8 tips for marketing to millennials online

Marketing and social media experts discuss the best ways to target and engage with consumers in their 20s and 30s.

“Millennials are the first ‘digital-first’ generation, so when they are looking for opinions and information about products to buy, they are three times more likely than boomers to turn to social channels like Facebook and Twitter,” adds Spivey.

And while it’s important to not turn your social pages into static ads for your products or services, using them more as interactive ways to engage with followers, don’t discount social media advertising.

“With one of our clients, we've seen great success by marketing to millennials through Facebook and Instagram advertising,” says Brian Stumbaugh, digital marketing manager, The Startup Garage. “These are particularly successful [channels] because we can segment different target groups by age and interests, which allows us to create ads specifically for them on the platforms they use most frequently.”

Also, when crafting your social media campaigns, “take the time to design lifestyle photos specifically for your social channels,” says McGuire. “Millennials won’t relate to static product pictures or repurposed website photos. They want something that is more creative and engaging.

“Incorporate popular, trendy products into your images,” she suggests. “For example, mason jars are really hot right now. At Paper Mart, we frequently incorporate them into [our] photography, creating a modern look for each theme or season,” she explains. “Focusing on lifestyle, seasonal and event based themes has really brought out more engagement from our millennial followers.”

5. Utilize influencers. “Tapping influencers – or social media users with a large following and expertise on a certain topic – is a great way for brands to market to millennials,” says Brendan Lattrell, founder & CEO, Grapevine. “This is especially effective considering that 70 percent of this demographic values endorsements from influencers that they consider peers vs. celebrities, according to a recent Collective Bias report. Fortunately for brands, there are plenty of social influencer marketing platforms and social listening tools available to help hone in on the right influencer for a particular campaign.”

6. Embrace text messaging. “Got text? Some of the top retail brands (Express, for example) do, and it’s driving revenue through the roof,” says Danica Jones, marketing manager at ConsumerAffairs.com. “Texting is the highest rated contact method for CSAT [customer satisfaction], scoring 90 out of 100 points (Phone 77, Facebook 66). [And] a loyalty program delivering offers with a strong CTA [call to action] in a format millennials love gives your business a better chance of being heard and having customers act on your outreach, all with a lower cost point.”

7. Don’t forget about email. “Despite conflicting reports that email is dying, especially among younger generations, the truth is that millennials aren’t ditching email,” says Marie Homne, senior marketing strategist at Yesmail. “Email is a simple and effective technique to reach millennials because they can easily view it on their smartphones.”

“Despite the rise of social media, email is still the best way to connect with millennials,” says Dan Buckstaff, vice president of Marketing, Jetlore. However, “with 68 percent of email opens now done on a mobile device, it’s critical to provide fresh and relevant emails that capitalize on mobile’s limited real estate.”

8. Finally, be sure to reward millennial customers for their loyalty. Everyone likes a reward, especially millennials. And, “according to a recent survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Ambassador, 95 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds say they would like some sort of incentive for sharing a product via social media or email,” says Jeff Epstein, founder & CEO, Ambassador, a developer of referral software. So “get creative and reward repeat purchases or referrals with cash, credit, loyalty points, early access or swag.”

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