Marketing to Mom

With Mother’s Day coming this weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about “Mommy marketing.” Pregnancy, childbirth and new parenthood offer a predictable set of challenges that makes this audience a natural for lifecycle marketing. And, are you surprised to hear us say this, a natural for email.

A colleague of mine recently had a baby and she was struck by how many companies spent a lot of money purchasing her name and then sending her direct mail – including samples! – but didn’t build in an email component.

Let’s take a look at a few of the big companies, what they did and what they could have done better:

Huggies (Kimberly-Clark): Sent a beautiful direct mail piece late in the third trimester that included an itty-bitty sized diaper. The piece included a call to action to sign up for email on their site. That’s the good news. The bad news is that nearly six months later our new mommy hasn’t received a single email from Huggies.

Formula companies: We are going to lump together Similac, Enfamil, and the rest because they all did basically the same thing: sent direct mail pieces full of coupons. They also sent samples – which, given the bulk of the product, is no minor expense. If they asked for email it was too small to be noticeable.

Beech-Nut: This program was the closest to ideal for this market. They sent a direct mail piece that was focused on getting an email address. In fact, the point was to send recipients online to download a free PDF on how to introduce your baby to solids. The download process was nice and the PDF itself was very cool, with the kind of detailed information that new parents crave. The email follow-up was okay – Beech-Nut sends a monthly newsletter that is customized for your baby’s age. Smart, but feels like they could actually get away with more frequency here, as long as they set proper expectations. Most of the parenting sites (BabyCenter, American Baby, et al.) send weekly newsletters, so this would be appropriate for this market.

Bottom line: The mommy market offers a unique opportunity for marketers. It’s an easily defined segment with predictable needs on a set schedule. It’s also a market that responds well to information. Most of these companies have content to spare, judging from the elaborate direct mail pieces they send. Re-purposing that content into the email channel would save them costs, save a few trees and help Moms by making the information easier to save and access.

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