Millennials—or Generation Y, depending on your preferred vocabulary – are now the primary consumer audience for many companies looking to market their products or services. However, understanding what makes 85+ million people tick is no easy task.
The cultures of the world are changing daily and the ways in which we communicate are changing with them. Long gone are the days of direct mail and newspapers serving as the lifeline of marketing and communication. Large portions of the American population, especially millennials, are actively engaged online and connected via digitized media. But is digital the end all be all way for companies to engage a millennial audience?
The short answer is yes, but the long answer is not as straightforward as one might think.
That is to say the effectiveness of digital marketing heavily depends on the individual companies and their implementation of their objectives. Important questions must be answered; such as what product or service are they marketing? How long did they market on digital platforms? What was their digital budget? What tactics did they execute? How many times did they fail before they gave up? You get the point.
Regardless, digital media is here to stay. Digitized content, which is defined as text, graphics, audio, and video that can be transmitted over internet or computer networks, is undoubtedly at the forefront of the millennial communication process. In order for companies to turn key ideas into actionable insights, they must first understand how to properly construct creative executions to complement their digital strategies. As an example, Groovy Studios, our in-house digital studio, is a fully integrated digital team that leverages projects in a more strategic fashion for optimal engagement. Companies rely on digital experts like ours because the results are hard to ignore. For those out there still unsure about utilizing digital media to reach millennials, here are a few quick insights on how to successfully market to this audience:
- Millennials are literally living on their phones. Oftentimes, millennials are mocked for their constant use of smartphones. This perception isn’t completely unfounded. According to TNS Global, the average millennial (aged 16-30) with internet access spends 3.2 hours a day on their mobile devices – the equivalent of 22.4 hours – almost a whole day – every week. That’s 1,168 hours or 49 days over the course of a year! Furthermore, a whopping 72% of online American adults use Facebook and spend 85% of their time using apps. With these statistics in mind, companies would be wise to make use of online and digital content to engage with millennials. However, just because a company is able to use digital content doesn’t always mean it will be effective in the end.
- Millennials are the most connected, but the least trusting. Sounds ironic, right? This is a generation that meets strangers on Tinder and sleeps on stranger’s couches with Airbnb, and yet, according to Pew Research, millennials are the least trusting generation in history. Companies should keep this in mind when designing their digital strategies.
- Let your audience come to you. It’s not enough for an organization or business to advertise on a digital platform. Millennials simply don’t want to be marketed to in the traditional way, thus companies must be creative and provide their millennial audience with the choice of interaction. The key to digital outreach is to make millennials come to you without interfering with their daily activities. Blatant digital marketing is largely felt as abrasive and obstructive to many millennials. It’s stunning how many companies ignore this key rule.
- Stay human. Digitalization can only go so far in regards to establishing an authentic connection with the intended recipient. Millennials, however absorbed in the digital world they may seem, still crave the human aspect of communication. You can push your message as hard as you want towards a target audience, but if you’re just treating them as another number on a screen then they will eventually pick up on this and run away screaming. Finding the proper balance between authentic and digital is crucial to effective digital communication.
So what’s the answer?
The use of digital marketing as a tool to reach a millennial audience is undoubtedly effective if implemented correctly. If this method wasn’t practical or rewarding, then companies wouldn’t have spent nearly $72 billion dollars on it in 2016. If companies can learn to provide a seamless experience across digital platforms, genuine service and engagement, and an opportunity for millennials to engage with them, it is safe to say that digital outreach is the way to go, at least for now.