3 Insights Entrepreneurs Must Know About Millennials' Mobile Behavior

The millennial generation is driving the biggest changes in how companies develop and market products and services.

learn more about Luke Ahn

By Luke Ahn

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Now more than ever, entrepreneurs need to be cognizant of the importance of mobile marketing to millennials. The millennial generation is driving the biggest changes in how companies develop and market products and services in industries across the board.

While it may seem basic at the core, many companies are still missing out on opportunities to better understand the reasons why millennials buy certain products, identify strongly with certain brands or shop in certain ways.

One reason why millennials tend to be an elusive audience is that C-level executives are not putting enough emphasis on learning more about their behaviors. There are currently a lot of generalizations about millennials, and while some of the broad trends are accurate, one of the most challenging aspects of marketing to millennials is understanding the ways that they are truly different from previous generations.

One of the largest documented changes in millennials today is their use of mobile devices and response to mobile marketing.

Related: The Trick to Getting Millennials to View Your Content

This is why some of the most promising mobile startup ideas can receive major funding from high-caliber investors, only to fail miserably two to four quarters in. Why? Because of the disconnect between the expectations of entrepreneurs (and investors), and the reality of what millennial consumers want from mobile devices, apps and services.

If your company needs a fresh perspective on a mobile-marketing strategy to reach millennials, below are a few key concepts that you need to know:

Forget about web users.

Many entrepreneurs are unaware of the full scope of the impact and urgency of millennials' usage of mobile devices. For example, many millennials are relying on mobile devices as their sole method of accessing the web and communicating. A recent study from comScore found that 18 percent of millennials, those ages 18 to 34, are mobile-only web users, compared to only 5 percent of people ages 35 to 54.

There are a few implications of this shift toward "mobile only." At the forefront, your company website needs to be mobile first. Forget about the old idea of "web users" and design your site as if it's only going to be accessed from mobile devices.

Once you have a good mobile-enabled site in place, you can think about a web version. But mobile users should be your primary focus.

Another idea is that if you are targeting millennials as a major audience, you should put a larger share of your marketing dollars toward mobile, since millennials are most likely to be reachable via mobile devices. Four out of five millennials own smartphones, compared to only 40 percent of people age 55 and over.

Millennials are a unique breed.

One advantage of mobile marketing is that mobile customer data (while harder to capture) is much more valuable than the data we used to get from web-only users. Mobile customer data gives better insights into customers' buying habits -- including location, time of day, web browser or mobile app, etc. You need to capture customer data to understand your specific millennial customers, since every company and its users are unique.

Related: To Sell Products to Millennials, First Invite Them To Help Develop It

For example, one of the insights we've seen on Fronto is that teenagers tend to use their smartphones at different times of day than people in their 30s. Peak smartphone usage for teenage users of our company's app is much later at night.

Getting the right insights from your data is crucial to truly knowing your customer. You can have the best analytics agency around but if you as the CEO or CMO don't take the time to learn what the data means, it's only numbers. Data should be a call to action for millennial customer engagement.

Young millennials keep fleeing to new apps.

Many entrepreneurs and startups make the mistake of presenting a service, app or product that they think a millennial user wants, but these users, especially teenagers, are unpredictable.

Teenagers are fleeing Facebook because they don't want to hang out online with their parents. They have popularized many new messaging and photo apps because they're trying to create exclusivity and also to build their own little world away from adults, just like every previous generation has done.

This makes it important for entrepreneurs to test their assumptions -- invest in analytics to engage with millennial audiences based on what the data shows they want from your product and what they respond to the most.

Fortunately, millennials are willing to share their information. According to a study from Mintel, 60 percent of millennials said that they were willing to share details about their personal preferences and habits with advertisers.

Millennial customers are willing to engage with your company and give you the data you need to make better business decisions. But you need to make sure you're reaching them in the right channels and make sure you're drawing good insights from the data.

Related: 3 Millennial Marketing Lessons From the Selfie

Luke Ahn

CEO of Fronto

Luke Ahn is the CEO of Fronto, developer of an Android mobile app for the lock screen that delivers curated news, apps and special offers to users while rewarding them for unlocking their devices. His company, NBT Partners, has built apps that are popular with millennials in Korea, Japan and China. You can find Fronto in the Google Play store.

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