New rules of customer engagement for Millennials


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5 tips companies must start thinking about when marketing and selling to Millennials

By 2030, 75 percent of the global workforce will be made up of millennials, those born somewhere between the 1980s and 2000s. By these numbers alone, it is imperative that companies realize that this generation has become the catalyst for the accelerated growth of technology in the world.

Millennials are the first generation to grow up immersed in an interactive, digital world. Using mobile and social technologies, immediately accessing data, ideas and inspiration and instantly communicating and collaborating is second nature for these digital natives. Companies should eagerly look for ways to embrace this generation’s knowledge of the digital world, as they have never known an environment that was not available at the touch of their fingertips.

The multi-generational workforce now contains employees of all ages, who are complex individuals, especially with a work environment that’s becoming more virtual and diverse every day. The traditional way of marketing is no longer appealing when dealing with this younger, tech savvy digital generation of millennials. So whether a company is conducting onboarding work training or trying to acquire this generation as customers, here are five tips that are fundamental to engaging millennials.

Mobile is the Movement

With smartphones and tablets never out of reach, millennials are leading the trend toward increased digital engagement. (It is estimated that there will be more than 10 billion mobile devices by 2016, surpassing the human population.) These numbers indicate that this digital generation of consumers will dominate and that companies must adapt quickly. Millennials expect a cross platform, seamless online experience, regardless of the device they’re using. 16866495_s

Due to the demand for immediacy, and the amount of online information available, it is essential to measure customer engagement along every consumer touch point in order to improve and deliver a better, more engaging experience for future millennial customers. Each customer encounter is now more personalized in which millennials are driving the conversations and focusing directly on products that are of interest to them. The ability to interact with mobile devices through a self guided 3D product tour (zoom, spin, look ‘under the hood’ and explore product features/functions) or storytelling journey has been proven to increase product knowledge retention by up to 75%, which keeps this generation engaged throughout the sales cycle.

The movement to mobile devices (i.e., smartphones, tablets, laptops, touch screens, etc.) has provided B2B companies with cost effective ways to deploy marketing and sales onboarding experiences and training onto any device, regardless of location. Millennials have access to this information and can engage with the applications while they are in training sessions or sales meetings anywhere or at their own leisure on their preferred device. According to a 2014 IBM Institute for Business Value Millennial Study, which stated that millennials are more comfortable with virtual learning than their older colleagues, 35 percent are happy to use self-paced interactive modules, apps or online simulations, compared to 33 percent of Gen X and 30 percent of Baby Boomers. With these interactive mobile applications, which allow customers to zoom, spin, rotate, and interact just as if the real product were present, millennials can create their own engaging experience and not be pressed by a salesman. The self-driven, non-linear nature of these engaging mobile experiences results in a personalized experience every time, creating a relevant transfer of knowledge between each individual in the buying cycle.

Brief is Beautiful

Communicating briefly is increasingly more important, as millennials attention spans shrink. Shorter attention spans are having a profound impact on marketers because they have to work harder to win and sustain attention. There’s a false perception that the millennial generation has the attention span of a gnat; it is that they have been trained to digest a high frequency of information.

Therefore, the volume of that information must be condensed. So in order to attract these young minds to open your emails or browse your website, companies need to be direct and very specific with them. As a generation that is used to getting everything quick and succinct through many different mediums, companies must adapt and create valuable concise, articles, websites, blogs, videos, all that involve visually compelling media and graphics.

Social Media Channels are Essential

Social Media is all about people connecting with other people, not companies marketing to people. As a generation that was brought up with the evolution of technology, it is vital to the success of a company to interact with millennials through social media. Utilizing this form of communication is an opportunity to put a human face on the company, and to connect in a more direct way with people at prospective companies. The more relevant the content posted is, the more likely a company will engage with the Gen Y generation. Social media marketing can be challenging in capturing this generation’s attention if companies are not following the popular trends or posting interesting content.


Due to the strong correlation between social media and customer engagement for millennials, it is important to have a presence on most social media platforms and one that they can relate too. Those who are more engaged with a brand, also interact more about the product or brand via social media channels. Millennials are very active online and are always looking for ways to engage and spread the word to their peers. According to the Boston Consulting Group, 52 percent of millennials said they use their mobile devices on social media to research a brand, compared to 33 percent of baby boomers.

Value-Based over Price-Based Selling

The value of a service or product outweighs the price for the millennial generation. These products and services should create a solution for a genuine customer pain point or opportunity. Millennials are more intrigued by value-based selling over price-based selling because they are already 57% percent of the way through the buying cycle prior to engaging with a sales representative. Millennials know that they can find the answers to all product questions on the web so they conduct all their research prior to reaching out and essentially want to know what business driver companies can move for them, i.e. cost, time, win rates, etc., not how their solutions work or why they’re better.

Companies with unique propositions should capitalize on interactive storytelling solutions to better engage prospects and communicate their true differentiators that highlight the customer benefits rather than the price. It is also important for companies to utilize their social media channels when communicating the value of their products. This is not only critical to keep millennials engaged as loyal customers; it is also essential because they are more eager than other generations to share their opinions and experiences with the true value of products/services with friends and on social networks.

Appeal to the Senses

Millennials are looking for that interactive experience that appeals to their senses. The sensory dimension must involve the millennials touch, vision, audio, smell and taste to create that engagement to keep them feeling involved in what is being offered. A company’s product or service must create an emotional response or draw a connection to the experience. Creating that emotional connection to a company will not only lure customers in initially, but will also keep them coming back for more.

Interactive content is becoming the primary method of attracting millennials because it allows them to navigate freely through relevant content that entices their brains. By leveraging interactive applications across a variety of platforms and venues, new levels of engagement among millennials can be achieved, more successful relationships built, and more deals can be won.

The new rules of engagement for millennials are that they desire the opportunities to interact virtually with products and brands via mobile, and through social channels, have their voices heard, and have personal, timely, and straightforward communication about their concerns and experiences.

Gavin Finn
Gavin Finn is President & CEO of Kaon Interactive. He is responsible for the company's strategic, financial, product, and customer relationship strategies. Gavin holds a Ph.D. in Computer-Aided-Engineering and a Master of Science degree in Structural Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Oklahoma State University.


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