There are currently about 80 million millennials in the United States with a combined purchasing power of $200 billion. If you’re offering products or services that are of interest to them, you’re going to lose market share and a competitive advantage unless you specifically target millennials in your marketing campaigns. Think about it, they are your future (or current) customer base! You need to know how to reach them. Also, good news is that they tend to be very brand-loyal to quality products and to companies that engage with them. So if you snag one, they stick with you.
In this post I reveal research on millennial marketing and information from my experience reaching them through client marketing efforts. Get ready to learn a lot about millennial marketing strategy.
Old-School Advertising is a Turn Off, for Most of Them
According to a study conducting by Forbes and Elite Daily (a website that’s considered the voice of millennials), only 1% of millennials are moved by advertising. In fact, one study shows that 84% of millennials “do not like advertising.” They consider traditional advertising to be insincere and view it exactly as it really is: just an attempt to sell them something.
They’re also tech-savvy when it comes to avoiding advertisements. They’ll DVR their favorite shows just so they can zip through the commercials. They’ll install software on their PCs that blocks pop-up ads. They’ll intentionally avoid even looking at banner ads.
In other words, traditional brand-building efforts won’t always work with millennials. That’s why, as a starting point, you should brainstorm with your team members for “out of the box” marketing options for millennials.
So, let’s take a second to flush this idea out just a bit… Say you are a bank trying to reach millennials. Sure, you will have some level of success with SEO and SEM (I know this for sure because we have done it). But also, why not doing something out the box like…
Example Idea 1: Host a free comedy show by <bank name>. The only fee to enter is to share a picture of you and your friends on social media…
Example Idea 2: Donate to a cause that is important to millennials. But don’t just donate money, donate something the cause needs. Film it in an emotionally moving way. For example, <bank name> plants free fruit trees in the poorest neighborhoods in San Diego. You make a video of people enjoying the fruit, the shade of the tree… Spend a few thousand dollars and you will get tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of YouTube views from millennials, do something good for someone and yourself. Hey, you can even set up a custom channel for the campaign in Google Analytics and track the entire thing…
My point is, think out of the box!
You can view an example of a creative campaign we helped a client with here. This one did not targeted to Millennials. This one was just done to be good people. Honestly, we just wanted to do something good for these women with hair loss and many of which were battling cancer. This video makes me emotional every time I watch it.
Millennials Expect You to Be Social on Social Media
According to the aforementioned Forbes/Elite Daily study, 62% of millennials claim that if a brand engages with them on social media, they’re more likely to become a customer. Light-bul!.
The takeaway here is obvious: your social media marketing efforts need to be second-to-none if you want to reach a millennial crowd. Be sure that you’re not just posting updates about your brand on social media, but that you’re also engaging with your target audience. Millennials will reward you for that by opening up their wallets.
Incidentally, if you’re looking for an example of a brand that’s done well by engaging with customers on social media, check out the Taco Bell Twitter account.
- So what do I mean target them on social media? This is what I mean.
- Set up a community building ad strategy so you can get people to like your page
- Have a good size budget for promoted posts, otherwise Facebook is useless
- Spend a little money for a “real designer” to create custom images they will love
- Do something interactive once a week
- Run a quiz with Woobox. Every time someone enters, you can get their email address. We are generating hundreds of emails a week for clients with this strategy
- Update your page 3 to 5 times a week
- Throw a product or service in where it makes sense
- Don’t be afraid to run real ads!
- Display ads
- PPC ads
- Retargeting ads
- Upload email lists and create lookalike audiences
Hit Faceboook (and other social sites in a similar way) with a real marketing budget. You have to make a solid effort to get anything out of it. Don’t be afraid. If you take the time to set up the correct targeting, tracking and make good creative, you will be profitable targeting millennials on Facebook and other social media sites.
Also, very important, here are the top social media websites for millennials. This is where you can targeting them.
When surveyed, millennials said they spend:
- 64% of time on YouTube
- 51% of time on Facebook
- 45% of time on Instagram
- 42% on SnapChat
- 28% on Twitter
- 26% on Tumblr
Millennials Need Cross Device Tracking
That makes it all the more important to use Google Analytics cross device reports. If you have not heard of this report, it can basically track multiple interactions across difference devices and attribute them all to one conversion. So if a millennial first comes to your site on their phone from Facebook, then checks out your blog later on a tablet and finally converts on their desktop, you can make sure there is proper attribution to each marketing channel.
Authenticity, Not Content, Is King
As a digital marketer, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase “content is king” repeated so often it hurts. However, with millennials, content isn’t king. Authenticity is king.
Forty-three percent of millennials rank authenticity higher than content when they’re browsing their favorite news sites. That means the formula for winning over a millennial is to first build a certain level of trust with your brand. With that foundation in place, you can begin a marketing effort.
Now, this really means that content is still king, as long as it is authentic, right? The other day I was watching the Red Bull events. They do things like hold a downhill mountain bike event or turn a lake into a wave pool! It is so cool. But what are they doing? They are creating content! Now, not the same type of content as this blog post, but content nonetheless which engages millennials and aligns them with the brand.
Millennials Appreciate Their Counselors
A whopping 84% of millennials rely on user-generated content to influence their purchasing decisions. That breaks down to 59% who say that input from others influences them “some” and 25% who say that it influences them “a lot.”
Here’s what that means to you as a digital marketer: Millennials are looking for social proof. They’ll scour cyberspace by typing your brand name into the Google search bar and see how other people enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy) your product or service. They’ll go on discussion forums and ask others if they’ve tried your brand. They’ll take the feedback they get seriously.
If you’ve ever needed a reason to offer pictured testimonies on your website, this is it. Millennials will likely search for further evidence that you’re a great brand, but it’s definitely a good starting point.
In general, reviews are critical now. Try to get reviews for your produce and service that are actually from other millennials, they will want to see similar people enjoying your product.
Inbound Marketing Rocks
Millennials spend much of their time surfing around online, looking for content that’s informative and/or entertaining. That’s why inbound marketing is a sure-fire winner when it comes to reeling in millennials.
Forty-four percent of millennials say that they’re more likely to trust experts, even if those experts are strangers. That’s a winning hand dealt to content marketers who already know about the importance of an authoritative voice on any subject.
Mac Cosmetics offers an outstanding example of inbound marketing with its YouTube page. The company offers numerous videos showing viewers how to properly apply cosmetic products. There are videos on that channel with more than 100,000 views.
But also, think about this blog post I am writing right now. If you are still reading it, then you have found value in what I am saying. That makes you more likely to want to do business with me, right? Our company gets hundreds of leads each month through our blog and YouTube videos.
Millennials Want to Feel Like They’re Your Only Customer
This one was pretty interesting to me. In spite of the way that we’re talking about them in this space, millennials don’t want to feel like they’re part of a collective. They want you to market to them as though they’re your only customer. Kind of annoying actually when you think about it…
To that end, consider customization options for your products or services that millennials can tweak to make them feel like what they purchase is theirs and theirs alone. Appeal to their varying interests, include some relationship building, and then go for a soft close without being pushy. Grow your millennial customer base organically with a marketing message that says: “This was meant just for you.”
Also, keep in mind the following: Forty-two percent of millennials said that they’re interested in helping companies develop future products or services. So if you’re not sure what millennials in your market are looking for, ask them. Offer a collaboration effort in your research and development efforts to help millennials feel like they’re part of your team. That partnership will generate good buzz about how your company is interested in making a difference.
As an action item here, consider this. Reach out to your millennials and tell them that you would like them to be part of the elite customer product idea committee. They ask them for feedback on your product. You can even give them an incentive.
Millennials Like to Rent
You might be surprised to learn that millennials aren’t big on ownership. According to one report, 35% of millennials would rather pay full price to access an item as opposed to owning it. That’s a statistic that might surprise members of an older generation, but it’s relevant information for digital marketers. Think about the share a car or share a bike services, millennials love them.
This is the time of the “sharing economy.” Thanks to the advent of companies like AirBnB and Uber, millennials don’t view ownership the way that their parents do. They’re more interested in using something when they need it as opposed to buying it.
Consider that mindset as you market to millennials. Evaluate marketing alternatives that enable you to capitalize on some type of a “rental” or “sharing” option for your product or service and market that side of it to millennials.
Very interesting right? How does that relate to your product or service?
If you want to reach millennials, entertain them. They like a good laugh as much as the older generation, but they seem to view it as a requirement from businesses that are marketing to them. That means put lots of funny cat pictures everywhere on your website. Just kidding! That joke was just part of my funny millennial marketing strategy. 🙂
Use your various social media accounts to promote your brand with a sense of humor. You can deliver a funny one-liner on Twitter. You can post a hilarious picture on Instagram or Pinterest with a caption that links the picture to your brand. You can post a 6-second Vine video (have you used Vine? Totally wacky social media site) that makes people laugh while advertising your latest promotion. You’ll find that you not only reach millennials with that type of marketing, but they’ll also share your content with their followers and friends. It’s a great way to put millennials to work for you.
The takeaway is, you can’t be stuff corporate. You need to be fun, youthful and funny. Oh so funny.
Wrapping It Up
If your market includes millennials, you’re going to have to break some of the rules that you’ve been following to reach them. They’re an independent, tech-savvy bunch that’s not impressed with traditional marketing tactics. Instead, offer them some creative promotional efforts and gently lead them to your brand with solid content marketing, engagements on social media, and plenty of social proof. Once you’ve hooked them, they can easily become your customers for life.
Good luck with your millennial marketing strategy.
As a final takeaway
- Be funny
- Be creative
- Don’t make them own something
- Get reviews
- Ask for feedback and make them a part of your product or service
- Get aggressive on social media (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat)
- Get interactive
- Target and track all devices
- Be an expert on your subject and project that with content marketing
- And go get them right now, remember, they are loyal. So once they are with a competitive, it will be just that much harder.