Marketing to Millennials: Steering a Generation’s Financial Future

A shift in wealth is happening. 75% of the global workforce will be Millennials by 2025. They will have 3.39 trillion in spending power by 2018 according to the Federal Reserve. Marketing to Millennials is no longer a trend. It’s a must.

However, many financial institutions don’t fully understand what is at stake when you apply the same messaging and tone that you’re currently applying to Gen X and Baby Boomers to Millennials. Millennials are a distinct audience and they require customized, targeted marketing tactics and customer service.

At The Financial Brand Forum 2017 conference, Oregon Community Credit Union’s Deborah Mersino  shared how her organization has combined research, digital channels, a unique brand tone and imagery into an overall strategy that spiked Millennial growth by 11%. It all started with building a marketing campaign specifically targeted at that demographic.

Building a Campaign for the Millennial Customer

Oregon Community Credit Union created a Millennial marketing campaign based around a trending pop culture idea of “Adulting” targeted specifically at college students who were in the newfound position of managing their own finances. They leveraged their own Millennial staff to help them fine tune their campaign to produce the best outcomes. Their staff liked opportunity to weigh in and provided valuable input.

Their team coordinated a campaign with the University of Oregon for a kick-off event. This campaign also included a branded Snapchat filter, dedicated microsite to drive checking account signups, and an online monthly newsletter called Cha-Ching which had specific financial advice for this segment of Millennials. The results spoke for themselves:

  • 24k Snapchat views within 36 hours
  • 905 students and parents engaged on-site
  • 10k increase in new Millennial accounts over two years
  • Double-digit Millennial growth

Thanks to an ongoing campaign that leveraged content marketing, pre-roll video, social media, quizzes, microsites and more, Millennials opened over 10,000 new checking accounts totaling more than $9.5 million in combined deposits. Millennials now account for the largest demographic segment of their credit union.

By acknowledging that “the struggle is real” and that they were willing to speak Millennials’ language, OCCU showed empathy toward young adults and empowered them to take control of their own financial future.

Top Strategies for Marketing to Millennials

There are enormous opportunities for marketers in the financial services industry to support Millennials in their journey. You can help a generation shift their financial lives while helping your organization grow. Here are some of Mersino’s top tips for marketing to Millennials in creative and strategic ways:

  1. Think beyond typical ways of advertising. They are the most tech-savvy generation. Assume every claim and headline will be researched within their social networks. 

  2. A great digital experience is critical. Millennials expect to use multiple devices and methods when interacting with your brand. If you’re not thinking about mobile, social, and apps, customer journey mapping, they’ll leave you for someone that does.

  3. Meet them where they are. Don’t just rely on your own channels and website. Understand your Millennial audience and develop a strategy to be present where they’re spending their time. To be successful, you must be proactive and go to them.

  4. Provide experiences. Give this audience something worth talking about. Millennials tend to be drawn to marketing that promotes a lifestyle rather than just product benefits.

  5. Be human and empathetic. Millennials understand that brands are trying to sell products and services, but that doesn’t mean they want to talk to your “social media department.” Make sure your brand has a human face. Understand their issues and provide relevant solutions. 
  6. Provide guidance. Millennials are interested in financial advice and proactive guidance. They’re entering a stage of higher cost life events and are looking for guidance beyond what their parents can provide. 

  7. Use video liberally. Millennials spend 48% more time watching online videos than the average internet user. Remember, they want guidance. Quick but entertaining educational content on all your channels will go a long way.

  8. Give them tools to research their goals. Millennials are interested in online budgeting options. Consider partnerships or integrations with existing financial tools they’re already using such as Mint, Level, Digit and You Need a Budget.

  9. Use humor in your marketing. 80% of Millennials claim they’re more likely to remember an ad if it’s funny. Make sure your content is engaging and meaningful. If it’s not valuable, they will leave and won’t return.

  10. Incentivize Reviews. Millennials read online reviews before buying or signing up for financial products, however, they rarely write them without being asked or incentivized.

As digital natives who have grown up online, Millennials demand a personalized, technology-driven banking experience. Banks must respond with convenient and sophisticated tools that demonstrate their understanding of Millennial expectations and empower their staff to anticipate and respond to customers’ specific needs. 

If you want to learn more about attracting and retaining Millennial customers at your financial institution, check out our white paper “Growing Banks in the Millennial Market.”  This insight-packed resource will dive into how financial institutions can tap into the power of responsive customer service, combined with leading-edge technology to attract new buyers, build customer relationships, improve profitability, and optimize sales efforts.