Tailoring your company’s online experience to millennials isn’t just the latest marketing fad, it has become a business necessity. Research shows that by next year, millennials (born between 1980-2000) will make up the largest online audience, garnering more buying power than any other generation. Businesses looking to adjust their web presence to appeal to millennials are in luck, because market researchers have studied this group’s online habits extensively. Here are four things you should keep in mind about how the millennial generation uses the internet when building or assessing your website.
Mobile Is a Must
If you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, you are completely missing out on the 20 percent of millennials who exclusively use mobile devices to go online. For those that still use a desktop or laptop, Americans in general are spending 60 percent of their internet time on mobile devices. Don’t mistake mobile use for social media reliance, though. When researching a service or product, millennials would still prefer to get their information from a business’s website rather than a social media account like Facebook or Instagram. Shutterfly, Evernote and Etsy are good examples of clean, easy-to-use mobile sites that retain all the functionality of their desktop web designs.
Keep it Simple
Although millennials may be more tech savvy than previous generations, they do not have the patience for overly-complicated web design. They expect a website to be intuitive to navigate and prefer a simple, clean interface over unnecessarily flashy content. Check out GE’s website for an example of an intuitive design with enough bells and whistles to make it interesting for the return user.
Put Them in Charge
Millennials want to be in control of their online experience, particularly when it comes to customer service. A millennial is apt to abandon a site (even in the midst of a purchase) if a problem crops up that they can’t readily solve or if they can’t find the information they are seeking. The most frequent millennial complaints about a brand on social media stem from bad online experiences. One in four millennials will leave a brand after one unsatisfactory experience and 82 percent will leave after three bad experiences. Consider Amway’s website, which tackles this problem using a combination of design strategies, including instructional videos, FAQs and an interactive filter that gives users the power to view the website in a way that is most relevant to them.
Millennials don’t want the hard sell. They were constantly marketed to growing up, but also had all the information of the internet at their fingertips. They are likely to research a product or service using multiple sources, including the business’s website, and can tell the difference between obvious advertising and credible endorsements. Avoid making unverifiable claims, because they will follow up. One way to convey your authenticity is to feature an “About Us” page that tells the story of your business, including information about employees or owners. In addition to customer testimonials, Rent the Runway’s website features a great “About Us” page that includes employee testimonials with valuable information about the company culture and insight into how the rental process works from the inside.
Sally Chaffin Brooks – Sally Brooks is a writer and nationally touring stand-up comedian who lives in New York City with her patient husband and chunky baby. Also a recovering attorney, Brooks’ work has been featured in “Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review” and “Jurist.” A lifelong wanderer, Brooks is currently working on a memoir about her Appalachian Trail thru-hike.