Mobile marketing strategies for reaching the millennial consumer

By Jonathan Crowl

| Retail

The millennial generation has proven a challenging target for marketers. This young group of consumers behaves dramatically differently from their older counterparts. That not only applies to how they engage online, but also in how they respond to marketing content and where they source information related to products, services and brands.

Those tasked with developing mobile marketing strategies targeting millennials have been forced to get creative, since traditional display ads have proven less effective among that younger demographic. That is partially because retargeting techniques aren’t built for mobile success, but it also speaks to a more general difference in taste between the generations.

Meanwhile, this young generation has diverse interests and tends to disrupt conventions in terms of arriving at landmark life events. With millennials, there’s no clear blueprint for adulthood, which makes marketing all the more difficult.

But millennials are still experience-driven consumers, just like everyone else, and there are ways to effectively build a strong connection with them through a branded mobile marketing strategy. Here are some key factors that can influence a mobile marketer’s success with millennials.

Stay focused on subcultures, not age

Age has traditionally been a key demographic in online targeting, but it is increasingly becoming less relevant. Hotwire PR’s Communication Trends Report argues that marketers are about to take an “age-agnostic” approach to targeting consumers online. Millennials are too diverse a group to be effectively targeted on a large scale simply by using age as a key demographic filter.

That might seem counterintuitive, since that generation does fall into a fairly structured age group. But many cultural markers that were applicable to other generations simply don’t apply to millennials, who have a much more varied approach to young adulthood. Entering the job market during a recession, their career paths have been either stagnant, slow-developing or alternative to a traditional path. Common life events such as marriage and having children are happening across a wide spectrum of ages, and their buying habits and interests are very complex. Focusing on subcultures of interests, values and major life events as a targeting tool should prove far more effective at reaching a millennial audience.

Building a strong presence on social

More than any other generation, millennials are social consumers. They are heavily influenced by friends, and they use social media to conduct research before making purchases. The implication here is simple: Social media is a centerpiece of millennial consumer activity, so social networking must be a large component of any mobile marketing strategy that targets millennials.

There are huge advantages to social media marketing. Despite the lack of cookies on mobile devices, social media targeting is a great way to reach your audience, whether through desktop or mobile. Enterprises may also be able access a whole new swath of data, such as location, by targeting millennials through social media marketing. As Entrepreneur notes, brands targeting millennials would be wise to focus on relevant, engaging social content built for mobile.

Different ways to engage

Apps are a more prevalent destination for millennials than for any other age group. According to a study by comScore, consumers aged 25 to 34 average about 75 hours of mobile app usage every month. That’s nearly 11.5 hours more than any other age group.

How do you establish that essential mobile app presence? First, brands should be on the lookout for ways to position themselves in other apps that enjoy heavy traffic from millennials, such as through display ads in app-based games or popular social networking platforms.

If your brand heavily targets millennials, one strategy worth considering is developing your own app. It requires more dedicated work on your end, but the potential rewards can be higher. Retailers, deal vendors, media outlets and many other industries can benefit from an app that enjoys regular traffic from millennials.

Why? Because, unlike more fleeting forms of marketing, the creation of a strong mobile app for your company establishes a more meaningful way to connect with your customers. Through that direct engagement, you can even strengthen loyalties with key millennial influencers, thus deepening your inroads with that customer base. Advertisements have value, but a branded app is akin to coveted real estate on the most expensive block.

Millennials may be a different breed than other generations, but they aren’t inaccessible or unsolvable when it comes to your marketing strategy. You simply need to recognize that this generation requires a different approach, and these strategic mobile marketing strategies will put you on the right track.