Engaging the Millennial Audience

As millennials move into their 30s, this group is becoming a prime target for spending. Often associated with selfies and the ability to quickly adapt to the newest technology, this audience may surprise you. According to a recent article, millennials are outpacing baby boomers in spending power, and they currently make 81% of their retail purchases in a brick and mortar store. Read more about how to engage this up-and-coming group.

How To Reach And Engage Millennial Audiences

Reaching different audiences requires using different tactics. Simply adapting old techniques for a newer generation can prove to be ineffective, so it is important to grow and innovate your marketing strategy. Making an effort to stand out from the competition with innovative marketing techniques can increase exposure, brand loyalty and retention with millennials.

Cracking the nut of marketing to younger generations has puzzled experts in industries from fashion to financial management and everywhere in between. Like every generation that preceded them, millennials have certain unifying similarities. As the first generation to grow up with technology at their fingertips, they quickly earned monikers like the “Selfie Generation” and “Me Me Me Generation.”

Considering that millennials are now the largest part of the workforce and wield hundreds of billions of dollars in purchasing power, honing methods to effectively target this populace is a priority for any consumer-facing business. However, past attempts to generalize this entire population have spawned a flurry of myths about the mysterious millennial mind.

Time and again, studies like this one by Elite Daily have proven the opposite: millennials are far from being a homogenous population. In fact, the Boston Consulting Group went so far as to highlight at least 6 distinct segments within the group

To uncover some of the best practices to reach and engage young audiences, I spoke with the team behind Explica, a leading millennial media and news site. Explica covers sports, music and gaming; their big-data approach to targeting millennials has grown an audience of over 2 million monthly readers this June, up over 100 percent monthly. Of these readers, 9 in 10 are 18- to 30-year-old males—a competitive niche in the ad market.

I sat down with Vip Sitaraman (CEO) and Nando Luna (President) of Explica to discuss some broad strategies and effective tools to attract and retain millennials. An overarching theme emerged from the conversation: it seems there are two simple motifs behind creating any product, content or marketing strategy to cater to Generations Y and Z.

Frictionless Experience

The common misconception that millennials have a short attention span started with Microsoft’s famous “goldfish” study. However, the information overload of the internet era has turned digital citizens into winnowers in search of a quality experience — the operative word being experience.

This held true when trying to figure out the key to outperforming traditional digital content. When comparing performance data for Explica to those of other major media players, it became clear that the advantage is not in catering content to the ever-changing interests of a millennial audience; rather, it is in the presentation and delivery of the content. Digital media is encumbered by legacy vehicles for sharing news and relaying information. In the last 10 years, news media has done little but digitize the newspaper and television broadcast.

Trying to couple current media with Gen Y and Gen Z users is like attaching a dot-matrix printer to an iPad Pro. While millennials appreciate well-thought-out and authentic content, the first challenge isn’t necessarily the quality of the product itself, but whether its delivery captures the user’s attention in the few seconds they grant you.

Millennials expect their customer experience to be seamless at every node. The simpler and more intuitive the experience, the sooner the end user is likely to repeat that process — establishing brand loyalty. Focusing on the UX of a product garners exponential returns in user retention.

Speed And Freshness

The second component of retaining millennial users is usually the most time- and people-intensive. This is the era of live sharing and streaming; the bulk of today’s news breaks first on Twitter and Reddit. Journalists were the first to recognize this: they transitioned from chasing the byline with 500–1,000 words to tweeting their best content in fewer than 150 characters.

This is not a new phenomenon: the speed with which information travels has grown exponentially since the advent of early technologies like the telephone and telegram. However, it is no surprise that the generation that went through adolescence with technology at their fingertips craves fresh, new content.

In the internet age, companies looking to stay abreast of the trends and topics of the day have spawned entire industries that track social media and big-data insights. Thus, it should come as no surprise that, while solutions like Twitter are time-efficient, the sacrifice of similar real-time feeds is in the quality of the content.

Nevertheless, 150 characters and a GIF or video tweeted courtside from the NBA Finals Game 5 doesn’t quite pack the punch of a well-written editorial coupled with highlight videos, shot charts and visualized stats. Even if someone has been writing articles for years, the best place to distribute their ideas is the context that millennials primarily use to communicate.

However, for most companies, this process is often time- and people-intensive. Therein lies the linchpin challenge of millennial marketing: innovating an engaging user experience while feeding the need for fresh content. As a young company, Explica relied on a proprietary publishing engine they created to rapidly compose such well-designed and interactive content, in seconds rather than hours.

Such technology-based approaches to creating engaging experiences for users can save companies billions of dollars, yet still enhance the quality of the product for the end user. Ultimately, marrying a smooth experience with a steady stream of fresh, engaging content is the yin-yang of an effective millennial marketing strategy.

Deep Patel is a writer for Forbes. To read her original article, click here.