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Campaigns are extinct: How millennials can improve your marketing strategy

21st Apr 2015
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As marketers, we know that consumers of all ages –especially young adults – are device-savvy no longer thinking in terms of channels, devices or operating hours. So why do we keep marketing to them in such finite ways?

It’s time marketers started to reach today’s consumer in the same way they are experiencing life -  from a completely holistic perspective. Research conducted by SDL revealed that millennials use four different devices daily and check their smartphones an average of 45 times. Yes, really, and not understanding this and the way the overstimulated and distracted millennial mind works will result in an ineffective marketing strategy.

Where are millennials?

In the spirit of YOLO, or 'you only live once', millennials often prioritise experiences over hard earned material possessions. Traditional behaviour and consumption patterns have shifted, and instead of searching for content, this generation will spend time carefully curating feeds so that they don’t miss a single unique, shareable experience.

This means that finding today’s millennials isn’t hard and won’t take longer than looking at your brand’s social media pages. Five out of six millennials told SDL that they connect with companies on social media and use their social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for content discovery over emergent sites like Tumblr or traditional communication methods like email or search engines.

As such, it’ll be important for marketers to meet their consumers where they are and work on fostering an authentic relationship. Social media sites by definition are social, so creating a strategy that not only builds awareness but also cultivates referrals will grow much more meaningful relationships than continuing to push a sale. They will 'unfriend' you or move to the next page as quickly as they came to yours.

What are they looking for?

Sometimes understanding what someone wants comes from knowing what they don’t want.  In Forrester’s most recent Customer Experience Index, it cited that consumers despise and distrust push-style marketing methods that interrupt or intercept them, and almost half of consumers (49%) don’t trust digital ads. They have their own workarounds in the form of feeds, apps and other ad-free content that they control.

If these methods aren’t working, marketers should stop doing them and invest in collecting and using data as a key source of intelligence for hyper-segmentation and targeting. Done right, targeted marketing messages add value for your customers. However, done wrong, they seem creepy. Use customer data deliberately so you can deliver messages that are consistent, considerate and relevant. Once you do, you’ll start building the kind of credibility that matures into brand advocacy. Remember, millennials want to be heard, understood and are looking for companies to reciprocate their engagement.

Building trust

The first step in forming any successful relationship is to build trust. Once you know what a millennial is looking for, it’s possible to build their trust and admiration, which is critical as millennial consumers can be exceptionally loyal customers if they feel they are treated right.

While other generations may find it intrusive for a brand to know their birthday or age, millennials expect this level of communication and rely on their favorite companies to interact with them virtually, in the same way they would interact face to face. 60% of millennials polled told SDL that they like receiving brand-building communications that aren’t focused on selling a product, such as a holiday or birthday card. This means throughout the customer journey, too – not just when the website gets a click. Be proactive and with your consumers over the lifetime of their experience with the brand. Constant monitoring and analysis of brand engagement with appropriate interactions will ultimately create millennial brand advocates.

Reaching millennials

What is the good news? As hard as this generation is to reach, when you do, they are eager to lend a hand. Beyond proactively interacting with their favourite companies, 60% of millennials said that they would happily provide more personal information to companies if it resulted in more targeted interactions. And companies would be smart to take them up on the offer as Forrester’s Customer Experience Index found that improving customer experience can grossly improve revenue.

Becoming a part of your customer’s buying cycle won’t happen immediately, but to be effective you have to understand the audience you are trying to reach. Campaigns may be extinct but your marketing teams don’t have to be. By tracking customer data daily you will be equipped to provide the right information and the right offer at the right time and allows you to be ready for tomorrow’s customer today.

Paige O’Neill is CMO of SDL.


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