Just as the content and style of the most popular women's magazines are good beginning points for off-line research, so are the content and style of the Web sites most popular with women for online research. Whether it's DailyCandy.com for the scoop on what's hip and happening in big cities like New York and Los Angeles; a site like Tickle (at web. tickle .com) that feeds their entertainment needs; or a site that simply serves their buying needs well, like Amazon.com, there's plenty to learn about what attracts women online and keeps them there.
Using the Internet for prelistening makes it much easier to build the foundation for more detailed research. What's available online, to even a passive observer, can deliver a fairly thorough profile of your marketplace before you even start to develop your own online survey. This preparation will save you time and money to devote to the expensive, fine-tuning that will go on later in your research process.
A few passive online research tactics include:
Pattern observation. What "floats up" when you examine where women are flocking online? What do they do once there? Which tools are they using? What pages seem to be most popular? Do you notice a passionate and active feedback section? What patterns can you discern through casual observation? If there is a message board or chat area, are women using it, and, if so, what are they talking about? What seems to get them riled up, and on what days and about which topics is there a flurry of activity? What is missing from the sites women frequent? Are there fewer pop-ads or banners?
Content, color and design review. Take a look at the top ten sites your women-of-interest are visiting (include industries unrelated to yours) to see what other companies have already discovered about marketing to women.
When you identify the online focal points that seem to resonate most with women like those in your own marketwhether those points involve product selection, e-commerce technology or copy style (among many other things)you'll have gained clues to better serving your own customers. It is not hard science by any means; but this preliminary awareness-building research prepares you for getting the scoop directly from your women customers via online quizzes and surveys.