Rules of Engagement: Marketing Across Generations
Today's credit unions face a unique challenge: Engaging and marketing to members across more generations than ever before. This is because older generations are living and working longer and younger generations have more spending power at an earlier age. In fact, Americans 50 years and older were responsible for $7.6 trillion in economic activity in 2015. And Gen Z (those born after 1997) already commands $44 billion in purchasing power, according to an Ernst & Young report. This means credit unions must focus their marketing efforts across four generations at any given time (boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and the up-and-comers, Gen Z).
The opportunity for credit unions to expand their member base and grow their share of wallet is now. To capitalize on this opportunity, credit unions must recognize and understand the communication preferences of each generation. Considering how various age groups prefer to receive and act upon marketing messages can help your credit union more effectively engage with its target audience.
Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, are an affluent group that prefers to speak with a real person and in general, is most receptive to phone calls. Likewise, boomers are receptive to direct marketing tactics and prefer a straightforward approach to communication. That said, this generation has become familiar with new technologies and online forms of communication, which means methods like email and website copy are excellent means for marketing to boomers. Still, credit unions should keep messaging as clear and informative as possible and address any potential questions these prospective members might have at the outset to avoid causing frustration due to lack of clear communication.
Gen X, born between 1965 and 1980, is also an affluent audience, as this segment is in the peak of their earning careers. Working professionals are constantly plugged into their email accounts, so email is an excellent method for engaging Gen Xers. When creating email content, maintaining a consistent, yet personalized style is key, and the goal should be to entertain and inform. Also, simplify the formatting and send emails from a person rather than a general informational email address. These tips can boost engagement and open rates.
Conversely, millennials, born between 1981 and 1997, perceive email as a “business-only” tool. However, millennials prefer to receive emails with personalized offers or coupons over offers pushed via social media. This generation, known for being tech-savvy and constantly connected to web-enabled devices, seeks to actively interact with the organizations they buy from. They appreciate the ability to provide organizations with insight on their views and ideas, which means writing and reading online reviews plays a crucial role in their decisioning process. Social media is an excellent avenue for facilitating this. In fact, 74% of millennials use social media regularly to recommend services, according to Yes Lifecycle Marketing. The same holds true for Gen Z.
Enacting an effective social media strategy to communicate with Gen X, millennials and Gen Z should be a priority for credit unions and they must first understand what drives and interests consumers in each generation. This requires social listening to recognize what your target audience is talking about and what is top of mind for them. Based on that intel, your credit union can provide engaging content and interact virtually with its audience regardless of generation. This will grow your social following and encourage sharing of content. However, keep in mind that great content does not involve advertisements, as ads are largely ignored and perceived as spam by millennials and Gen Z.
Mobile apps are a worthwhile avenue for targeting millennials and Gen Z. In fact, millennials are 262% more likely to be influenced by a mobile app compared to the general population, according to research firm, JLL. Furthermore, SMS campaigns have 15 times higher response rates over email for millennials and Gen Z, highlighting the importance of leveraging mobile devices to target this generation. Mobile devices, like smartphones and even wearable devices, allow members to access their account at any time, regardless of location, creating endless opportunities for engagement. With a mobile app, your credit union can send geo-targeted alerts and pertinent business information through push notifications to a member's mobile device, further deepening that relationship.
Gen Z is the next age group that credit unions will be tasked with targeting, so it is critical to better understand what motivates them to engage and respond. Gen Zers have grown accustomed to sorting through massive amounts of information and must be selective of where they direct their attention. This means developing an app with a highly responsive design and targeted SMS (text) campaigns will be critical. Gen Zers refer to their smartphones constantly, not just for communication, but for content too. The financial industry still has a lot to learn about Gen Z and it is likely that this group will further disrupt how organizations engage with consumers.
While each generation has different “rules of engagement,” one thing remains the same: Analyzing data can strengthen your credit union's marketing strategy. By analyzing data, credit unions can uncover which marketing activities are successful and drive wallet share, producing impressive competitive advantages. Adjusting your credit union's marketing efforts according to each generation's communication preferences and leveraging data analytics to further hone those efforts will position your credit union for long-term success.
Deidra Colvin is CMO at Baker Hill. She can be contacted at 317-814-1202 or email@example.com.