Paid Ads and Millennials: What's Trending, What Works and What Doesn't

Every consumer segment’s active channel tends to change. With different social media outlets adopting new social media marketing options, it can be tough to redirect one’s e-commerce pathway. Fortunately, it’s possible to shift gear—changing passive consumption into active brand engagement. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, there’s always a venue to connect with others.

Millennial Marketing in 2020

Let’s take a look at Millennial marketing in 2021, as it’s become one of the most valuable demographics for network-centric promotions. In fact, about 44 percent of Millennials already promote products and services via social media when marketed to efficiently. Today’s businesses are doubling down on the trend, and some of today’s most successful engagement strategies have attributed growth to these advocates.

To build your own engagement strategy, you’ll need to make the most out of your Millennial-specific marketing approaches. You’ll also need to avoid some tough-to-spot pitfalls. Let’s get started on the right foot: What works, exactly?

Strategy #1: User-Generated Content

The first effective approach takes form in user-generated content. Today, about 84 percent of Millennials make purchasing decisions based upon the influence of user-generated content.  They’re a pretty active bunch, although incentives are still needed to boost overall activity: 84 percent of Millennials are said to distrust traditional advertising.

Because of this, it’s worthwhile to double-check any strategies driven via pop-ups, magazine advertisements, direct mail campaigns and radio ads. They aren’t necessarily to be avoided, of course, but an over-reliance on them can put a damper on product promotion. As such, the best outlets for product promotion are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. They’re native content platforms, first and foremost, and they’re flexible enough for any form of content—from YouTube video posts to articles and infographics.

Strategy #2: Mobile App Marketing

Needless to say, combining peer-to-peer content creation with brand-provided incentives makes for a tough balancing act.The best way to leverage the two directions is via mobile apps: Early adopters make for great word-of-mouth marketers, and enough user incentives only heighten pre-existing networking opportunities. Additionally, newer apps have far lower barriers to entry, opening new doors to incentive-based strategies.

To highlight a particularly effective app to invest in, as a marketing utility, we have Snapchat. Snapchat might be a venue of aversion, for some marketers, but its lower visibility among other instant-media-access platforms is, oddly, a good thing. If the past is any indicator of Snapchat’s ability to boost younger brand visibility, we can look at GrubHub’s “SnapHunt” campaign. Every morning, food-related Snapchat challenges were created. Following brief scavenger hunts, 10 winners received $50 in GrubHub credit.Promotions like this contribute greatly to the one-in-seven statistic of active Snapchat users being Millennials. Whether you’re exploring new venue options or simply want to boost your brand’s visibility, mobile apps in general are your best friend. Today, GrubHunt has expanded to Instagram, furthering GrubHub’s reach across several social media platforms.

Strategy #3: Mobile P2P Marketing

It’s wise to make mobile a primary access point in general: Research asserts that not only do nine out of 10 Millennials own devices, but that mobile-first brands tend to significantly outsell their competitors. To call back to Strategy Two, mobile apps are a great marketing environment for another reason: Their P2P ad visibility.Millennials spend an average 242 online minutes on mobile apps per day. Even though they’re mobile-savvy in general, as Millennial-held smartphones are unlocked around 63 times per day, Internet-connected apps are of most value due to their content-sharing capabilities. So, what’s the best app to engage Millennials with P2P marketing?

Interestingly, it’s independent financial management apps. When it comes to peer-to-peer marketing, Venmo is one of the most competitive P2P ecosystems—and Zelle isn’t much different. According to reports, the sheer speed of Zelle’s financial-based features is responsible for a significant part of its success. Its target market consists of users between ages 18 and 54, combining a swift UI with an audience favoring it the most.

Strategy #4: Authenticity

While this strategy isn’t bound to any particular platform, it’s one which should exist in all. Because Millennials share, like, Tweet, Snap, forward and comment on social media content daily, a brand’s authenticity matters a lot. In fact, interacting in user-centric environments authentically greatly contributes to a marketer’s success: Approximately 90 percent of Millennials rank authenticity as their most valued brand content quality.

The frequency of brand engagement, by Millennials, is directly related to the other Millennials a brand connects with. This trend might’ve grown with Millennials, but it’s certainly strengthening in younger generations, too. Social media users between ages 18 and 34 tend to become much more actionable when promotions are relayed through familiar voices. All in all, your audience needs to inspire comfort and trust. It also needs to promote its organic content in trusting environments.

Strategy #5: A Focus on Business

As Generation Z steps into the social media spotlight, Millennials become more accustomed to their work environments. They’re still incredibly active on social media, of course, but their preferences have shifted a little. While Instagram and Facebook are a powerful duo capable of relaying visual content on a consistent basis, platforms like LinkedIn are proving to be great primary locations of outreach.

LinkedIn itself tends to be a tough platform to pin down, however. Even though over one-billion social media interactions are facilitated through the platform, LinkedIn’s effectiveness as a Millennial marketing hub is up to contest. This is primarily due to the widespread of industries Millennials have entered—as well as the generation’s newer introduction to the workforce, in general.

Even so, a digital marketer’s best bet is to stick with LinkedIn—as its prominence among Millennials is only expected to grow. Currently, Millennials constitute 38 percent of LinkedIn’s user base. Additionally, over 11 million consumer-focused decision-makers are active on LinkedIn. Over two million LinkedIn Millennials engage the marketing world directly, and 30 percent of these are decision-makers, themselves.

Strategy #6: Prioritizing Online Reviews

Because Millennials are a brand-trust bunch, the best indicators of a trusting brand are the reviews it garners. Rather than placing emphasis on a campaign’s overall outreach, it’s best to take a review-centric approach. By emphasizing online reviews, you’ll maximize your word-of-mouth marketing potential.

To underscore this, research finds that 84 percent of consumers are likely to conduct research online before committing to a purchase. Of this group, 70 percent head to online reviews, first. Great reviews are effective in general, but they’re much more effective when they’re posted through Yelp and Facebook—both of which, in turn, are trusted platforms for reviews, themselves.

Strategy #: An optimized Website UI

Mobile being an ever-relevant aspect of digital marketing, mobile website design is of top importance. Your content should be streamlined, naturally, but so should your e-commerce platform’s features. A majority of Millennials consider mobile-based information to be just as important as desktop-based information. Of more importance, however, is the significant percentage of Millennials who’re likely to promote a brand after having a positive experience on their website: 89 percent.

So, if you want to maximize the effectiveness of each strategy you engage, you can start with your website. It should be navigable from every device, not just mobile, and it should also link with any P2P strategies you’re maintaining via your brand’s app. The more you engage your Millennial audience, the more they’ll be likely to purchase from your business.

Connecting Your Strategy—and Linking Your Platforms

Today’s brands are transforming entire campaigns by changing their approach to platforms, in general. Using Facebook as a primary review platform, for example, immediately sets up a brand for positive engagement that remains ever-visible. Moreover, social media platforms are proving to be powerful e-commerce outlets: Your brand might not have a digital shopping cart checkout posted on its Facebook page, but Facebook itself is incredibly effective as part of this path.

Quality customer service is always important in any regard. Also important is a shift towards collaboration in your brand’s interactions. Not only does this empower consumers to create user-generated content, but it also builds trust and loyalty over time. Consumers want to be part of the action, in any event, and they’re incredibly effective at traversing the many channels linking your strategy’s social media platforms.

Single outreach venues may prove ineffective, over time—but proactive, engaging networks will remain influential, year after year.