A study recently released by Burst Media looking at "What Mom Likes Online" generated interesting findings. Among them: "Most moms say online ads promoting products geared towards the family and home fall flat" and "Moms found these ads 'irrelevant or distracting'," but that "Online ads that offer product coupons, sales promotion codes and/or other incentives resonate better with moms." Other Burst Media findings highlight moms' reliance on social media, niche websites, and mobile devices, echoing what was reported at last year's ad:tech NY conference. So, what's an advertiser to do? Here's a great list for starters.
Give Mom what she wants. Since research finds that moms prefer ads with special offers and discounts, why fight the tide? Attract Mom to your site or social media channels with ads offering coupon downloads, rebates, or sample requests. Encourage her to share these offers with her friends and contribute back to the community with product reviews, fun photos, and other comments.
Be a resource to moms. Use social media to offer truly helpful and useful branded content like tips, ideas, advice, how-to videos, news, etc. Moms love recipes (attention food product advertisers!), which not only makes for good resource and advertising content, but recipe communities are also great niche sites on which to advertise.
Build a community around your brand. A branded community like Pampers' MommyCast can become the hub within which your mommy audience can congregate, ask questions of each other and/or experts, share information, and participate in informal research. Promote this community through your online and offline advertising.
Bring your branded social media efforts alive in your ads. Not only do you want to incorporate social media into your brand, and your brand into your social media, but you can also literally pull some of these efforts into your online advertising. There have been a number of brands like Volvo and Juicy Juice that have pulled their live tweets into display ads.
Deliver a message that's cause-worthy. According to 2010 Cone Cause Evolution research, 95 percent of American moms believe cause marketing is acceptable, 92 percent want to buy a product that supports a cause, and 93 percent are likely to switch brands because of the brand's support of a cause. These are some pretty potent stats! For example, Coke's "Give it Back" campaign promotes recycling with concrete correlations that resonate with moms.
Cater to Mom's mobile lifestyle. Don't overlook mobile devices - moms rarely find themselves untethered these days. Mobile makes Mom's life easier, and advertisers have a huge opportunity to literally put their brand in Mom's pocket…or at least her pocketbook! Moms like branded apps that are truly useful and help save them time. Toys"R"Us has built a mobile app for iPhone and BlackBerry that sends deal alerts.
And Starbucks uses QR codes to let customers pay for coffee via iPhones.
With mobile social networks growing, advertisers can also look for sponsorship opportunities to gain visibility.
Put Mom in the driver's seat. Instead of funneling ad messages through one social media channel, you have to reach moms on all fronts. Moms like control, they like having a lot of options, and giving them both lets them tap into their creative side. Let moms customize how they communicate with your brand. Make it easy for moms to connect with your brand on their own terms, whether it's through Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, text alerts, mobile, or directly on your website. Use advertising to promote these options.
Keep moms entertained. Multimedia rules Mom's world. She loves videos, digital games, and mobile apps that engage, assist, entertain, and inform her…plus a bit of "cool factor" doesn't hurt either. Generate the kind of ad creative that has a better chance of getting Mom's attention and shared than a sales pitch. For example, Blendtec's "Will It Blend?" YouTube campaign (just as easily converted into an infomercial) showcased the company's blender power in a very attention-getting way. The campaign was such a huge hit that within two years, retail blender sales increased by 700 percent!
Make it personal. The Aberdeen Group found that a move from segmentation-based marketing to one-to-one personalization can improve conversion rates by 22 percent and customer retention rates by 60 percent. Take advantage of this when developing social media and ad campaigns like MomsRising.org did with a campaign to boost its membership. It created a tool that lets users personalize a video using Mom's name. You could also try personalizing to Mom's needs and lifestyle, like Swiffer's "Cleaning Personality" campaign.
Make sure Mom knows how to find you. Prominently display your social media accounts (are they visible in your ads and on your website? Where is Ann Taylor's social media presence on its site, for example?). Have direct calls-to-action encouraging moms to connect with your brand. (Caution: if you are going to do this, you better have worthwhile and active accounts to visit - there's nothing worse than a brand promoting its social media account and having it be lame when you get there.)
The bottom line: moms are social media power users - they are savvy, shrewd, and not likely to be as easily fooled by advertising gimmicks. Use social media and advertising together well, however, and you'll be pleased at the extended mileage you can get from your efforts.
A ClickZ expert columnist since 2005, Hollis Thomases (@hollisthomases) is president and founder of Maryland-based WebAdvantage.net, an online marketing company that provides results-centric, strategic Internet marketing services, including online media planning, SEO, PPC campaign management, social media marketing, and Internet consulting. Author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day and an award-winning entrepreneur, Hollis is the Maryland 2007 SBA Small Business Person of the Year. Hollis speaks extensively on online marketing, having presented for ClickZ, the American Marketing Association, SES, The Newsletter and Electronic Publishers Association, The Kelsey Group, and the Vocus Worldwide User Forum. WebAdvantage.net's client list has included Nokia USA, Nature Made Vitamins, Johns Hopkins University, ENDO Pharmaceuticals, K'NEX Construction Toys, and Visit Baltimore. The agency was recognized as a "Small Giant" by the Greater Baltimore Tech Council and was chosen as a "Best Place for Business Women to Work" by "Smart Woman Magazine."