From Outliers to Experts: Millennial Marketers

This article first appeared on Adobe.com on April 21, 2015 in their Conversations blog. You can view the original here.

Millennials are often considered the outliers to previous generations, from work ethics to shopping habits. Millennial shoppers disrupted traditional eCommerce rules of conduct with how they interacted with brands, approached social media, and demanded an integrated customer experience. They are known for their short attention spans and tendency to switch between multiple devices.

In the past few years, Millennials have entered the workplace in earnest, many as digital marketers. Their timing, as ever, is impeccable: the eCommerce landscape has become an increasingly noisy and chaotic space. According to a newly released study by Adobe, 48% of millennial marketers say marketing today is very different than when they first started.

Luckily, staying on top of fast-changing trends and sifting through information overload is the millennial marketer’s forte. What was once considered a generation’s quirks has become the industry standard: emphasis on social media, a steady feed of easily-digestible but relevant content, and an overwhelming demand for personalization are all now par for the course.

With this shift comes the need to reclassify the modern millennial marketer. It’s no longer appropriate to say these characteristics represent Gen Y-ers alone. What used to define a specific generation is now a mindset.

Instead of age range and demographics, what millennial marketers have in common is the ability to sort and absorb information from new social media and technology channels. Twitter, Facebook, and Buzzfeed are the new newsfeeds. The Internet of Things, wearables, and mobile commerce are the next big things. How nimbly marketers react to these changes and challenges is what makes them millennial marketers.

Consider this: in a world oversaturated with new information, research, and trending topics every day, millennial marketers are adept at collecting only the relevant or important information and then moving on. They are expert aggregators, able to prioritize on the fly.

What’s more, Adobe reports that just 3 years ago, marketers were optimizing campaigns and messaging for an average of 4 devices; today, that number has surged to 10. The very attribute that defined Millennials as outliers ‘ their expertise in switching between devices and interfaces ‘ is what provides the edge necessary to keep up with consumer demand.

Millennial marketers are poised to make significant impact in the world of digital commerce ‘ if we let them. Companies must adjust their expectations and overall mindset in order to maximize the potential of millennial marketers and drive true growth. Here are three ways to get started:

1. Trust their instincts.

Gen Y-ers have an intuitive grasp of how eCommerce fluctuates because they were the first generation to grow up with it. They empathize with the customer and understand the importance of presenting value in quick, measurable ways.

What’s more, millennial marketers, regardless of their age, are often early adopters of technology and innovation. They are effective eCommerce marketers because they are genuinely engaged in eCommerce. Tap into their instinctive knowledge to build nuanced customer profiles and to glean insights they might not even realize are relevant.

2. Embrace nontraditional methods.

Efficiency is a new hallmark of competence, and millennial marketers are all about getting there more quickly. Acknowledge best practices, but don’t get bogged down by them. Instead, let them experiment and innovate, and focus on results instead of pure methodology. Millennial marketers understand how to navigate the lightning-fast information highway that is the Internet; to stay nimble, let them drive.

3. Lean forward as a company.

New technology is developed every day. From the meteoric rise of mobile commerce to advancements in Augmented Reality marketing technology, the next few years will introduce even more change and growth.

The key to getting ahead of the curve is, simply, to go all-in. This means thinking beyond building a team of millennial marketers, and adjusting the priorities of company goals to better align with the changing industry. Sephora’s new Innovation Labs and Target’s recent restructuring are all indicators of progress from companies willing to invest. Challenge the entire company to adopt the millennial marketer’s mindset, and lean forward.

Millennial marketers may seem like a special breed because of the title attached; the term “Millennial” has long been associated with a certain amount of controversy. It’s time to stop categorizing in terms of age range and generational differences, and redefine the millennial mindset as a collective attitude of forward-leaning, fast-paced innovation. Millennial marketers are literally the future of marketing ‘ companies must now catch up to the times.

Jerry recently spoke at Adobe Summit, the industry’s largest digital marketing conference on the topic of millennial marketers. Hear his thoughts about innovation in marketing: