Millennial Marketing Strategy: How to Meet Them Where They Are

Marketing to millennials

The foundation of any digital marketing strategy is a solid understanding of your buyer persona.

You need to know your audience, and why you’re targeting them. That’s the key to crafting messaging that resonates with them—and generating a ton of sales, as a result.

But once you’ve got your buyer persona, you might realize they fit into the millennial demographic. That’s a specific group of people with particular buying habits, and shopping preferences different than the generations before them.

In this guide, we’ll share five simple ways to create a millennial marketing strategy that meets them where they are.  

What is millennial marketing?

Before we dive in, let’s iron out exactly what “millennial marketing” means.

Here’s a simple definition: Millennial marketing is a standard marketing strategy focused solely on reaching the millennial demographic; people born between 1981 and 1996. The strategy includes the platforms and messaging you’ll use to promote products, based on the traits, behaviors, and preferences of millennials. 

Chances are, you’re already targeting the millennial generation with your existing digital marketing strategy. That’s because millennials account for a quarter of the world’s population, and spend roughly $600 billion per year in the U.S. alone.

To get a slice of that, you need to understand what this target demographic wants from brands. That’s what your millennial marketing strategy covers.

5 ways to do millennial marketing

The millennial generation is a tough one to target. They’re very particular about what they want from brands and actually spend less on discretionary spending. 

Here’s how to reach and appeal to them in your eCommerce marketing efforts.

1. Focus on posting content to your website

Influencer marketing and social media are winning target marketing strategies for Gen Z audiences.

But social media demographics and behaviors vary between generations. For example, just 36% of millennials prefer to see marketing content where a person or influencer discusses a product (compared to 86% of Gen Z.) And although social media still plays a huge part in their daily routine, 57% of millennial shoppers said they discovered products on retailers’ websites. 

This means they’re going directly to websites or using search engines, rather than relying on social media to find products to purchase. 

So, what does that mean for your millennial marketing strategy? 

It’s simple: you need to put more time and effort into tactics relating to your website, such as building a strong SEO strategy. 

By positioning your website well in search engines, you’ll be able to reach millennials targeting keywords related to your business. (Remember: they’re not using social media to find them anymore.)

Do this by creating smart, SEO-friendly content that your target audience would genuinely enjoy reading. Use keyword research to find the terms they’re already searching for. Then, write it up with your own spin, build some traction with link building and social shares, and wait to see how many customers it brings in. 

It’s also smart to include the following website-focused tactics in your millennial marketing strategy:

  • Create a Google My Business listing if you’re targeting millennial shoppers in specific areas or locations 
  • Build an email list so people who enjoy your website can stay up to date with it outside of traditional social media
  • Run Google Shopping campaigns to reach millennials who’re using the Shopping feature to scan for new products

2. Prioritize mobile-first marketing tactics

When we think about the tactics we’re using to reach millennial audiences, it’s key to think about the devices they’re using. That way, you can craft campaigns for a very specific target audience.

Research shows that 73% of millennials use their phones to shop online. So, to meet them there, you need to put mobile first not just with web design, but with your marketing channels, too. 

Here are three key questions that will help you determine how mobile-friendly your marketing strategy is:

  1. Does the mobile-friendly version of your site show in organic search? If your millennial audience is using their mobile device to click your result in the SERPs, make sure the correct version is showing. Viewing a desktop version on mobile is a poor user experience all-round.
  2. Are you taking advantage of Stories in your Instagram marketing strategy? Social media isn’t a priority for millennials, but they’re still using it. Instagram Stories can only be viewed on mobile, making it a great format to use to target mobile-obsessed millennials.
  3. Are you promoting the fact you accept digital payment methods? Payment methods like Apple Pay, ClearPay, and PayPal are increasing in popularity. All of them can be used by mobile shoppers to make the checkout process easier (and much faster.)
  4. Are you making it easy for young consumers to contact you via a mobile device? Not all customers want to call a business for help, but that doesn’t mean they’re not using their mobile phone. Millennials are using channels like Facebook Messenger, SMS, and email to communicate with brands. You need to make it easier for them to do that. 

As Mark Aselstine of Uncorked Ventures summarizes: 

“One thing that you absolutely have to do [when marketing to millennials]: have your technology on point. You can’t market to anyone under the age of 40, while forcing us to call you or basically not allow online orders to function and function well. 

Millennials want to be able to order at their own pace, at their own time schedule. Not on yours.”

3. Put your brand values front and center

It’s no secret that millennials have already had tons of experiences that other generations have dealt with.

Milos Mudric, owner of SEO Brainiac, explains: 

“It’s a general opinion that millennials are seeking their purpose in life via some higher global causes. They want to change the world, save the planet, etc. 

Having that in mind, they really care about the message that the brands are sending. They want to know what they value and what they stream for, and that’s exactly why they are so connected to specific brands. 

So, if you want to reach out to millennials, do it by sending a message that you want a better and healthier community (that you care about the environment, that you want to help endangered people, and so on).”

Research backs this up, too: some 83% of millennials want brands to align with their own values. So much so, that 65% admit to boycotting a brand that took the opposing stance on an issue.

LUSH Cosmetics is a great example of how brands can incorporate brand values in their marketing. 

They sell bath and beauty products, but strongly disagree with animal testing. This helps people who stand against a similar problem to relate to the brand:

lush cosmetics marketing

The good news: It’s relatively easy to communicate your brand values with your marketing campaigns. It starts by digging deep into your brand morals and ethics. 

What political issue do you have a strong stance on? Are you crafting your marketing campaign  for a specific cause? Which movements are you trying to support?

Create a steady stream of content related to your answers. That way, you’ll reach millennials who believe in the same thing. You can all work together to reach that goal, or support a movement.  

4. Push experiences over entertainment

We know that millennial audiences have different spending habits than the generations before them. 

But what might come as a surprise is the fact millennials spend two thirds the amount that Gen X or Baby Boomers do on entertainment each year.

This proves they don’t want to see Facebook posts or spend hours consuming videos as older generations do. Instead, they’d rather do something. They want real-life experiences—not virtual entertainment on a social media platform. 

This style of marketing is known as experiential marketing. We can see it in action with this campaign from Desperados:

Sure, Desperados could’ve posted a few witty social media posts to grab the attention of their millennial audience. 

But they tapped into the fact millennials want experiences, and hosted the largest-ever video light show. It centered around the fact millennials want to spend more time away from their phones, which is why they asked their attendees to give their mobile in exchange for a beer.

Your own experiential marketing campaign doesn’t have to be complex though. 

Sure, experiential marketing campaigns can be crazy and out-there, but the experiences you’re giving can just be a feeling, as Marilyn Heywood Paige explains: 

“Because this generation is extremely tech-savvy and love experiences and personal adventures, we tend to see them as fearless and confident. But you have to remember that they have lived through more economic and political upheaval than any other generation. 

Their lives have been deeply affected by 9/11, the Great Recession, and now COVID–and they are barely out of their 30’s. No other generation experienced as many episodes of public upheaval and loss before turning 40. 

When marketing to Millennials, think about the losses they have endured and the results to their lives. Their careers were stalled, they had mountains of student loans, and they had to put off marrying, having kids, and buying homes. 

Position your products and services as a means to gain security even if it is simply they can be confident in their decision to purchase from you.”

5. Create bottom of the funnel content

Consumer spending traditionally increases year-on-year. 

But millennial spending is actually shrinking: 18- to 29-year-olds today spend nearly $20 less every day than their counterparts roughly 10 years ago.

They’re a generation suffering from debt—including student loans. That means they’re warier of where they spend their money (if they do so, at all.)  

Interestingly, 60% of millennials remain loyal to the brands they purchase from. So whilst they’re spending less overall, they’re actually choosing to spend their disposable cash with brands they’ve already purchased from before.

(This brand loyalty can pay off: Increasing customer retention by just 5% boosts profits by 25% to 95%.)

We’re mentioning this because content marketing doesn’t just apply before a person becomes a customer. Your content marketing efforts should take people right the way through your sales funnel—starting with that initial interaction and ending with repeat purchases.

Boost the chances of your millennial customers repeatedly purchasing from you by focusing on loyalty-building content.

Think about the resources they ask for post-purchase, or what you’d like to see if you were in their shoes. That might be:

  • Discount codes on their next purchase
  • Tutorials on how to use the product they’ve bought
  • Product recommendations based on their last item

Take Sephora, for example. They’ve collected email addresses of people who’ve already ordered from them, and offered a $15 discount code to redeem on their next shop:

Sephora marketing

Regardless of what content you’re creating for existing customers, your overall goal is simple: encourage them to buy from you time and time again.

Ready to reach your millennial customers?

There’s no doubt that millennials want different things from brands than the generations we’ve traditionally marketed to. They’re more particular with the things they buy, too—which massively impacts the way you’ll market to them.

Use these five tips to start building your own millennial marketing strategy. By focusing on experiences and prioritizing brand loyalty, you’ll soon start to see an influx of new millennial customers.

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