On one hand, they are well-educated, tech-savvy, information-hungry and ambitious. On the other hand, they can also be impatient, easily distracted, and expect instant gratification.
Who am I talking about? Millennials. Or perhaps you know them better as Generation Y or Echo Boomers. No matter how you refer to them, they are today’s 18-34 year olds (depending on what article or study you’re reading). They are typically the younger siblings, nieces and nephews of Generation X and they the children of Baby Boomers.
What’s so special about this generation? Despite being a biased Millennial, myself, I can tell you this generation is making quite an impact.
According to recently published research by LinkedIn about Affluent Millennials, this generational subset spends a whopping $2 trillion every year. With their collective annual income predicted to reach $3.4 trillion by 2018, Millennials will eclipse Baby Boomers, who are expected bring in a generational annual income of $2.8 trillion in 2018. In the next few years, in addition to the wealth they generate on their own, Millennials will also be on the receiving end of a massive generational shift of approximately $59 trillion in personal wealth.
If that’s not enough motivation to include Millennials in your marketing strategy, I urge you to consider how the technology industry has flexed to the preferences and needs of this generation …not to mention the fact that a large part of the tech world is actually run by Millennials.
I recently published a post that goes into detail about how and why you should market to Millennials, the highlights of which are below.
A Very Social Set
Millennials were first generation to have social media as children and young adults, making them a very a social set. They grew up connected not only to individuals in their schools and communities, but with connections across the country and, indeed around the world. As a result, Millennials value relationships and want to feel connected, not only with people, but also with brands.
For example, something as seemingly transactional as a financial institution is personal to Millennials. They turn to their social networks for opinions on financial service providers, for investing advice, and for helpful content. And today, according to LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, more than half of Affluent Millennials – that is those with more than $100,000 in investable, non-real estate assets – say social networks are a “must have” in the financial decision-making process. That’s 34% more than GenXers who feel the same way.
In fact, 1 in 5 Millennials believe social networks will eventually become the hub of all of their financial information. While finances have been a very personal and confidential topic for previous generations, Millennials believe their social networks will serve as the center of all their financial information and decisions in the future. That’s quite a generational shift.
What Marketers Should Do
Get social! Think social media doesn’t work for your business? Think again. While this might have been true a few years ago, it’s no longer the case. There are so many platforms, channels, groups and all around opportunities today – certainly, at least one will work for you.
While Millennials may not be at the top of your list of targeted personas, consider the ways they are still important to your business:
- If you’re a B2B company, your key decision makers or their top influencers are Millennials. And in the coming years, the number of Millennial decision makers is only going to grow.
- If you’re a B2C company, again, while you may not be actively pursuing Millennials to buy your products or services, the odds are good that Millennials influence your buyer’s purchasing decisions.
Whatever platforms you choose, just remember to keep your posts fresh and always focused on the interests of your audience, not you.
Millennials Demand Mobility
In addition to being raised in a highly social and connected world, Millennials have always known a mobile lifestyle. Not only people, but also information has been right at their fingertips for as long as they can remember. Just how much of an impact has this made on Millennials as, well, humans? For starters, it has made our actual brains different. Let’s have Kit Yarrow, a business professor and chair of the psychology department at Golden Gate University, not to mention author of Gen BuY explain: “Our brains are forming when we’re young, and because they’re so immersed in technology, their brains are literally different than other people’s”.
Yup. Different brains. How ’bout them apples?
What Marketers Should Do
Start by making your website mobile friendly. Why? Because 70% of mobile searches lead to action on websites within one hour. Think of the opportunities you could be missing if your site is not optimized for mobile viewing, particularly among Millennials.
Being mobile-friendly isn’t just about being Millennial-friendly. Optimizing your presence in the digital marketplace for mobile consumption is important no matter what audience you’re trying to reach. U.S. Internet users spend 52% of their time online consuming media on mobile applications, according to comScore. What’s more, mobile web and apps combined comprise 60% of all Internet time.
But remember, it’s not just about your website. Your digital content must be mobile friendly, as well. Are your newsletters, emails, infographics and images all optimized for mobile consumption? If not, it’s time to change that.
Personality Goes a Long Way
Nearly sixty percent of Millennials say they buy from brands that represent their own styles and personalities. Millennials, more so than other generations, realize that the brands they choose say something about who they are, what they value and where they fit into society. As many as 40% of this generation is willing to pay a premium for brands that align with the image they want to convey about themselves.
As we saw in the previous section, social media plays a big role for Millennials. It’s not just about the sneakers they wear to school or the kind of car they drive to work. It’s about the social platforms they use, the restaurants and stores where they check in, and the brands they review and mention in their posts. The brand choices of Millennials are more transparent than they have been in the past for older generations.
What Marketers Should Do
Understand your brand’s personality as well as you understand your own. Then, share it! Your brand should have a voice, image, feel, tone that is easy for your target audience to quickly see, understand and identify with.
But, just like your mother always said, just be yourself! Don’t try to be something that you’re not. Just be clear about who your brand truly is. People will like your brand for being honest, transparent, and true to itself.
Influenced by the Influencers
While this may seem like Millennials follower their peerss and succumb to groupthink, this is not the case. Rather, they seek out peer opinions, product reviews and user-generated content as part of the decision-making process. 84% of Millennials report that user-generated content on company websites has influences what they buy, compared to 70% of Baby Boomers.
This helps us understand the dramatic increase in demand for YouTube videos, blogs and review sites like Yelp and Angie’s List. Millennials want to know what other people think about products and services before they buy them. So, companies are providing it. And other companies are developing technology to help those companies provide it. See what’s happening here? The result is an influx of resources to help share and consume peer reviews and personal opinions.
What Marketers Should Do
There are several ways to help Millennials see that your brand is credible and worthy of being trusted. Here are just a few ideas:
- Post testimonials on your website and social media, particularly if you can provide videos of happy customers.
- Create case stories, best practices and use cases.
- After each sale, gently ask customers to share their experiences on relevant review sites.
- Engage customers on social media and respond to their comments, regardless of whether they are positive or negative, to show that you care.
Just remember not to overdue it! Finding a balance is key here. Offer up your street cred so Millennials can find it, but keep the conversation focused on them.
Traditional Marketing is a Definite Don’t
Don’t waste time or money trying to reach to Millennials with traditional marketing tactics. Why? 84% of Millennials don’t like or trust traditional advertising. They won’t respond well to a banner ad that says “Save 30% on Jeans”. Instead, they want a native ad tailored specifically to their interests, like “What do your jeans say about you? Everything! Take the quiz to find your perfect style and save 30%.”
Sounds like more work, doesn’t it? Well it is …kind of. But that’s why programmatic advertising technology was born and why rebranding campaigns now exist. This demand for personalized marketing is also what spurred rapid adoption of marketing automation technology, like HubSpot, of which I am a huge, huge fan.
And the extra effort is worth it. According to AdWeek, 57% of Millennials will engage with sponsored online content, as long as they find it interesting. So get personal and watch what happens.
What Marketers Should Do
Get creative with new ways to reach Millennials. Try new technologies, likePeriscope, and see which ones work best for your brand and your audience. Look into remarketing campaigns and programmatic advertising. Sure, these options certainly can get expensive, but they don’t need to. You might be surprised with what you can do for less than $100!
Use technology to customize your marketing to Millennials. Appeal to them on a personal level and show them that you care about their interests, their needs, their challenges – more than you care about them downloading your coupon.
If you haven’t already reached out to the Millennial generation, I hope this post helped convince you that the time to start is now. Like, right now. Because by 2017 (that’s just over 16 months away, folks!) Millennials will hold more buying power than any other generation. Begin building relationships today. You (and your brand) won’t regret it.
This article originally appeared on the Inbound Marketing Agents blog. Check it out there, along with lots of other exceptionally helpful information!