February 25, 2016
In 2015, only 1 percent of millennials said a great ad would encourage them to buy a product.1 While there are inherent issues associated with self-reporting buying habits, that statistic is low enough that it warrants a closer look. Let’s think about this a little bit more, together.
Advertising is an opportunity for a company to craft and share a controlled message about their brand. More importantly, it is a way to increase sales — whether directly or indirectly. Now those pesky millennials (and increasingly boomers) are scoffing at the idea of traditional advertising. They are, quite literally, not buying it.
What Makes the Millennial Buy?
Millennials crave authenticity in the buying process. Forty-three percent of millennials say that authenticity is more important than content.2 However, content can be very valuable if it can support authenticity, which can be done by developing and delivering personalized content. Personalization can open channels to build emotional connections between brands and consumers, which ultimately turns into customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
What Is Personalized Content?
Personalized content is the creation and delivery of an experience that speaks to a dimensionalized audience by considering and measuring the preferences, likes, and needs of your audience.
The idea of personalization isn’t a new one. It’s been used by niche brands for decades with programs like personal shoppers for high-end brands. But it’s no longer just for niche brands — it’s for everyone. It’s common practice in email marketing, and the digital world offers more opportunities to carefully customize the content audiences receive every day. It isn’t as simple as just putting a customer’s name in an email. Brands that are placing personalized content at the forefront of their business strategy are seeing a shift in millennial brand engagement.
Personalization is a proven way to maximize engagement, brand preference, loyalty, and, ultimately, sales.
From delivering individualized homepage experiences to giving informed product recommendations, websites are becoming more dynamic each day, which gives you greater opportunity to create the personalized experiences your audience is looking for.
For example: Personalized content is Amazon recommending that I buy a vinyl album and a hat because I bought a record player and a scarf. Personalized content is Sephora providing an app that teaches users how to create a contoured makeup look using a picture of their own face rather than a model’s. It is Target creating an app that leads buyers through their store to the items they need and offering sales along the way. These are all examples of companies who have made personalized content a top business priority and have the funds to back it up. But it doesn’t require a large budget to start implementing personalized content into your business practice.
Personalized content can also come in the form of delightful details. Recently, when shopping for a pair of snow boots at Keen online, I placed two different sizes of the same boots in my shopping cart and I got a message that appeared on my screen that said “We’re sensing a little uncertainty. Not sure what size to get? We can help!” It was just a simple overlay — but it made me feel less lost and made me feel that this brand actually cared enough to not make me purchase two pairs of boots and pay to ship one back. They anticipated my needs and earned a new brand loyalist. Now I own three pairs of Keen boots. My point here is that there are lots of little ways to accomplish personalized content in a way that will appeal to millennials and not push away boomers.
Four Steps to Create a Structure That Embraces Personalized Content:
With such a wide variety of options for delivering personalized experiences also comes a great challenge, which is that there is no one right answer and it can seem daunting for organizations to integrate personalization into their business practices. The ideal solution is to create a structure that will allow you and your company to create personalized content and accomplish business goals in a systematized way.
- Go where your customer goes — and listen closely. Think about where your ideal customers are already chatting. What devices are they using? What social media are they frequenting? What brands do they trust and how do they talk to them? Most importantly, what do they need?
- Choose a content champion to carefully guide how you should be interacting with customers. Based on the answers you find in your listening research, work with this content champion to create a strategy that will effectively reach your audience.
- Talk back — open up channels of communication. You have countless ways to interact with your user. Use the strategy you created to reach consumers where they are and anticipate their needs.
- Measure, measure, and measure some more. This is an endlessly iterative process. Constantly measure what you’re doing — in many different ways. Measure sales, of course. But also measure user satisfaction, engagement, and brand awareness. Look at the time they spend on a site, drop-off points, and entrance points. Anything you can measure will help.
Creating and delivering personalized content to digital users is an opportunity to design an experience that allows individuals to align with a brand. So create content, but create it thoughtfully and deliver it honestly in order to win the hearts and wallets of millennial buyers.