Web Copy for Women
An Interview with Heidi White
This is an interview with Heidi White who is a freelance copy writer. In this interview she shares her thoughts on web copy for women. Women are a major economic force and it is wise to consider how to write for them if this makes sense for your business.
Q: Why should we care about writing web copy for women?
A: Marketers and business owners are becoming much more aware of the importance of marketing specifically to women. According to Nielsen, women are responsible for 80% of US spending and will have control over $22 trillion in global spending power by 2020. This is an indication that women have incredible purchasing power and are therefore a valuable market to tap into. They are clearly making the purchases.
Women are a diverse group of people, though, so marketing to women requires not only that you understand the female psyche but that you also understand the specific women you are hoping to reach with your marketing campaign. This requires market research that defines the market segments you want to reach.
Q: Do women conduct research and buy for themselves or for others as well? How may this affect how to create copy for them?
A: Women buy for themselves as well as for their families, husbands, friends, and parents. When it comes to purchasing, women are making a lot of the decisions. This may not be true as women become more prominent players in the business world and begin to delegate responsibility to others. For now, the numbers indicate that women are making the decisions, however, and they are using their expanding wealth to buy homes, cars, and beds and schedule vacations and visits to doctors. And yes, you can bet that they are doing a lot of research and that the type of content they find (marketing copy in many cases) should be written in their language and with their best interests in mind. That’s why web copy for women is important.
Q: Do you see web content that is intended for women stereotypes more than for real women? For example, if we package a cordless drill set in a pink box then is this all that is necessary to satisfy the women audience or is this shallow and thinking only about women stereotypes?
A: I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a cordless drill set in a pink box, but there are certainly enough examples of marketing that misses the mark due to a poor understanding of market segments.
Selling a cordless drill set to women is complicated. They may be buying it for a significant other, in which case the pink box will deter, rather than appeal to, the woman. If she’s buying it as a gift, she will want to know that she’s buying the right drill set, so she may want to know what types of projects it has the power to accomplish and whether there is a return policy. If she is purchasing it at the request of a man, she may want to know that it meets all of the specifications the man has requested it meet. If she is purchasing it for herself, she may want to know that it will be powerful enough to meet her needs while being comfortable for her to use. These are just guesses, of course. Without having done the research, I couldn’t possibly know what she’s looking for, but the point is that she will likely be looking for different information, depending on the purpose of her search. This means that all of that information should be available on some level.
Q: What are some key web copy and layout design tips for content designed for women?
A: I deal with copy alone, so I will speak to that portion of your question. There are no key web copy rules, simply because every market will be different. So, maybe there is one rule. Make sure you understand the market you are trying to reach and speak in their language, using the types of words they would use, the tone of voice they would use, and the type of logic they would use. Get to know your target audience, whether they are women or men, mothers or children, teenagers or elders.
Athletic women who are looking for a good running shoe are going to want to know just as much as men about that running shoe. If you are marketing to an ultra-running woman, she is going to need to know that the shoe can hold up to hours on the muddy trail, without slipping on rocks or turning her ankle. If you are marketing to a woman who runs two or three miles every few days, you might want to attend to the appearance of the shoe a bit more and market it as a comfortable shoe that helps them get away from it all.
The important thing to keep in mind is not so much that you should water down the facts or go easy on the attitude when it comes to women. The important thing to keep in mind is that women come with a vast variety of emotional and intellectual strengths and sensibilities. You can make umbrella statements like “women are more interested in value or benefits than in features” or “women are looking out for their family so they demand safety and dependability from their vehicles.” The truth is, some markets are looking for those things. Other markets are not. There is no silver bullet for marketing to women. As with all types of marketing adventures, you need to know the specific types of women you are marketing to and speak to them specifically.
Q: Can you provide some examples of the way men may think versus the way women think?
A: Again, I think it’s a mistake to oversimplify. All people come with a range of emotional and behavioral characteristics that exist along a gray scale. Some women prefer simplicity and conventional fonts. Some women are affected by story selling and emotionally driven advertising.
As mothers, women have historically been more concerned with the emotional and physical safety of their children. They have wanted safe items in their home and have wanted to purchase items and services that ensured the emotional and physical health and growth of their family. This is still largely true, but it is my belief that women are shifting and what we have thought of as being inherently female is changing. Men are taking on many of those roles and are shifting as well.
Women are also sexual beings, who want to look good and feel good about themselves. They are mates, who want to support their significant other in emotional and (more and more often) financial and physical ways. They want to be respected and understood. These are all generalities, however.
From my perspective, there is no basic female persona. Every attribute I mentioned above comes in a variety of shades.
Q: Do you have a “test” for copy that helps us to understand better how to create content for women?
A: I do not have a specific “test” for copy created for women. My suggestion to marketers is to create two or three “personas” for each of your market segments. Study the women who are purchasing your product or service. Interview them, engage them in conversation, send out questionnaires. Make a sincere effort to accomplish as much market research you can afford, make certain that you are selling something that they want, and create a checklist that indicates where your product aligns with the needs of each persona. Once you’ve done that, you can consider how to reach out to the appropriate women, in a way that will convey how they will benefit from your product or service.
Q: Do you have any closing remarks about why to create content specifically for women makes good business sense?
A: Creating content that is specific to your target audience is crucial. Marketing to women makes good sense because studies and a casual glance around the shopping mall will tell you that women are doing the shopping these days. Women do think differently than men, but women do not think alike so market research and well-defined feminine personas will help you reach the female audiences who can truly benefit from your product or service.
If you enjoyed this interview and want to learn more about the freelance copywriting services of Heidi White then I invite you to visit her website by using this link.