The VPM Blog

Mobile Millennials: A Tiny Guide to Reaching Today's Consumer

Posted by admin on Jun 19, 2012 10:35:28 AM

Mobile technology is growing at warp speed. There are 6.8 billion people on the planet. 5.1 billion of them own a cell phone. In some countries, there are more registered mobile devices than living humans.

Everyone uses a cell phone. 91% of all U.S. citizens have their mobile device within reach 24/7. Even children in Africa with no power or running water have one. No one has a problem admitting that mobile phones are important today and will be tomorrow. But I'm not interested in everyone who uses a "cell phone."

There is a phenomenon that remains a mystery for most marketers: the mobile millennial. The millennial generation includes everyone who grew up in the environment of information explosion and constant access. They don't carry a "phone." Their smartphone and/or tablet is a lifestyle; It represents who they are. Whether they wield an iPhone or an Android, the mobile world is their home, and it is there they feel welcomed. Unlike Generation X, the mobile phone is not a tool that they use only when necessary. It is a centralized component in EVERYTHING they do, whether they are on the toilet, at a funeral, or in their classroom.

The mobile world provides today's consumer with a sense of connectedness that allows them to be involved with anything, anywhere at anytime. It provides community, entertainment, and an unlimited canvas in which they can express themselves to an audience who will listen. The mobile device is freedom. Just as the automobile represented independence and free reign for the generation before, the smartphone is a license to explore anything and everything.

I am a millennial. And I want to give you a glimpse into our world. Call it a "case study" if you will. Hold on to your toupee because we are traveling back to June 8th, 2012, an ordinary day that has been forever etched into digital history via social media.

A Day in the Life of a Millennial

It’s 7am, and I was gently pulled from my dreams by Sleep Cycle, a mobile app for iOS that analyzes sleep habits and wakes you in your lightest sleep phase. (Side note: I have never owned an alarm clock. Ever. My cell phone alarm took the place of my mother 10 years ago). Before I was coherent enough to clear the sleepy seeds from my eyes, I grabbed mobile appendage (phone) and thumbed through any Facebook notifications I may have missed. Then I scroll through my newsfeed, check email, and quickly scan twitter.

Fast forward.

My routine began with a short jog to "Wake Up Call," a playlist from Songza, a web radio service on my iPhone, which I carry in my hand as I run. Afterward, I was in need of a serious recovery drink, and I googled "best juice recipe" and landed on the 3rd listing - Serious Detox: 1/2 sour green Apple, 1 Lime, 1 large Beet, 3-4 leaves Beet tops, 3-4 Carrots, 3-4 Celery stalks, small piece of Ginger.

FYI, 70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour, including this one.

Mobile Millennials search on their phone

The day had good beginnings and I was proud. Proud enough to share my feat on Instagram, an iOS and Android photo app and social network, which has become my beloved toilet entertainment.

Fast forward.

On the way to work, I pick up a car-less friend who needs a ride. Millennials don't knock on the door. We don't honk. We don't even call. So I shoot him a text letting him know I am outside. It’s quick, to the point, non confrontational and allows me to have more than one conversation at once. It takes 90 seconds for the average person to respond to a text message; the perfect amount of time to check my to-do list for the day, which is logged in Clear, a beautiful productivity app.

Fast forward.

I'm waiting tables for a little cash on the side. Step one, check-in to Foursquare. There has been a longstanding "mayor" battle between me and GM, and I recently reclaimed the title. Step two, clock in. Even the workplace has become a shared experience in real-time. In between orders, I am sneaking out the back door to read my favorite blogs, check email, and troll my newsfeed. Although phones are a no-no at work, the Millennial employee knows how to stay connected while remaining under the radar of the boss. It’s not at all about slacking or wasting time. It's about the humanistic nature to care about people on a level not understood by the previous generation.

Using oursquare to share recommendations

Fast forward.

On my way home from work, I receive an SMS with a promo for a cheap smoothie, and I stop and purchase. Two months ago I opted to receive text-based promotions from a local cafe, and have since frequented the establishment on deal days. No surprise. Mobile coupons get 10 times the redemption rate of traditional coupons. Interesting side note: later, I found an untouched mailer from the same restaurant on the floor of my apartment under a pile of other discarded coupon books.

Alright, Wrap it Up Already

Taken together, our digital footprint suggests that mobile technology is coming to dominate the way we communicate, and this will inevitably change the way marketers communicate with customers. The personalized nature of mobile devices make customization of messaging easy. As with most trends, Millennials are leading the way.

Mobile and millennial are becoming synonymous, and smartphones are here stay. Given that, isn’t it time for your adventure into the world of mobile? Hopefully, the stories and statistics I've given lay the groundwork for you to take the next step.

The Three Rules

There are only three things you need to reach generation Y:

1. Be there. Statistics show that you miss 100% of opportunities you don't take. This generation lives in constant access, which means you have constant access them. But they are not picking up calls, reading direct mail, watching TV, or listening to radio. They live on social media, use mobile apps, feel overloaded with information and are starved for value. Meet them where they are. And if you’re present when they receive bad service, eat a bad burrito, or just need a shoulder to cry on, you are already doing a great job.

2. Be fully integrated. Having an effective mobile strategy takes more than just making your website mobile‐friendly. Going mobile calls for an integrated approach. A website is a good starting point, but, again, mobile is a lifestyle, not a landing page. Infuse all your actions with mobile because that's what they are doing.

3. Be real. Be relevant. And give real incentive for your audience to give you their attention. We smell marketing messages like blood in the water. Nurture long term relationships. Prove that you care enough about us to see what we’re interested in and you have us by the toe. Go a step further and prove that you value our opinions as a loyal customer and you have us by our ears.

That’s it. That’s all you need to connect to today's consumer. Well, there are a few bonus moves, but they are really just a practical extension of the three rules above.

The Bonus Moves

If you want some specifics of how to do the above three rules, here are some ideas:

  1. Get mobile friendly. Make sure you have a mobile-optimized website. There’s no point getting into mobile marketing at all if your business' website isn't up to speed.
  2. Think local. If you run a brick-and-mortar business or host an event, encourage people to check-in on location-based services (geological) like Foursquare, and encourage customers to share about their experience. Consumers are 48% more likely to engage with an ad that's relevant to location. 56% of them said they were willing to share their location for more relevant content.
  3. Don't over communicate. Mobile content is consumed in bite-sized chunks. Users don't want to navigate through 10 webpages to find your phone number.
  4. Give them a choice. If they opt in to receive text from you, they are more likely to take action.
  5. Put first things first. Keep the most sought-after information (a company's hours, locations, and directions) and popular features front and center of your mobile site and/or app where customers can easily find them.
  6. Build a contact list. Customers entering into your retail establishment probably are carrying their cellphones on them. Build your contact list by inviting patrons to send a text message and receive exclusive deals via text or email.
  7. Become a part of the conversation on social media.
  8. Make Your emails mobile-friendly.
  9. Use QR Codes and promote them in your store. Get one produced here.
  10. Build a mobile app. Want to know more about iOS and Android mobile app development? We just happen to be pros. Give us a shout!

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