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Seven Ways for Banks to Reach Skeptical Millennials

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Blog April 9, 2017 by Sydney McMurter
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Seven Ways for Banks to Reach Skeptical Millennials

In an information-rich society, attention is a limited resource and marketing has become more difficult. Consumers have developed coping mechanisms to ignore and filter irrelevant information in order to prevent becoming overwhelmed in their daily lives. The younger generation that has grown up in this noisy environment, such as the often-mentioned Millennials, may be particularly talented at this skill. This aversion to advertising is troubling for brands looking to speak to their younger customers.

In the finance industry, many banks are struggling to communicate their value to this media-savvy generation that can easily spot trick marketing. The following are seven ways to better connect with younger customers and hold their attention.

1. Avoid being intrusive

A 2016 U.S. survey by Lithium found that 74 percent of respondents aged 16 to 39 object to being targeted by ads in their social media feeds – a practice that reportedly caused 54 percent of this group to reduce their use of social media. Younger generations are also more likely to use ad blockers, which remove online and video ads entirely to avoid the annoyance and keep them on task. Look to show only relevant ads to each viewer and to provide them with timely information when they are searching for it.

2. Strive to do good

Millennials often want to support brands that improve the world in some way. In a 2016 study by Fortune, Millennials reported that they would be more likely to work for, buy products from, and recommend a company that gave to charity. In a 2014 study, 75 percent of Millennials reported that they think it is fairly or very important that a company gives back to society rather than just making a profit. Vancity Credit Union uses this marketing approach with the tagline “Make good money” to communicate the message that it supports the local community. It also positions itself as “values-based banking” and emphasizes “members helping members” in their messaging.

3. Be authentic

Millennials see through corporate strategies and tend to look for genuine communication from brands that sound like a real human. Forty-three percent of Millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming news (Elite Daily, 2014). Trying to stretch your brand too far or supporting a cause that does not fit with your brand identity may come across as inauthentic and cause the younger generation to turn away. For example, a serious brand acting playful or vice versa may be taken as a calculated action and make skeptical customers wary of your intentions.

4. Create share-worthy content

Content that is unique has the potential to spread quickly among Millennial social networks and online. Unique could mean witty, funny, emotional, or inspiring. It should prioritize good design and visuals. Tangerine’s latest advertisement about how hard customers work for their money captures these elements. It uses an emotional approach that communicates its message that Tangerine works hard for your money as well.

5. Build your reputation

According to Nielsen research, 83 percent of Millennials trust recommendations from family and friends more than any other source. Word of mouth is now one of the most powerful ways to spread your brand message, and searching online for reviews is a standard practice before making purchase decisions. Therefore, focusing on customer satisfaction can create customer brand advocates that will offer recommendations to others.

6. Invite participation and engagement

Engaging with your customers can create stronger brand loyalty. Millennials value experiences and like to co-create and be involved in two-way conversations. Asking for opinions on new products can make them feel more connected to your brand. Forty-two percent of Millennials said they are interested in helping brands create new products and services (Elite Daily, 2014).

7. Offer educational resources

Educational content is another way to engage with young customers, especially in finance where knowledge may be lacking. In a 2015 study by Bank of America, 41 percent of Millennials reported being chronically stressed by their finances. In response to this information, Bank of America developed a set of financial tools called “Better Money Habits” to help educate customers. It is important to remember to keep things light and simple however, otherwise your customers may become overwhelmed.

Matching marketing to Millennial lifestyles, values, needs, and communication styles can help financial institutions better connect with this younger generation of customers. It is a difficult challenge as many members of this group have become highly skeptical of marketing and have developed ways to avoid irrelevant and inauthentic communications. Yet, if communicated to effectively, this generation of customers represents a tremendous opportunity for brand growth and loyalty into the future.

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