It seems that everyone wants to know how to get inside the mind of the Millennial consumer. Articles about their love of avocado toast, low rates of home ownership, and purported desire to kill everything from casual chain restaurants to bars of soap are numerous.
Why are businesses obsessed with Millennials and their habits? Perhaps because they currently make up the second-largest subset of the population and are expected to outnumber Baby Boomers starting in 2019.
This means that, as a group, they have an enormous bearing on the health of businesses everywhere. If you’re not doing your best to cater to the Millennial set, you’re missing out on a huge segment of the population.
So what is it that these consumers are looking for? And what can you do to make sure your membership program is hitting the right marks for Millennials? Read on as we take a deeper look.
Who are Millennials?
While there is some dispute over the official beginning and end date for the Millennial generation, the general consensus is that they were born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s. This means that they remember an analog time but also have memories from their teen years of dial-up internet, Hotmail email addresses, and AIM conversations with classmates.
They are tech-savvy and were the first generation to come of age during the time of social media. Because social media has been a part of their lives since their formative years, they expect your brand to be well represented across social platforms.
It’s All About Connection
First and foremost, Millennials want to feel connected to a brand. Everything you do online—from your website to your social media presence—allows you to define your value proposition clearly and trumpet your mission consistently across platforms. Take advantage.
Use social media, a segmented email strategy, and on-site chat functionality to have one-on-one conversations with your customers and build real, personal connections.
Make it easy for Millennials to spread the word. Content should be easily shareable across social channels. It’s also important to establish official pages where people can leave reviews and easily recommend you. This way, if someone asks for a recommendation on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, it’s easy for their friend to tag a business’s official page on the respective social platform in their comment, rather than Googling your business in a separate browser tab so they can then share the link to your website.
Optimize for Mobile
Mobile search is the way of the future for most users, but this is especially true for Millennials. Again, as the first generation to come of age with smartphones, they are highly likely to encounter your brand on a mobile device. A full 92 percent of all Millennials own a smartphone. This means you must have a seamless mobile experience and a site optimized for mobile use.
Millennials have very little patience for sites that are hard to read, load slowly, or are clunky on mobile. If this describes your site, you’re likely already losing Millennials’ attention. They’ll happily hop back on Google and search for your competitor who has the easier-to-navigate mobile experience.
Hold Their Attention
Millennials tend to have short attention spans. Again, because they grew up online, they are used to being able to find solutions to their problems very quickly and easily.
You need to be sure that your site caters to this desire for instant gratification. Don’t create a landing page that is filled with dynamic content and therefore slow to load. Don’t fill your site with dense chunks of text. Creating a landing page that is visually appealing, clearly and succinctly states what you do, and provides users with a clear, simple path to learn more about your membership program is the way to win over the Millennial set.
Manage expectations, and be respectful of your users’ time. It’s likely that you can’t sum up everything you do in one sentence, but make sure you’re putting your users in the driver’s seat, allowing them to control how much information they take in at once.
For example, The Atlantic provides their readers with an “X minute read” header on each of their articles. Users then know exactly how much time they have to set aside to complete the story. This allows their customer to make an informed choice: They can sit down and commit to reading the story now, if they have the time, or they can bookmark it for later if they’re in a rush.
Let Them Help Themselves
A part of that short attention span is the desire for instant answers when they come across problems or issues on your website or membership service. Millennials don’t want to call and speak to a representative or wait for someone to respond to their email. Chat or text options for questions or concerns are a great option to address the needs of your Millennial customers.
Additionally, Millennials are a self-sufficient bunch. They’re more than happy to solve their own problems if you give them the resources to do so; three out of four Millennials prefer to find the answers to their questions on their own. Establishing FAQ pages and community forums on your site allows them the option to solve issues for themselves.
Deliver Real Value
Millennials are also, apparently, slowly killing the digital display ad market. Users do not like pop-ups, banner ads, and loud video advertising interrupting their user experience. Millennials prefer a clean interface on a site. This means that establishing a membership program that eliminates those annoying ads is highly beneficial.
This is why niche content is so deeply important. Today’s audiences have a lot of options out there for content. Millennials are tech-savvy, and if you’re providing less-than-stellar content, they can easily go find what they need elsewhere.
However, if you’re creating results-driven content that really speaks to your niche user base, you’ll win over discerning Millennial users looking for quality content, while also transitioning over to a membership model that eliminates annoying advertising on your site.
Millennials possess a lot of buying power, so if you’re not already thinking about what your business can do to cater to their needs, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. Remember, though, that they’re not the enigmatic group they’re sometimes portrayed to be. They’re just looking for the kind of positive user experience they’ve come to expect from brands operating in the digital age.
About the Author
Rob Ristagno, Founder and CEO of Sterling Woods, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. He started his career as a consultant at McKinsey. Ristagno holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.
Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors: A Proven Method for Making More Money Online. He regularly speaks at key media conferences, including at Niche Media events, Specialized Information Publishers Association meetings, and the Business Information and Media Summit.