By Tom Barbaro
Sometimes I SMH when I listen to marketers talk about the challenges of reaching millennials. It’s like listening to people compare different eras in baseball.
I can remember when the only stats I paid attention to were batting average, home runs and RBIs. I didn’t need to know about WAR and OPS and all that other stuff. And what’s with all these specialty relievers now? I liked it better when pitching a complete game was a point of pride …
Just as baseball is still baseball, marketing is still marketing. And the same principles apply when trying to reach millennials as any other demographic.
FTW: It starts with respecting your customers as individuals
This observation from eMarketer Cofounder and Chief Innovation Officer Geoff Ramsey cut right to the heart of the millennial marketing “problem:” “They’re just frankly not going to spend time with you unless you’re providing some kind of value or some kind of experience.”
And really, why should they? Basically, Ramsey is saying that millennials demand good customer service — and that they get to define the terms, not the brand. Those terms can include nontraditional considerations such as increased social responsibility.
One of the most prevalent effects of digital marketing is that it has shifted brands’ focus from the message to the medium. Marketers now have the capability to reach consumers not only anywhere any time but as many times as they want. Unfortunately, not enough brands stop to consider whether their customers wanted a 24/7 marketing blitz.
Among baby boomers, digital advertising at least had a certain novelty because it was new. Millennials, on the other hand, have been inundated with advertising from the time they entered the digital world. So, it’s no surprise that 41% of millennials block ads compared to just 28% of the general population.
That apparent paradox baffles many digital marketers. How can a demographic that experiences so much of life on digital devices be so resistant to digital ads? But the answer isn’t really that complicated. As Ramsey put it, “Millennials are essentially saying to us, ‘Keep me in my flow. Don’t distract me — attract me.’ ”
Sounds great — but how do we do that?
The key to reaching millennials is to try different combinations of channels. That includes the physical world, which is of particular interest to us at PebblePost. With Programmatic Direct Mail®, we start online with digital intent signal. But rather than bounce the signal back and create an annoying feedback loop, we take it offline. We marry the digital signal with a piece of direct mail, in the form of a Programmatic Postcard™ or Programmatic Catalog™, and deliver it at home.
It turns out that, although millennials are more resistant than the general population to digital ads, 87% of millennials like to receive direct mail. To baby boomers raised during the era of junk mail, banner ads were a novelty. For millennials, the reverse is true: After spending all day in their digital flow, skillfully dodging retargeters, a millennial can be charmed by finding a catalog or postcard in the mailbox with their name on it and relevant to one of their interests.
Think of what that means in the context of “flow.” Millennials are blocking ads at a record pace — but even as the backlash grows, the onslaught of digital ads shows no signs of letting up. Meanwhile, traditional mail is trending in the opposite direction. According to the U.S. Postal Service, marketing mail volume has declined by 20% over the last decade and total mail volume has declined by 26%. Moreover, many millennials never got on direct mail lists in the first place.
Translation: The millennial mailbox is an uncluttered space just waiting for your marketing message. And unlike a banner ad, Programmatic Direct Mail® arrives in a tangible format that has heft, is aesthetically pleasing and has staying power. If your message is timely and it’s tailored to that millennial’s interests, they will gladly make it part of their flow. YW.
SMH = Shake my head FTW = For the win YW = You’re welcome