July 15th, 2016
Full disclosure: I’m a millennial. And I know that the word “millennial” often carries with it connotations of entitlement, sensitivity, and laziness. Millennials, defined loosely as those born between 1980 and 1999, grew up in a fast-paced world of technology and social media, which undoubtedly has shaped who they are and given rise to some of their more unflattering associations. And yet, millennials have also been labeled as tech-savvy, optimistic, and ambitious. For better or for worse, millennials are distinctly different than other generations and demand a unique approach for marketers.
According to Millennial Marketing, millennials comprise an estimated 25% of the US population and are responsible for 21% of consumer discretionary purchases. They spend an average of 75 hours on apps per month and are more likely than any other generation to make mobile purchases, per MobCo Media. And as more and more of this generation enters early adulthood and beyond, its purchasing power will only continue to increase.
With an entire digital world at their fingertips for much of their lives, millennials have different expectations and behaviors regarding access to mobile content. They desire quick and direct processes and have little patience for slow or fragmented experiences. Additionally, millennials are known to multitask, or at least try. As they binge watch the newest season of House of Cards on Netflix, they may be found simultaneously looking for tickets to Friday’s concert. Their attention is fleeting and often noncommittal. In other words, a broken link or an extra search query could mean the difference between an in-app purchase and a lost user.
Seamless navigation within the mobile ecosystem is paramount to engaging and retaining millennial users. Deep linking technology enables users to smoothly access content displayed within mobile browsers, emails, or other apps for an enhanced user experience. This feat is accomplished by routing them directly to content within the native app if they have it installed or through the app store to install the app, and then directly to the content.
Another strong characteristic of the millennial generation is their affinity for social connection and affirmation through technology, particularly among their peer groups. The sheer volume of information and sources available on the internet has decreased the value placed on experts and individual websites. The new currency of information is peer recommendations, reviews, and content-sharing. In fact, millennials have reported that there are some purchasing decisions they wouldn’t dare make without first reading user-generated reviews or engaging with user-generated content. According to a study done by Nielsen, millennials trust recommendations from people they know more than any other advertising channel.
It’s important to foster a social relationship between your brand, users, and their peers to fully take advantage of the millennial market. Traditional advertising is no longer sufficient. Companies that can create meaningful connections and interactions through networks, ongoing two-way feedback, and personalization have the best chance to engage millennials and turn them into valuable users. If done properly, millennials have the potential to exponentially expand your user base by tapping into their own social networks and providing feedback and user generated content. And most millennials don’t have to be convinced to interact with your company according to Millennial Marketing, as 70% feel a responsibility to share feedback with companies after a good or bad experience. Referrals, custom onboarding, and content-sharing features are powerful ways to connect with millennials and build out peer-to-peer networks that drive growth.
At the end of the day, mobile apps are only as strong as the content that brings users to them. And strong content is only as effective as its accessibility. How that content is discovered and positioned before even reaching the app is crucial and an issue that continually plagues app developers. It is unlikely that mobile users are going to stumble their way into your app, so content needs to be outward-facing and drive them there. Millennials are content-hungry and your aim should be to satisfy that craving.
In a Nielsen survey of the most important factors when shopping on mobile, over 60% of respondents cited the importance of seeing product pictures on their smartphones as a factor. Creating visible and engaging content without bombarding mobile users is a delicate art. Tools like Deepviews, organic app search, and ad features will help turn mildly-interested web surfers into in-app content consumers. What’s more, Journeys enables customizable web banners, interstitials, and calls to action with advanced targeting rules to limit who and when the mobile web experience shows, allowing you to build custom assets for you millennial vs. non-millennial audiences.
Now, to be sure, millennials aren’t some homogeneous population that respond like robots to certain marketing techniques. However, they do have identifiable generational qualities and taking these steps can engage and retain mobile users that previously would have evaded your grasp. For all their apparent flaws, millennials are passionate and loyal when they believe in something. It’s time for you to harness that.