4 Ways Banks Can Market to Millennials

Millennials, aka Americans born between 1980 and the mid-2000s, are the largest generation in the U.S., representing one-third of the total U.S. population in 2013. Their assets are growing and they are unhappy with the banking industry. If banks focus their marketing techniques on ideas and approaches that resonate with this younger generation, they might not only reap the benefits of new customers, they might gain brand evangelists.

Here are the top 4 ways that banks can tweak their marketing techniques to reach Millennials:

1. Make the Message Visual

Think graphic illustrations, pictures, short videos, animation. All of these forms of content will engage Millennials and demonstrate how your institution is different. Their attention is hard to grab, and a picture can say a thousand words. When it comes to banking, Millennials don’t want to read or be told which plans or products can benefit them, they want to see how.

“We’re a generation that’s come of age in a world of algorithms, big data and automated analysis,” said Nicholas Roach, 31, who uses Betterment and Scottrade and has a 401(k) plan. “It only makes sense our investments are a part of that culture, too.”


Screen shot from the mobile app and website, Acorns, which lets users invest their spare change, and check in on it with their phones.


Smart visual aesthetic doesn’t just catch the attention of the younger audience, good design creates trust. According to Stanford University and Consumer Web Watch’s report, How Do People Evaluate A Website’s Credibility, a website’s design is more important than credibility indicators, such as having a privacy policy, awards or certifications.

Focus on simplifying your most technical information into easy to read charts or graphs, and millennials will respond.

2. Get Personal

The more personal stories you include — especially ones that feature other Millennials — the easier it is for Millennials to see that you are focused on helping people like them.

Banks can market to millennials by including a realistic/relatable story with a stock photo, that shows other millennials using your products.

In this day and age it is so easy to collect and store information about your customers, so use it! Don’t send everyone the same message. The baby boomers may be interested in your retirement plans, but Millennials are wondering about their financial independence and security. Different age groups should receive different messages.


HubSpot’s Marketing Software can maker personalization easy.


According to HubSpot, Personalized content does 42% better


3. Socialize

Digital channels no longer just represent “a cheaper way” for banks to interact with customers. They are now critical for executing promotions, stimulating sales and growing market share.

Many big companies think building a social media audience is a time consuming and daunting task. Yes, results don’t come instantly, but starting your social media presence is easier than ever.

There are many different tools that make posting one message across multiple platforms (Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter) a streamlined and easy process. There are also tools that allow you to set up a calendar and schedule future posts.

But creating your own content for social media is only half of the game. Reposting other experts in the field, and replying to other people is just as important. There are tools that provide ways to keep up with only the most important content and industry experts, so that you’ll never miss quality content and conversations.

Social media is something that will become hugely valuable, as Generation Z (born mid 2000s to the present day) enters the age of personal spending and consumption in just a couple years.

According to AdAge:

“After seeing their parents and older siblings struggle through the recession, Generation Z is practical and value-conscious. They use the enormous amount of information at their disposal. Marketers have to think outside traditional tactics to get the cohort’s attention. But once they have it, the generation can become excellent brand ambassadors, using social to spread the word.”

In other words, if banks take the time to establish themselves as trustworthy and millennial-friendly financial thought leaders today, in a few years Generation Z will use and share that content like wildfire through their social media channels.


4. Aim to Empower

According to Scott Bales, founder of Metlife FutureLab and author of the book Mobile Ready, “In 2015, we will see signs that we are moving into the ‘age of wisdom,’ where information alone won’t be enough. Successful companies will be looking for scenarios, options and intelligence to drive more productive businesses and relationships.”

Millenials are accustomed to searching online for products and solutions to their financial problems before stepping foot in a bank. Where the opportunity lies is that most of this information millenials are looking for regarding their money is not provided by banks.

Tarik Ancrum, 27, began saving for retirement when he was 21 years old. He has a handful of go-to finance blogs and books. “We just want to know and be in control of our own future,” said Mr. Ancrum. “You’re never sure what can happen.”

Focus on creating content that doesn’t sell a product. Instead, solve problems and offer genuine advice. Millenials will be will be willing to trust you with their money if they can do their research about their problems and needs on your website.

Matthew Rothenberg, a content strategist said, “At some point, brands are going to start wondering why they’re spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to rent an audience instead of building one of their own.”

Overall, banks can market to millennials by focusing on building their own audience by developing empowering content. Take extra time to add a personal touch. Make the complex information visual; this will give your audience something to talk about over social media. It may be challenging to point your marketing message away from talking about yourself, but truthfully, millennials are ignoring any brands that do.