Younger consumers, especially those under the age of 35, have grown up in a world in which digital technology is ubiquitous. This is a generation that sleeps with their smartphones and multitasks so much they don’t even realize they’re doing it: texting friends, downloading music, uploading videos, watching a movie on a phone or tablet, and posting on Facebook and Instagram and Vine
and Twitter and more.
There’s also a subset of these digital natives that uses technology even more intensely. Referred to as Generation C (for Connected) or the “Always-On Consumer” and initially identified by Forrester, these individuals use three connected devices every day, go online multiple times a day and do so from at least three different locations (Forbes 2014).
Digital immigrants, on the other hand, are those older than 35. They have a lesser degree of digital fluency as a result of being introduced to technology at a later age. While digital immigrants understand social media, smartphones, tablets, and wearable devices, and can also be avid users, their immersion is learned rather than innate.
Each of these consumers has distinctive behavior patterns regarding brands and businesses and how they use all things digital, from devices and social networks to the Internet and apps.
What you may not know is that the Always-On Consumer has now grown to be 48% of the U.S. population, from about 25% in 2010 (Forbes 2014). This percentage will continue to grow as more digital natives are born. In the coming years, no matter what industry you’re in, more and more of your prospects and customers will be like the Always-On Consumer.
Using Buyer Personas
Knowing the difference between digital natives and digital immigrants is a necessity for online marketers. One way to harness this knowledge is through buyer personas.
Buyer personas are customer profiles on steroids. Defining a buyer persona requires you to identify behavior, wants, needs, pains and problems in a very detailed way so that you can convert. Buyer personas are extremely useful when designing integrated marketing campaigns because they define the touch points that each type of individual encounters on their digital journey.
The right call to action at the right time will motivate your prospect if it matches their interests and intentions across multiple touch points. By mapping stages in each buyer persona’s path, from awareness to engagement to conversion, brands can lay the track upon which tactics can be implemented and predictive models can be built.
Creating an Always-On Consumer Strategy
The Always-On Consumer has presented marketers with an interesting challenge. They operate in a completely new way, purchasing goods and consuming media, advertisements, and WOM recommendations differently from other groups. In a media-filled world where promotional messages are ubiquitous, there are many tactics brands can use to differentiate themselves and engage with this savvy, on-the-go audience.
Here are 11 key things your brand can do to connect with the Always-On Consumer.
Step one is getting to know your target audience really well. What percent are digital natives, immigrants, Always-On or something else? Identifying buyer personas connected to each segment will help you connect with key targets and avoid alienating others.
2. Have a conversation.
In a recent report, 83.5% of respondents listed Internet advertising techniques such as pop ups and auto-playing videos in their top five annoyances online (Infomentum 2014). The frustration is because this generation now expects two-way communication with their favorite brands and view pop-ups as old fashioned and an infringement on their browsing experience. Make sure your brand uses marketing to start a conversation, not a lecture.
More than any other group, digital natives value relationships with brands that are authentic and have a one-on-one feel. Make sure you have a way to capture customer insights and actionable feedback so that you can find out what makes them feel connected.
4. Help them share.
Digital natives like to share content. They like to read – and write – reviews. Consumers who share or write about a brand can be its greatest resource, generating earned media. This group wants to know what their peers think and are comfortable sharing personal details on public sites. Make sure you give them opportunities to post reviews, generate word of mouth, get advice, and share.
5. Earn their trust.
According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report, 92% of consumers say they trust earned media such as word of mouth or recommendations from family and friends above all other types of advertising. Each customer review, Tweet or Facebook post gives a brand the opportunity to respond and engage and to show customers that it’s listening. A positive response shows that a brand wants to make things right and that customers’ contributions are valuable.
6. Let them create.
Digital natives like to create content. Encourage them to submit user-generated content via your social feeds. Ask for pictures or videos relating to things they care about.
7. Keep it simple
Digital natives are used to consuming news, entertainment, and all types of content on their smartphones. They like getting information in nuggets that are easy to read through and digest. Present your information in similar short and simple bursts.
8. Make it mobile.
This group spends most of its time online on their smartphones. But they’re not making phone calls. They’re shopping, making plans, researching products, playing games, and texting. Transparency and speedy service across all platforms are the standard most digital natives expect. Make sure these customers can find, engage, and purchase from you easily on-the-go.
9. Harness the power of peers.
Ninety-five percent of this group says the most credible source for product information is their friends, while they also trust parents and online experts. Take advantage of brand advocates and influencers who will support you in social spaces.
10. Be positive.
These consumers are often referred to as the optimistic generation. They want to make the world a better place. They may be inclined to think more highly of brands that have a track record of giving back to the community or supporting the environment, so let them know about any of these initiatives.
11. Trust your data.
Use your analytics to gain insight into these consumers. To identify paths to purchase along the consumer journey, synthesize multiple sources of data including big data, location-based technologies and mobile in addition to site analytics.
The Future of Online Marketing
This wave of consumers demands a revolution the development, delivery and promotion of all types of products and services. Expectations for digital services are high. Successful brands can connect with the Always-On Consumer with an innovative mix of interactivity, commerce, experience, co-creation and customization. Will your brand be one of them?