marketing millennials

8 Best Practices for Marketing to Millennials

Have you ever wondered why marketers are so obsessed with millennials? It turns out that there are a few reasons:

  • For one thing, there are a lot of millennials. According to this study, there are more millennials than baby boomers and three times as many as there are Gen Xers
  • By 2020, the spending power of millennials could exceed 1.4 trillion dollars
  • Millennials are brand loyal. A reported 60 percent of them say they’ll always come back to brands they love. So if you earn their business now, they could be customers for years

The challenge is that you might not be able to count on traditional means to win over millennials: research shows that 84 percent of millennials don’t like advertising.

In this whiteboard animation and companion post, I’ll share eight practices to win over millennials using a mix of inbound and outbound marketing approaches.

Inbound marketing to millennials

First, let’s look at inbound marketing options:

1. Use social proof

In order for customers to buy from you, they first have to trust you. But how do you build that trust? Well, we know that only 6 percent of millennials consider online advertising to be credible. By contrast, 95 percent of them say their friends are the most credible source of product information.

This means that you can build trust among your millennial audience by sharing customer testimonials, reviews and cases studies.

What do you do if you’re just starting out and don’t have past success stories to share? I’ve faced that dilemma with several of my startup clients, and here’s what we’ve discovered: boosting the trust factor is worth more than short-term revenue. Consider offering discounts to get a few of your ideal customer types on board. Then, knock their socks off and work to secure a reference. The foregone revenue will pay dividends in the future.

2. Share user-generated content

Millennials are opinionated, vocal and natural content creators: 46 percent of them post original photos and videos online. Share the content that customers create around your brand. It’s effective: studies show that 50 percent of millennials trust user-generated content more than other media.

User-generated content is particularly valuable for startups that are strapped for resources and struggling to keep up with the demands of content creation. Check out these great examples of startups who have harnessed the power of user-generated content.

3. Create your own content

In the words of Seth Godin, “content marketing is the only marketing left”. If content marketing is essential for any business, it is all the more important if you’re interested in reaching millennials, 78 percent of whom like it when a brand creates content to share their brand story.

For startups, content marketing is a more affordable alternative to paid advertising. It also helps you to expand your reach to new channels and to fuel your social media marketing efforts. To harness the power of content marketing for your startup, make sure to create the right content to answer the questions that millennials have on their path to purchase.

4. Get social

This is no secret: Millennials grew up sharing everything on social media. When they want to reach out to a brand, their reflex is often to do it via their social channels.

Additionally, 62 percent of millennials say that they’re more likely to become a loyal customer of a brand that engages with them on social.

As a startup, it’s difficult to be consistently present on every social network. You’ll need to pay attention to where your customers hang out and choose the right social platform for your business. Once you do, be present, engage, answer questions and be generally helpful. Your followers will appreciate you for it.

Advertising to millennials

Now that we’ve discussed some best practices for inbound marketing to millennials, let’s address the elephant in the room: Do we have to ditch advertising entirely? After all, advertising can yield more immediate results than SEO or content marketing.

The answer is that there is still room for advertising to millennials, if you do it right. Here are some best practices to consider:

5. Be authentic

Authenticity is important to millennials. In fact, studies show that nine out of 10 millennials prefer ads that are simple and straightforward and carry a message that is honest, transparent and consistent with the company’s actions. That means that you should be very wary of making bold claims or seeming insincere.

Before you even think of advertising, you need to get really clear on the problem you solve, who you solve it for and what makes you truly unique. Only once you’ve done that legwork will you be able to reflect your brand with authenticity through your advertising.

6. Support a cause

Research shows that millennials believe that companies should be about more than just making a profit; they should also make a contribution to society. Almost half of millennials would be more willing to buy from a company if their purchase supported a cause, and many of them would even be ready to pay more for the purchase.

As a startup, aligning your brand to a cause can do more than win the hearts of customers. It can fuel your own motivation and earn you some extra social media momentum. For inspiration on how your startup can win by supporting a cause, check out startup success stories like Bombas socks and Diff eyewear.

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7. Offer value

Whether it’s because they were hit the hardest during the 2008  recession, or because they’re carrying a massive amount of student debt, millennials are cost conscious. As a result, 57 percent of millennials compare prices before they buy, and approximately 65 percent of them will follow you on social media just to get a coupon or discount.

That means that you should focus on offering value to millennials and communicating that value in your advertising.

8. Segment your millennial markets

Finally, don’t paint all millennials with the same brush. Remember: the millennial generation spans two decades! A millennial can be a late teen… or almost 40 and a parent! Yes, they have common traits, but they may also react differently to your messaging. As always, take the time to understand who your customers are as individuals.

Over to you

Have you been striving to resonate with millennials in your marketing? What’s worked for you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

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