Millennials are the largest generational grouping out there and they’re only just reaching their prime spending years. In other words, millennials represent a lucrative market that your industry probably can’t afford to ignore.
If you want to make a success of your digital marketing strategy, you’ll need to keep this powerful grouping in mind when crafting and marketing content. Appealing to the younger generations has long been an attractive yet challenging prospect for marketing communities. Millenials are a particularly difficult nut to crack.
The first generation to come of age in the digital era, millennials are internet savvy, cynical, and thus extremely difficult to engage with.
What are Millennials?
Depending upon who you ask, the word “millennial” might apply to an eighteen-year-old high school student as much as it does a thirty-five-year-old partner in a law firm. Very broadly speaking, millennials are the generation born between the 1980s and 2000s.
Of course, this is an incredibly diverse grouping, and you’ll need more refined marketing strategies when targeting either the teenage student or the thirty-something lawyer. Yet the lawyer and the student are very likely to have certain things in common. It is still very much worth considering how to reach and engage millennials more broadly. Despite being an incredibly diverse grouping, millennials are likely to share a few key defining traits.
Why Are The Traits Of Millennials?
For a start, millennials are digital natives. Most millennials have lived their entire adult lives with ready mobile and web access. As such, they have a different understanding of the digital landscape to older generations. As tech-savvy as a fifty-year-old might be, they will still have grown up without the internet.
For millennials, the internet is a commodity like running water or electricity: always there and taken for granted. To appeal to millennials, your digital marketing strategy needs to recognise the web as an everyday landscape like any other.
Millennials are also characterised by shorter attention spans. Having grown up in the age of on-demand entertainment, millennials are less tolerant of boredom than previous generations. It’s not that millennials are dumber or less sophisticated than their elders, it’s just that they’ve become accustomed to putting in a different level of effort when it comes to entertainment.
It takes more effort to read a book than it does watch a Youtube video, and when the latter is so readily available, there is less need to spend effort on the former. Millennials have grown up with a tidal wave of information competing for their attention, and so distraction comes naturally to them.
To appeal to millennials, you need to be the most distracting, and easiest choice for the focus of their attention. Others disagree, arguing that millennials don’t have short attention spans – they are simply better at quickly filtering information. Either way, the results are the same: your engagement strategy needs to be visually appealing and pithy.
Millennials also exhibit a strong preference for new forms of media. This is something of an obvious point, but one that is worth reinforcing. Hulu, Snapchat, etc. – to reach and engage millennials you’ll need to make sure that you stay on top of all the new-fangled forms of media that the younger generations are currently using.
Another important thing to bear in mind when it comes to millennials is that ‘old ad strategies’ are less likely to work with the younger generation. Millennials exhibit a strong tendency for ad avoidance, with as many as one-third of the population using some form of ad-blocking software.
A recent study also found that a further 77% of millennials actively tune out ads when they’re on the web. When online, millennials simply don’t notice traditional web page advertising, so don’t waste your money. All these characteristics make millennials a particularly difficult audience to reach.
They are a tech-savvy, cynical, diverse grouping that is well used to all the ad tricks employed by marketers of the past. So, bearing all this in mind, how do you reach and engage millennials?
Be fast and fresh
Whether you believe millennials have degraded attention spans or are just simply good at filtering information quickly, the same basic fact remains: you’ve got to be fast and fresh to appeal to millennials.
Fresh means doing your research and finding out what’s been tried and what hasn’t. It means having a strong team of creatives who are capable of dreaming up new ways to reach a jaded audience.
Being fast means having a digital strategy that makes the lowest possible demands on the attention spans of your millennial audience. If you can’t grab their attention in half a second, and either keep it or communicate your message in less than a few seconds, then don’t bother.
Collaborative marketing is a solid step forward when it comes to reaching and engaging with millennials. Simply put, collaborative marketing is the process of sharing resources to grow brands, blogs, and further influence.
Collaborative marketing involves finding like-minded and complementary companies or blogs that you might be able to align interests and pool resources with. A classic example might be a partnership between a restaurant chain and a travel magazine. By working together, the two brands can help increase each others’ visibility without stepping on each others’ toes when it comes to market share.
But collaborative marketing even makes sense within the same industry. Often the market is not as small as you might think. Rather than vying with competitors, you should try and help each other grow, increasing both your brands’ visibility, along with the size of the pie that you’ll both be taking a cut of.
In the blog world, guest posting is a common product of such endeavours. Guest posting is a fantastic way to tap into a ready-made and already engaged audience. The blog you are posting on gets free content, you get free exposure, and everybody wins.
Collaboration is a particularly good way to engage millennials because the younger audience tends to be more distrustful of traditional marketing methods. They are usually more values conscious when it comes to spending their hard-earned cash, and taking this collaborative approach is a good way to distinguish yourself from the conventional, cut-throat marketing world.
Optimise for social media
Surprisingly, millennials tend to spend less time on traditional social media than their older forebears. Although millennials consider Facebook something of a necessity in terms of keeping contact with friends and family, they actually spend very little time on the platform.
Snapchat, on the other hand, is a much more prevalent digital tool amongst millennials. Being aware of these distinctions is essential when it comes to crafting your social media marketing strategy. If you want to appeal to millennials, move away from the more traditional social media platforms and start exploring the new.
Win their trust
As we’ve touched upon a few times – millennials are a distrustful bunch. When it comes to marketing, you can’t rely on the old manipulative tactics that fueled the Mad Men style ad boom of the past. Millennials are intrinsically cynical and are willing to spend, or withhold their money, depending upon their perception of whether or not a brand is behaving in a “genuine” manner.
This is a difficult line to toe. Obviously crafting a digital marketing strategy that tries to be genuine can itself be slightly dishonest. There’s no shortcut here, you just need to be aware that millennials are more perceptive and cynical than your average audience. Building a marketing strategy based on honestly trying to promote what’s great about your product is a good place to start!
Establish relationships with influencers
A good way to build trust is to establish relationships with influencers on social media platforms. Having an influential Youtube or Instagram celebrity use your product is the perfect way to blend entertainment and marketing in a seemingly organic way.
Millennials are hyper-attuned and dismissive of anything that looks like advertising. Using the right influencer to promote your brand in the right way is the surest way of reaching and engaging millennials without looking like you’re pushing a product.
At the same time, you shouldn’t approach collaboration with influencers as a clever way to “trick” millennials. You should be open and honest about the partnership and what you are trying to achieve.
There’s no point actively pretending that you’re not marketing your product – millennials will see straight through that act. The best way to approach collaboration with influencers is as an open, honest strategy for making brand promotion a genuinely fun experience for your audience.
Answer the questions – quick!
As well as being cynical, millennials are also demanding. Growing up in an era of on-demand entertainment and internet on tap, they expect everyone and everything to be within reach of a quick message. When crafting your social media marketing strategy, it’s important that to factor in a hyper-responsive customer service mechanism using a platform like Facebook messenger.
In short: pay attention to millennials, and they’ll pay attention to you in return!