Many marketers are obsessed with this younger generation, aged 18-35. They watch their every move on social, hoping to find what truly makes them tick – and, more importantly, what triggers them into making purchase decisions.
Marketers know this is not an easy task. Digital natives are a finicky bunch. They demand instant-gratification-like service and attention from brands at every twist and turn. Growing up in an era when practically every transaction is now automated by digital media in some way has taught the younger generation to be impatient consumers. And, for better or worse, this trend will only continue to grow as this generation of consumers matures.
So marketers need to get ahead of the curve before they are thrown another generational curve ball. Here are a few tips to help win over the much coveted digital consumer.
Be everywhere (or, be everywhere that matters)
This generation bounce from computers to mobile devices to connected TVs to wearables (and more) multiple times along their path to purchase. Single channel marketing strategies can’t break through all this noise.
Brands need to be present in all the right places in order to capture and keep the attention of digital consumers at the very moment they’re ready to purchase. As Google puts it, people today live in micro-moments. Brands now must play a part in those moments to stay relevant.
Just as important as it is for brands to stay top-of-mind by diversifying their channel strategy, they also have to walk the fine line of not going overboard with non-stop promotions. Generation X want companies to engage with them and make them feel like they are a valued part of your brand.
A promotional message holds a lot value when, for example, you reach a shopper in-store with a strong mobile ad, but turning a younger consumer into a brand loyalist requires a lot more than that. They want to mean more to you than just a simple purchase. A lot of brands are vying for their attention.
Those that reach and engage them on a more personal and meaningful level will win the battle for their long-term loyalty.
18-35 year olds will avoid contacting customer service at any cost. They’ve been raised with technology and expect brands to use technology to make it easier for them to find solutions on their own.
Their mindset is this: why waste time on the phone with someone who may or may not be able to help when they can easily find the information they need by themselves? Brands need to take this insight to heart.
If a company’s website, social channels, or mobile app isn’t up to snuff, there’s no better time than now to invest in retooling every digital customer interaction a brand has, with a focus on self-service.
Because Gen X consumers tend to be connected to a device (or two) at all times, it’s pretty safe to say that they’ll be quick to reach out to a brand to praise, complain, ask a question, and everything in between – all the while requiring an almost immediate response when theydo. Digital natives are “real-time consumers.”
Patience is not their greatest virtue. On-demand expectations have become the norm for them. Technology is both their greatest ally and most divisive crutch. The message is clear: be ready and resourced to respond, fast.
Every minute sans response is an opportunity to visit a competitor.
If a brand is host to an online community, this is a great way to crowdsource feedback and suggestions.
Around 42% of 18-35 year olds say they are interested in helping companies develop future products and services. Brands should welcome this, and figure out how to harness the voice of the customer. This is a great way to turn a simple fan into a long-term loyalist.
But an online community is also a space where consumers can talk to each other, answer each other’s questions, and collaborate on content or solutions. In fact, 84% of Gen X say user-generated content has some influence on what they buy.
So while taking the time to ensure the brand is ready to meet the ever-changing wants, needs, and expectations of savvy and sometimes skeptical digital native consumers, brands shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that their peers can oftentimes be their greatest source of influence.
An online community is fertile ground for this kind of valuable engagement.
This article originally appeared in Marketing Tech.
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At the Lithium Network Conference (LiNC) in June, Nate Elliott, in a breakout session, said something that really struck a nerve within me: “The rise of social has fundamentally changed marketing and advertising as we know it. The problem here is that brands aren’t really sure if their social marketing efforts are effective.”
Let’s quickly take a step back to fully understand what that means. As marketers, we instinctively know that social media must be a part of our daily lives. It’s not an option; it’s table stakes. Brands that succeed in today’s rapidly evolving consumer marketplace are those that harness the power of social media – and do so in real-time.
The only problem is that being on or a part of the social media ecosystem doesn’t actually equate to success for a brand. In fact, just posting a blog, tweeting a tweet, or pinning a pin doesn’t do much in isolation. Sure, doing so gives brands a presence on social media; however, what good comes from all that posting, tweeting, and pinning if marketers don’t truly understand how to extract value from all this effort? And let’s be honest, having a presence on social media takes a lot of time, effort, and resources – so why waste all of that on “post and pray” tactics when there’s data and tools at our fingertips to help us make sense of it all?
The answer is simple: there’s no excuse. We’ve lived, breathed, and ridden the rollercoaster of social media for too long now to not understand how, when, where and why our social marketing efforts are effective (or not).
Social media marketing does not – and absolutely should not – fall short any longer. We must resolve to do better. We must avoid perpetuating the endless cycle of “not really knowing,” now and well into the future. We have to make social media work harder for our brands over the long haul.
How? We have to be more accountable to results and make the following commitments to ourselves:
“I won’t use social for social sake.” Social is a tool for solving business problems.
“I must talk and respond. ” Social is a two-way dialogue.
“I have to be more compelling.” Organic performs better, but is getting harder.
“I will own my customer relationship.” Social deepens the customer relationship, so I won’t outsource this to an agency or a partner.
“I won’t just keep growing the team; I will work smarter.” A bigger team doesn’t mean better results.
I’ll be heading deeper into each of these in the coming weeks, shedding light on what this actually means for brands as well as how embracing them can lead to real business results. I’ll also share some companies that are role models for the right behavior. In the meantime, feel free to learn more about our “manifesto” and, while you’re at it, don’t hesitate to share your own stories of how you have overcome the challenges of social media marketing in the face of ever-changing (and ever-growing) consumer expectations.
Social media marketing can work hard for our brands again. This is our answer for “how.”
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