Ah, millennials. The generation everyone loves to hate.
A quick Google search will result in a slew of blog posts blasting millennials for ruining everything from banks to casual dining, napkins, home ownership, cereal, fabric softener, and, yes, even beer.
Millennials aren’t the first generation to be blamed for the destruction of tradition, and they certainly won’t be the last. It shouldn’t come as any surprise then, that as this generation matures many B2B and B2C websites struggle to capture their attention.
Times are always a changin’, and consumers’ habits, motivations, and needs are constantly evolving, too. As web designers, developers, marketers, and business owners (and just as human beings in general), it’s to our benefit to practice some empathy. Empathy is making a genuine effort to understand who our users are, what they’re interested in, and why they behave the way they do. In short, it is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. And since millennials have recently overtaken the baby boomers as America’s largest generation, they may be the key to your site’s success.
Who are Millennials?
Millennials were born between 1980 and 2000. This generation has been exposed, from birth, to the digital revolution. Most can’t remember a time without computers. In contrast, GenX-ers were teens or full-grown adults when home computers became the norm. Millennials matured in a world of school computer labs, dial-up, internet research, Napster, and chat rooms. If your heart sinks a little when you see this, you might be a millennial. #allthefeels
As adults, millennials don’t shop, research or buy like generations before them because of their lifelong exposure to all things digital. They are even re-shaping their parents’ and grandparents’ online behaviors, who are increasing their demand for a rich and seamless online experience.
By 2017, millennials will make up the largest online audience, and will be responsible for the majority of online purchases. They spend an average of $600 billion a year in the US, and 73% of them are responsible for making purchase decisions for their company.
With a digital audience this large, you may be wondering why your website is struggling. Why aren’t millennial users engaged?
1. You haven’t earned their trust.
Trust in big corporations and institutions is at an all-time low. Millennials don’t automatically choose their parents’ tax person or insurance company. They want to do their own research and choose a company that speaks to them.
The way millennials conduct this research is different from previous generations. Millennials crowdsource their peers for reviews and advice, and frequently value this feedback above any company-generated content.
In fact, 84% of millennials say user-generated content on websites is what convinces them to make a purchase. User-generated content includes things like reviews, comments, user photos and feedback on your products.
Millennials are looking for companies that are accessible, ones that are willing to connect with them on a personal level. It helps if content is soft in tone, emotional, and approachable.
Historically, large corporations’ branding efforts centered around their company’s prestige and history. Their name alone was enough to earn customer loyalty. Millennials don’t typically trust “the man”, and that kind of formal design approach just doesn’t resonate with them. Fonts and color schemes are broadening. Traditional serifs and cool, stark palettes are giving way to more playful fonts and logos in warm, friendly colors. Humanize your brand.
Banks like Field & Main (pictured above) and New Dominion have overhauled their branding to appeal to millennials.
2. Your Site Isn’t Efficient
Millennials might be large in number, but they are short on time. 71% say that the most important thing a company can do is show they value their user’s time.
Millennials have high expectations! Customer-facing technology needs to be intuitive. Millennials are pretty quick to embrace new ways of doing things they are more efficient or add value to their lives. For example, some banks have recently allowed customers to snap a photo of their check to deposit rather than making a drive to the brick-and-mortar. Mobile sites can use a phone’s camera to scan an image a user’s credit card to pay (instead of manually entering numbers in a form).
Millennials expect accessible, organized content. 52% of them will abandon an online experience if they can’t find a quick answer. That means taking a good, hard look at your site structure, copy and navigation. If you can do some usability testing, or use analytics to find out where pain points are, even better!
3. Your Mobile Site is an Afterthought
These days, most companies have mobile sites, whether they be responsive or stand alone. However, far too many have put almost no thought into how their desktop site translates to a mobile experience!
Let’s look at some facts:
1. 80% of millennials own a smartphone
2. 90% are so devoted to their mobile devices, they sleep next to their phones
3. 30% use more than four types of devices a day
4. 62% of Millennial B2B buyers said mobile devices were important when researching new products and services.
With this much screen time, millennials need a seamless, polished experience across all devices. Check analytics data to see what types of devices and operating systems your users typically use. Test on all those devices before launching a new site, content, or features. Make sure there aren’t any weird bugs or layout issues. After all, the #1 pet peeve among millennials is a non-mobile friendly site.
The mobile experience HAS to be quick. Millennials lead busy, active, lives, and every moment is valuable. It’s frustrating to to have to wait minutes, or even seconds, for a page to load. They paid their dues during the dial-up phase, y’all! SEO also uses page load speed as a ranking factor. The recommended load time is under 2 seconds.
The mobile experience needs to be optimized. This moves beyond just “mobile friendly”. This is “mobile first” design! Some millennial users will never see your desktop site, so don’t make that the “holy grail” of experiences. Mobile should be intuitive and engaging. It can be just as fun and creative as desktop!
Let’s be real, a single generation is never the reason that businesses fail, or sites flounder. It’s our responsibility to understand the changing needs and motivations of the people who use our services. Change is inevitable! If you practice curiosity, flexibility, innovation, and empathy for your users, you will unlock the key to your site’s success.
At Exclamation Labs, we embrace change and challenges! If your site isn’t meeting users’ needs, we can help you identify the problem and craft a solution that is unique for your business.