Digital marketing has been one of the fastest changing industries in more than a decade, but it’s not just the tools and technology that are changing, we also need to keep a keen eye on how the customer is evolving. As your audience grows up and changes, your methods of engaging them must also be reviewed. In a recent presentation, Anne Gherini from StumbleUpon shared her insights into the millennial generation and the implications of marketing to this audience. This generation is now 18-35 years old and as a large, educated and now mature generation, they are not only a significant proportion of the workplace, but are also customers of a huge range of products and services. So how do Marketers need to engage differently to appeal to this group of digital natives who now have over a trillion dollars in purchasing power?

1. Understand the environment

This generation has grown up with technology and now have more devices than ever to connect with. They are continuously multi-tasking and make the most of every second. What this means is that micro-moments are now a consideration. You now have to be able to make an impression, influence a purchase decision or connect with a customer in a tiny segment of time. This means that usability and customer flow need to be optimal and your site needs to be simple to use and fast. If you’re in the content space, be prepared for your audience to visit you in multiple smaller segments of time rather than via longer more indepth sessions. The millennial generation are giving their continuous partial attention at any one time. Companies need to make it so easy to connect that it can be done in an instant, if need be, and as a secondary task.

2. Mobile First

This term has been used for several years now so if you haven’t embraced it yet, then now is the time. The millennial audience is largely accessing services via a mobile device (up to 80%) so make sure your offering looks and works flawlessly on mobile and consider your website as a supplementary offering. Email is far from dead and is still relevant to this audience, but it too should be mobile first with now over 50% of millennial email being opened first via a mobile device. This mobile first approach is also beating nails into the coffin of banner advertising, a medium that simply is no longer performing. Marketers can look to direct their advertising spend to new content areas including other mediums and native channels which are a better fit for the mobile experience.

3. Talk their language

The variety of content types available online is expanding and will continue to do so. Not only do you need your words to be great on screen, but allow for audiences to access a broad range of content types to find news, connect and stay informed. Consider using podcasts, doing more with video and extending your native content. It’s more important than ever to never assume that people will come to you to get content. Millennials don’t care if content is sponsored, they just care if it’s good. Whilst value is important, video quality is not. It doesn’t need to be high production quality to get traction and it’s easy to create inspiring video with that device in your pocket. Better yet, get your audience to create it for you! New forms of advertising are constantly becoming available with the hot prediction to look out for a new form of native Messenger advertising. Messenger growth has skyrocketed and Facebook and others (such as Snapchat, Twitter, etc.) are testing ways to monetise this space. This may be a huge opportunity to reach younger demographics and the key to success? Cadence. Keep it going!

4. Speak their context

This generation is all about authenticity. It is THE most important thing in communications and the only way to get a loyal following is to “be yourself”. Provide a connection that people can genuinely relate and if that can’t be your brand, then maybe you need an advocate that can play that role for you. For some Millennials and also for future generations, anonymity is going to be increasingly important, so providing ways for them to interact more privately may be the key to success.

A Key Learning

If we’ve learnt one thing from delving into the world of Millennials it’s that nothing stays the same. Technology changes, coupled with generational idiosyncrasies, means that marketers must be more open to change than ever, and need to keep learning. So try that new social media tool, experiment with native content and start spending a lot more time using your mobile device to look at your work website. We for one, can’t wait to see what is next. And remember, "EMAIL IS NOT DEAD" - Anne Gherini, StumbleUpon at Interactive Minds March 2016.