As millennials grow into more advanced roles within their companies, they have a larger say in the purchasing process, either as a buying influence or direct purchaser. For that reason, B2B marketers need to fully understand how they think in order to win their business.
Millennials (also known as “Gen-Y”) are generally defined as born between 1982 and 2004. Representing about 27% of the adult population, they are now the largest generation in existence, and also likely the most studied. They grew up with the digital revolution, are tech savvy and socially connected with their peers.
A new study by IBM of millennial business buyers reveals some additional interesting personality aspects that B2B marketers should understand as they strive to reach and influence this burgeoning demographic:
- They desire direct contact: Millennials are more willing than other demographic groups (Gen X and Baby Boomers) to engage directly with vendors when researching B2B products and services. They highly rate contact with vendor representatives, and value third-party sources less than Gen X buyers. This presents an opportunity for B2B marketers to reach out to millennials directly via email, and offer to connect them with company representatives to solve their immediate business challenges.
- They prefer electronic communication: While many millennials are willing to engage with B2B vendors as part of the sales cycle, they prefer to initiate the process via email or other electronic communication. Once they’ve done any additional research, they desire communications to go quickly via email or social media, live chats, instant messaging or even text messages. Again, that’s an advantage to email marketers, and especially those who can easily enable these other electronic communications mediums.
- They value outside opinions: Millennials rank recommendations from family and friends outside their organizations as the top influencer of their B2B buying decision – even higher than their own personal experiences and views. Such external validation may come from their colleagues via social media or online community forums. As a result, savvy B2B marketers should work hard to generate positive reviews, and should be sure to include the reviews – as well as links to them -- in their email communications.
- They’re happy to share a positive review: Once happy with your product, more than two-thirds of millennials say they would be willing to post a compliment on a vendor’s website or social media page. (More good news: only 10% would post a negative review.) That’s why B2B marketers should ask for a positive product or service review (e.g. “Liked our product? Be sure to leave us a review here…”), and make these reviews easily accessible to millennial prospects.
- They’re viewing your content on the go: The need to make your email communications and website mobile friendly can’t be underestimated, as millennials are more likely than other demographic groups to be viewing your information on their mobile devices.
- They like visuals: Including pictures, infographics or charts – any visual element that can more quickly communicate your message or make a positive comparison – will be well received by millennials. Video is also ideal, but make it an honest presentation, review, or helpful demo that answers FAQs (think YouTube), and not a slick, corporate-type message.
- They will read your blog: For more detailed help in solving a business issue, refer your millennial prospects to your blog page. Make sure it is an honest, valuable resource designed to help guide prospects to success with their challenges. Your blog can also provide focused, “snackable” information to highlight in your emails and social media presence as well.
As their influence and buying power continues to grow, millennials represent an essential and critical focus for B2B marketers. Using digital communications channels such as email, video conferencing, chat, social interaction and text messaging – along with the right approach -- will ensure your outreach to this important demographic is on point.
Outward Media’s accurate, verified email data can help you reach your millennial targets and achieve better email marketing ROI. Ask us how. Also, take a look at our complimentary new e-book on building a successful B2B email marketing database.
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