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Best practice for marketing to millennials using paid search

Best practice for marketing to millennials using paid search

Have you considered if your business would benefit from implementing a marketing to millennials using paid search strategy?

Millennials, also known as digital natives, have just overtaken the Baby Boomers as the world’s largest generation and they have disposable income, they’re often parents and they’re both technology and brand savvy. Since last year, they also make up 60% of the workforce and in the US alone, their income is expected to make up 45% of the US’s total spending by 2025.

What is a millennial?

Also known as Generation Y or Gen Y, they are the demographic cohort which follows Generation X and precedes Generation Z.

The American think tank Pew Research Center dates millennials to those born from 1981 to 1996, so aged 25 to 40 at the time of writing.

Jonathan Rauch, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writing about millennials in an article for The Economist in 2018, said millennials had been described as pragmatic idealists – hopeful of making the world better. 

He adds: “They are the first generation to feel fully at home in the digital world, yet also the last to remember doing research projects in physical libraries. Compared with their parents, they are less attached to political parties, and they are more socially liberal. 

“Interracial marriage, same-sex marriage and legal marijuana give them no pause. And they are more racially diverse: 56% of them are white, according to Pew, as against almost three-quarters of boomers. They are also less religious.”

Why are millennials important?

The millennial generation is outpacing Baby Boomers in spending power and management roles. 

  • 1 in 3 people is currently a millennial, that’s one-third of the world’s population;
  • 25% of them are parents;
  • 80% of them are in management roles in their careers;
  • 40% of millennials have a bachelor’s degree compared to 26% of baby boomers.

According to research, they’re also the most curious generation and they demand instant satisfaction. They also gravitate towards companies that adopt reliable, straightforward communication styles.

They also tend to be:

  • connected;
  • collaborative;
  • seek transparency;
  • crave authenticity;
  • care about diversity and sustainability.

But remember this is a generalised observation about individual people. There will still be those who break the mould and are complete opposites to their peers. 

What millennials mean for marketers

Being able to successfully target millennials through paid search ads means you’ll be engaging with two billion people globally and according to KPMG they make up 35% of the UK workforce.

Global Web Index

Millennials are tech savvy, as we mentioned earlier. This means they’ve led the change when it comes to protesting against advertising on digital channels, and a July 2015 survey by Moz and marketing agency Fractl revealed that nearly two in every three millennials has some form of ad-blocking software.

However, 29% of millennials also say they tend to buy brands they see advertised according to the Global Web Index Millennials study.

How to manage the challenges

Millennials post several challenges for marketers. Firstly, they’re a large, diverse group, and they’re so used to advertising that many believe they’re immune to it.

While older generations rely on traditional media like television and print advertising, millennials choose blogs, videos and social media for insights into which brand they should be purchasing.

In a 2015 survey conducted by Elite Daily, only one per cent of millennial consumers suggested that a compelling advertisement would push them to trust a brand. 

The reason for this is that generation Y values authenticity above all else. They don’t want to be “sold to,” but instead want to research information about a brand themselves through social sharing, online reviews and blogs.

9 tips for using paid search to market to millennials 

1 Personalisation

More than any other generation, millennials expect personal advertising that’s tailored to their specific interests and needs. Many of them are willing to give up personal details like their email addresses for information which interests them.

2 Reciprocal Marketing

Sixty-five per cent of them will share their personal information in exchange for discounts according to an AdWeek infographic.  

3 Power of influencers

Nearly three quarters (72%) of all Generation Z and millennials follow influencers on social media, according to Morning Consult’s 2019 study, “The Influencer Report.” 

The report — which surveyed more than 2,000 13- 38-year-olds — explored generational engagement among influencers, and social media platforms, finding “where young Americans follow influencers, who they like to follow, why they follow, how much trust they have in influencers, and how much interest they have in becoming influencers themselves.”

4 Mobile marketing

Millennials are mobile. They’re as likely to be browsing and purchasing via their smartphone as they are to be doing the same on a computer or laptop.

The Elite Daily study found 85% of millennials used mobile devices to research products, and 73% will make purchases directly from their smartphones. Marketers need to invest in mobile search queries as part of their overall strategy to drive footfall traffic to their stores or to convert online shoppers through product ads.

5 Align ad copy with millennials’ values

When you’re crafting your strategy for marketing to millennials using paid search, create a user experience which focuses on what makes you different from the “big box stores”. Connect with values that are important to your target market.

Linking your business with charitable donations is one we’ve already mentioned, but being involved with charity or fund-raising events in your community – showing you’re willing to give back – is also important to the millennial generation and will boost your brand’s image.

Millennials’ most commonly cited values which crop up in survey after survey are personal responsibility, diversity and sustainability. Ads that reference issues that are close to their hearts, such as climate change and equality, perform well with millennials.

Digital natives want honesty.

6 Conversational marketing

Start conversations with your target customers and make sure you listen to what they have to say. If you reach out to millennials on social media, ask them what they want and what they need, they’ll respond.

Millennials want to feel as though they can connect with the brands they engage with, so focus on delivering a friendly, open experience. The more you create an opportunity for millennials to feel like they are receiving knowledge and growth, the more they will want to participate.  

Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner of Workplace Intelligence, and New York Times bestselling author of Promote Yourself, backs this up. He says: “If you want to connect with millennials, then you’re going to have to rethink the way you advertise and market your product to them. 

“Instead of traditional advertising, which they ignore, brands have to publish authentic content as a way of building trust and loyalty with this extremely important and influential demographic.”

7 Reach out to millennials on social media

Millennials’ social media usage spiked during Q2 2020 when the first global lockdowns took place and 45% of this cohort reported spending longer on these channels.

Three-quarters of the millennial generation have social profiles. Being active on social media gives millennials more opportunities to come across, and interact, with your brand. Make sure you’re including the things which interest them in your company messaging.

Although millennials are still most likely to discover and research new brands via search engines, social media ads overtook word-of-mouth recommendations as a source of brand discovery for the first time in Q3 2019.

Global Web Index

GWI’s research also shows that social ads have become the top source of discovery in most developing countries in the APAC region, as well as Ireland, but other mature markets are also heading in the same direction.

Not surprising when you consider that global social media ad spend rocketed during the pandemic, jumping up 56% in Q3 2020 alone. This is good news for marketers as not only are millennials finding new brands through adverts, they’re also more likely to click on sponsored posts with 17% doing so at the time the report was published earlier this year.

Social media platforms are now almost on a par with search engines (48% v 51% respectively) and they’re leading the way in 14 of GWI’s 46 tracked markets.

Social media is becoming ingrained in the way millennials follow a purchasing journey but it’s worth bearing in mind, consumer reviews are still more prominent in many Western countries and to attract millennials’ attention, brands need to use a multi-channel approach using both traditional and online sources.

You can also use social media for remarketing. Check out our blog on Facebook remarketing for tips on how to adapt the best campaign strategies for marketing to millennials using paid search.

8 Millennials want brand authenticity

As mentioned earlier, millennials want authenticity, so cut out the jargon. Millennials want to engage with a brand, they won’t be influenced by a sales pitch and they prefer to find companies based on recommendations from friends. 

They want to interact with your website to learn more about your brand and share their own experiences online. Include any charitable donation or investment your company is involved with, millennials like to feel they’re making a difference with their spending power. 

9 Creative strategies for millennials 

Millennials seek information about buying a product or service before they look to buy, so use PPC ad strategy that directs customers to information rather than products.

Other ad practices designed specifically to target millennials include:

  • Because millennials search on social media nearly as much as they do via search engine, your PPC ads can be supplemented with social media advertising on Facebook or Instagram in particular.
  • Because 77% of digital natives use loyalty programs, PPC ads can be used to direct traffic to landing pages for loyalty schemes rather than specific products.
  • Because millennials want proof you understand them as people, you can use audience segmentation to set up specific target markets as your budget allows.
  • Because millennials are more interested in learning and contributing than buying, you can tailor your call to actions to be more about connecting and understanding than from purchasing.

Material values are as important to this generation as much as the price of an item so your PPC ads can also include details about your company’s ethos and business practice designed to appeal to them.

Bonus content – conversion tips

1 Make millennials feel special

To appeal to millennials, companies need to make them feel special in every step of the customer journey. They want brands to have good reputations and they are unlikely to be interested in brands which don’t make them stand out from the crowd.

Millennials want to change the world, they are more environmentally and socially conscious than any other generation. Being a company that aligns with these ideals will automatically make you stand out in the marketplace. 

Earning their loyalty will be rewarding, given that they’re also the most likely generation to shout out about a brand to their friends and family. 

2 Millennials want to share

Digital natives also like sharing, liking, pinning, tweeting, snapping, forwarding and commenting on their discoveries, so use creatives which get your message across in a clear manner which encourages distribution.

According to HubSpot, rather than product and service listings, Millennials want eBooks, whitepapers, blog posts, videos, and other how-to information and they appreciate thought leadership and expertise. Use these to inform your inbound marketing strategy for millennials.

3 Brand loyalty is important to millennials

Brand loyalty is also important and is earned based on product quality, a good customer experience and support for society with 60% of digital natives saying they are often or always loyal to brands that they currently purchase.

Use reviews from your existing customers and personal recommendations to get your brand in front of potential new clients.

Brandon Leibowitz says: “In short, the key to being more authentic starts with treating your audience like people – with understanding how they think and what they care about, and shaping your marketing messages to their unique experience.”

In conclusion

Remember that millennials are unique, so you should be consistently monitoring your PPC campaigns to check performance.

When it comes to purchasing any products or services they prefer referrals from family and friends or customer reviews to judge the value of the product so use those within your ad creatives where possible.

Millennials are a powerful generation and they are only going to increase in buyer potential as time passes.

Get started with Veracity

Start your marketing to millennials journey by having the best available data. At Veracity we’ve been champions of transparent marketing data since our foundation.

With click fraud detection and mitigation across search and social, Veracity feeds other parts of the Martech stack with better quality data, to enable improved analytics, decision-making and results.

See what Veracity can do for you or the brands you represent by watching a 4 minute demo video. Or calculate how much you might be losing on your paid media campaigns to click fraud with our click fraud Calculator.

NOTE: Updated March 2022.

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