Millennials are America’s biggest generation and they’ve got money to burn. At 75.4 million strong, they’ve overtaken baby boomers as the nation’s largest living cohort, and from 2017 are due to spend $200 billion annually.
Obviously, brands are keen to connect with this sizeable and affluent population, but accessing their wallets can be tough. Engaging millennials isn’t easy — over 80% don’t trust traditional ads and 62% are most likely to be loyal to a brand that interacts with them on social media. They also understand how and why their data is collected, and that there is a connection between their online actions and the ads they are served.
So, to develop bonds with a generation that prizes authenticity above all else, brands need to earn loyalty by ensuring communications are transparent, personal, and cohesive – all the while respecting and adhering to a user’s right to privacy.
But the question is: how can marketers do this?
Sharpen and unify customer understanding
According to research by American Express, almost two-thirds (62%) of millennials buy from preferred brands, as opposed to 54% of the broader audience, yet almost half (48%) expect brand offers to be customized — indicating that millennials have a great capacity for loyalty, but a high proportion want personalized messages first. So if messages are to win millennial hearts and minds, marketers need an accurate picture of what individuals want at every stage of their journey. And that makes a fully rounded, single view of consumer activity essential.
The key to achieving this is actually straightforward — all that’s required is a unified approach to data management. The information is there, it just needs organizing and acting upon. But for many marketers, that task seems easier said that done.
Most marketers know the difficulties of trying to combine disparate data sets across multiple isolated systems, which often produces a patchy view of consumers that makes for imprecise targeting. For example, say a consumer holds several email addresses (for work, family, and leisure) as well as numerous social media accounts. Without a clear idea of how these data points relate, brands may create a series of profiles for the same consumer and bombard them with repetitive messaging that diminishes their online experience.
Yet there is another way: by implementing a universal data hub that instantly collates, blends and activates insight, marketers can stitch together a consumer’s digital life and serve unique messages with real-time relevance.
All-encompassing engagement across devices
Millennials are famed for their love of connected devices — web-enabled TVs, smartphones, tablets, phablets and wearables — and their tendency to move from one device to another along the path to purchase. As a result, any marketing campaign aimed at millennials needs to both personal and engineered for maximum omnichannel impact, and consistency.
And this is where a universal data hub comes into play. By accessing the location trail millennials leave as they engage with mobile devices and combining it with other behavioral insight, marketers can identify specific consumers and follow their routines; from how and when they commute, to where they workout. For example, a consumer may buy coffee from the same branch of Starbucks each morning and frequently purchase an instant cappuccino blend from Amazon. Armed with these insights, marketers can tell a connected story that flows across devices with discounts for specific coffee packs and offers for in-branch use that are genuinely useful, and provide a positive experience for the consumer.
Measure precisely, but not intrusively
Attribution is much more than simply a way to tell how successful campaigns are; it’s also a means of listening to customers. Millennials want their likes and dislikes to be recognized, which means pinpointing the type of messages they respond positively to and ensuring communications are adapted accordingly. Marketers must monitor campaign performance in granular detail; tracing the impact of every message at each touchpoint so they can identify and optimize messages that work for individuals and discontinue those that don’t.
Yet it is also crucial for brands not to overstep the mark with their data usage. Over a quarter of global millennials have “no trust” that retailers will handle their personal data securely and two-thirds of US millennials are concerned about data breaches. This means that when it comes to engaging millennials, brands must tread a carefully balanced line; ensuring that all practices are compliant and secure, while being transparent with consumers about how they use data.
Millennials are a million-dollar opportunity for marketers, but they’re no easy catch. Like the generations before them, millennials have their own characteristics: they want personally relevant messages, they expect brands to identify them on different devices, but they also require a privacy-conscious approach to data usage. To earn the respect and loyalty of millennials brands must recognize that meeting their needs will require a streamlined, data-driven understanding of their omnichannel lives.
By getting to know millennials and tailoring campaigns to suit them, marketers will discover that although hard won, millennial loyalty is worth the effort.