It’s no surprise that today’s moms are headed online for everything.  From discovering the best way to get grass stains out of football pants to shopping for a child’s birthday present to planning a weekend itinerary that will entertain all the visiting relatives, moms are spending a lot of time in the digital space.  We have all looked over the staggering numbers (95% of moms are going online once a day, 88% rely on the web for parental guidance and advice, 86% have made online purchases, etc.) and agree that online appears to be where the moms are, but brands are still struggling with how to effectively reach them.

During last year’s M2Moms®-The Marketing To Moms Conference, October 21 & 22, at the Chicago Cultural Center, brand leaders and marketing-to-mom experts revealed some of the top ways in which brands can connect with mom online.  Here are some of the top tips that will were discussed during the conference:

Listen Before Engaging

“Social media is obviously a key way in which we’re increasingly connecting with busy moms,” says conference speaker Kris Charles, VP, Global Communication, Kellogg Company. “Our priority is to use social media to listen to her needs, and then as appropriate, respond with information about our brands.”

“As a busy woman, first and foremost, we think mom wants to be listened to, rather than just being bombarded with marketing messages,” Charles says. “Key to any company’s success in the social media space is to take a step back and listen, then engage with useful information as appropriate.”  Charles says the company and its partner agencies recently incorporated Facebook and Twitter into a multi-phased campaign to increase awareness of domestic hunger, encourage consumer involvement and position Kellogg as a leader in the fight against hunger.  While hunger has always been an important issue to Kellogg Company (they have donated more than 224 million pounds of food to Feeding America), it was important for Kellogg’s to break through all the recent corporate donations and directly reach consumers, particularly moms, to encourage action.  The resulting Facebook presence, http://www.facebook.com/kelloggcares, became a “one-stop shop” for Kellogg’s corporate responsibility efforts, Charles said, attracting over 200,000 fans and generating sizable donations to the anti-hunger agency Feeding America.

Don’t Just Know the Tools—Know How to Use Them

In addition to listening to what moms need—pay attention to how they are using the online tools that are currently available. The last few years have seen a dramatic shift among American mothers, from passive media consumers to “active participants and drivers,” says conference speaker Nancy Dussault-Smith, VP, Marketing Communications, iRobot, makers of the Roomba.  “Moms aren’t too busy to consume media, but they’re calling all the shots on what media they’re consuming – and how and when they choose to do so,” she said. “Recognizing the value and insight of moms, listening to what they have to say and joining their conversations midstream is an inverted way for brands to build engagement and loyalty.”

Don’t Forget Her Offline World

While the conversations may begin online, never underestimate the powerful WOM that moves beyond the virtual world.  “Moms care about brand integrity and value – they can be the most loyal and provide the most feedback,” says conference speaker Jeannine Harvey, Associate Director, Digital Communications, PBS.  “Moms also intersect and talk to other moms all day long – on the playground, at school, in stores, online, mobile – you name it. They share ideas, opinions, news – everything that affects them and their families. They have a powerful seat as influencers of a good or poor product.”

“Moms value advice from other moms,” Harvey adds.   “Community has always been an important way to share information, and for years this was done on a more local level. Now, through social networking, their communities are bigger and more diverse – moms are able to share advice and support on a much wider scale.”

Workshop speaker Lesley Hettinger, Assistant Manager, Chevrolet Communications, agrees.  Hettinger says Chevrolet reaches out to mom bloggers to test drive their cars and share their opinions online, and they often point out features that go unmentioned by the mainstream automotive press, like child seat latches.  “In today’s environment, people increasingly trust their peers more than official or traditional sources of news and information.  With word of mouth being the number one source for automotive information for many consumers, it is essential that we give real people the ability to test out our vehicles and share their impressions with their friends and family.”

Have a Real Purpose

As site traffic increases and blog mentions rise, it is easy for brands to forget about the reason for the outreach.  “Marketers today need to go beyond appealing to her heart and mind with the intent of persuasion,” says Ian Wolfman, CMO and Partner, imc2, one of the conference sponsors.  “To be successful in reaching her today, marketers must understand not only the brand’s emotional appeal, but also the brand’s underlying purpose.”

“Offering authentic value in line with the brand’s purpose enables her to hone in on what unique role the brand can play in her life and value set,” Wolfman says.  “If a relationship with a brand entails that level of care, credibility, and congruency of values, reach and frequency becomes less of an issue.”

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