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Engage Millennial Customers with New TechnologyTo engage any audience, you first need to understand them. And the “me me me millennial generation” are proving a tough nut to crack.

So, how do you engage a generation of digital natives? How do you reach an age group who switch from screen to screen throughout the day?

The millennial mind-set

This generation has been described by Forbes as an age group that take technology for granted. They live through social media. They want the world their way, and they want it now.”

Millennials are entering their peak spending period, but they have less disposable income than previous generations, which makes them pickier customers.

One often-cited myth is that this is a disloyal generation. However, Millennials are not adverse to brand loyalty, instead they base purchasing decisions on individual values more than older generations, and the major life changes which occur between 18 and 34 can alter these values, and as result, their perspectives on brands.

So, how do you engage this digitally demanding age group? The secret is utilising new technology.

  1. Mobile mentality

If you want to appeal to the digital generation, a comprehensive mobile strategy is a must. 19 out of 20 millennials across the world own smartphones and most check them an average of 43 times per day – and that means 43 potential marketing opportunities.

It’s no longer enough to have a mobile app; you have to embrace everything mobile has to offer. Try incorporating mobile interactivity – such as pinch motion or voice control – and see what you can do for your brand with a little creativity. Most apps are loved for their UX too; just take a look at Econsultancy’s list of top ten mobile apps and you’ll see a common trend.

The whole life of the consumer is stored behind their mobile screen – from their location to their browsing history – and this makes it the easiest channel for sending personalised coupons, offers and ads.

According to JiWire’s Mobile Audience Insights Report, more than 50% of respondents indicated that they wanted location-specific advertising or coupons. This is reflected in the success of mobile ads, which perform about five times better than internet ads.

  1. Connected marketing

According to Accenture, 68% of millennials demand an integrated, seamless experience, regardless of channel. This doesn’t just apply to the shopping process, but to marketing as well.

An example of how wrong this can go is SSE’s latest marketing campaign, which failed to connect the online and offline elements.

The campaign failed the millennial consumer, because it relies on people seeing the TV ad in order to understand the subsequent images plastered on social media and bus stops (an orangutan gazing wistfully over a city). With most millennials opting for on-demand services like Netflix, the likelihood of a TV ad reaching this generation is slim. This goes to show that a joined-up approach is essential.

  1. Competitions and self-generated content

It may surprise you to learn that 95% of the millennial generation want brands to court them actively. Whether this is through coupons, competitions or encouraging contributions, the millennial generation wants to be engaged – which should make the initial stage easier for retailers.

One of the most effective ways of winning millennials is playing up to the “me generation mind-set” by encouraging user-generated content. One example of this is a campaign by clothing brand, Revolve, which encourage shoppers to send in photos of themselves wearing the brand’s clothing with the hashtag, #REVOLVEme. Since launching in February, shoppers have submitted 3,000 photos to the website and posted over 10,000 images on social media. As Revolve customers can see their images on the Revolve site, the campaign also created a lot of repeat visitor traffic.

Social media competitions also have the power to engage the millennial shopper. Suzuki launched a highly successful competition with a twist; instead of entering to a win a car, shoppers entered to nominate someone else to win, with the hashtag #giveanscross. Shared over 10,000 times across 30 days, the campaign was a big hit.

  1. Omni-channel customer service

Everything about the customer experience for millennials has to be connected – from shopping to marketing to customer service, the screen-hopping millennials expect consistency.

Millennials are the ultimate multi-taskers, switching between media platforms an average of 27 times per hour. Plus, on average, this generation uses 6.3 customer service channels.

According to Boston Consulting Group, millennials value convenience and speed more than previous generations – meaning they’re likely to switch to whichever channel is most convenient.

Ensure you provide a good customer service across all channels – particularly those which utilise new technology, such as social media.

  1. Meaningful interactions

Looking through some companies’ social media profiles, you’ll see retailers going through the motions of running an account, without really ever engaging.

So, how do you turn social media chatter into a meaningful interaction? Well, firstly companies need to dispel the myth that any reaction is an indication of loyalty.

The relentless scorekeeping of marketing agencies can easily mistake an impulse ‘like’ for more than it really is. Accenture found that to reach millennials on social media, brands need to become a routine part of their conversations about products and offers.

However, there’s much more to social media than interactions on Facebook and Twitter. The social giants of the internet are quickly becoming old hat.

For instance, newcomer WhatsApp looks set to overtake Twitter when it comes to social customer service. It’s already out-performing Twitter and is hugely popular with the millennial generation. WhatsApp has 450 million active users compared with Twitter’s 240 million.

Other channels where retailers are establishing meaningful interactions include using Google Hangouts to discuss products. Victoria’s secret was one of the first brands to try this, earlier this year, and it looks set to become a new trend.

As this generation grows older, their influence can only grow. The millennial mind-set look set to spread, as the age group helps to transform the shopping behaviours of their parents, too.

Article first published on Bdaily.

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About Tim Pickard

Tim joined NewVoiceMedia in July 2011 with over 20 years' experience as a leader in the IT industry. He served as VP and board member of RSA Security's international business for seven years where he ran marketing in EMEA, Asia Pacific and Japan. He spent two years as Chief Marketing Officer for SaaS/Cloud-based email management provider Mimecast.

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