Millennials have overtaken the baby boomers, and are now the largest generation in the U.S., according to Pew Research Center. This audience, consisting of those born between 1981 and 1997, is savvy. They grew up consuming media and are skeptical of many marketing efforts.
Some companies have prospered, but many marketers continue to struggle to connect with millennials in a meaningful way. If revenue and growth are the goals, then marketers need to have strategies for marketing to this group.
When writer Danny Dover was asked by Post Planner what he thought about marketing to millennials, he said,
For businesses that don’t market to millennials, it might be the last mistake they make. Millennials, while certainly not perfect, are the future.
If millennials are the future, then marketers need to plan accordingly. Here are 19 actionable strategies for marketing to millennials.
1. Keep up with best practices in design
Web design best practices can often be tricky to nail down as they’re always evolving, and tech-savvy millennials are at the forefront of that evolution. Don’t fall behind them. Schedule regular assessments and updates at least once a year.
We recommend bookmarking DesignBetter.co, a new project from InVision. DesignBetter.co stays up to date with podcasts, interviews, and insights on best design practices from the world’s top design leaders.
2. Go minimal
Minimal is always better when you’re marketing to a millennial. Get to the point quickly because once their attention is lost, they’ll close your app, exit the browser tab, or worse, unfollow you.
Think of a brand like Google. There’s nothing too flashy about the Google brand or any of their products, yet people flock to them in droves. Their focus is on a clean interface that lends itself well to a superior user experience, and their brand messaging is short, quick, and friendly.
3. Get responsive
A Bank of America survey found that 39% of millennials spend more time with their smartphones than with the people in their lives.
If you want to make a good first impression with your marketing landing page, you better ensure it’s responsive. Whenever you send out marketing messages, be sure to consider how they look across devices.
4. Make your content scannable
Because millennials spend so much time with multiple devices in front of them all day long, they’re used to shortcuts. Sadly, this means they don’t take much time to read through everything you give them. So, your content should cater to this through:
- Shorter sentences and paragraphs
- Bullet points, numbered lists, and other formatting “breaks”
- Header tags for easy scanning
- Less copy and more images that convey your story
5. Keep it casual
Matthew Manos of VeryNice.co summed it up well when he said,”This isn’t the Mad Men era… you can’t put a clever line on a poster and expect my generation to read it – instead, you need to initiate a conversation and talk with us, not at us.”
Slack is a great example of a company that uses a casual, approachable voice in their branding. Their software allows teams and groups to quickly connect through chat, and their friendly messaging is reminiscent of just that– chatting with a team member.
6. Be true to yourself and your audience
Remember when BIC decided it was a good idea to market a pen made specifically for women? It didn’t go so well for them. As Scott Cowley, an Arizona State Digital Marketing Strategy Instructor explained:
“BIC did not attempt to create a meaningful brand proposition beyond ‘this product is for those with XX chromosomes ,’’ and the results were ugly. If you attempt to create a product or service where the loudest selling proposition is ‘this is for millennia,’ the market has every right to punish you.”
Remember: when it comes to millennials, don’t focus on the tangible. Instead, focus on the experience of what it’s like to use your product or service. They want to understand the value you’re going to add to their life.
7. Visualize the story
That said, millennials would much rather watch than read. With shorter attention spans and busy lives, visual content is much easier for them to digest than a lengthy page describing how your service works.
- So, tell your company’s story with visuals:
- Avoid stock photos as much as possible.
- Use real photos that reflect who you are as a company and what you do.
- Play around with other content that fits your brand’s personality. For example, memes, GIFs, and infographics.
- Ensure that every visual element is high quality.
Don’t forget about the design of the site, too. Images and videos are great, but your site needs to consistently tell a story, from the colors you choose to the fonts you use.
8. Be transparent
Millennials are a hard group to crack when it comes to loyalty. However, marketers have found that user-generated content (UGC) is one way to get around this hiccup as they tend to trust their peers more. So, a thumbs-up vote from others will go a long way in helping you instill trust and build loyalty.
There are some ways you can use UGC on your site:
- Enable reviews and ratings for your products or services.
- Include customer testimonials.
- Add photos and videos from customers that showcase how your products look, feel, or can be used.
For example, Wanted Shoes was able to use UGC to give their site a 30% boost in conversions.
9. Simplify site navigation
Millennials are always in a rush to get things done, even if they have nowhere to go. It’s that need for instant gratification that comes with being raised around technology and automation. Naturally, they’re going to expect it from your marketing site.
A good place to start is with your navigation. Keep your menus simplified and in easy-to-find locations (like a hamburger menu). Use clear directional cues elsewhere on your site to draw their attention directly to where they need to go.
10. Simplify conversion points
On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll want to simplify conversion points (like checkout, for example). Speed is a necessity for millennials, so shorter forms, one-click purchases, auto-fill functionality, and secure and fast payment gateways are essential.
11. Integrate with social
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise as millennials are synonymous with social media. Whether you’re sending users to a landing page or an app, don’t forget to include:
- Social media “follow” icons
- Like, share, and count buttons
- Social feed widgets
- Click-to-Tweet text highlights
- One-click sign-in (for customer portals, checkout, etc.)
12. Create a seamless experience
Use conversions as the connecting link between all contact channels. This means that if someone purchases a product on your site, they’re then added to your newsletter as well as your CRM contact list. They’ll also see a popup that invites them to share their purchase on social media, inspiring others to get the same thing. And then you can even send them an SMS when their product ships.
Millennials are everywhere, and their interactions with you should help you meet them wherever else they may be.
13. Add self-support options
Of course, millennials may want you to be everywhere, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they want you hassling them any chance you get. In fact, many of them appreciate the opportunity to take care of matters on their own when it comes to support.
By now, you likely know the most common questions and issues that arise, so you can use that information to create a self-support system that includes an FAQ, knowledgebase, video tutorials, and troubleshooting blog posts.
Where older customers might be accustomed to getting on the phone with an operator to solve a problem quickly, tech-savvy millennials can do things for themselves. With this option, users can answer their questions quickly, which could lead them to a conversion point faster.
14. Give them a platform for connection
When millennials are ready to talk to you, make sure you give them options to do so: contact forms, surveys, live chat, Facebook messenger, social media customer service, etc.
Thanks to big data and all the cloud-based software that streamlines the process of managing and analyzing it, we now can personalize visitors’ on-site experiences. Colin Newcomer recently wrote about various ways you can do this including suggestions for these tools:
- Bunting – skews towards eCommerce personalization.
- Optimizely – split testing and web personalization wrapped into one.
- Unbounce – personalized landing pages, but you need to use the Unbounce platform.
- Monetate – like Hyver, targets the full customer journey, but specifically for eCommerce sites.
16. Use incentives
Millennials are very open about how much they love a good deal and how much those money-saving offers play into their decision to convert, so why not take advantage of that information? You can use a variety of tools on site, through email marketing, and on social media to get those special offers and loyalty rewards out to them.
17. Do good
If your company is involved in the community and in giving back, don’t be shy about sharing it. Forbes reported that 75% of millennials have a very high opinion of companies with a strong philanthropic spirit.
18. Maintain a blog
A blog is a great way to show off who the people are behind your company. It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate that you’re focused on delivering real value to your customers and that it’s not just about the bottom line. With 33% of millennials primarily using blogs to help them make a purchasing decision, this is something your site can’t afford to do without.
19. Test your site’s performance
Even if your visitors don’t understand how everything works behind the scenes, they have websites like Facebook and Amazon telling them that it is possible to process high volumes of traffic and still provide a fast and flawless experience to visitors.
What’s more is that Facebook penalizes you for slow load times. That means if your site is slow, fewer people will see your content in their Facebook news feed, which could kill your social marketing efforts.
With a bar set that high, you’ll have to do everything you can to provide a high-quality performance as well.
So, rather than set it and forget it, make sure to regularly test your site for:
- Alternative scenarios
- Broken links
Don’t worry if this sounds overwhelming and something you aren’t equipped to do on your own, that’s why companies like the one I work for exist.
While some of these suggestions are quick fixes, others might take a bit more time and effort. Get started where your team has the capacity, and make decisions on how to keep moving forward based on what seems to be working best for your brand.
By keeping marketers on our toes when it comes to design, messaging, content management and engagement, millennials make us work harder and be smarter. They are, in a way, the perfect audience because they allow us to continue growing and learning as marketers.