Authenticity and transparency are today’s watchwords and have become synonymous with millennial audiences in our digital environment, the only environment millennials have ever really known. Consequently, brands are now able to connect with these always-on consumers in an unprecedented way.
So what’s a brand to do in today’s environment that has shaped the expectations of the largest demographic pool in the U.S. to consistently look for authenticity, transparency and personal connectivity? Consider these four elements of your content strategy to drive purchase behavior and loyalty for millennials:
We’re all humans here
Have a relatable brand story with clear and consistent messaging. Spend time creating the relatable brand story, not as a content marketing piece, which often comes off as fluff, but rather as the springboard and reference point for all of your customer communications, touchpoints, and interactions.
Prove your worth
Have tangible, demonstrable brand value you can clearly communicate as an integral part of your brand story. Millennials don’t part with their hard earned dollars easily, but they do spend on things having high value to them. Think beyond the price/value relationship. For example, we’ve seen brands like Toms and Warby Parker succeed in engaging millennial consumers by connecting with them on a personal level through social causes. Studies show that 80% of millennials have taken some sort of action supporting social good in the past year and 62% say they’ve supported a cause because it has touched their life in some way. Connecting your brand with meaningful messages that the millennial consumer wants to get behind will help communicate brand value, drive awareness and ultimately lead to conversion.
Engagement is key
Millennials rate experiences more highly than possessions. Spend time crafting the experience around your brand, product or service and bake it into your customer’s journey. That can mean wildly different things depending on your offering and whether or not it’s sold and delivered online or in a physical location or both. Logistics are just the starting point in crafting an experience. Push beyond logistics.
Go where millennials are
When crafting experiences that push beyond logistics, go to where the millennials are online and give them ways to engage with you. For example, they can hashtag your brand with that picture they upload to social media. If you’re a fashion brand, you could leverage this by creating an inspiration board made up of all the pictures people have posted of themselves wearing your clothing. Let them know you see them and that you’ve added them to the inspiration board. Connect them to others who are fans of your brand. Amplify the experiential aspects by leveraging social media, then use that to further the relatability of your brand story.
Don’t hide or pretend people aren’t hashtagging your brand everywhere they can. Even if you don’t have an official presence on their social media platform of choice, millennials are talking about your brand, whether you like it or not, in the biggest town square the world has ever known. You must respond to a hashtagged complaint, at the bare minimum, to manage your brand reputation. Millennials expect a swift response. How you deal with complaints in a public forum can make or break your reputation. Handle it well, and your friend-sourced (or crowd-sourced) recommendations will grow — both are a big part of authenticity and transparency for millennials. Nothing is more authentic or transparent than a friend’s sincere recommendation. Ignore these and you may find yourself fighting an escalating backlash.
Millennials expect a swift response. How you deal with complaints in a public forum can make or break your reputation. Handle it well, and your friend-sourced (or crowd-sourced) recommendations will grow — both are a big part of authenticity and transparency for millennials. Nothing is more authentic or transparent than a friend’s sincere recommendation. Ignore these and you may find yourself fighting an escalating backlash.
Know where your ads are being placed: not just which site, but also what content, because contextual relevance still matters. The recent brand safety controversy coupled with escalating concerns around verifying impression numbers has shined a much brighter light on this topic. Find strong storytelling partners millennials trust for their truth and authenticity. You’ll be well served by being in a safe, well-lit environment with your target customers.
Brands that are authentic in telling their story, clearly communicate value and can provide experiences to deepen customer engagement will rise to the top of the consideration set for purchases by millennial audiences. Those that can do it in a brand-safe environment, ultimately, win their loyalty.