Customer Acquisition Strategies: Tailoring Your Approach by Generation

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Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2024-06-12

From remote and hybrid work to digital transformation and the return of in-person events, B2B sales leaders have been forced to rapidly adapt to non-stop change over the past few years. Even now, marketers and sellers shouldn’t get too comfortable because customer acquisition strategies need to constantly adjust for shifting customer preferences and evolving environmental, economic and social factors.


Whether the target is a 25-year-old making their first big purchasing decision in a new role, a veteran manager, or a diverse buying group, meeting buyers where they are—on the channels they use the most—is essential.


Each generation brings unique expectations, communication styles and preferred engagement channels to the table. For example, new data shared by Martech Today indicates that live events and partner programs are becoming important again, but digital natives may not appreciate them as much and may prefer digital or virtual events instead. Understanding generational preferences and behaviors makes all the difference for effective customer acquisition campaigns.


Here are a few thoughts from our team around what each generation wants and how to best engage them:


Gen Z (1997-2012)

The group born in the late 1990s to early 2010s (~1997-2012), Generation Z is the youngest of B2B buyers and a growing segment. Forrester data indicates Millennials and Gen Z make up the majority of B2B buyers, at a combined 71%.


Gen Z prefers social media over other channels, according to studies, especially short, engaging video content that demonstrates value and can capture their attention. They also prioritize self-service options, with nearly half of all business purchases from younger buyers (GenZ and Millennials) being done this way.


Millennials (1981-1996)

Like Gen Z, Millennials are digital natives but they also value personal connections. They are established in their careers, and like Gen Z, they prefer a self-guided sales process. Gartner studies reveal 44% of millennials prefer no sales rep interaction at all in a B2B setting. They prefer convenience and immediacy. Social media and digital advertising also lead the way with this group and are the customer acquisition channels rated as most successful.


Generation X (1965-1980)

This group of experienced professionals can often be found in decision-making roles. Gen X values efficiency, practicality and straightforward communication. Personalized direct emails and LinkedIn messages can be effective with them as well as educational content that offers practical insights and actionable advice. Additionally, this group values learning and professional development, and may be more likely to emphasize in-person channels like live events.


Baby Boomers (1946-1964)

Baby Boomers often have extensive professional experience and deep industry knowledge, with many holding key decision-making roles in organizations. They appreciate direct and personal communication, often preferring face-to-face interactions or phone calls. Baby Boomers may respond well to personalized, well-crafted email campaigns that provide well-researched information.


Where to Start

Your journey to more effective engagement across your customer acquisition strategies starts with understanding who your prospects are – including their age groups and many other characteristics. We recommend creating an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) before you launch into an acquisition program. Your ICP will define the type of company or customer your business wants to target. From there, as you go about identifying prospects that map to your ICP, you’ll need contact data to fuel your campaigns.


In spite of what many people believe, no matter how much first-party contact data a business has, it’s never enough to make a significant impact on new customer acquisition. That’s why high-quality third-party data and the scale, depth, and accuracy it brings to the table is so valuable.


When sourcing third-party data to fuel your acquisition campaigns, look for a provider that will work with you to build custom audiences that align tightly with your ICP. Also make sure they offer licensed data so that they can update it for you on an ongoing basis. Fresh, high-quality contact data may be the most important driver of ROI for your campaigns.


At OMI, we license our B2B Living File® data – consisting of 144MM+ manager-, director-, and professional-level and above contacts with email/HEM, social URL, and other attributes.


B2B2C for Improved Personalization

Beyond generational characteristics, today more brands are incorporating both B2B and B2C attributes into their customer acquisition data sets to achieve a more complete view of the prospect's profile. This involves matching personal contact data to B2B data to power improved marketing resolution and more personalized campaigns. The B2B2C data remains anonymized at the execution interface, which is also ideal when building DIY identity graphs – another marketing trend.


OMI is advancing our data capabilities around B2B2C convergence. We have achieved a 61% match of our B2B contacts to B2C data, including residential addresses and personal emails. This is an exceptional match rate that our clients are already benefiting from (check out this recent case study).


One More Tip

When it comes to tailoring your approach by generation, being aware of differences is important but keep in mind that these are generalizations and won’t apply to every prospect. Ultimately, embracing a holistic approach that is mindful of the differences while remaining adaptable to the ever-changing landscape will set you up for success.


Reach out to our team for assistance with your customer acquisition strategies.


At OMI, we believe good things happen when you share your knowledge. That's why we're proud to educate marketers at every level - in every size and type of organization - about the basics of email marketing and the contact data that powers it.

  • The Executive's 15-Minute Guide to Building a Successful Email Marketing Database

  • A 15-Minute Guide to Fortune 2,000 Businesses and Executives

  • Five Best Practices for Using Email Marketing to Target SMBs