Thinking of switching up your digital marketing strategy? Let your target audience guide you. Here, Jonathan Birch, Creative Director at Glass Digital shares his tips for marketing to baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z.
As marketers, we all know that the best way to engage your customers online is by creating content that appeals to them. But with so many types of customers out there that each have their own shopping habits, how exactly do you do that?
There’s no universal answer. Different audiences have different interests, and your marketing efforts can change depending on the average age of your target audience. This is where generational marketing comes in.
Each generation has collective life experiences that shape their values and lifestyle. By dividing your customers into their generational cohort and understanding their preferences, you know exactly how to tackle your marketing, and you could see a bigger return on investment.
Everything from your platform to your tone of voice can be decided by your target audience. And, if you do it right, you can benefit from more conversions and sales. From baby boomers to Gen Z, I’ll be offering my tips for marketing to each generation.
Marketing to baby boomers (born 1946–1964)
Born during the post WWII baby boom, the ‘baby boom’ generation is slowly embracing technology. As the generation with the largest amount of disposable income, targeting baby boomers is important to get right. It’s also worth noting that boomers are big on brand loyalty, so if you can get them on your side, they’re there to stay.
Laptops and computers are still the preferred device for those aged 65 and over, according to Ofcom’s Online Nation 2021 report. As a result, if your target demographic comprises baby boomers, you should be focusing your marketing efforts on computer users. This means your website should be easy to navigate on desktop as well as mobile and should include extra accessibility measures for older customers, such as large text and contrasting colours.
You should also ensure your pages include above the fold content. This is content that sits at the top of your page above the product listings, and should include a brief description of the page, plus your USP. On mobile, above the fold content isn’t always visible. But, when you’re catering to a generation that primarily uses desktop computers, having this extra bit of content above the page can help boost your conversions.
If you’re thinking of branching out into social media marketing, it’s best to focus your efforts on Facebook if you want to reach baby boomers. According to Ofcom’s Online Nation report, 49% of social media users aged 65+ said that Facebook was their only social media service. However, boomers are also keen to protect their privacy on social media, and aren’t receptive to retargeted ads.
It’s also important to remember that baby boomers value traditional marketing techniques and the ability to speak to a real person. So, it’s always valuable to offer both an email and phone number on your site.
Marketing to Gen X (born 1965–1980)
Generation X were at the height of their working careers during times of great economic turmoil. With older families, it’s likely this generation are focusing on providing financial security for retirement and for their family. As a result, they’re probably going to spend more time contemplating financial decisions than the generation before them.
Gen Xers are more likely to research your company and product before they make a final decision, so it’s important to provide plenty of detail on across your marketing platforms if they’re your target audience. This includes having an ‘about us’ page outlining your company history and expertise, as well as plenty of online guides to help them make the right purchasing decision.
Reviews are also incredibly useful for this generation, so signing up to a platform like Google My Business and setting up a business listing means potential customers can read your reviews from a quick Google search. Having a Facebook page for your business is also a great way to spread the word and offer another platform for reviews. However, bear in mind that this generation is unlikely to be on other platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok.
Like baby boomers, Gen X are loyal to their favourite brands, so keeping them engaged is a must. Once you’ve turned their interest into conversions, loyalty and rewards programmes are a great option to encourage repeat custom.
Marketing to millennials (born 1981–1995)
In 2021, millennials are somewhere between 26–40 years old, and are responsible for the majority of online spending (Statista). So, marketing to this generation could prove to be a worthwhile investment.
Known as the ‘instant gratification generation’, millennials like to know that their questions will be answered instantly, and their items will be with them as soon as possible. So, instant messaging options and next-day delivery are a must to appeal to this generation.
Having grown up in a time of rapid technological advancement, millennials are highly tech savvy, and can be found on almost all platforms available to you. And, while it might sound like marketing to millennials will be a breeze, this modern generation has grown up with online marketing and are therefore more sceptical to traditional marketing.
Just like Gen X, millennials value authenticity and transparency, and can be critical of the ‘hard sell’. This generation wants to know that your product will have an impact on their life but would like to do their own research before buying. Again, word of mouth recommendations and reviews are important, and you can afford to branch out a little more with this generation. While online reviews are certainly vital, influencer and affiliate marketing are more likely to lead to conversions with millennials.
This generation is prone to hunting out a bargain, so signing up to an affiliates programme with discount and cashback sites is also a great way to encourage this generation of shoppers to come to you.
Paid ads can be well worth the investment, but you’ll need to target them in the right place for them to be beneficial. According to the Ofcom Online Nation report, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are where the majority of millennials spend their time, so focus your marketing efforts here for the best results. Personalisation is also a winner with this generation, and targeted ads and personalised offers are bound to be a hit with millennials.
Marketing to Gen Z (born 1996–2015)
As the newest generation to enter the retail landscape, Generation Z are true digital natives. They’ve grown up with technology, social media, and online shopping, and are keen to engage with brands that align with their personal values, whether that’s environmental or social.
The majority of this generation are browsing on their smartphones, according to the Ofcom Online Nation report, which means optimising your site for mobile is vital. This involves making sure your site not only looks great but is easy to navigate on all mobile devices. Remember that your customers will be browsing on a smaller screen, so a clean, uncluttered approach to web design is best. Google’s mobile-friendly test tool will help you work out how well your site works on mobile devices.
Don’t forget to make your branding consistent across your platforms too. This generation is most likely to use multiple social media platforms, and Gen Zers spend most of their time on TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. So, taking an omnichannel approach is the best option.
These platforms all offer their own unique ways to market your brand. For example, Instagram has its own shopping feature which allows users to browse your product range through the platform, before being directed to your website once they’re ready to buy.
Having grown up with social media, Gen Zers are less likely to be influenced by traditional marketing tactics like those before them. Just like with millennials, authenticity is important. While investing in influencer and affiliate marketing are both great ways to engage this generation, reviews and recommendations need to be real and genuine in order to convert into sales. Working with micro-influencers (such as those that have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers) is the best way to garner engagement and conversions.
Getting your marketing right can take a bit of trial and error. But, by understanding your target audience, their preferences, and behaviours, you can see a bigger return on investment.