It's time to add Millennial Marketing to the top of youo-do list.
They’re well educated, tech-savvy, information hungry and ambitious. On the other hand, they can also be impatient, have short attention spans and demand instant gratification. And be careful what you say about them because I’m one of them! Who am I talking about? Millennials.
This is the generation born from 1981 to 1997, so today’s 18-34 year olds. (You may see information elsewhere with slightly different boundary years. That’s OK. Generations tend to vary a bit according to who is studying them.) They are often also referred to as “Generation Y” because they followed Generation X or “Echo Boomers” because they are the children of the Baby Boomers and are making similar impacts on society as compared to their parents.
What’s so great about this generation? Well, despite the fact that I’m a biased Millennial, myself, I can tell you that this generation packs a powerful punch.
According to research published by LinkedIn about Affluent Millennials, generational subset spends a staggering $2 trillion every year. With their annual income expected to reach $3.4 trillion as a generation by 2018, Millennials will surpass Baby Boomers, who are predicted bring in a generational annual income of $2.8 trillion at that point. In addition to the wealth they will build on their own, in the coming years they 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 modify your marketing strategy to include Millennials, just think about the way 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.
Face it: Millennials matter. And if they don’t matter to your brand, they might leave you behind.
So first things first. Let’s get to know the Millennial generation a bit better, shall we?
Millennials are Social
This may come as no surprise, but as the first generation that had social media as children and young adults, Millennials are 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 connectedness, not only with people, but also with brands. They want to feel a real connection with the companies they buy from.
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 - consider social networks to be 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. Isn’t that incredible? While finances have been something so personal and confidential to generations that came before, Millennials believe their social networks will be at center of all of their financial information in the future. Wow. That’s a shift.
What You Can Do
Get social! Think social media doesn’t work for your business? Think again. While a few years ago, this might have been true, it’s no longer the case. There are so many platforms, channels, media, groups and all around opportunities today that there is sure to be one that works for you.
If you’re a B2C company and Millennials are part of your primary persona, this is a no-brainer, right? But perhaps Millennials aren’t part of your target audience or your company is B2B and you don’t see how marketing to Millennials will work for you.
While Millennials may not be at the top of your list of targeted personas, I guarantee they are an important part of your business:
If you’re a B2B company, chances are that either 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 help influence your buyer’s purchasing decisions.
Explore the options. There are far too many to list in this post, but here are a few of my favorites:
LinkedIn is great for just about any B2B company. Publish solid content, contribute to group discussions where your target market spends time and build a strong brand presence to establish credibility, which is important to Millennials.
Twitter is a nice option for B2B or B2C. Share images, videos, interesting tidbits of information, and links to valuable content.
Facebook is especially great for B2C companies. Engage with your audience through posts about your team, snapshots of your product in use, links to helpful content, offers of discounts and coupons, etc. Start a conversation and build relationships.
Pinterest is a great option for brands that have visual content accompanied by actionable information. So whether you’re B2B or B2C, if you have tips, tricks, recipes, ideas, or inspiration, Pinterest could be for you.
Whatever platforms you choose, just remember to keep your posts fresh and that it’s all about your audience, not you.
Millennials are Mobile
In addition to growing up in a socially connected world, Millennials were also raised in a mobile world. Not only people, but also information has always been right at their fingertips. Just how much of an impact has this made on Millennials as, well, humans? I’ll let 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”.
That’s right, folks. Our brains are actually different. How about that?
Millennials have been wired to seek information. When they have a question, they simply “Google it” or “ask Siri”. This technology has always been there - and not just while sitting at a computer. Nope, they have had the luxury of mobile technology for the vast majority of their lives.
What You Can Do
Be sure your website is mobile friendly. Why? Because 70% of mobile searches lead to action on websites within one hour. That’s huge opportunity you could be missing out on if your website is not optimized for mobile users, particularly Millennials.
And, remember, it’s not just about your website. It’s also critically important that your digital content is mobile friendly, as well. Are your newsletters, emails, infographics and images all optimized for mobile consumption? If not, they truly should be.
Being mobile-friendly isn’t just about being Milliennial-friendly. Optimizing your online presence for mobile is important no matter who you’re trying to reach. Case and point: 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 combine to represent 60% of all Internet time.
So if your brand isn’t playing nice with mobile, today is a great day to start.
Millennials Prefer Brands that Align Their Personalities
Nearly sixty percent of Millennials buy brands that they feel reflect their styles and personalities. They are self-aware, realizing that the brands they choose say something about who they are, what they value and where they feel they fit within society. In fact, as many as 40% of this generation are willing to pay a premium for brands that reflect the images they wish to convey about themselves.
While this may be true to some extent with other generations, too, Millennials are acutely aware of how often they are seen and where they are representing the brands they choose. As we saw in the previous section, social media plays a big role. 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 You Can Do
Get to know your own brand’s personality as well as you know your best friend’s. Then, share it! Your brand should have a look, feel, tone and personality that is easy for your target audience to identify.
But, just like your mom always told you, don’t try to be something that you’re not. Just be clear about who your brand is, what it stands for and what it represents. People will like your brand for being honest, transparent, and true to itself.
Millennials Are Heavily Influenced by What Other People Think
While this may seem like they are followers 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 how that works? The result is an influx of resources to help share and consume peer reviews and personal opinions.
What You Can Do
There are several ways to help show Millennials that your brand is credible and 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.
Millennials Dislike Traditional Marketing
Don’t bother wasting your time or money trying to market to Millennials with traditional marketing tactics. They don’t like them, don’t trust them and won’t respond to them.
Breaking it down a bit further than that broad and blunt statement, 84% of Millennials don't like or trust traditional advertising. They won’t respond well to a banner ad that says “Save 20% 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 20%.”
Sounds like more work, doesn’t it? Well it is ...sort of. But that’s why programmatic advertising was born and why remarketing 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 You Can Do
Get creative with new ways to reach Millennials. Try new technologies, like Periscope, and see which ones work best for your brand and your audience. Look into marketing automation (did I mention I love HubSpot?) and see how it can help your marketing reach further and be more effective.
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 their wallets.
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.