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Millennials: The Marketing Target Group Is Changing

Pat Marcello
Millennials: The Marketing Target Group Is Changing

Guess what? We have a group of people coming into money that many of us may not even be considering yet. But guess what else? They’ve graduated college, have found or are trying to find jobs, and …  they have money to spend now and more into the future. While Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y have aged, our baby boomlet of Millennials are coming into their own in the U. S. and in many other parts of the globe as well.

Some say the Millennial generation includes kids born between the early 1980s and 2000. Others consider them to be 18-25. But whatever, there are a LOT of people included in that group! As we Baby Boomers fade, these new adults will be the new focus. Isn’t now a good time to start planning? Time is running out. In fact, if you’re not worrying about this group yet, you’re already behind the curve.

Big brands like Netflix, Coke and Pepsi, and even Verizon are on the Millennial bandwagon already. And have you noticed the commercials on TV lately? They’re some of the funniest stuff I’ve seen yet. (Have you seen the twerking dog? OMG!) Why? They’re catering to the Millennial crowd.

So, let’s take a look…

I know many of you reading might be Millennials. That’s cool. Not trying to pick on you, just trying to show folks what your cohort mates are looking for so that we all know how to sell to them. And the bottom line is that as SEOs, we’re concerned about traffic, right? To get organic traffic, we need sharing and caring about what we put out there as content (the once and future King of SEO). Millennials matter today, not at some nebulous date in the future.

Who Are the Millennials?

The Millennial cohort is much maligned by most adults. They’re seen as a group of spoiled babies, not interested in culture or literature, who live on the electronic teat 24/7 in one form or another. But that’s just not true. In fact, they may turn out to be the most educated generation, like… EVER. So, drop your pre-conceptions and read on.

So, who are they? What do they want? How can we sell it to them? Those are the three big questions for us as marketers and as SEOs, right? Not only how can we sell to them, but how can we sell to them and still have search engines love us?

I recently read a report from NewsCred that brought up some very cool information. (Just click the link and give your information to get your hands on it, too.) But… I thought I’d like to share the points that made me sit back and really take notice. We’re going to need to understand how Millennials think. Agree?

So, this report was conducted by MBC Research in the fall of 2014 for NewsCred, and included 501 subjects. (I like to see 1,000, but we’ll take what we can get.) It’s time to start thinking in a new direction, and to that end, here we are.

How Much Time Do Millennials Spend Online?

A lot. Some 82 million of them consume online content monthly in the U.S. alone. My daughter’s TV broke about two months ago. She's a Millennial and doesn’t seem to care because she spends most of her time creating content for YouTube and watching what others have done there. Millennials are all about the visual.

Your job is to make that happen. Oh, sure, you’re not selling to them alone, but remember to include lots of amazing images in whatever you do. And on the SEO side, don’t forget the ALT tags. Those are very important and can get people to your site, just to see the images you put out. I think that we all smile at cat or dog pictures, images with funny captions or even the shortest video clips (.gifs) that we find interesting. Agreed?

Want a great place to get images free? Try MorgueFile.com, FreeDigitalPhotos.net, or OpenGalleries.org. Just be sure to check the rights before using a photo. At MorgueFile, for example, you can even change the images and use them without attribution, which makes it easy for you to come up with something interesting, even if it’s just the image itself. The only restriction is that the images aren’t used alone. BAM! You’re golden.

What’s Are Millennials Worth?

Now that our Millennials are out in the workforce, the report says that by 2020, they will have more than $1.4 trillion in spending power. Did you get that? Want me to repeat it? That’s HUGE! But what will they spend their money on?

Unless you’re a brand name, it may not be what you have to sell that interests them. They like brands, and recognition reinforces decisions they may make to buy.

But 45% of them said that they don’t share marketing information. Why? They’re not stupid. They know when we’re trying too hard, just to have OUR way. Duh. We’re NOT impressing them at all. Old school marketing may not work with them because they’re just too smart. So, think of how you can use old direct marketing tactics with a twist.

For example, instead of having a long copy sales letter, which they’ll deem “TLDR” for “too long, didn’t read,” use shorter copy, stronger keywords and killer value propositions. Give them LOL headlines. Or, use crazy videos with the promise of giving them more IF they sign up for your ethical bribe.

But You Have to Be Quick…

According to the report, you have about 10 seconds to get their interest. I’d say 3. If you can’t hook them in that time with something useful or funny, you’ve lost them. If they’re bored, they move right off and onto something better. There’s no time to waste because there’s just so much out there that they’d prefer to spend their limited time with.

You’ll need to understand their touchstones, too. Who are their favorite bands? Florence and the Machine? (Mine, too.) Maroon 5? Imagine Dragons? The music is harder and often, darker. Think about The National or the Birthday Massacre. If you don’t know any of them, you’re old. Grow down.

What does the M-crowd do online? I can tell you now that it’s more Tumblr than Facebook. They’ve left FB to us geezers. Sure, lots of them are still on FB, but I think the report got it wrong there. The researchers found 500 FB users and say that they still search on FB and Google the most, I think. But from what I understand, the heat isn’t FB for the Millennials, it’s Tumblr and if you want to be cutting edge, that’s where you should consider building something cool and fun with the M-Gen in mind.

So, how can you get on Tumblr and make them take note? Again, back to the sharing stuff – images, re-blogging and lots of TV and movie references. “King Kong ain’t got sh*t’ on me,” from Training Day is right in there. If you haven’t seen it, go now. And remember that they grew up with Harry Potter, too. Wizards are OK, but they can be much darker. They envision post-apocalyptic worlds.

They love "The Walking Dead," anything with vampires and comic books. In case you haven’t noticed, we’re watching lots and lots of comic book movies and TV shows these days, at least in the U. S. They need superheroes to rescue them from the mess we’ve left them in, so get with it! Create a superhero for your brand.

We had a whole superhero team at my old job. I was “The Optimizer.” Look out… The Optimzer has arrived to save the SEO day! Uh-huh, worked with Millennials and Gen X people, and it was always fun.

You’ll need to include Millennial references in your content, too. They can really vibe on that. Here’s an example. Written by a Millennial for a millennial audience. Some humor and their touchstones are what you need to attract them. Sixty-three percent of them say that they respond well to content that is “tailored to my cultural interests.” BOOM!

Good Branding Is Key

Since Millennials are as brand conscious as the Boomers were about design labels in the 80s, you need to boost your brand in order to get to them. They’re not dumb and still want a great product, but they also care some about businesses that are locally owned or have a social mission. The rumor that they care only about themselves is false. They do have causes that are very important to them, be it feminism, conservation or politics.

So, the next time you want to brush off worrying about these self-centered “children,” think again. They’re in the process of becoming. And the longer people live, the longer childhood possible. I mean, in the Middle Ages, if you lived past 30 you were doing great, right? These kids have decades and decades to look forward to.

So, here’s the deal: Start learning this very lucrative audience now and figure out how to improve your brand, and update your marketing and SEO for them.

Be at the forefront, not left behind.

Image credit: Morguefile.com

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Pat Marcello is President and SEO Manager at MagnaSites.com, a full-service digital marketing company that serves small- to medium-sized businesses. Follow her on FacebookTwitter or Google+. Pat’s last article for SEMrush was "Google's Fetch and Render: Why It's Important."
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