12 Tips for Marketing to Millennials
The chances are that if you’ve ever talked about marketing through social media, Millennials have come up in the conversation.
Millennials are now the largest bulk of the workforce, rapidly replacing Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers that retire every year. And, despite the stereotype of “lazy, entitled Millennials,” this group of younger people are more influential, informed, and technology-driven than previous generations. They tend to have a higher disposable income but less financial commitment, meaning companies have to try harder with Millennials. The timeframe in which Millennials were born stretches from 1981 to the early 2000’s, so they have grown up with television, the Internet, and an economic disaster or two, which has shaped their view of the world.
All of this information means two things: A) They should probably be your target audience (depending on your industry), and B) many of the old tricks in marketing will not work very well with them. Millennials are very particular about what they want, and will not hesitate to move on past your brand if you aren’t giving them what they want.
That being said, here are several tips to help you reach the Millennial base:
Authenticity above all else
If there is one thing Millennials possess, it’s intolerance for all things fake and disingenuous. They were born with a BS detector and can tell when a company is simply “saying what they want to hear” to make a sale. Therefore, they will often trust the word of others that have tried products instead of your extensive marketing campaign as to the quality of your products. In this respect, your company would do well to partner with social influencers such as popular review sites, YouTube artists, and other social venues to try out your products and evangelize them for you through their own experiences. This tactic comes off as much more authentic since the opinion is coming from someone Millennials trust rather than an advertisement you created.
Forget direct or outbound marketing, a.k.a “the hard sell”
Millennials have grown up in an age where “skipping the commercials” have become commonplace. This phenomenon began with TiVo, which spawned digital video recording, or DVR. For the first time, people could record TV shows on a separate device and watch it whenever they wanted; more importantly, they could fast-forward through all the commercials. Other mediums have since followed in the form of video streaming, satellite radio, and other services in which users can bypass your advertising efforts. Traditional advertising (TV, radio, print ads) have little effect on Millennials, and they don’t like to have things “sold to them.” They find it more annoying since they can now just see what reviews say about your products on their phone and make a decision from that information.
Concentrate on relevant, content-rich inbound marketing
Rather than empty promises and exaggerations made from ad campaigns, Millennials desire more substance and useful insight from companies to entice them to make a purchase. Instead of simply trying to tell them how great your product is, you’ll have better luck in presenting them with why your product is worth their time. Teaching Millennials something new or useful can pique their interest, but delivering informative e-books, whitepapers, blog posts, how-to guides, tutorials, top lists, and video content will keep them coming back. Proving that you are an industry thought leader would also inspire a level of trust with Millennials and at least entice them to try out your products in conjunction with the information you have provided.
Everything must be mobile-friendly
Do you keep hearing the stereotype that young people are glued to their phones? Well, in a sense, that is true. Millennials do most if not all of their Internet searches and social media activity on their smartphones, so ensuring that your website and content can be easily viewed on mobile devices is paramount to your success with this young demographic. Formatting your web pages to scale to smaller screens and using mobile-friendly themes will at least allow Millennials to view your content effectively without increasing your bounce rate.
Give them a voice to help shape your brand
The Millennial generation is a very vocal one, whether it is on social media or college campus, and in so doing like to help shape the world around them. They want their opinions to matter, and the best way to capture this often-ignored goldmine of customer input is through engagement. Speak with customers on social media or in-person, encourage reviews and feedback, and use their stories with your products in your marketing plans demonstrate how in sync you are with your Millennial customer base.
More diversity than previous generations
Not all Millennials are created the same, as many have different interests, social groups, and preferences. Narrowing down who precisely you are trying to market to will improve your sales substantially.
Well-acquainted with technology and use it very often
Having had access to computers from a young age, Millennials know how to utilize technology and the Internet to their advantage, and appreciate companies that acclimate to the growing demand for online everything. They also appreciate companies that are forward-thinking and look for new ways to make the online shopping experience more fun and memorable. Integrating newer technology into your purchasing experience, such as full comparison options between products or accepting newer payment options can help your company gain favor with Millennials.
Love affair with viewing and sharing things on social media
Millennials are online about 25 hours per week, and a large chunk of it is engaging with content and other users over social media channels. If you are still resistant to the idea of building up social channels for your business, the sad truth is you will soon become eclipsed by your competitors that are more forward-thinking with the Millennial demographic in mind. Social media isn’t just a place to post random content you think is interesting, but the epicenter of how you should be engaging with your customers. Chatting with them, answering questions, posting relevant content, offering discounts and deals to subscribers, hosting events, and even more can go a long way in not only getting them interested in you but also finding out what they want from you.
If you don’t earn their trust, they will move on quickly
In the old days, when people found a brand they liked, they rarely strayed from it because they believed everything must be of quality from that company. These days, immediate access to the Internet allows anyone to see the quality of your product or service as experienced by others, making trust a very fragile thing with Millennials. They can like one product, but read a few poor reviews and decide against the purchase. Earning the trust of Millennials can be difficult since they have information at their fingertips and typically glaze over any traditional marketing attempts. To curb this effect, engage with customers and allow people to try your products, and keep an open mind when you are given criticism. If they see that you have their interests at heart, they will be more trusting and may even tell everyone in their networks about you.
They will only follow you if they get something for it
Asking Millennials to subscribe to your email list or like your page isn’t as simple as just asking. They are driven by the value of their actions, and won’t commit to something unless it adds value to their lives. More often than not, you must offer them something if you want them to jump on your bandwagon, usually in the form of special features or discounts. The search for deals among Millennials almost borders on religious, as they tend to be more frugal with their money. They will buy something if they think it is worth it, and are more likely to buy if a coupon, deal, or discount can be used towards the purchase. When you ask them to subscribe or join something, you must think of value you are offering to them.
Customer service must now be online and through SMS messaging
Millennials seemingly lead busy lives and have little patience for being put on hold for an eternity before someone responds to their queries. They desire instant answers when they need them, and too often customer service over the phone can take too much time. Many companies have begun offering their customer support online, either through the website itself or a social media channel chat system. Additionally, offering to communicate with customers via an SMS messaging (text messaging) system can provide Millennials with the quick and efficient service they want.
Tendency to support companies that share Millennial values and produce memorable experiences
An aspect of Millennial loyalty that many companies do not consider is how the demographic aligns with their values in addition to the types of experiences the companies can offer. It is often said that you should sell Millennials your story rather than your products because it humanizes the business and gives the company a face. Millennials have begun to favor companies that stand for particular causes and exhibit values that are relatable to the young age group. Some of these values can include the following:
- Not hurting the environment
- Avoiding animal cruelty
- Helping disadvantaged people foreign or domestic
- Contributing to reputable charities
- Solving a big issue problem
- Using recycled materials
Also, Millennials tend to care more about the experience they will get from a purchase rather than the product itself, which may explain why the sharing economy (renting over buying) is prevalent among the demographic. For example, if an auto manufacturer is trying to sell a car, they should provide examples of what the car can be used for rather than its inherent features. An SUV can be used for outdoorsy adventures, or a fast car can hug curves of a winding vacation road.