How to engage with millennials and Gen Z using SMS
Whatever communication channel you choose to use, you´ll have to make sure that you know who your targeted audience is. What are they interested in? And how can you resonate with them? When planning marketing campaigns, you´ll have to make sure you´ve done your homework. To make the job easier for you, I – someone born in the cusp of the two generations, have made you this guide on how to engage with millennials and Gen Z using SMS.
SMS has quickly become one of the most popular channels for communicating with customers. According to OpenMarket 83% of millennials would rather text with a company rather than calling. Two thirds of millennials (1981-1996) and generation Z (1997-2012) prefer SMS over E-mail. Our phones have become a big part of our everyday lives, and this is especially true for generation Z, or Gen Z, as they´re often referred to as the digital natives.
Speak their language
When I say speak the same language, I´m not referring of their mother tongue. It´s more metaphorically as in using the terms and slang that are current and relevant for their generation. Especially Gen Z tend to reference pop culture phenomena and circulating trends on social media.
There is always a new word or term on the rise, and they die out just as quickly as they came to be. If you want to shift your focus towards millennials and gen Z, it´s important that you spend some time talking to them and getting to know how they speak. You´ll have to figure out what words to use and how to formulate your message, because there is nothing more cringy than trying too hard to fit in with them. If you don´t know what cringy means you should defiantly seek out some help from the younglings themselves.
What you can do is be present on the platforms where they spend most of their time. Make sure that you´re on Instagram and TikTok, follow different social media influencers and pay attention to what kind of trends are spreading on these social media platforms. But at the end of the day the most important part is that your message is authentic and genuine.
Be authentic and use emotions
There are a lot of available research on what it takes to create a good association and elicit a positive response to marketing campaigns from the younger generations. Alison Munch published a qualitative exploration on the effectiveness of digital marketing communication and advertising on millennials and generation Z. Part of the research suggests that including humor has a positive effect on the younger generations. The use of humor and other emotions makes the message seem more personal. Your customers will get a sense of affiliation to your brand and act as ambassadors for your company. (LINKER TIL “APPEAL TO EMOTIONS”).
How your company is perceived is especially important for generation Z. According to IBM Institute of Business Value gen Z supports businesses that they see as “fun” and “cool” to a larger extend than other businesses. This might sound like a no-brainer but it´s about more than just what you sell.
The younger generation is more interested in the people behind the company. In order to succeed with your marketing strategy aimed at these generations, you have to be authentic and show all sides of your company. They aren´t interested in the polished and impersonal marketing that dominated the marked before the rise of social media. Communication that is perceived as organic and human has a much bigger effect than templated and superficial messages.
What do they value?
If you want your marketing campaign to be effective, you should know what your customers appreciate. What kind of values do they have? What´s keeping them going? We have a generalized idea about the different generations’ values. It goes without saying that those are generalized ideas and won´t apply to everyone in that age group, but it´s a good pin pointer towards what they´re interested in.
When it comes to millennials, they tend to value and seek out social proof before making a decision. Feedback, assessments and others´ experience help with their decision on what products, services and brands to choose. With this generation you should have an emphasis on customer reviews so they can tell your story. Millennials trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations. You can easily include social proof in your text message campaign by including statements like "Do like 3000 other students ...". You could also do it by linking directly to the reviews of the product or service you´re promoting.
Gen Z are motivated to take action when the brand appear as trustworthy and transparent. They value messages that solve problems more than purely informational texts or deal offerings. In order to engage with this generation, it´s important that you show social responsibility and how you´re part of the solution.
Take a look at the jewelry brand Pura Vida Bracelets for instance. The brand used SMS to tell their customers about charities and foundations the causes they support like "Feeding America" and "Stand Up to Cancer". In one of their campaigns, they pledged to donate $1 for each order in April with the goal of raising $200 000 or 2 million meals. In addition to reaching their fundraising goal, they managed to get a 15x ROI on their text message program. This is a great example of why you should include your company’s values and mission in the campaign when talking to Gen Z.
It´s also worth noting that this generation has a - well ... Interesting humor to say the least (I can say it cause technically I am a Gen Z´er). Their humor tends to lean to the darker side and may come across as incomprehensible to someone looking in from the outside. In order to resonate with Gen Z you have to be unafraid and take a little risk. Your content should be time relevant, include humor and maybe refer to a currently circulating meme (its pronounced (/mi:m/) and you can find out what that is here - You´re welcome!)
What do they have in common?
There are some SMS messages that resonate across generations. In a report from 2022, Twilio SendGrid researched messaging engagement across generations in the US. According to the finding in the report, American customers interact the most with messages that include:
· Offers or discounts
· Relevant products
· Relevant content
At the end of the day, it´s important that you remember to have documented op-ins, write relevant messages and ensure that you include emotions in your messages (LINKS TO EMOTIONS) regardless of who the recipient is. Talk to the customer and make sure that they know that have their interests and needs in mind. The only person that knows your customers better than you is the customer themselves!