There’s a lot of talk in the industry about marketing to millennials, and for good reason.
According to Pew Research, millennials make up one quarter of the nation’s population, and they are expected to overtake the Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation by the year 2019. As a large group of consumers, millennials have become one of the most closely watched and talked about generations in the marketing world.
Just like any generation before it, millennials think and buy differently. If millennials are a target audience for your business, it’s important to understand how this generation differs, what they value most, and which factors play a role in their purchasing habits.
Below, we’ve put together a quick guide to connecting with and marketing to millennials. In addition to some general information about millennial consumers, we’ll also provide you with a list of important things you need to know about effectively marketing to millennials.
What are Millennials? (And Why Should You Care)
Though you may find varying definitions of what a millennial is, this generation is typically understood to be those who were born between 1982 and 2002. This means that consumers in this generation range in age from 16 to 36, give or take a few years. If your target audience is within this age range, then there is a good chance that they have some things in common with the typical millennial.
There are a number of characteristics that are often associated with millennials. Though you should take these with a grain of salt, it is important to be aware of these generalizations if you are aiming to reach these customers. Since this generation has had access to the Internet for most, if not all, of their lives, they tend to be well-informed and internet savvy. This includes searching online for answers to their most pressing questions and conducting thorough product research through the search engines.
As multi-taskers, millennials also tend to value flexibility and mobility. Many people in this generation work remotely or have flexible work schedules that allow them to work from anywhere with an Internet connection. This desire for flexibility also means that millennials are generally very mobile. Many millennials use mobile devices to work and stay connected to others from any location.
Millennials also value experiences, sometimes over ownership itself. This has paved the way for a new type of product or service that emphasizes use over ownership, such as ride-sharing services like Uber and clothing rental platforms like Rent the Runway. Millennial preferences for experiences also extend to their marketing tastes as these consumers tend to favor marketing campaigns that invite them to be a part of the experience through user-generated content.
The reason why there is so much buzz around this particular generation is that they have a considerable amount of buying power. As of 2017, millennial buying power hovered around $200 billion, according to Forbes. And this number is only expected to increase as millennials continue to enter the workforce. If your target market is among this population, it’s worthwhile to focus on digital marketing tactics that help your brand engage these buyers when marketing to millennials.
5 Things You Need to Know About Marketing to Millennials
If you want to build a digital marketing strategy that allows you to effectively engage millennial buyers, you’ll need to understand what makes them tick. Here are just a few of the most important things you need to know about marketing to millennials and what this means for your digital marketing strategy:
1. Millennials want to connect with brands through content.
Millennial consumers don’t respond well to traditional advertising messages that are disruptive or written in “marketing speak.” In fact, HubSpot reports that 84% of millennials do not trust traditional advertising.
This makes inbound marketing a must for any brand that is trying to reach and convert millennial consumers. Content marketing plays an important role in helping you build trust with your millennial consumers, making quality content essential to reaching this population. Millennials want to engage with authentic brand messages and stories that help them better understand their challenges and also get to know who a company is and what they stand for.
Content marketing gives your brand the opportunity to make real connections with your target millennial buyers. By consistently publishing quality content on your website or blog, you are educating your audience while demonstrating your industry expertise. Additionally, you have the opportunity to show some of your brand’s personality and voice through the tone and topics of your content.
Millennials respond best to marketing that is authentic and engaging, no matter what channel it reaches them on.
Your blog content plays an important role in helping you reach millennial buyers. One in three millennials uses blog content to get the information they need before making a purchase. By consistently publishing content that adds value for these consumers, you can start to build relationships with these buyers and work on converting one-time customers into lifetime brand advocates.
Make sure that the content you are creating adds value for your target audience. Use your customer personas to understand what your buyers value you most and what type of information they need to make a purchasing decision. Then, use these details to come up with relevant content topics and develop a content calendar to ensure that your consistently posting useful content that engages your millennial buyers.
2. Online customer reviews matter.
Millenials are known to follow only the brands that they trust. They like to establish an emotional connection with the product or brand first before deciding to buy it. That’s why you should not push your brand in an obvious manner to get their attention. Rather, you should do it in a way that will build an emotional connection with them. Use real people to show real results. Tell them stories about your product, your brand’s values and how it changes lives of people. One way to do it is through online reviews.
Your brand needs to emphasize positive online reviews. For millennials, online reviews have become the new word-of-mouth marketing. In fact, HubSpot reports that 84% of consumers will do their research online before making a purchase, and 70% of these consumers read online reviews before they buy. Great reviews for your brand on social media and other sites like Yelp help your company build trust with new leads and prospects and gain the loyalty of your buyers.
Good customer reviews can go a long way when marketing to millennials and trying to convert them to customers.
So how can you incorporate this into your own marketing strategy? You’ll need to find new ways to encourage happy customers to leave their review online. One simple way to get more online reviews is to ask. Reach out to your best customers and provide some sort of incentive for leaving a review. For instance, you might send out an email message to those who have made repeat purchases asking them to recommend your brand online. Then, reward them with 10% off their next purchase.
To encourage more reviews, be sure to make the process as easy as possible. Link to your Google, Yelp, and social media review pages in your email communications with customers. For example, you might provide a prompt with links to these review pages in your shipping confirmation email or in a later follow-up email after a customer makes a purchase.
To get even further traction out of your online reviews, it’s important to engage with reviewers. For positive reviews, be sure to leave a short and sweet comment on the review that thanks the consumer for their time and opinion. For negative reviews, you’ll not only want to leave a comment thanking the reviewer for their time but also assure them that you are working to remedy the situation, if possible. This shows those who land on your page that your business cares about customer service and providing a positive experience for all your buyers.
3. Mobile-friendly is no longer optional.
Mobile site design is another vital aspect of successfully marketing to millennials. If millennials are part of your target audience, it’s vital that your site and content is optimized for mobile devices. This generation includes the largest group of regularly active mobile device users. In fact, Nielsen reports that 98% of millennials aged 18-24 and 97% of millennials aged 25-34 own and use a smartphone regularly.
Millennials are using smartphones more than any other generation.
And these consumers are using their phones to research products and services online and make purchases. Google has found that 66% of millennials believe that the information they find on their mobile device is just as accurate and thorough as the information they find on their desktop. This means that if a millennial consumer stumbles upon a website that’s not optimized for their device, they will most likely take their business elsewhere.
Google also reports that 89% of people are likely to recommend a brand to their friends and family after having a positive experience on their mobile site. This shows just how important a helpful and pleasant mobile shopping experience can be for buyers in this generation.
If you want to make sure that you’re taking advantage of every opportunity to engage millennial consumers, you’ll need to make sure that your website design is optimized for mobile devices. This includes having a mobile-friendly website layout and design that’s easy to read and navigate from any device. You should also ensure that your content marketing is optimized for smartphones, including any website content or email marketing.
4. Get social.
The millennial population is one of the most connected generations around. To stay connected with their friends, family, and colleagues, millennials are very active on social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. In fact, according to Nielsen, the app most often accessed by millennial smartphone users is Facebook, with the Facebook messenger app close behind.
This data from Nielsen shows how active Millennials are on different social apps like Facebook.
If you want to connect with millennial consumers, you need to reach them where they are and engage with them in ways that they prefer. With social media taking up so much of the millennial consumer’s online time, it’s important for businesses to use these channels to build their brand, cultivate trust, drive engagement, and even boost sales. This is especially true given that millennial buyers are more likely to engage with and buy from brands that use social media.
If you want your social media marketing to be effective with millennial buyers, you’ll need to go beyond just posting interesting content on your channels. Social media platforms are by their very nature social spaces. This means that you need to interact with customers and start a conversation if you want to keep them engaged.
The more you engage your millennial audience, the more likely they will be to buy from your business. In fact, Forbes reports that 62% of millennials surveyed said that they were more likely to become a customer if a company engaged with them personally on their social media channels.
You can also use social media as a customer service channel. When consumers ask questions or voice their concerns on your social media pages, it’s important for your business to quickly and accurately respond to these inquiries. Not only does this help improve customer satisfaction, but it shows other millennial consumers on social media that your brand puts its customers first.
5. Find ways to collaborate.
Given that most millennials are interested in experiences, it should come as no surprise that they favor collaboration when it comes to interacting with brands. In fact, according to HubSpot, 42% of millennial consumers state that they want to help companies develop future products and services. This desire to be a part of the action can be very beneficial to brands that are always looking for new opportunities to provide better products and services.
In addition, millennials are also interested in spreading the word about the brands they love the most. Though you cannot buy their loyalty, you can earn it by building trust and establishing rapport with your best customers. The goal is to get these customers to then share their experiences on social media and other channels, which helps you improve reach.
One way that you can take advantage of this desire to collaborate is by working with influencers in your industry. When you partner with an influencer that has a significant blog or social media following, you are not only creating a space for collaboration, but you are also tapping into their engaged audience. Collaborating with influencers can help you reach and build trust with new millennial audiences.
Another way that you can promote collaboration with your leads and customers is through user-generated content, or UGC. This is content that your fans and followers create around your products or services. Because this content is created by real consumers, it acts as social proof, which can help you build trust with new leads and prospects.
User-generated content is popular among the millennial population because it provides social proof.
Due to the unique nature of this type of content, it’s often more memorable than some branded content. In addition, since it is coming from consumers who are actually using your products or services on a daily basis, millennials often trust this type of media over traditional branded content.
For instance, let’s say a customer takes a photo of their new watch and posts it on Instagram, tagging the watch company. The watch company then re-posts this image on their own Instagram account, giving credit to the fan. Not only does the brand reach the audience of the consumer who posted the image, but they can also work to build trust with their own audience by showing their product in action.
Millennials are a powerful market when it comes to buying power and influence. If your business is trying to target these buyers, it’s important that you keep in mind the ways that they are different from other generations. By understanding their purchasing process and getting to know what types of marketing they prefer, you can adjust your digital marketing strategy to better engage these buyers.