Capturing and keeping the attention of Millennial shoppers is the holy grail of brands and retailers these days. At 80 million strong, Millennials represent one quarter of the nation’s population and starting this year, they will spend more than $200 billion annually, estimates Ad Age.
But the battle for Millennial mindshare won’t be won with traditional sales and marketing activities. In today’s digital economy, competition is fierce. The sharing economy and on-demand services have given Millennials more channels than ever before to obtain information on products and services.
The high correlation between customer experience and bottom line results is something brands and retailers can’t ignore. Forrester studies found superior customer service drives revenue growth in industries where customers are free to switch business and competitors deliver a differentiated customer experience.
Millennials value experiences more than possessions. Experiences aren’t necessarily outcompeting physical products, but a Millennial is more likely to weigh the experience that surrounds a product or service more heavily than their predecessors.
To effectively engage and build brand loyalty with Millennials, sellers must adapt their current models and embrace channels and methods that resonate. Here are the top five ways brands and retailers can engage with this influential generation:
1. Invest In A Social Media Strategy
The good news for businesses is that social media has facilitated personalization and customer intimacy on an unprecedented scale: 62% of Millennials are more loyal to brands that communicate via social media, per data from Elite Daily’s Millennial Consumer Study.Social media injects a persistent human element into transactions. Having an active, well-managed and reciprocal social media-based relationship is imperative.
A recent PwC research report also found that “social media is the great influencer.” Of the participants surveyed from around the world, 45% indicated reading reviews, comments and feedback on social media influenced their shopping behavior; another 44% cited promotional offerings via social media also playing a role.
2. Leverage Analytics And Insights
Online activity of Millennials, including interactions with mobile apps, web content, social networks and more, provides insight into their interests and preferences. Data on sharing, pinning and tweeting habits reflect the likes and dislikes and what consumers find of interest offline.
Analytics can also reveal what products consumers recently browsed for online, added to a shopping cart and purchased. Using these insights, brands can personalize experiences by suggesting products and associated services via personalized promotional offers over text or email.
3. Deliver A Content-Rich Online Experience
If differentiating your site based on what you sell is a challenge, try capitalizing on how you sell. A content-rich web site with rich, compelling content can both improve and personalize the online shopping experience. Salsify conducted a survey of online shoppers to find out what impacts their decisions when they shop and buy online. Among participants, 88% said that product content, including feature bullets, images, videos and reviews is important to their purchase decision.
In another survey of more than 1,000 consumers, cloud-based video production service Animoto found that 96% of consumers find videos helpful in making purchase decisions online, and nearly three-quarters are more likely to purchase a product or service if they have access to a video. Organization is also key — organizing your content into intuitive, specialized areas with a search capability allows potential customers to easily find what they’re looking for.
4. Keep The Content Fresh
Your web site is a living, breathing entity on the Internet. Every update made to a web site plays a part in its interaction with visitors, customers and the powerful search engines. However, a static web site without consistent updates may be viewed by search engines as a dead entity — with no life and nothing new to offer.
A frequently updated web site offers search engines a haven for fresh content and sources of new information for search requests. Updating a web site often with fresh content attracts new customers and helps retain current customers. Consumers want to keep up to date on products and are constantly seeking a fresh, new experience. Fresh content also helps web sites in search rankings since search engines consider updated content more relevant to search requests.
5. Deploy Conversational Commerce
Conversational commerce uses technologies consumers enjoy using, such as chat, messaging or other natural language interfaces, with artificial intelligence, so that people can interact with brands or services through bots. It allows consumers to engage in a conversation with a company representative or chatbots over the device of their choice to ask questions, get product recommendations, select products, place orders and track deliveries seamlessly, without ever having to leave the app they are using.
The very natural conversational-like experience enabled by this technology is far more personal and much simpler than the tap or click functions dictated by traditional e-Commerce apps.
Millennials know what they want when it comes to shopping and making a buying decision. Retailers and brands must connect and engage accordingly. The good news is that, once a company captures a Millennial’s trust and loyalty, it isn’t easily lost.
Stephanie Dismore is the VP and General Manager of HP Channels Americas, a company star who has risen through the ranks of HP during a nearly 20-year tenure that has spanned multiple roles. She currently oversees HP Inc.’s commercial channel sales in the Americas.