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Is your small business trying to capture Millennial customers? Millennials account for nearly one-fourth of the U.S. population, and while the popular stereotype of this age group as ditzy college students may persist, in reality, many of today's Millennials are full-fledged adults, with the mortgages, jobs and kids to prove it. This age group’s importance as customers will only grow as they get older and move into new life stages.

But if your business isn’t marketing to Millennials in a way that speaks to this generation—in other words, if you're not using texting as a marketing tool—you could be left behind.

It's probably no surprise that Millennials love texting on their smartphones, and a recent survey by OpenMarket reveals just how much they love it: A whopping 75 percent of Millennials would rather give up the ability to talk on their smartphones than the ability to text. And 53 percent say, in general, they prefer to text than to call. That preference extends to the way they want to communicate with your business.

Why do Millennials prefer receiving texts rather than phone calls or voicemails?

  • Texts are "more convenient" because they are on the recipient’s own schedule (76 percent)
  • Texts are "less disruptive” than phone calls (63 percent)
  • They never check voicemail (19 percent)

Even among Millennials, the preference for texting has grown compared to a previous OpenMarket survey two years ago. But most businesses are lagging far behind when it comes to how they communicate with this demographic—only 30 percent of Millennials say they get texts from companies with which they regularly do business.

That's the case even though 75 percent of Millennials say text reminders for appointments, deliveries, payments, promotions and surveys are helpful. Specifically, they say text reminders are "less disruptive than a voice call” (63 percent), "One less thing to have to remember" (57 percent), and "The most convenient way to be reminded” (55 percent). Reminders aren't the only way you can use text messaging to communicate with Millennials, of course.

Here are some other ideas for reaching out to your Millennial customers via text messaging:

  • Send product offers, discounts and coupons. You can even use technology called "geo-fencing" to ensure these messages are delivered when customers are within a certain radius of your business.
  • Send notices of upcoming events or sales
  • Send an alert when a product is shipped and/or when a delivery is scheduled
  • Use text messages to enhance security, such as alerting customers when there is activity on their account
  • Send reminders when a payment is due and/or acknowledgments when payment has been made
  • Send customer satisfaction surveys

Before starting any type of text message marketing campaign, be absolutely sure to obtain written consent from customers to put them on your text message marketing list. This is required under federal CAN-SPAM laws enforced by the FTC, and if you don't do it, customers may report you.  Also, be sure you immediately remove from your lists any customer who asks to stop receiving texts from your business. Finally, make sure that customers understand that charges from their mobile carrier may apply to any texts—you don't want someone with a limited texting plan to get the unpleasant surprise that your texts are costing them money.

There are many text message marketing tools and services that even the smallest businesses can use to reach out to their customers. Some to investigate include Ez Texting, SlickText and SumoText.

Need more help figuring out your text message marketing strategy—or your Millennial marketing strategy in general? The experts at SCORE are here to help. Visit www.score.org to get matched with a SCORE mentor today.

About the Author(s)

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship and SmallBizDaily.com.

CEO, GrowBiz Media
two people texting at a table