Engaging Millennials: 3 Things Financial Marketers Can Do Better

With Millennials wielding more economic power, financial services must ramp up their digital capabilities.

Even though most financial institutions have launched their mobile app and started social media pages, many are still failing to connect with the Millennial lifestyle, and to communicate with them effectively. Financial marketers need to revamp their mindset and start thinking more “outside of the bank”. They should go beyond the basic “save for the rainy day” messaging, which is currently prevalent in the industry. Instead, they could focus on content and experiences that are more meaningful, and inspire Millennials to take control of their financial lives.

Empower With Knowledge

Millennials prefer to make decisions on their own, but they are deeply worried about money management; they realize how much they don’t know. As the Bank of America/USA Today Better Money Habits 2015 Report showed, 41% of Millennials are chronically stressed about their finances. More than half of them felt they have no one to turn to for money related guidance, based on research from Facebook IQ.

Financial marketers have a clear opportunity to become financial mentors to Millennials. This generation is hungry for knowledge, is ready to learn online, and would appreciate easy-to-digest content to make better decisions about their lives.

Bank of America’s initiative “Better Money Habits” launched in collaboration with the non-profit Khan Academy is one of the examples of interactive education resources targeted at the Millennials. In addition, the bank also partnered with Vice News online TV channel to create a personal finance talk show “Business of Life” on YouTube.

Read More: Bank of America’s Millennial Marketing ‘Pays Off’ With Pinterest

Educational content doesn’t have to be boring, stale, preachy or over-scholarly. Millennials expect communication with brands to be personal, human, and not to sound like corporate speak. Some interesting cases from which to draw inspiration include US bank’s collaboration with Buzzfeed on home buying advice in funny GIFs and Chase’s partnership with female-focused email newsletter theSkimm, which provided tongue-in-cheek advice on financial matters in a series of stories.

Think ‘Outside the Bank’

Millennials are the experiential generation. Based on the above-mentioned Bank of America/USA Today report, they focus on today’s needs and take on debt for vacations, relocation or education. Research from Facebook IQ also found that Millennials tend to show off not through the ownership of things but through experiences.

Some financial marketers use this knowledge and focus on bringing new experiences beyond the money area to their clientele. American Express provides its members with livestreaming concerts on its Unstaged website, and Chase treats some of its Sapphire cardholders with VIP access to music shows who can then share their experiences via social media.

However, this is already a well-travelled path, and brands should challenge themselves more around other kinds of partnerships – with writers, photographers, designers, business leaders, and other influencers. Such collaborations could result in storytelling initiatives with advice on different experiential topics in connection with financial matters behind them. Communications should be built not so much around a transaction, but rather all the exciting things you can do with it.

Go Beyond “Saving vs. Lattes” Messages

The banking industry has some creative campaign examples focused on saving with the goal to reward yourself with experience or purchase in the future.
Thus, to promote its SaveApp and to make saving more realistic, First Direct bank asked its Twitter followers to share their saving goals with a #SavingCup hashtag. It later responded to selected tweets with personalized coffee cup artworks from illustrator Mr Bingo. Each picture showed how many coffees you would need to cut to reach your goal.

In another campaign, US Bank encourages its social media followers to share photos of the experiences they are saving on with the #ISaveSoICan hashtag.

However, brands could go beyond that and focus on encouraging the young to take control of their lives, challenge themselves, and achieve their ambitions.

Some brands already profile inspirational individuals on their social media channels. American Express regularly shares life principles from its prominent members as part of the #JourneyNeverStops campaign. Chase posts stories on young achievers, interviews with the Skimm founders and the director of Kung Fu Panda, for example. Giving voice to ordinary people among Millennials through storytelling initiatives and showing how they go about their lives is a powerful direction you should explore.

Bottom Line: To win with Millennials, financial marketers must be ready to experiment with content that is both educational and entertaining. However, as more companies hop on the Millennial engagement bandwagon, banks and credit unions will need to think about how to stand out from the competition — in all industries (not just banking) — and focus more on meaningful topics through joint partnerships and more robust storytelling initiatives.

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