As the largest buying demographic in the United States, millennials are reshaping the country’s economy and redefining marketing standards for brands. Instant access to product information and price comparisons, authenticity, and peer reviews — these are some of the things they want. But to make friends with this generation of consumers, brands should also consider things millennials don’t want. Here’s my Gen-Y take on the strategies marketers should hold off using to reach millennials in 2017:
1. Direct mail
Over the past two years, I’ve changed apartments three times and diligently recycled the vast majority of the marketing mail that hit my mailbox at each place. Yet we keep hearing about another renaissance for direct mail, mostly from printing companies, direct marketing associations, and USPS. Paperless is cheaper, greener, and easier to track, so unless you’re sending me cash in an envelope, just email me.
2. Cold calling
Phone calls are seen by millennials as intrusive and, if unplanned, plain annoying. We still use phones to connect with brands when it’s faster and more convenient than using other channels, which is rarely the case. A natural follow-up to our mobile local search is a phone call; we’ll book an appointment or ask about working hours (if you don’t have it available on the website). We’ll receive customer service over the phone if we have to (although we’d much rather brands had a searchable Q&A section on a mobile-optimized website). A better idea: marketers should consider the opportunities that IoT devices will provide to enable interactive audio experiences. For example, a six-year old girl in Texas recently had a conversation with Alexa that resulted in a $170 purchase of a dollhouse and four pounds of cookies.
3. Daily discount emails
There’s a reason Groupon stock price hit its all-time low in 2016. Discounts may help attract one-time consumers looking for a good deal. But if you’re betting on inconsistent price differentiation as a long-playing strategy -- and using a customer’s personal inbox to test the waters -- your sending IP (and brand) reputation may be in trouble. A timely offer on an item relevant to my recent browsing or purchase behavior will be much more appreciated.
4. Generic landings for targeted ads
If an ad says “Call us,” the landing page should highlight phone number information. If the text says “60% discount on winter boots,” it should bring people to the page where they can browse discounted footwear. When people click on a green blouse ad, they shouldn’t have to browse through multiple categories -- and they won’t. Custom landing pages convert better and improve user experience by shortening path to purchase; they also make tracking our visits a breeze for a marketer. Win-win.
5. CTAs that don’t make sense in the moment
Choosing the right objective for your ad is critical to conversion, yet it rarely commands the same focus as planning for segmentation and targeting. Shop Now, Learn More, Sign Up, Book Now, Download -- which one would make more sense in this particular moment? Get Directions to the closest restaurant (e.g., at lunchtime, at a shopping mall, based on consumer food preferences), Download Now for devices currently on WiFi, Call Now for local businesses or Email Us outside of working hours. . . . Advertising platforms offer many options to drive engagement, views, traffic, event attendance, conversions, etc., but you have to understand your goal and choose the right CTA in the moment.
It’s an exciting time for marketers. Behind chasing the coveted millennial demographic is a larger shift; “millennial” marketing is where marketing is headed for everyone. And consumers are more empowered than ever before to decide where it’s going to be.