Toddlers have tablets built just for them, and elementary school kids have iPads and phones. Being connected is a way of life now, and that connectedness is starting at earlier and earlier ages.
Where did it begin? With the Millennials – that 18-34 age group that, now in adulthood, is the first generation to have had some type of device in its hands from a very young age. And for each new device and technology, they adapt almost seamlessly. Within the Millennial generation, we find “Generation C”, so called becuse of its impact on consumer culture. It consumes very differently. Anyone who has been involved in CRO already knows this, if only by experience.
What Do We Already Know About Generation C?
The research has been done, and the results are in. Sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists have done the work for content marketers who are attempting to learn about this generation. Here are 15 critical pieces of information:
- Millennials can do virtually anything with their phones other than eat, sleep and have sex. PCs are dinosaurs, but tablets and laptops are okay for certain purposes (coursework research and assignments, some product and service researching, preparing reports, graphics, and slide shares, etc.).
- They do not use email or IM much.
- Their preferred social media is still Facebook (62%) and YouTube. Twitter is becoming a bit more popular, but Pinterest is a big “no”.
- The preferred method of communication is texting.
- In 2014, they were responsible for $500 billion in Internet sales.
- By 2025, they will be 75% of the workforce in the U.S.
- They will not do business with anyone they do not fully trust or who is not recommended by others in their “communities”.
- They covet mobility – they are marrying later, deferring starting families, renting rather than owning, and think nothing about changing jobs every year and a half.
- They will not be “pushed” into conversions by “hard sells”.
- Social life, family and time to enjoy both is just as important as their work, and they will sacrifice high income for quality leisure time.
- They demand social responsibility on the part of companies with which they do business.
- They want to be evaluated on the quality of work they produce not on the number of hours they are physically present in an office.
- Trust and relationships are most highly valued in their personal, professional, and their purchasing lives.
- They want to be engaged, entertained and feel a part of any business with whom they do business.
- They are savvy consumers who recognize sales pitches and disingenuous, unauthentic tactics.
What This Means for CRO
There are great opportunities here. If marketing is done right, a business can have the loyalty of a customer and that customer’s entire community
There are also great risks. If marketing is done wrong, a business has lost a customer and his/her community forever. It’s hard to recoup from these mistakes.
The Four Cs
You’ve probably heard about The Four Cs of Marketing. There may be slight variations on each of the four, but the message is still consistent. Just as a reminder:
- You have to create content specifically for Millennials that will be shared and, ideally go viral.
- You have to connect on an emotional level. Knowing that Millennials value relationships and have strong demand for trust, your campaigns must honor these two things.
- You must communicate regularly where they are online.
- You must convert very carefully and gradually. Relationships and trust take time, but the payoff is big in the long run.
Millennials may be a new type of consumer, but The Four Cs still apply. Keeping them in mind, here are five practical applications based upon what we know about Generation C and the fact that you want conversions.
1. Millennials thrive when engaged with online communities.
They want to be engaged and you want to be a part of their communities.
- Be where they are – Facebook and YouTube
- Have conversations with them often and regularly
- Comment on their comments
- Invite them to participate in your business.
One of the best examples of a business that does all of this really well is ModCloth. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it was founded by a husband and wife team who are themselves Millennials. ModCloth is a women’s fashion retailer that has this whole “engagement” thing down.
- They went and still do go where Millennial women hang out – Facebook and YouTube.
- They got their potential customers engaged right away, asking them to “vote” on clothing items they were considering carrying.
- They established a “style gallery” on their site and their Facebook page that features actual customers “modeling” their clothing. The photos are all submitted by happy purchasers, and others are encouraged to comment on the clothing items and to engage in conversations with each other. Look at their Facebook page:
ModCloth must be doing something right – its sales topped $100 million last year.
2. Millennials want to be entertained, shocked, and schooled in unique ways.
They will share content with their communities that meets these criteria. They want to generate comments and conversations about what they share.
- Give them plenty to share on a regular basis – stories, contests, photos/videos
- Give them offers to redeem on your site or at your brick and mortar establishment
- Invite comments, conversations and submissions
Jack Daniel’s has been around for a long time and has found ways to market to every generation, Millennials included. Understanding the need for Millennials to be involved and engaged and to share great stuff, they regularly launch new ways for them to participate and share those participations.
- There is an ongoing microsite to which users can submit really weird and strange bar stories, read others’ submissions, comment, engage in conversations, and, of course share.
- Another more recent addition is “The Few and Far Between” contest for users to submit pictures of really weird bars. The winning entry will have that bar featured in a Jack Daniel’s commercial.
- Still another recent participative activity is the “Crack the Jack Daniel’s Safe” lottery. Scratch-offs are delivered to bars along with bottles of Jack. A customer may order a drink made with JD whiskey and then ask the bartender for a ticket. Prizes include posters, hats, and other branded swag.
Jack Daniel’s fully intends to be a popular whiskey with the Millennials and will engage in those content marketing strategies that do just that.
3. They don’t want to spend a lot of time doing research.
They want to go quickly to a business with a lot of positive “buzz” around it and/or that has been recommended within their communities.
- Share who you are; tell your story. The founders of ModCloth spent a lot of time doing this and it paid off soundly.
- Become a member of their communities by being an “expert” who can give advice and recommendations through social media and through blog posts. Put teasers to those posts on Facebook with a link back to your blog when you have good, new content to share about something they have been discussing.
- Don’t push them into your sales funnel with offers like email subscriptions – they could not care less. And use CTA buttons sparingly on your blog. They are a big turnoff. Do put share buttons on all of your posts. Just coming to your blog and sharing is a great initial “conversion”. Patience with Millennials.
Millennials do not remember Steve Jobs’ early years at Apple or his disagreements with the Board of Directors that caused him to leave. The company was almost run into the ground until he came back. Millennials knew him as the “face” of Apple, a brand they could trust. And he knew how important his persona was as well. For this reason, he personally launched every new product – he was trusted. Even though Jobs is gone, the Apple brand is trusted, so long as the new “faces” do not act stupidly.
4. Millennials will do business with companies that are genuinely relevant to their needs.
They look for companies that communicate in an honest way and that offer a consistent experience on their devices.
Recently LinkedIn published a list of the favorite websites of Millennials throughout all of their communities. The common thread among these favorites were that they had a good reputation, were easy to access on their phones, had high-speed loading on their mobile devices, and provided them with relevant products and services.
- Responsive design has been a good way to provide excellent UX on mobile devices, but most of the “big boys” are now developing a mobile first strategy as they design and re-design. This is only smart considering the trends of device use for research and purchases.
- Give users as few tasks as possible on their devices. Companies that do this really well are car rentals, airlines, hotels and restaurants. Amazon does a good job too.
- Ensure that the site loads quickly and that navigation is really seamless. This keeps Millennials coming back which leads to conversions.
When LinkedIn published it list of Millennials’ most favored sites, Amazon of course was one. Two others were Spotify and BuzzFeed.
Here’s what Millennials said about these two sites:
- Spotify: It loads quickly; the audio is terrific on their phones; it has the music they want; they can curate playlists; they can hear new artists; and they can share with their friends. Plus, their experience is consistently good. Given that 85% of Millennials listen to music on their devices, Spotify has a solid position in this market.
- BuzzFeed: The whole structure of the site is easy to use on a mobile device – no swiping and a fast load and navigation. One of the biggest draws they stated were the listicles – numbered lists of everything that are quickly scannable and help with real problems in their lives.
5. Millennials are loyal to businesses that are principled, bear social responsibility and give back in some way.
- Get a cause of some kind.
- Invite customers and potential customers to participate. For every purchase, you donate a part of the payment to a charity.
- If you have a small team, take on local activities, such as Habitat for Humanity or a walk for a cure. Publicize your participation on Facebook and on your site.
- Headbands for Hope: When Jessica Eckstrom founded this company, she was a junior in college. While the idea came from a program she watched about the “Make a Wish” foundation, she knew she wanted a for-profit business that could still “do good”. By the time she graduated from college, she had sold 10,000 headbands, donated 10,000 headbands to children with cancer, and had given $10,000 to cancer research. Within one year after graduation, she had tripled her sales and donations.
- TOMS Shoes: Most people already know this story. TOMS was a moderately successful shoe retailer, albeit a bit conservative in styles, when the owner decided to alter his image to appeal to Millennials. He expanded his product line and took on a pretty major undertaking. For every shoe purchase, he committed to donating a pair of shoes to a child in need. Publicizing all of this on Facebook began to really move the business. Gross sales reached $250 million, and the company has since taken on projects related to clean water and farming. TOMS has an extremely loyal customer-base among Millennials.
Converting Millennials requires patience and a real understanding of their values and lifestyles. While analytics can provide a lot of good information about where and when they shop, devices used, where they bounce and why, there is also something to be said about knowing your audience well enough to know where to start your testing.
About the Author
Julie Ellis is an experienced marketer and freelance blogger. Her wide experience in the field of education, self-improvement and psychology gives her the opportunity to help all people that are willing to make the world better. For more, follow Julie’s Twitter and LinkedIn.