Reaching Millennials With Mobile

The largest generation in U.S. history, millennials are the most highly targeted group by marketers due to their economic impact  and purchasing power—projected to be $2.45 trillion by 2015 (Donegan, 2013). In the past they were identified as self-involved hipsters with erratic purchasing behaviors, but given recent research, we now know they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Millennials are the most informed consumer group, partly because they’re the first tech-native generation. Thanks to digital and mobile innovation, millennials have instant access to almost everything in the palm of their hands. When shopping around, they rely on technology to discover the price of your product, your competitors’ products, and what friends think about it via social before making a purchase.  With so much information at their disposal, they’re able to filter large amounts of content, which makes it challenging for marketers to get this audience engaged. As marketers, how do we provide the instant gratification and relevance they crave? The answer lies in developing a well-crafted mobile strategy that resonates with millennials. Here are four elements essential to that strategy.

Mobilized content

Providing the right content at the right time is imperative when taking your digital initiatives mobile. Since more than 75% of millennials access the Internet from their phone (Pew Research, 2013), a mobile site is a must-have. Research reveals that mobile click-through rates are 34% higher when matched against other platforms (Macleod, 2013), so make your brand accessible via mobile to take advantage of this prevalent behavior. To do this, use the same fundamental digital marketing practices and apply them to mobile. Draw out your customer experience, identify your mobile touchpoints, and then tailor your content so it’s accessible via the devices your audience uses most.

Mobile messaging

Ninety percent of millennials spend time on mobile devices sending and receiving messages (Pew Research, 2013). Messaging is a powerful tool, with open rates exceeding 99% (Johnson, 2013)—it can be an exceptionally effective channel for driving instant results from this audience. Due to the intimacy of this channel, precautions must be taken when obtaining user consent with opt-ins. Once users are opted-in, campaigns that deliver personalization and value will always outperform other types of content and prevent your list from shrinking. A great campaign starts by using the information you already have about your customers to make it more relevant. For instance, to promote an upcoming sale on sunglasses, you could use customer purchase history to segment messaging by interest. Going forward, advancements in the industry such as proximity-based messaging—sending real time messages as your customer approaches your store location—will allow marketers to use valuable online shopping behaviors to send targeted real-time messages. For example, your customer saves a product to a shopping cart online; this information can then be used to deliver an offer for the same product when they’re within a certain range of a specific location.  

Mobile apps

Mobile apps are also a useful strategy to connect to millennials, as 60% of this audience downloads them to their devices (Pew Research, 2013). When considering building a mobile app it’s essential to remember that just because you have one doesn’t mean that your audience will use it. Before building an app you must identify the type of value your app will provide for it to become an integral part of daily life. Using the app push notification feature along with messaging will be effective to continuously drive traffic and notify users about updates. In some cases using app alerts can increase usage by 540% (, 2013).

Social sharing

Millennials openly embrace social media—from sharing what’s on their minds, the bar they’re in, or what’s on the menu for dinner—this group isn’t shy. They’re open to talking about themselves and they value the ability to stay connected to friends and family. The key thing to remember is that they’d like to engage with brands the same ways they engage with friends. Millennials want brands to not only provide content that’s relevant to them, but also content they can share with their social media connections. A recent study revealed that 73% of mobile searches lead to additional actions and conversions, with 18% of consumers sharing that content (Ritchie, 2013). Even when it comes to making major purchases, millennials are inclined to consult friends before making a purchase, so be sure your content is sharable.

Although millennials are a complex customer segment, we know one of the most effective ways to reach them is via mobile. Implementing a campaign with mobile content that integrates with messaging and social media will help to reach this audience, and, ultimately, understanding the audience will determine the most effective content and execution for your campaign. One thing is certain: Mobile will drive communication and play a key role in building a more personal connection with this audience for years to come.

Cezar Kolodziej Ph.D. is president, CEO, and cofounder of Iris Mobile

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