I remember using a computer when I was three years old. My father used to open up a blank document on his 1995 Macintosh computer, and as such a young child, I was so entertained by just simply pressing the letters on a keyboard. After five minutes, he would come back to my masterpiece: two pages of scrambled numbers and letters and symbols. As I grew older, so did the computer, and so did technology.
Now, as a student studying Marketing at Penn State and a Marketing Intern for Twenty Over Ten (a tech company that helps users manage their online presence and better connect with current and prospective clients), I have been thinking a lot about what makes millennials connect with a brand, product, or service.
If you were to ask me, “What are the two common characteristics of your generation?” I would simply answer: “We love technology, and we crave an experience”
A mobile device is second nature to us, almost an extension of our hands at this point:
- We take a picture of the action, comment on it, and share it with the world within seconds, and we expect this.
- We see a restaurant we want to dine at, find and book reservations on our phones, and BOOM – dinner is and we expect this.
- We research companies, read reviews and make decisions on the go, and we expect this.
- We shop for items and purchase with the click of a button, and we expect this.
Expectations of Generation X/Y
We expect to get what we want from our devices and the brands, services, and products we engage with. This is the important point: we expect it. We don’t see the brands that are meeting our expectations as “going above and beyond” – we see those that are not meeting them as “dropping the ball”.
So what keeps our generation interested? How can you truly leave an impact on us through technology?
- Give us what we want. Fast, accurate and readily available information about you, your service, and action items to take the next step. Fast is really key here: If a website takes a 15 seconds to load, by 5 seconds in (or realistically, even sooner) we would’ve found an alternative page.
- Make sure your site is mobile-responsive. A site that is not mobile-responsive (and therefore takes longer to load) is basically dead.
- Remember, it is all about the EXPERIENCE. We engage with brands that tell a story. Regardless of your goal, whether it be to sell homemade jewelry or promote a special cause or sell financial services, our generation craves an experience, including within the realm of technology. That is, when we visit a site, we want to be moved, inspired, and intrigued.
4 STRATEGIES TO ENSURE YOUR WEBSITE IS ENGAGING GEN X/Y:
1. Define What Makes You Different
Look at what your purpose is. Define your UVP (Unique Value Proposition). Once you have it, how can you differentiate yourself from the millions of others on the Internet trying to achieve the same thing as you? What is your story? Focus on that and sell it to your viewer. Think about ways you can truly be remembered.
2. Understand the “Golden Rules of Usability”
I took an IST class last semester and learned about the importance of user experience (UX) and User Interaction (UI) on a website. You may have the most incredible story, but if it is not portrayed in an effective way, it is useless.
- Make your information prominent: be brief and include important information. We are a fast-paced generation, oftentimes just skimming through text without fully reading the paragraphs. It is important to be clear in your points and what you ultimately want to portray.
- Make things stand out: this can be achieved through text font, coloring, spacing, or the use of pictures. But understand that you should never exaggerate this. By using too many colors or a scattered variability of text and pictures, the user will begin to lose focus and thus lose interest. Keep it simple and eloquent.
- Avoid Clutter: Keep the layout crisp- simplicity is often ideal. Think of the Google homepage layout- text links are clear which allows for the user’s cognitive responses like attention and recognition to be optimized.
- Avoid using TOO much: As mentioned before, clutter reduces the user’s attention because the eye wanders and focus is lost. This in return will diminish the User Experience
3. Consider Sharing Videos/ Other Forms of Media
This is a wonderful tactic to use because it stimulates other senses for the user- sight (through movement) and sound. Video marketing has become a huge phenomenon for many business users more and more every day. It is free and allows for an experience that is more likely to be remembered.
4. Collect Feedback
A successful website is one that is constantly evolving with communication. This can take many forms: a blog post with comments from users, providing contact information, links to social media accounts, real quotes from previous clients, or a simple comment box and personalized messages. When I see you care about me, I will care about your product or service or cause.
Millennials have high expectations and strong desires related to technology. We expect information fast and at our fingertips and we desire the experience… The customization, the personal involvement, the ‘Je ne sais quoi’ of the site. Regardless of the site we visit, the following questions arise: how is it you stand out? What is your “WOW” Factor? And is it portrayed in a sleek, optimized way?
Technology is the future to branding, marketing, and reaching your target markets. Your audience is us. Get working on your show, and make it an incredible one!