Marketing to millennials is a whole different ballpark than any other generation. Businesses should adapt their strategies to focus on mobile users, social networks, and referral programs.
Millennials are different in terms of how they buy and what they buy. Now, more millennials own smartphones, and 57% of millennials compare prices of products in-store and online. Millennials are the first digital generation. You can’t use the same old marketing strategies to promote your products to them.
What marketing strategies you can and should use to connect with millennials? How can you earn their loyalty? What works best and what doesn’t work?
I’ve been running a millennial blog, My Millennial Guide, for the past 4 years and have some solid examples of what’s worked for me in the past over different marketing channels.
5 Marketing Strategies to Engage Millennials
- Optimize for Mobile
- Use Social Media
- Take Advantage of Referral Marketing
- Use User-Generated Content
- Support a Cause
1. Optimize for Mobile
The first thing that you should do to market effectively to millennials is to optimize your website and marketing campaign for mobile. Why?
More than 90% of millennials own a smartphone and access the internet from their smartphones. If your online store isn’t optimized for mobile or if your banner ad isn’t responsive, your marketing campaign won’t lead you anywhere.
Needless to say, mobile optimization isn’t all about optimizing your website for mobile or having a responsive website. If you’re targeting millennials, your marketing campaign needs to be focused on mobile.
For instance, if you’re running a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign on Google Ads, you should increase your bid for mobile devices. Better yet, only target mobile devices because millennials are more likely to see your ad from a mobile device.
The landing page, form, your blog, and everything else on your website should be optimized for mobile devices. Period.
2. Use Social Media
The easiest rule of marketing is to be where your target audience is. If you’re marketing to millennials, you have to be on social media because that’s where millennials hang out and spend most of their time.
According to eMarketer, 71% of Snapchat users are millennials, which means 7 out of 10 Snapchat users are millennials. A study by HubSpot found that 90% of millennials are on Facebook. They don’t just use social media for socializing but they use it for making purchase decisions.
This is a stark difference compared to older generations. Only 16% of people over the age of 36 use social media when making purchasing decisions compared to 34% for millennials.
Source: Association of National Advertisers
Combined with the fact that as much as 50% of millennials admit that social media has made them overspend, it’s clear that the best marketing technique for millennials is social media marketing.
Be active on leading special networks especially Snapchat. Connect and engage with your followers. If you have to run an ad campaign, prefer social PPC. Forget Google Ads instead of social networks for ads.
If used right, social media is more than enough to connect with millennials.
3. Take Advantage of Referral Marketing
If you’re not using referral marketing to target millennials, you’re making a lethal mistake. Here is why:
Most millennials (89%) trust recommendations from people they know more than anything else (including ads by the business).
According to Aimia, 77% of millennials prefer participating in loyalty programs and 44% are willing to promote products through social media in exchange for a reward.
Here is the thing: If you must sell something to millennials, you need to make sure you let other people promote your products. This is where referral marketing works great.
Let your existing customers (millennials) promote your products in exchange for a reward. Your audience will be more likely to respond to recommendations from their friends and family.
Dropbox has one of the best referral programs out there. Dropbox received 4 million new users in 15 months with its referral program.
By inviting their friends and family to sign up, users could earn up to 16 GB of free space. The signups increased permanently by 60%.
Millennials love being part of referral programs, which makes your job a whole lot easier. All you must do is create a referral program, promote it, and let your customers do the marketing for you.
4. Use User-Generated Content
User-generated content is what influences millennials. As much as 84% of millennials say that user-generated content influences their buying decisions, and 35% of millennials say that user-generated content is more memorable than other types of content and media.
You need to focus on user-generated content to connect with millennials. Here are a few best user-generated content types and ideas that you can use in your next marketing campaign:
- Create a contest on social media
- Create customer events
- Initiate a hashtag campaign on Twitter and Instagram
- Start a Facebook private group for your customers
- Create a forum on your website and let millennials do the rest
Let’s take user-generated content seriously.
5. Support a Cause
An interesting thing about millennials is that they love being part of a good cause. Nearly two-thirds of millennials (61%) are worried and feel responsible for the current state of the world. They try to make a difference.
Philanthropy is where millennials will happily spend their time, money, and other resources.
For example, Toms supports a cause:
“To give shoes to the millions of people around the world who do not have them by matching each sale to a donation - one for one.”
By tying purchases to a philanthropic cause, such as giving 86 million pairs of shoes to children in need, Toms appealed more to a millennial audience.
And it’s not a coincidence. If you want to persuade millennials, you don’t have to spend heaps of money on marketing. Rather, start supporting a cause that coincides with your company's values. Millennials will love you for it.
Adapt Your Marketing Strategy to Appeal to Millennials' Lifestyle and Values
Traditional marketing tactics just aren’t enough to capture the millennial market. You need to adapt. Focusing on mobile users and using social media might be obvious. But referral programs, user-generated content, and philanthropic sales funnels can take you to the next level.
Whatever marketing strategy you choose to promote your products to millennials will ultimately have a significant impact on ROI and revenue. You need to do your homework. Test different marketing techniques and see what works best for your brand.
Don’t stick with a single marketing strategy. Continue improving your marketing campaigns to stand out from the crowd.