Earning and keeping the Generation Y customer

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With $500 billion in buying power and an estimated $3.4 trillion by 2018, marketers are increasingly turning their attention to Generation Y - consumers born between 1977 and 1995. Because of the wealth of information available to this generation and 24/7 technology at their fingertips, they have created challenges for marketers who want to not only grab their attention, but keep them engaged. Leading companies are trying to determine how to reach these consumers and engage with them on their terms.

Successful marketers are following a consistent recipe to earn Generation Y's business and to keep it over the long term:

Create informative content. By distributing truly useful information – not just promotional material – you create a trusted relationship with a new or existing customer.   Offering original, thoughtful and meaningful content earns you the right to simultaneously market your products and services.

Understand what Generation Y is saying about you. Marketers have never had more access to comments from their customers – and actually do something about it – than they do right now. Through social media platforms, blogs and e-mail, you have the opportunity for a dialogue with consumers. Use it to your advantage.

Be where they are. Ninety percent of Generation Y admits to sleeping with a mobile phone. If they're on mobile devices, you need to be too. It's critical to find ways to engage with Generation Y with meaningful content that relates to your business. 

Connect through e-mail marketing. Across all age groups, e-mail remains far and away the most popular tool for content sharing. The analytics available from e-mail marketing providers makes this the most powerful communications tool in your arsenal, allowing marketers to gauge how successfully the content has been received, and where it can be improved.

To reach the Generation Y crowd, marketers must create valuable content and distribute over every possible platform, and produce content that is meaningful for the devices on which it will be viewed. Marketers who succeed will achieve a long-term relationship not only with Generation Y, but with every demographic.

Craig Fitzgerald is the editorial director at Waltham, MA-based IMN, an SaaS provider specializing in e-mail communications.

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