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snails? I don't think so

Does Your Marketing Suffer From Gender Bias?

What Is Gender Bias?

A slew of researchers have concluded that in aggregate, men and women react differently to colors, images, topic matter and even the style of copy. Empowered with that knowledge, should direct response marketers take into consideration these differences when designing direct mail and broadcast email campaigns? Will doing so improve overall campaign response rates?

So What Works, Generally?

We surveyed the available information on what works best when marketing to men vs. women, and here's the consensus:

Female Male
shapes, lines rounder, softer edges harder, more defined lines/edges
color schemes brighter, more complex simpler, darker
copy, voice casual language and tone formal, expert, minimize abbreviations
visuals informal photographs images featuring motion
tap into desire for value over time, inclination to share information impulsiveness, immediacy of need, inclination to brag
make the case tell a story, focus on value, provide stories to share prove it with numbers & testimonials, focus on problems solved, provide the little details and talking points

Break-Through or Bunk?

It's pretty easy to test your marketing for a gender gap.

1. Evaluate Your Most Recent Results

At listwist.com, you will find an easy-to-use way to determine the gender of your list if it contains a first- or full-name field. Export the names, or just the first names, of the people to whom you mailed your last direct mail or broadcast email effort, as well as your list of people who responded. Run these lists through the Gender Finder application. Get a sense of what the make-up of your initial list was, vs. the make-up of your responders. Listwist processes your entire list upon upload, and provides a free preview of the first 25 names on the list; downloading the entire list costs $.01 per name with a $20 minimum. It also has a simple form to input one or several names to determine the gender without a list file.

2. Next time, design to appeal to either men or women.

Evaluate the results from that effort. If this concept of gender marketing doesn't work, you should get the same approximate percentage of response from your list as you did before, before you tweaked the design to appeal to a specific gender. If the response is skewed more heavily toward the gender for which you designed, you now know the easiest way possible to increase your response rates: Do two versions!

Our guess is that some efforts are much more likely to be gender-marketing-sensitive than others, but it is so easy to test, why wouldn't you try? Like the rhyme says: Sure, go ahead and pitch to boys using the snails and puppy dog tails. The girls, not so much.

Get More from Variable Data

Whether you are an art director, copywriter, designer or even a printer, chances are you have produced broadcast email or direct mail campaigns with some embedded personalization. Why not use the power of variable data personalization to do more than add a "Dear John" field to your mailer? With variable data, you can write copy, choose colors and images, even design offers and call-to-actions based on gender. It's quick, easy, and, when set-up correctly, only marginally more expensive than producing one version for all. The return-on-investment is fantastic for many marketers.

Importance: The Cost of a Gender Gap

Sometimes it takes convincing of the powers that be that the return on investment for a new approach is worth the added time, effort and expense. Here's a sample ROI that demonstrates the impact. Just substitute your own numbers and stages.

Let's say your company sells furniture and is planning its annual clearance sale. Let's assume you drop 25,000 pieces in the mail for each store and you have 40 stores. You would mail 1,000,000 pieces across the local markets you serve. To keep it simple, we'll assume half your list is comprised of women and half of men.

Over the three-day sale, let's assume that 10% of the women visit the store yet only 6% of the men. To keep the example consistent with our experience, let's assume that 10% of the recipients who responded to the mailer with a visit actually make a purchase, with an average purchase price of $300.

In this experience, the gender response gap between women and men is 4%. 50,000 women visit your 40 stores, but only 30,000 men. Of those 80,000 visitors, 8,000 make a purchase averaging $300 for total chain revenue resulting from the mailing of $2,400,000.

Not bad, but consider the cost of that gender response gap: The 20,000 fewer men who responded resulted in 2,000 fewer sales worth a whopping $600,000! The relatively low cost of creating and producing a second version pales in comparison to the upside of closing the gender response gap.

Need Some Help?

If you need some help with gender marketing, personalization or variable data in general, give us a call at 763-425-4251. We'd be happy to help you think through your tests, creative options and even produce your effort. Thanks!


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