How Marketers Are Failing To Engage With Today’s Millennials

Published on: 30 Mar 2016

How to engage with millennials became one of the most talked about topics among marketers in 2015, according to Social Media Today. Although many brands are aware of millennials and how they spend most of their time online, they still struggle to find the right medium, content and strategy to engage with them. Traditional marketing strategies no longer engage millennials in the way brands want them to; millennials now want strong social campaigns that interest them and make them feel as if they’re in control of the storytelling. 

It is critical for marketers and researchers to fully understand the generation of millennials, especially when they represent a huge chunk of today’s market. Here is what you need to know if you want to engage with this crucial age group. 




Who are the millennials?


The first thing marketers need to understand is: who are the millennials? While millennials are often talked about in the media, a universal definition of who belongs to this generation doesn’t exist. The term millennials can be applied to individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century. However many sources differ on when millennials were born, with some stating that they were born between 1982 and the early 2000’s, and others believing that it could be as early as 1976. 


What are the challenges in engaging millennial consumers?


According to a recent Pew Research Centre study, millennials are set to become the most educated generation in history. Research suggests that the millennial generation are interested mostly in multitasking, accelerated communication, being connected constantly, and immediate gratification, a lifestyle that typically contradicts traditional marketing and research methods. This generation have no interest in traditional brand messages, and require a new approach where they can interact and engage with brands a little more personally, usually online.

Google has previously conducted a survey about Brand Engagement in the Participation Age, which demonstrated that more than 2 billion consumers are online regularly due to the advancements in connectivity and the increased usage of smartphones and tablets. And more than 90 percent of the consumers surveyed said that they regularly engage with brands online, something that marketers need to reflect in today’s campaigns.
With the rise of online marketing and digital technologies changing the way that consumers engage with brands, marketers need to alter the approach they take to meet consumer needs and demands. So how can today’s marketers engage with today’s millennials? 


1. Do your research

When you start to implement your digital strategy it’s vital to start with understanding how your target audience behave and interact online. Remember that not all millennials will be on the same websites, and not everyone who uses Twitter is a millennial. There are various other online channels that you can use to speak with millennials, such as Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube. In order to reach the right customers, you must start in the right place. 


2. Make your content engaging 

One thing that millennials love is meaningful brands, and they are more likely to engage with brands who share their interests and passions. Rather than sending out traditional marketing messages that aren’t likely to work online, create useful, fun and engaging content that will grab their attention. Make sure that your content is visual, as visuals are continuously proving to create more success in reaching the millennial demographic. When creating content, especially on social media, include images and infographics to better engage your audience. Share content that will make them want to share it. 


3. Be social 

Millennials are the most digitally savvy and connected generation in history, who interact and socialise online, it’s important for marketers to adopt this into their marketing strategies. According to blog 62 percent of millennials say that if a brand engages and talks with them on media, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. They expect brands not only to be on social networks, but to engage them.

If your brand isn’t speaking directly to millennials, you might be turning off this generation of consumers. Engage and get social with your audience by encouraging them to talk about your brand online as millennials use technology and social media to express themselves and connect with other people. For example, you could ask them to upload photos or ‘selfies’ of them using your products to help promote and talk to your audience. 


4. Get them involved

Millennials like to get involved with companies and their products with 42 percent saying they would be interested in helping companies develop future products and services. Usually companies create products and hope that their target audience will purchase them, but when it comes to millennials, they should allow them to get involved with how products are created and marketed.

One company who successfully got millennials involved in one of their campaigns is Coca-Cola and their extension of their Share a Coke campaign. Coke launched its #CokeMyName social campaign where they rented an interactive billboard at Times Square in New York and encouraged fans to tweet to Coke using the #CokeMyName hashtag. The campaign then featured users using the hashtag and selected tweets were paired with an interested fact about the tweeter’s real life name and featuring them on the billboard. Coke then took this unique campaign further by sending users the photo of their featured billboard display after an hour of being showcased. The campaign was also not confined to New York, allowing any Coke fan to engage with the brand, and by the end of the campaign accumulated nearly 30,000 tweets.


Coca Cola

5. Measure and analyse everything 

Of course as well as pushing your campaign online and engaging with your consumers, you should be keeping a close eye on your campaigns. One of the biggest advantages of digital marketing versus traditional marketing campaigns is that you are able to measure everything. By capturing and measuring engagement using data will help you to understand consumer behaviour, and identify the most influential moments in your consumer’s journey. By using call tracking software from someone like Mediahawk, you can pinpoint where in the customer journey your consumers found you, and even recognise where you’ve potentially lost customers. Information like this is extremely valuable to brands, especially for finding out what’s engaged your millennial audience for any future campaigns.

6. Form a long-term relationship

It’s vital for marketers and brands to form lasting long-term relationships with their millennial audience. Since some of the millennials are still in their teens, their attitudes and behaviours today are still subject to many changes. MediaPost have previously spoke about how millennials have moved from MySpace to Facebook, to more niche websites, all within 10 years showing just how quickly they can move on. It’s critical for marketers to continue to talk to these consumers as their lifestyles change on move on, and to create a collaborative environment to encourage millennials to speak with each other and spread the word about your brand. By giving your audience the right tools they will be able to review and rate your products, and easily share their experience with their friends online.