These days, just about every industry, company, corporation and organization out there is focused on marketing to Millennials…and for good reason. The Millennials—also known as Generation Y or the Net Generation—is the segment of the population that was born between the early 80s to the early 2000s. At 80 million members strong and a direct annual spending power of $600 billion, the Millennials have overtaken the Baby Boomers as America’s largest, most influential generation.
The tail end of Generation Y is now in high school or college. As these individuals finish their education and head into full-time careers, their impact on the national economy is certain to grow. The global professional services company, Accenture, predicts the Millennial’ spending power will increase to $1.4 trillion annually (or 30 percent of retail sales) in the United States by 2020. As such, companies must start taking this generation more seriously, if they haven’t already. Understanding their needs, tastes and behaviors will increasingly impact your business in the years ahead.
Who Are the Millennials?
In order to successfully market to and communicate with Millennials, you need to know who they really are. Countless books, articles and blogs have been dedicated to this topic. Obviously, all of that information can’t be shared here. However, some of the most important things to keep in mind are:
- Millennials are far more connected to their smartphones than other generations. A 2016 Nielsen study reports that 85 percent of Millennials own a smartphone, and 46 percent use them while in stores to compare prices, read reviews, or find coupons. Zogby Analytics estimates that 78 percent of Millennials use their smartphones more than two hours every day.
- They love social media! A Pew Research Center study found that 87 percent of Millennials ages 18 to 29 have a Facebook account, 53 percent are on Instagram, 37 percent are on Twitter and 34 percent are on Pinterest.
- They love apps.
- They want to purchase products and services from companies that have “good values.” Giving back to the community and charity is important to them. Brands that make them feel good, do well (such as TOMS, which donates a pair of shoes with each pair that is purchased).
- They’re more health-conscious than previous generations.
- They’re into collaboration and sharing content online.
- They dislike and distrust traditional forms of advertising and promotion. Most turn, instead, to the advice of friends when making purchasing decisions.
- They’re more into convenience than other generations (e.g., Uber for transportation and apps like Postmates for mobile delivery).
- They like things to be personal and customizable (which is why personalized email marketing works so well on them).
- Their attention spans are shorter than that of older generations. This is apparent in the preferred communication tools they use such text messages, Snapchat and Instagram—all encourage concise and brief communication.
How to Earn the Attention of Millennials
It’s not difficult to market to Millennials, but it does require a strategy overall. You can’t employ the same approach with Generation Y as may have been effective with previous generations and expect good results. In order to reach Millennials, you must take into account their unique mindsets, perspectives and behaviors, and make appropriate updates to your marketing approach. Here are some helpful practices to consider when targeting these consumers:
With how much time this group spends on their smartphones, it is imperative that your website is easily accessible across all mobile devices. At the very minimum, all of your landing pages should be optimized for mobile. Your calls-to-action must be clear and visible on the smaller screens. Any images you use should not be so big or there should not be so many that it leads to a longer, slower loading time. If your website takes too long to load, you will lose Millennials—and probably other visitors as well.
Make use of social media networks.
It may sound like a no-brainer, but being on social media is an obvious way to connect with Millennials. If you’re not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Pinterest or other social networks, it’s time to get on. If you’ve already got social media accounts, be as active as possible. Publish posts every day or several times each day to engage Millennials, and be sure to link these posts to unique content on your site. Join in group discussions using relevant hashtags. Create contests or send special offers to people who “like” your website or “follow” your company. Social media can be an excellent way to “interact” with your target audience and build a connection with them.
Promote the sharing of your content.
Include social media sharing buttons or icons on all your posts and pages. Add a sentence or even just a few words, encouraging visitors to your site to re-post your content. It could be as simple as adding a short statement like “Share this” next to the sharing icons. It’s also helpful to have a button displaying the number of social shares the content has received; doing so shows your visitors that other people liked the content enough to repost it.
Inform rather than sell.
Focus on providing valuable, informative content that will help readers in some way, rather than publish copy that is purely trying to sell something. If your content reads like an advertisement, that will be an instant turn-off to Millennials. The idea is to make them feel like you genuinely care about them, rather than simply try to sell your products or services or promote your company’s own agenda.
Don’t overwhelm them with long, hard-to-get-through content.
With relatively short attention spans, Millennials prefer bite-sized bits of info, rather than long-winded treatises. This doesn’t mean you can’t provide in-depth information, but it must be readable. For instance, break up long blocks of copy with sub-headings. Be pithy; don’t use 10 words to say something when you could do it in 4 or 5 words. Offer bulleted points or numbered tips instead of burying information in one massive paragraph. Use a graphic or chart to illustrate some of your points instead always writing long explanations. The goal should be to have content that is easy to get through, so users can find the information they’re looking for with just a quick scroll.
Engage them with fun, entertaining copy.
Not every topic you cover on your website is will be “fun” or “amusing,” but when appropriate, use a more light-hearted approach. People like to be entertained, and this is especially true of Millennials. Draw them in with a humorous story or even a joke. Make them laugh. Give them something to smile about. There are plenty of negative news stories in the media. If you can make them feel positive or happy, Millennials (and probably other age groups too!) will come back to your site again and again.
Show your support for social causes.
If you’re involved in social causes and initiatives, highlight what you do on your website. Show that you are committed to “giving back” to the community, helping the environment and assisting those who are less fortunate by writing a blog or making a social media post about what you’re doing. Be sure to keep the focus on the cause itself—not so much what you’re doing—so you’re not seen as “self-promotional.” If your company does not have any philanthropies, now is the time to get involved these kinds of endeavors—not just to attract Millennials but because it is the right thing to do.
Need some help on the Internet?
The bottom-line is this: If you’re going to be effective at reaching Millennials, your content marketing needs to be relevant, concise, interactive, innovative, not too pushy or salesy, and even entertaining at times, while still following all of the tried-and-true search engine optimization (SEO) rules and using a mobile-friendly format. That may seem like a daunting challenge. If you’d like help with creating a website and producing just the right content for Millennials, give us a call or contact us online below. Hughes Media specializes in providing digital marketing solutions, with Generation Y in mind.