Millennials are a generation of savvy tech users who connect more than ever through their smart phones. For any aspiring entrepreneur, a key to success in the marketplace is to connect to audiences through the medium they prefer. If you cut off using any smartphone enabled social media or apps, you’re effectively shutting out your millennial customer base and sentencing your business to a quick death.

However, it can be tricky navigating what apps are in and which are out. Because so many of them are proprietary and have their own features, it can take vast amounts of time and resources to train your employees in their proper use as well as setting schedules to consistently update their content. With that in mind, it can help to look at the successful mobile initiatives undertaken by other businesses to know which strategies work for use with the millennial generation.

Starwood Hotels

Starwood Hotels

Starwood Hotels needed to offer an experience that would rival what younger consumers could get from the likes of home sharing apps such as Airbnb. Because they knew that so much of a millennial’s life is connected to their smartphone, Starwood decided to add even more versatility to the device by developing two apps for guests to use during their stay: SPG Keyless and Botlr.

SPG Keyless allows guests to unlock their rooms with a digital key embedded in their smartphones. When used, guests will see their phones light up green and vibrate to notify them of the door being opened.

Botlr is a small robot who delivers items to guests in their rooms. Guests simply use their smart phones to message the robotic butler for something – say, toothpaste or towels – and after being loaded up, the botlr will go to guest’s room and deliver the items.  Guests can even offer it a tip by tweeting their appreciation.

The Takeaway: Millennials carry their smartphones wherever they go. Spending resources to customize their experience with your business is a safe bet. Not only will you better connect with them, but you might give them a shareworthy experience to post or tweet about to their friends. 

Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters

An already popular clothing store, Urban Outfitters knew that they could reach a wider market by moving past traditional advertising methods and going straight to their audience.

After joining the popular image sharing app Instagram, Urban Outfitters had employees curate pictures of their clothing collections online, which turned out to be a hit. Millennials would look through the different styles and accessories, planning outfits and looks they’d like to have for themselves. Users had the option to purchase the clothes they had been fawning over, which led to an increase in conversion from viewers to purchasers.

Urban Outfitters knew that they already had an interested audience of fashion attentive millennials online, so rather than reinvent the wheel they simply went to a platform where their audience was active and leveraged that connection.

The Takeaway: Think hard about whether your products and services already have suitable platform, such as Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook. If your audience is already there, intelligently slide your content into your audience’s newsfeed on that platform rather than spending money on radio ads, TV ads or billboards they are unlikely to see.

L’inizio’s Pizza Bar

Pokemon Go - Marketing

Skilled use of smartphone technology isn’t just limited to big businesses. L’inizio’s Pizza Bar, located in Queens, recently leveraged the power of Pokemon Go to attract more millennial customers. In Pokemon Go, millions of trainers (players) catch pocket monsters at locations in the real world. L’inizio’s purchased Lures through the game’s app which makes more Pokemon appear at the bar. The strategy has attracted many players who order food while battling it out with their friends or who simply come to catch a rare Pokemon to add to their collection. Thanks to an investment of about $10 in Lures, revenue for the business has increased by nearly 30 percent.

The Takeaway: While “killer apps” are released all the time, when one comes along that gains traction across the planet, it can be a very good – and cheap – idea to go with the flow. While not all apps offer the ability to self-promote like Pokemon Go does, if the option is available, take the step to be a part of it rather than blowing it off as something juvenile. For better or worse, millennials are hooked into all facets of smartphone culture, including games, and a modest investment could spell big returns.

Playing It Smart

All In all, if your goal is to better connect with your millennial audience, a few key concepts should be kept in mind.

  • Give them a reason: Make unique experiences that revolve around the use of smart phones and new technology that will promote a positive experience with your customers and engage millennials in a way that will promote sharing of their positive experience.
  • Reach them on their grounds: Social applications already have large audiences that span different age groups, demographics and interests. Find the right social app that is already serving your target audience and harness it to engage your target market.
  • Tap into what’s popular: If something is cheap and taking the world by storm, use its popularity to your advantage. Don’t wait until the hype has passed to jump on board and leverage the success of a new platform. A craze may not last long, but it might create long-lasting customers if you leverage it smartly!

More than anything else, remember that millennials are connected to one another more heavily than any generation beforehand, and a great experience can easily be spread around the world to a huge audience. So fit your product in to their lives, in to their smartphone; give them a reason to be connect with your company, and let the technology do the rest.


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