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Don’t Make These Millennial Marketing Mistakes

Despite all the hype about millennials’ affinity for all things digital, turns out a third of those who get catalogs, coupons and newsletters in the mail open and read every last one.

That was among the discoveries marketing firm Fluent made when conducting research into how they want to be reached by brands and retailers.

Between email, direct mail and SMS messages, these consumers voted direct mail (44 percent) as the least annoying channel in which to get marketing blasts from brands, perhaps because millennials have low expectations for personalization on this front. The millennial crowd, which Fluent defines for the report as 25 to 34 years old, seems to have mixed feelings about email marketing. Despite deeming one fifth of promotional emails as “unhelpful” or “irrelevant,” half of millennials admitted to buying something as a result of a brand email in the past half year.

Fluent found that this group is also open to engaging with brands through newer channels. More than a third (36 percent) interacted with a “click to call” ad either on mobile or via the web in the most recent six months, outpacing the over-35 cohort twofold. SMS promotions are similarly effective at catching millennials’ attention; 37 percent said they’ve made a purchase inspired by a brand text message. That should hardly come as a surprise, given that messaging (67 percent) is millennials’ No. 2 use for their smartphones.

The smartphone is a regular enabler of commerce activities for the millennial consumer; when asked what they most frequently use their mobile phones for, 32 percent responded with “shopping.” How they shop on their phones is evenly split between mobile apps (69 percent) and mobile websites (66 percent), pointing to the speed at which mobile-optimized and responsive sites seem to be gaining ground on the native app experience. Fluent said that millennials who’ve recently made a purchase are most likely (83 percent) to have done so via smartphone.

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However, virtual voice assistants are enabling an increasing volume of millennial’s digital commerce transactions. Fluent said more than a third (34 percent) have used a command like “Hey Google” or summoned Siri to facilitate their path to purchase. Likewise, smart home devices like Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo and Dot, and the Google Home speaker, are gaining popularity among millennials, a third of whom have bought something using this technology.

Fluent confirmed millennials as significantly more values-oriented than older consumers. By a margin of 15 percent vs 8 percent, they’re more likely to stop shopping with a company because they don’t believe the brand understands them. Plus, millennials are attuned to advertising and messaging that dovetails with their beliefs; 20 percent expressed that they’ve seen ads that align with their core values, Fluent found.