GUEST COLUMN: ‘Men buy, women shop’ – how does this old adage translate online?

Words by Gary Ingram, chief executive officer, The Diamond Store

In e-commerce, giving your customers an efficient online shopping experience is believed to be a key element of success. However, while a fast checkout funnel is vital for not losing sales, streamlining every aspect of your customer’s journey may not always get the best results. Why? Because male and female consumers have very different shopping habits.

This year at TheDiamondStore.co.uk we have taken a highly detailed approach to demographics – examining how men and women shop in terms of referral paths, browsing time and technology. The old adage “men buy, women shop” was one of the things we wanted to prove as either true or false.

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We discovered some fascinating data.

Over the last 24 months, 64% of our incoming traffic have been women. Yet when we looked at the sales figures, we found that our female customers only accounted for 39% of our revenue.

As another example, in our email marketing these figures were even more acute. Almost 80% of our direct click mailing revenue comes from men, but women account for 76% of brand engagement in terms of clicks on product links, visits to social media, reading our online magazine or interacting with multimedia content.

Our male customers tend to research products thoroughly and make a buying decision in approximately three days. They also respond positively to content like ’10 Best Engagement Rings’ and buying guides that give clear instructions or limitations on what products to purchase.

Women generally have much longer shopping journeys. They start by browsing for ideas, and often share these by tagging their partners, friends or family on social media. (In fact, 90% of our Facebook and Instagram followers are women.) Finally, they may dip in and out of our social media, online magazine or newsletters a few more times before returning about a week later to make a purchase.

The challenge in all this is inbound marketing.

In other words, it’s relatively easy to segment a direct marketing email list into men and women and optimise the content for each gender. But how do you offer a satisfying shopping experience to both men and women when they land on the same product page through a Google search?

In our experience, a strong gender marketing strategy requires a two-fold approach.

Firstly, we need to know our target market. For us, the creation of customer ‘personas’ has been incredibly helpful. We look at demographic behaviour, and split the data into profiles that represent different types of customers. We give each of these “personas” a name and build individual marketing programs around those.

The second part of the strategy involves building an omni-channel marketing program that offers a wide choice of customer journeys, from a first introduction to the brand, all the way to checkout. We attempt to offer an attractive path for both male and female customers through a variety of text, image, multimedia and social content – often hosted on external platforms.

Importantly, all of the above must be mobile optimised because both our female and male customers now mostly use mobile.

In summary, the saying ‘men buy, women shop’ is highly relevant in the ecommerce environment today. Males and females shop differently online. Men want information at their fingertips to make a quick buying decision, whereas women look for a shopping experience that is as close as possible to a ‘real life’ shopping environment (through images, videos and social media interaction).

Tying in with our millennial topic last month, these highly personalised marketing efforts may seem overwhelming at first. What we’ve found, though, is that working through them one by one makes each future campaign that little bit easier – and helps position our brand uniquely in the minds of all our customers.

 

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