Are You Using Social Media to Inspire Younger Buyers?

Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly turning to social networks for advice.
Here’s how performance marketers can leverage this trend.

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Performance marketers looking to capture the tech-savvy market have to consider speed, efficiency and social change.
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Whether they’re following accounts that inspire them, perusing videos, researching products or connecting with their favorite brands, the younger generations of American consumers are clearly influenced by social media. More of them also want to become influencers, start their own businesses and get involved in new hobbies.

Millennials and Gen Z will often go first to social media platforms like TikTok, Pinterest and Instagram to learn and get advice before making a purchase or taking on a project. With millennials standing to inherit more than $68 trillion from baby boomer and early Gen X parents by the year 2030—setting them up to potentially be the wealthiest generation in U.S. history—and Gen Z projected to hit $33 trillion in income by 2030, performance marketers should be paying attention to these trends.

Here’s how performance marketers can leverage this trend in a responsible, deliberate manner.

Stepping up their games

Social media companies are clearly aware of these trends and are finding new ways to optimize their platforms. In February, for example, TikTok launched a new feature called Collections, which allows users to organize their favorite videos into folders (Instagram implemented a similar feature in 2019.)

The Collections feature allows users to save recommendations and sort them into useful categories, making it easier for them to quickly return to ideas and recommendations.

TikTok’s core offering feeds millennials’ and Gen Z’s desire for inspiration. Upon pulling up a video, users can instantly see what a restaurant looks like inside and who’s recommending it. “It allows for maximum vibe reconnaissance,” Mashable points out. “And if someone made a TikTok on it, and it came up on your FYP [For You Page], chances are it’s something you’ll actually enjoy and the information is up to date.”

4 tips for Success

Performance marketers looking to capture the tech-savvy market that’s turning to social media for inspiration can’t just advertise and sell products. They also have to consider speed, efficiency and social change versus just spending time polishing up their marketing messages. And knowing that Gen Z are all under 25 years old—and as young as 10—positively influencing behaviors is also important.

Here are four tips for success:

  • Step up the pace. Your Gen Z customers are used to a fast pace, so get onboard with it. They also have shorter attention spans and tend to be highly influenced by what they see and interact with on social media.
  • Know your platforms. According to a recent YPulse, Ad/Marketing Effectiveness report, TikTok (27%) is the top place Gen Z is seeing ads that influence them to make a purchase. That’s followed by YouTube (17%) and Instagram (13%). Millennials, on the other hand, respond best to Facebook (16%), YouTube (15%), Instagram (14%) and TikTok (9%) ads.
  • Support social change. Gen Z and millennials both care about making a difference and leaving a smaller footprint on Mother Earth. They’re also involved with social causes and tend to look favorably upon organizations that put an effort into environmental, social and governance (ESG) causes.
  • Be authentic. Younger consumers can see right through the glitz, glamour and overpolished marketing messages. And when they’re getting their information from friends, connections and influencers, it’s not hard to figure out which brands do and don’t deserve their hard-earned dollars.

Want to Attract Younger Consumers? Just Be Yourself

To most effectively tap into Gen Z and millennials,
personalized and transparent communication is key

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The consumer is more and more aware every day of marketing “hype” and language that is not authentic to the brand or corporate mission. Gen Z and millennials are acutely aware of this and will expect nothing less and can see through it all. This differs from their predecessors on many fronts. They’re digital natives who think greener, expect more from the companies that they buy from and love authenticity.

Currently aged 10-25 (for Gen Z) and 26-41 (for millennials), these consumers have a lot of buying power—and are accumulating even more—and a habit of aligning their purchase decisions with their own personal values. However, Gen Z and millennials are more aware of cost of living and finances and so they research and put a lot of thought into purchasing decisions to make sure it not only fits their personal needs, but also fulfills social and societal needs.

Gen Zers, in particular, are very intentional about those decisions; they think before they buy.

“Gen Z has let us know—loud and clear—that they are passionate about making a change and fighting for the values they believe in,” BigCommerce pointed out. This opens the doors of opportunity for performance marketers to share the mission and values of their brands.

“Or take it a step further and partner with a charity or cause your brand is passionate about,” the publication added. For example, it says one direct-to-consumer shoe manufacturer teamed up with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to gift a pair of pink shoes to those impacted by the illness illustrates the company’s understanding of what younger consumers want from the brands they buy from.

More personalized ads, please

We all know personalization and micro targeting has become more and more prevalent, but it is a “must have” instead of a “nice to have” at this point for marketers. “While 57% of millennials and 43% of baby boomers said they liked personalized ads, a whopping 81% of those in Generation Z said the same,” in a study conducted by Unsupervised.

Gen Z is a huge user of social media, and that the medium as a whole has evolved quite a bit over the last few years. Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram are the main platforms where Gen Z spends its time, and TikTok ads are a good starting point for performance marketers looking to leverage this trend. In fact, all four social media platforms are good vehicles for reaching consumers of all ages.

Personalized ads are a great opportunity for companies that want to reach and engage with younger consumers and when done effectively, accurately link relevant social content to brands with the same values and end up with a completed sale.

Speaking with images instead of words

The emoji has taken on a whole new level of communication and there are even varying levels of enthusiasm within the emoji universe. If you didn’t know that the thumbs-up emoji was meant to denote passive aggressiveness, or that some people like to speak mostly in emojis on social media or when texting, then it’s time to listen a little harder to what younger consumers want, respond to and engage with. But don’t worry because you’ll be in good company; entire industry sectors are also trying to figure out what they need to do to get the attention and wallet share of more Gen Z customers.

The wine industry is a good example. According to the Wine Market Council, just 14% of Americans aged 21 to 30 drink wine on a weekly basis, and 11% drink it occasionally. Compare this to individuals who are aged 30 to 39, 20% of whom are weekly wine drinkers. Much like performance marketers are digging down deeper to determine how to attract and retain more Gen Z and millennials customers, this entire sector is doing the same.

“The wine industry still has work to do in order to attract younger generations in an increasingly competitive beverage alcohol landscape,” SevenFiftyDaily reported. “This will involve not only revisiting the lessons of the past, but [also] employing new tactics for each new generation as it reaches legal consumption age.”

The bottom line is that creativity and effectively communicating to reach your target audience is not a new concept but the importance of keeping up with how Gen Z and millennials want to be communicated with is key for marketers and a successful and long-term brand relationship.

Six critical strategies for defining your B2C company’s target audience

Identifying, understanding and targeting the right audience for your product or service is key for a business-to-consumer company to be successful. However, the group B2C company leaders think is their target audience may not actually be the primary consumers of their product.

The Business Journals

This misunderstanding can be especially prevalent in B2C startups — entrepreneurs often focus first on what they do rather than who, specifically, will most value or benefit from it. Further, your customer base is unlikely to remain static. As your business grows and your offerings expand or change, your customer base may evolve accordingly.

Defining your target audience is an ongoing effort for every B2C company. It’s a process that not only drives marketing and outreach but also product development, customer service and more. If you’re searching for ways to define the core customer base for your B2C business, leverage these six strategies shared by the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust.

1. Ask them directly.
There’s no better way to understand your core audience than to ask them directly. Identify and survey customers who have left positive reviews for your business to understand their background, pain points and experience — this will help you build a “sweet spot” persona. By engaging your brand advocates, you can build brand evangelists and gain a deeper understanding of your audiences. – Melea McRae, Crux KC

2. Conduct in-depth market research.
Research, report and rapidly respond. There are many custom research houses, universities and agency options. Ensuring the data is gathered and shared in a timely fashion is very important. If you slip past 30 days, the market could change again. – Donna Michaels, LMGPR

3. Track competitors’ sales.
Tracking the sales of competitors can help you learn about the audience you should focus on. It will also help you distinguish your brand from theirs and create a certain presence in the market. If a competitor is doing well, try to identify their pros and cons and develop solutions that address what they aren’t offering. This process will automatically land you the audience you’ve been looking for. – Alina Clark, CocoDoc

4. Track down brand advocates and influencers.
There’s no substitute for research. Have your team go to where sales are happening and speak with customers. Create a profile of a typical buyer; putting a name and face to data helps keep everyone focused. Perhaps most important, consider who the third-party advocates and social influencers for your products and services are. They’re often the best source of future revenue and feedback. – John Palter, Palter Sims Martinez PLLC

5. Take a ‘boots on the ground’ approach.
Question, ask and question. A “boots on the ground” approach will likely reveal your true audience and uncover their problems and pain points. There are never too many questions — just too few answers. – Rachel Namoff, Arapaho Asset Management

6. Do an ROI analysis.
Do an ROI analysis to make sure that your target audience is indeed the audience that is purchasing your product, not just those who are clicking through without taking final action. Ensure you are spending any paid marketing on the audience that generates ROI. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

Podcast: A People-First Agency Transformation Strategy

Transforming your agency from a long format agency to one focused on data analytics is a long, involved process.

It takes about 15 years, to be exact.

In this episode, I interview Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, CEO of Hawthorne, a national agency based in Los Angeles.

What we talked about:

– Your employees are your customers, too

– Why agency transformation takes 15 years

– Challenges to transformation

– How to be strategic when implementing change

Tips to Help You Understand and Action Your Advertising Data

Data gives advertisers the power to fine-tune their campaigns and deliver strong results. Industry experts shared their best advice about advertising data, including methods for collecting it, analyzing it, and putting it to use.

From Karla Crawford-Kerr, VP of Marketing, Hawthorne Advertising.

Don’t just collect data, analyze it continuously.

In advertising data science, it’s not enough to report on the past and present. Data without context only states the obvious—what has already happened. Businesses have spent the past few years accumulating massive amounts of data, with 60 percent-73 percent of that data to go unused, according to Forrester. Big and small data collection is clearly not enough. Data-driven decisions require analysis and insight to deliver value and lead to meaningful change.

To get the most out of advertising data science, marketers need to look ahead and focus on how data can help them make better decisions. Marketers must be open-minded and process-oriented in their Advertising Approach Analysis. This means testing, collecting data, evaluating, testing again, and analyzing to really learn from the data and make tweaks and game changing decisions. This process is a continuous circle in advertising. It never stops. To drive results, it’s important to focus on data from start to finish.

Here are seven steps that advertisers can take to optimize their use of data science.

  • Understand Audience and Audience Targeting. This means looking at how and where the target audience is consuming media. It’s critical to be medium agnostic. Do not overlook options like CTV based on perceived cost, as it may be an effective extension of linear or digital.
  • A/B Test. Test everything—messaging, content, and creative.
  • Test the results. Look at the results of campaigns for attribution and impact. See what worked and what didn’t.
  • Make data-driven decisions. Look at the short and long tail of conversions (first touch vs. last touch).
  • Trust your instincts. As a marketer it is important to know when to trust instinct vs. getting bogged down with the data. This could mean calling out false positives or evaluation of results that focus too narrowly on the short term.
  • More testing. Hone your message and creative.
  • Optimize spend and investment.
  • Start again. Understand your audience and audience targeting.

 

Mitch Larson

Director of Marketing Technology, Titan 47

There are answers for your cross-system attribution questions.

Today’s marketers have a gold mine of data sitting right in front of them that can be turned into insights with even the most basic of technical skills. A mix of Google Tag Manager, marketing channel APIs, and an object-oriented programming language, like Python, can allow you to accomplish even the most complex of tasks—including cross-systems attribution modeling.

Google Analytics has strong attribution capabilities out of the box, however, what if your main KPIs are simple transactions held in Google Analytics? This is a cross-systems attribution problem. You can use Google Tag Manager to create custom dimensions for the Google Analytics client id as well as your product or lead user ids (if applicable). Using Python and the Google Analytics API, you can extract multiple segments at scale into a data warehouse, such as Google BigQuery. From there, data integration can be performed across your Google Analytics data and your database or CRM. Now, you’ll have pre-conversion user data combined with post-conversion customer data for attribution modeling.

Languages like Python are also great for deploying different statistical-based attribution models once your data is integrated. The sky’s the limit when marketing is combined with technical skills and today’s wealth of knowledge online helps marketers jump right in.

Andrew Van Benschoten

Senior Manager, Data Science, Ovative Group

You can base most of your business decisions on simple models.

Start simple.

The data science field has many flashy technologies such as neural networks and reinforcement learning, but the majority of your business questions can be answered with more straightforward approaches.

Linear regression can get you ~70% of the output from a more complex model, and in 1/10th of the time. And in many cases, the added accuracy won’t change your business decision. I’m going to invest in the marketing channel with the highest-ranked ROAS regardless of whether that number is 5 or 5.1. These simpler approaches also have the added benefit of easier interpretability. Your clients may not understand pooling layers or stacking vs. ensembling, but they can understand that a one-dollar change in channel spend leads to a three dollar change in overall revenue.

Throughout this process you might discover that you need a more complex approach to accomplish your business objectives, and that’s ok! Starting simple provides a perfect framework for conducting auxiliary tasks such as exploring the nuances of your data, thinking through appropriate KPIs, and the like. These critical components are often overlooked if you have to spend your time setting up your GPU configuration or debugging a beta-version ML library. At the end of the day, your goal is not to use the latest data science buzzword, but rather to uncover new insights that drive your client to act.

Brandon Turner

Owner, Reedy River Marketing, LLC

Data science can’t account for all the intangibles, so figure out the story behind it.

I think the biggest misconceptions about advertising data science are that the datasets have to be enormous, the algorithms have to be complex, and an advertiser’s background has to be extremely technical to make it work. The truth of the matter is that ADS scales based on the data you have to work with, and most importantly, the client’s objective. A lot of the platforms commonly used for digital marketing for a smaller and medium-sized business are already incorporating the machine-learning aspect on the backend. Smart-bidding capabilities, automated rules, and a variety of different conversion techniques are already taking advantage of the machine-learning aspect concerning user behavior and desired outcome.

The next step is to decide the best way to utilize these types of tests in conjunction with more manual data science techniques. There are only so many inputs we typically give to a platform to execute our campaigns. We simply can’t completely relay the intangibles and the human experience fully into the machine. Even if we could, it wouldn’t think, analyze, or optimize exactly as we do. That is why we need to find the best convergence of both, tested together, to ultimately achieve the client’s goals with all aspects of ADS working together as seamlessly as possible.

Finally, it is also extremely important not to get lost within the data. We have more data than we could ever fully digest in most cases. It is too easy to get caught up in treating the analysis like starting a 5,000 piece puzzle versus a beautiful painting that is just missing the last few strokes to complete it. The data is telling us an amazing story, but far too often we simply don’t listen. At least not actively.

Amandine Dovelos

Search Manager, GroupM Ireland

Capture the data you need to understand the full ecosystem.

This is one of the biggest challenges and is often overlooked: measuring the level of contribution of a channel in the mix to achieve the right trade-offs by efficiently connecting multiple data points. Let’s see how to bring the pieces of the puzzle together and unlock opportunities.

Data Visualization

Data visualization tools are the way to go, as they allow real-time reporting reflecting the maturity of tracking an entire KPI in real-time with a complete vision: based on data-driven models, algorithms and machine learning.

Attribution & Contribution

There is a real awareness on how to use attribution and contribution tools; it is now the norm to value the upstream of the funnel and not only value last-click models. It is demonstrating the necessity of synergies in the wider marketing ecosystems.

Bring That Puzzle Together

Between paid search and TV, the connection is intuitive: the behavior of a TV viewer is predictable and measurable, and the channel cross-synchronization will maximize the impact of TV. But how to prove the efficiencies driven on foot traffic, this is the holy grail that agencies can offer thanks to operational maturity and omnichannel approaches.

Data Limbo

Start using the data that the consumer actively shares with your business—think questionnaires, polls to maximize data capturing capabilities instead of fighting the growing chimeras of a zero-cookie internet.

The Way Through The Forest

Clustering and trainable algorithms can assist to find the true way in your forest of data. This can unlock unimaginable patterns and campaign automation with unprecedented efficiencies.

Reach For The Stars

To conclude, don’t forget to feed the top of the funnel to fill the bottom and start maximizing on the cross-channel synergies by taking advantage of symbiotic ecosystems.