8.5 Secrets of Marketing to Millennials

by Adam Luckeroth, on Jun, 23, 2015

The Greatest Generation, Baby Boomers, and Millennials are designations that society has given to the generations of children from different periods of time. To appropriately market to any particular age, it is necessary to understand what makes a particular generation “tick” and market to those specific nuances.


For modern marketers, discovering the inner-workings of Millennials, in particular, has been challenging. In the United States, there are approximately 79 million Millennials which is 25 percent of the population. This indicates that similar to the Baby Boomers before them; Millennials have a great deal of influence regarding purchasing, politics, and many other areas that have a profound impact on the direction of society.

Perhaps the most significant factor in the development of the Millennial mindset has been the explosion of technology and integration within their daily activities. This rapidly maturing demographic possesses more information than multiple world almanacs, as well as the ability to check on their parents, their children and their neighbors all within seconds thanks to technology.

Advancements in technology have made it possible to share opinions on everything in real-time, from products one may or may not purchase to political philosophies to pop-culture staples. This is a good thing!

Here's some advice on how to communicate with and convert the tech savvy and informed audience known as the Millennial generation.

Be Upfront and Honest

In 5 Ways to Sell to Millennials, Tim Young, director of marketing at the conservative media company Liberty Alliance, states that the first thing that needs to be done is to come across as authentic. Young sells the Republican party to the millennial generation. TV spots featuring hipsters complaining about the economy while gassing up their $33,000 Audi fall flat. He says, “It’s offensive and cheap to pander. Just present your brand appropriately. You look stronger, and it’s also playing to your authenticity.”

So how do you find your authentic voice? Writing for Entrepreneur in How to Find Your Authentic Voice on Social Media, Ross McCammon offers advice to creating a voice that resonates with your audience. Some of the fundamental principles of building authenticity include:

1. Write like you talk. Don’t answer with a canned response or post a PowerPoint to YouTube to engage your audience. “Ask questions, tell stories, listen and relate to people”, says Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Media and author of Likeable Social Media: How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (And Other Social Networks).

Work social media like the biggest virtual cocktail party there is and socialize. Kerpen states: “The way to market content without sounding like you’re marketing is to not market content.”

2. Avoid content that feels:

  • Too salesy and that you wouldn’t forward to friends.
  • Quickly put together. People want content that is rich, smart and efficient. Help people live richer, more meaningful lives with quality content that is concise and can also pull at the emotions.
  • Unprofessional. "Professional" is subjective to the audience. Know your audience, be professional.

3. Give readers tips and giveaways they will be happy to share.

The next part of this upfront honesty deals with pricing and sales. This is a generation that has grown up using technology to instantly price compare. Millennials are not easily fooled, and they hate it if you try. Immediate access to competitors and price comparison apps determine if a “deal” really is a “deal” in less than a minute. If a Millennial sees a deal that seems too good to be true, they will quickly consult their phones for better offers and opportunities.

The best part of this is that when these prospects find a great value or experience amazing service they are the first ones to share their opinions on social media. Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Airbnb all rely on reviews; people are willing to try new features, take adventures and freely promote their opinions.

[Tweet "Social networks are a major part of making informed purchasing decisions"]

Social networks are a major part of making informed purchasing decisions. Whether going to a social media site and asking a friend how they like the new stereo they bought, looking up a consumer website that rates stereos, or reading the comments from previous purchasers, a Millennial is perhaps the best informed consumer, as part of an entire generation, in the history of commerce.

Convenience and Comfort are Key

The modern Millennial is a consumer that's used to accessing online storefronts and comprehensive product catalogs with little additional effort. For this reason, online stores without mobile access or convenient payment options may find that missed sales and declining revenue are the consequence.

The bar for expectations has gone way up, and Millennials expect fast, easy functionality during the conversion process. Moreover, consumer expectations will continue to rise, a view supported in this article by Ecommerce expert William Harris.

So what specifically does this generation want?

1. Responsive Web Design

Websites need to load quickly and work well on any and ALL devices, smartphones, tablets and laptops. Millennials expect sites and apps to work correctly and at the first signs of poor design and functionality, will find another provider.

According to an article on Forbes, an obsession with user interface simplification at Amazon, Google and Apple has set expectations for intuitiveness. 81% of smartphone users conduct research from their phone. Your site and social media outreach had better be easy to view and use. What is the point of preparing people to convert when technical issues prevent viewing and payments?

As of April 21st, 2015, Google penalizes websites that are not mobile-friendly. There is a wide variety of responsive themes available on platforms such as WordPress.

Check this out: Google has a free tool that tells you if your website is mobile-friendly.

2. Payment Options and Ease

An online shopping platform should be able to securely handle multiple forms of transactions. This includes PayPal, all major credit cards and possibly even cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Global business operations have to adjust their transaction model to include the national payment and shipping options that may pertain to a designated country. Transactions need to be secure, and users need the option to save or delete their personal data after the interaction.

Millennials look for additional security measures as news surfaces of major retail outlets having customer data stolen. Make it easy for the customer to buy, remember their purchases and suggest related items with apps that users can download. Amazon has enjoyed success with their focus on ease-of-use and customer service.

This culture of convenience also means that many Millennials are willing to pay a premium to avoid headaches. Free shipping offers for a designated transaction amount help to remove a common psychological barrier to purchase. Transparent pricing adds additional value and the choice becomes simple.

It Is Important to Have Unquestionable Service

Millennials can find a competitor in just a few seconds, and they will if service and the quality of the product are not exceptional.

Return policies should be discussed up front. A Millennial customer that feels uncomfortable about the possibility of a return is far less likely to become a regular customer. Even seemingly small items, including prominently displayed customer service numbers, must be present, or you'll risk your target audience finding discomfort in uncertainty.

It becomes both easier and more difficult to serve this generation. They have a different idea of the role of people in customer service delivery. The Forbes article, 7 Ways to Serve—And Keep—Millennial Customers states that there needs to be a shift in focus as it pertains to the elements of the customer service experience.

  1. Customers will use Apps and Google before turning a person for information. Keep the transaction details easy to find and use automation to let them know such things as payment, shipping and delivery confirmations.
  2. Don’t just sell or give them the facts; create an experience. Jay Coldren, Marriot VP of Lifestyle Brands says: “Generation Y views business travel not as a necessary evil but as a perk and an opportunity to view the world.” Provide them with ways to broaden their horizons and keep them engaged.
  3. Quickly respond to needs. For businesses, this means real-time knowledge of items in stock, fast shipments and making returns simple.
  4. Millennials consider the values of a company. Expect engagement with an audience when your behavior reflects their core values.

It's important to remember that Millennials expect quality for their money, and if they don’t get it, they will tell others. It is common to shame larger companies on Yelp and business Facebook pages. The only control for this is by providing an outstanding customer service experience and responding quickly to any complaints or concerns by making things right.

Multi-Channel Marketing is Essential

The way to attract a Millennial is less about advertising on a single channel and more about a mixed media approach to marketing. The explosion of social media, online media outlets, and streaming services means that consumers are dividing their attention across a variety of channels, diluting the impact of any one ad or piece of content on its own.

71% of Millennials use social networks daily and spend an average of 5.4 hours on social media platforms every day. Research and presence on multiple channels that a prospective target audience may use is essential. Management of those channels, not just posting new content, is a necessary component of this outreach.

Instead of picking up the phone, this group will leave comments and messages online that may express their confusion or dissatisfaction. Genuine “uncanned” responses within a few hours (minutes is even better) of a submission are part of building online relationships with this customer base. In fact, learning to engage is something that marketers must learn to do with this group.

One-way marketing has transformed into a two-way conversation. To drive brand messaging, marketers must create online relationships with customers.

Another aspect is the creation of trust. This generation is less trusting of content generated by professional advertisers. As far as trust goes, they prefer content created by peers as one can see by how often reviews and personal experiences are used as a part of the purchasing process.

Marketers can use this by fostering dialog between leads and current customers. There is a place for targeted messages on the various platforms but the real call for marketers is to support the need for Millennials to experience online relationships with the brand and with loyal customers. You are now there to create a network between people and the brand that in some ways replaces the face-to-face interactions desired by previous generations.

Perform research to determine which channels to target and then get to work. A well-populated YouTube channel full of product demos, coupon codes on Facebook, and exciting media shared on Twitter can help a product or brand to be always just a click away from interested eyes.

For B2B or B2C marketing, businesses are still selling to people, and this generation expects to have a relationship with you online. It is not just about sending the multi-channel messages out to an audience but engaging with their response.

Millennials have significant purchasing power and define themselves by the integration of technology with their daily communications and lives. Look to connect and respond with authenticity. Be real!

Request Demo