for business and entertainment, while women use the Web for information and interaction. More importantly, it shows that gender stereotypes are still very much prevalent, and that they’re still worth keeping in mind when positioning your product online.
Putting it to work
Melbourne-based affiliate marketer Johnson Kee offers a good illustration of the difference between male and female marketing. Women are all about empathy, and they tend to trust a more personal approach. To market your product, he says, you need to acknowledge their feelings. If you’re selling a weight-loss pill, for example, you want to target their feelings of inadequacy or low self-esteem, and show how your product can help them.
Men are more into concrete results. As Kee noted, they are active “mistrusters.” You don’t sell protein supplements by showing a man how miserable life can be without those cool bodybuilder muscles. No, you sell them by showing solid facts, scientific proof, and proven results. Note that you will have to do this with women too, eventually—but with men, the facts have to take center stage.
Marketing to both sexes
What if you’re marketing to both sexes? Well, given that each one has a distinct character, it’s rarely possible to target both in one go. Understand why you’re trying to sell to both in the first place. Chances are your male and female audiences see the same product in different ways. The key word, again, is positioning. Create a separate positioning plan for each audience, and tailor them to their specific online behaviors.