What can small business owners of all ages learn from Millennial entrepreneurs? Embracing digital-first marketing is the way of the future, and according to a recent survey by Magisto, Millennial small business owners are leading the way.

Here's some of what Magisto found about Millennial entrepreneurs and what it means for your business.

It's all about digital

Having come of age in a dotcom world, it’s only natural that Millennials think digital-first when it comes to marketing. Millennials in the survey spend 58 percent of their marketing budgets on digital media compared to Baby Boomers who invest only 14 percent of their marketing budgets in digital media.

Just because you use digital marketing doesn’t mean you have a true digital-first attitude. If you’re not a Millennial, you might think of online marketing as an “add-on” to traditional marketing elements like print ads or brochures. In other words, even if you are heavily involved in digital advertising, you may start from a print point of view and convert that advertising to a format suited for online. That attitude could be holding you back.

Make it mobile

Not only are Millennials focused on digital, they’re increasingly mobile-focused. Almost half (41 percent) of Millennials spend the majority of their marketing budget on mobile media, compared to less than 10 percent of baby boomers. Again, this is a natural extension of how Millennials live—on their smartphones. With the majority of online search now taking place on a mobile device, your advertising needs to be where your customers are—on the go.

Social media starts the journey

Interestingly, social media marketing is one area where Baby Boomers are a bit more ‘with it.” More than one-fourth (27 percent) of Baby Boomers use social media advertising to generate brand awareness and revenues. However, they are still far outstripped by Millennials—more than 60 percent of them use social media marketing for these purposes.

Millennials are recognizing that the average buyer’s purchasing journey has changed. It often starts on social media, as friends, family or social media ads alert the consumer to a product or service. But more and more, social media advertising is actually driving sales (believe me: I just bought two gifts after clicking on a Facebook ad).

Video is within reach

If you’re a Baby Boomer or Generation Xer, considering video advertising probably conjures up expensive television ads in your mind. For Millennials, however, online video is something they grew up with. No wonder 88 percent of them currently use online video advertising, and 45 percent dedicate more than one-fourth of their digital ad budgets to video.

Video marketing, even on cable TV, is less expensive than you think. Cable television stations can help you create videos you can use for both TV and online advertising. When developing videos, create concepts that you can use in multiple ways, such as shortening a longer video into smaller chunks or creating variations for different audiences.

Testing, testing

One of the most valuable aspects of online advertising, whether it’s a pay-per-click ad, a banner ad or online video, is how easy it is to test results and get instant feedback about whether your ads are working or not. This is a huge advantage compared to traditional print.

Millennials know this: some 60 percent of them test their digital ads, compared to just 13 percent of Boomers. In fact, 42 percent of Millennials test over 10 variations of their ads—just 7 percent of Boomers do. If you’re not testing your online ads, you’re wasting a huge opportunity. The report advises entrepreneurs to “fail fast” in order to succeed, and let the ads that don’t work direct you what to do instead.

What does it all mean for your business? The overarching lesson: Make digital advertising the foundation of your marketing plan, and build everything else around it. It’s a different way of thinking than Baby Boomers may be used to, but one you must adapt in order to stay competitive.

Need help creating your digital marketing strategy? The experts at SCORE are here to advise you. Visit to get matched with a 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

CEO, GrowBiz Media
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