Motor Age Magazine

by Tim Ross

You’ve probably heard countless times that the way to a millennial’s heart is through his phone. While that’s true to a large degree, focusing solely on millennials’ digital habits fails to account for the fact that many still watch television, listen to the radio and embrace other traditional forms of media. We believe that if you’re targeting younger customers, the best strategy is an integrated approach that blends the latest digital trends with more conventional marketing techniques.

For our clients, we recommend using a mix of direct mail and digital platforms to reach millennials. The shop owners we work with have seen a better return on investment when utilizing an integrated approach and find that they can conduct more targeted campaigns with direct mail than they would with radio or newspaper advertising. Both forms of advertising can also be tracked, which is key in determining which efforts are generating results.

Our belief is that your direct mail and digital campaigns should complement each other. The goal is to maximize your impressions and increase your brand awareness in the channels where millennials are most likely to see your messages.

With that in mind, here’s a look at some direct mail and digital strategies to consider if you’re hoping to expand your millennial customer base.

Using postcards to build trust. You might be skeptical about using direct mail to reach an audience that seems to be constantly “plugged in.” But the truth is, millennials view mail as a novelty and actually spend time more time reading the material that ends up in their physical mailbox than their inbox. The direct marketing firm US Presort found that 84 percent of millennials look through their mail on a regular basis. That’s the very definition of a captive audience, so capitalize on that habit by developing direct mail pieces that help you build trust with younger audiences. The first step is to ensure that everything on your postcards matches the look and feel of your website and your physical store. Consistency breeds comfort and lets potential Millennial customers know what to expect when they visit. It’s also helps alleviate any confusion between your shop and competitors. Featuring testimonials on your postcards is another great way to boost your credibility and help form connections with prospective customers. Research has shown that Millennials rely on user reviews more heavily than their baby boomer and Gen X counterparts when making purchasing decision. Finally, consider featuring an offer that provides potential customers with a no-risk way to try your shop, such as a free inspection or tire rotation.

Personalize your promotions. Millennials value connections. They want to do business with retailers who they believe know them. Using past purchasing and repair history can help you customize offers and build long-term relationships. The postcard can focus on reminding customers about upcoming maintenance services or it can be tied to seasonal buying habits. For example, maybe a customer had his tires rotated the previous summer in a preparation for longer road trips. Sending a discount for a tire rotation six months later or the following summer will show that you know their vehicle and understand their needs. Likewise, you can use postcards to remind Millennials when they’ve missed an appointment and direct them to personalized landing pages that feature discounts specifically tailored to their vehicles. We believe that customizing offers yields better leads than the mass market approach most shop owners typically associate with direct mail campaigns.

Mobile geotargeting. When it comes to the digital side of the equation, technology is rapidly evolving to help us reinforce the messages our clients are sending through the mail. One effective route to reach Millennials is through mobile geotargeting. Utilizing location services on smart phones, marketers are able to track users around a business and analyze their patterns and behaviors. Shop owners can combine that information with offline data, such as home addresses, and send mobile ads specifically to Millennials within a certain geographic region. They can also “geofence” around the area surrounding their shops, so that when a target visits a nearby competitor in that zone, for example, they’ll receive a mobile ad. Since millennials are known for their app usage, one of the most effective ways to deliver your messages to this group is by placing ads directly in apps they use most often. To make the most of your marketing campaigns, we suggest employing mobile ads that reinforce the messages you’ve mailed to them. That should help keep your shop top of mind.

Paid social. The days of posting occasionally on your Facebook page with the hope of generating traffic organically are long gone. Today, social media is a pay to play game and the more targeted you can make your ads, the better. There’s so much competition for ad space on social media that attempting to reach every person in a certain area will end up being a waste of money (and likely won’t produce strong results). When it comes to millennials, crafting ads around a certain event or targeted to a subset within their demographic is a better bet. For instance, your shop might be hosting a ‘Ladies Day’ to provide car repair education to female consumers. Establishing an ad based on that type of event and focusing it on women of a certain age located closest to your shop is a wise way to allocate your social media budget. You could also develop a discount aimed specifically at a certain demographic – say college students, since they might be more cost conscious than their older peers.

Your social campaigns could also include partnerships with social media influencers who can serve as advocates for your brand. When millennials see someone their age validating a company, their comfort level with that business rises. Just be sure to team with influencers who represent your area of interest and have a large and engaged fan base. And one last note, don’t limit your ad buys to Facebook if millennials are your target audience. More and more young people are shifting away from the platform in favor of Instagram, Twitter and other channels.

Connecting to millennial consumers requires a multi-channel approach. Using direct mail to forge relationships and supplementing those efforts with the latest digital marketing tools is a good way to get the most bang for your buck.