To Reach Millennials Advertisers Need to Be Online, Authentic, and Willing to Engage
Written by Jason Bloom
Millennials are a difficult group to market to. Not only is the demographic poorly defined, but when it’s described at its broadest size, it encompasses nearly a quarter of the U.S. population, with an age range extending from people in their late teens to people pushing 40.
Millennials are the most diverse generation to date and tend to favor inclusivity and open-mindedness.
With a demographic this wide, it can be challenging to find characteristics that apply to every member. And famously, millennials are just that difficult to pin down. They’re variously described as highly-motivated and lazy, entitled and disenfranchised, upwardly-mobile and unconcerned with success.
But there are some trends that can be pulled from the data. Millennials are the most diverse generation to date and tend to favor inclusivity and open-mindedness. They’re also the most educated generation, with a greater percentage of college graduates than ever before.
They also tend to be skeptical. This is a group that feels like the economy, and society as a whole has let them down. As a result, they tend to seek confirmation instead of simply believing whatever they’re told.
It turns out we know a lot about millennials, even considering their wild diversity, and we can use this knowledge to craft marketing strategies to reach them. All it takes is the right approach.
One sure way to get a millennial’s attention is to openly support a shared cause.
Hitch Your Wagon to a Cause
Millennials tend to define their identities at least in part based on the social causes they support, and this bent toward activism extends to the brands they support.
One sure way to get a millennial’s attention is to openly support a shared cause. This can involve making statements on social media, including cause-related language in marketing materials, and making charitable contributions to organizations related to the movement.
For this to be effective, however, your support needs to be genuine. If it feels like you’re hopping on the bandwagon to grab your share of consumers, millennials may see through it. That’s because they’re specifically looking for brands that align with their priorities. So be sure to support causes that reflect your organization’s existing goals. Make them a part of your brand identity. Be honest. If you aren’t you’re violating the spirit of the thing you’re trying to promote.
They enjoy passing memes, infographics, and other bite-sized bits of content.
Keep Your Designs and Your Pitches Minimal
Millennials have grown up in a climate of media overload, so they’re quick to tune out messages that feel too much like ads. And they’ll quickly reject unfocused communications. To catch their attention you want bold, clean designs that cut out extraneous chatter and distill messaging to its essence. This is a highly mobile demographic with a short attention span. If you bury your message in layers of complexity, you’re likely to be ignored.
In general, millennials favor marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing. A 2014 McCarthy Group survey found that 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. They tend to respond more positively to content and social marketing, partially because the messaging is cloaked as consumable media. They enjoy passing memes, infographics, and other bite-sized bits of content. Slipping your marketing messaging into these sorts of communications can be very effective.
It also creates additional touchpoints to interact with those you’re already engaging with.
Maintain a Strong Social Presence
62% of millennials say that they’re more likely to reward businesses that engage them on social media. They have a desire to connect with the brands they do business with — to understand what motivates them and connect with them in an authentic way.
Be sure to diversify. Millennials frequent many different social media sites. Having a presence on a number of them increases the chances that any one person will find you. It also creates additional touchpoints to interact with those you’re already engaging with.
Just remember that millennials expect their brands to be responsive. If you’re asked a question online, be sure to respond quickly. Do your best to have a conversation. Short answers with no follow-up won’t be enough. They want to know that you mean what you say and that you’re willing to commit to them. But if you’ll commit to them, they’ll commit to you.
Checking reviews and ratings online before purchasing a product or patronizing a business is becoming more common.
Encourage Your Customers to Post Reviews Online
Checking reviews and ratings online before purchasing a product or patronizing a business is becoming more common. But nowhere is this behavior more prevalent than with millennials. One study found that 8 out of 10 millennials never make a purchase without first reading reviews.
This is another indication that brand trust must be earned. Millennials are far more likely to trust another person’s unbiased opinion than claims made by a business. This makes online reviews and ratings an excellent way to convince this demographic that your marketing messages are true.
Of course, for them to mean anything you can’t obtain reviews unethically. They need to be the unvarnished truth, from real customers. The best way to increase your review count online is to make it a habit of asking customers to post reviews for you. A recent survey revealed that nearly 70% of customers say they’ll leave a review if asked. But you have to ask.
It isn’t difficult. You can add links to your receipts, emails, social posts, and other customer-facing communications. Let them know that positive reviews are great for your business and are the best way to show their appreciation. Reminding your fans to let other people know will grow your reputation online, winning millennials to your side.
If you want to reach them, you have to find ways to demonstrate the truth of your marketing claims.
Don’t Say You’re the Best…Prove It
We’ve established that millennials don’t trust advertising and prefer to hear what they perceive as the truth from unbiased sources, preferably friends. If you want to reach them, you have to find ways to demonstrate the truth of your marketing claims. If you can’t prove it, they won’t listen.
Case studies are a great way for businesses to establish the validity of their claims. Testimonials from real customers (not celebrities) are another solid method for convincing millennials that you are what you say you are. And of course, asking for online reviews.
Millennials don’t make it easy on advertisers because they’re skeptical and expect you to be able to back up the claims you make. If you want to reach them you need to meet them where they are, engage with them directly, and be ready to prove your authenticity. Do that and you’ll have loyal customers for life.
Interested in learning more about how you can successfully market to millenials? Reach out for a conversation today.
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