Being a marketer today is a far cry from what it used to be. In the days of conventional marketing, the most effort and creative energy went into designing campaigns and writing engaging copy. Advertisers and marketers were far more concerned with output, and barely paid any attention to closely measuring the effectiveness of their creative campaigns.
Today, of course, measurement in marketing means everything. If you don’t have data that demonstrates that your marketing approaches are not only reaching your target demographic, but enticing them to “convert”, then even the prettiest, most creative campaign will be a failure. This is especially true when marketing to the most coveted demographic of today: millennials. The first generation to be largely digital native, millennials expectations of authenticity, brand experience, and engagement are several magnitudes higher than those of the generation that came before.
This isn’t just a generalisation, either – the stats back it up. Consider that 89% of this demographic trusts their friends and family’s recommendations more than that of a brand, and a staggering 84% of them to trust traditional advertising at all. Furthermore, they are 247% more likely to be influenced by online media like social networks or blogs rather than traditional advertisements.
Harvard Business Review recently wrote about how the changing reality that marketers work in is changing the meaning of the term itself: “Historically, the term “marketing creative” has been associated with the words and pictures that go into ad campaigns. But marketing, like other corporate functions, has become more complex and rigorous. Marketers need to master data analytics, customer experience, and product design.”
Indeed, if you’re a marketer operating today you’ll get nowhere if you’re focused on old school methods.
Here are some of the main changes marketers need to make to reach millennials and a digital-first demographic.
Your customer doesn’t want to hear from you; your customer wants to hear from your customers. In another compelling stat about millennials, “84% of millennials report that user generated content on company websites at least somewhat influences what they buy.” This means that getting your customer base to advertise on your behalf—via social media posts, blog posts, or good old fashioned word of mouth, for example—is more powerful than even the most slick and high-budget campaign. In other words: you should be focusing on getting your existing customers to evangelise on your behalf, rather than converting new customers.
Become obsessed with measurement: Great, your campaign won a prestigious advertising award—but did it actually work? If you can’t answer the latter question, you should forget about the former statement. Campaign analytics, ongoing customer relationship management, and conversion rates may not be sexy, but they are where you’ll have the most impact and be able to ascertain what’s working and what’s not. As a marketing department, you should be proving your value to a company through data, not awards.
Your job doesn’t stop at the point of sale. The goal of old school marketers was simply to get a prospect to convert through to the point of sale. However, these days it’s important to think about the entire customer journey, and to make sure that the journey lives up to what the marketing experience promised. As HBR put it, “Creative marketers take a broader view and pay attention to the entire customer experience from end to end. This includes the product, the buying process, the ability to provide support, and customer relationships over time.” In other words, just because sales and customer service aren’t your job, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about how they will affect the consumers’ perception of your brand.
Consumers want to experience, not to passively consume. It’s true that a marketer’s job is harder these days because the consumer’s expectations are so much higher. If your ad campaigns are static and don’t invite any kind of interaction or engagement, don’t be surprised if they fail to go far. The key is to give your consumers a way to interact with your brand—that way they won’t even realise they’re being marketed to.