Many email marketers segment their lists by lifecycle, behavior, psychographics, and many other factors, but few take into consideration the most basic segmentation of all when it comes to targeted email marketing: gender! Research has shown that men and women react differently to various email aspects, and in some cases, what is alluring to one side of the gender divide can alienate the other side.


Some Gender Findings Are Counter-Intuitive

In what would seem to be a fully counter-intuitive discovery, the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience found that females are more likely to study sexy images for a longer time and focus on the body, while men will primarily look at the face. Since the first chapter of Marketing 101 is “Sex Sells,” it would seem that most email marketers are getting it backwards: Male-targeted brands seem to show many full body images of women, while the female targeted brands tend to focus on close-ups of faces!

An American Marketing Association study laid to rest another common misconception about marketing to gender differences: Men are more loyal to organizations and companies than women are. According to the research, females tend to view themselves as dependent on and connected with a few particular individuals, while males believe that they are connected and dependent on organizations and associations of people. Men therefore will maintain loyalty to a group even after the primary contacts move on, while women are more likely to follow their primary contacts to their new companies! Email marketers who employ personality endorsements should pay very close attention to these findings as they stand to lose a considerable percentage of their female customers if the endorser chooses to go on to promote a competitor.

Females Do Not Prefer Pink

Not all findings similarly fly in the face of conventional wisdom. A Pew Internet study discovered that males primarily use email for information gathering and transmission, concentrating on business, news, sports, weather, politics, and how-tos. Females, on the other hand, prefer to use the medium for building and maintaining relationships, as well as for personal issues such as spirituality and health.

A study at Newcastle University discovered that an email’s aesthetics are perceived differently between males and females. While the male email readers preferred few and darker colors as well as horizontal strong lines, the females enjoyed lighter and multiple colors in both the typestyle and the background. Interestingly, the study discounted the long held theory that young women prefer pink!

Females Are Far More Cautious Than Males in Opening Emails

According to NextStage Evolution, females consider other individuals’ opinions to guide their decision making process, while males consider other individuals’ decisions to guide their formation of opinions. This finding leads to the determination that an email marketer must be able to demonstrate a consensus among the female’s social or peer group in order to make the sale to her, while males must be targeted with information showing that their social or peer group is actually buying the product in order to sway him.

Spam behavior separates the sexes as well. Research by the Messaging Anti Abuse Working Group discovered striking differences on how the genders react to potential spam. Females were more likely to set up a distinct email address used exclusively for various signups and posts, and paid considerably more attention than males to the “from” line in order to determine whether or not to open a particular email. Males are more devil-may-care about spam; and more likely to open spam, click on their links and even reply to it.

Vive La Difference!

Failing to take gender into consideration in your segmentation strategy is a critical flaw that you should address post-haste. After all, now that research is clearly demonstrating that the difference between men and women extends to their email behaviors, crafting your marketing approach to take advantage of those differences is more important than ever.