In 2015, the Millennials became the largest living generation, overtaking the Baby Boomers for the first time. This group of young people is responsible for shaping today’s trends, ranging from fashion to entertainment to retail. What’s different about this generation compared to others is that they have grown up in a digital world. Being online is not only familiar but comfortable and routine.

If other industries are paying more attention to the Millennials, then there’s no doubt that you need to be, too. Millennials will become the core of your school, if they’re not already. Your current students are Millennials. Alumni ages 35 and under are, too.

As you review your institution’s website and marketing strategies, think in terms of Millennials. Doing so will put you ahead of the curve and form deeper connections with this group.

What We Know About Millennial Marketing Trends

Here are some of the things that we know about Millennials and their digital habits.

Millennials spend an incredible amount of time on their mobile devices.

Millennials have a need to be connected to the rest of the world because that’s what they’ve grown up with. According to a study from Zogby Analytics, nearly 90 percent of Millennials say that their phones never leave their sides.

Eighty percent of Millennials admit that the first thing they do in the mornings is reach for their smartphones. And, 78 percent spend more than two hours a day on their phones – talking, texting, surfing, tweeting and more.

Unlike other industries that may not know where to find their audience, you do. Your audience is on their smartphones, which means you need to be there, too. That’s why having a mobile-friendly website is no longer an option or a luxury. It’s something that is needed in order to reach potential students and alumni and deepen your connections with them.

Many higher institutions have mobile-friendly websites, but they haven’t been updated in a few years. If this is the case with your site, now is the time to get the ball rolling. You need to do more than just make your desktop site responsive. Think about a prospective student on their mobile device and how easy it is for them to read your blog, subscribe to your email, watch videos and more. The mobile experience must be fluid and intuitive.

Millennials find videos interesting and helpful.

We don’t like to say that Millennials are lazy, but, they are. When you create content for this generation, you need to realize that the majority of them aren’t going to sit there and read through your entire article. Most aren’t going to take the time to make a thoughtful comment. You need to create opportunities for engagement that are super, super simple.

Videos are a great way to reach a Millennial audience because they are quick, entertaining and get right to the point. 80 percent of Millennials use video to help them decide which products to buy. They are also more likely to watch a video than read a newsletter.

Fortunately, your higher institution has endless opportunities to create engaging videos. Ideas include:

  • Tour of your campus, including dorms, cafeteria and lecture halls

  • Interviews with professors and staff

  • Day-in-the-life or documentaries from current students

  • How-to video, such as how to do laundry or how to get an A in chemistry

  • Footage from on-campus events like football games, student council meetings or rehearsals

  • Feedback from key groups of students such as international transfers

Millennials expect trustworthy brands to be active on social media.

By now, you know the importance of having a presence on social media. It might not be easy juggling the different channels, but you should see the value of being on them.

A study by Animoto found that 76 percent of Millennials follow companies on YouTube. Nearly half follow brands on Twitter, and 40 percent follow companies on Instagram. Millennials love video, and they love social media. When you combine both – short, engaging videos on social media – it’s a sure way to see success.

We talked about the many ideas that your higher institution has for creating videos, so as you do so, make sure you are posting them to your social media channels. Also make it a priority to keep an active presence. Prospective students glance at profiles to see the most recent posts and how much engagement is taking place. If your profile is stale or uneventful, it’s going to be hard to get new students to follow you.

Each day, make time for your social channels. Write posts, add photos, respond to comments, ask questions and more. Show you’re there. Show you’re fun to follow.

Millennials love content that is instant and usable.

Remember that Millennials have grown up in a digital world so they are very good at ignoring content that is irrelevant to them. They also don’t like content that is heavily promotional. Instead, Millennials tend to search for solutions to their problems and then develop relationships with the brands they meet along the way.

When you develop content for your institution, focus on Millennial needs. The content can’t talk too much about your school and why it’s so great. It needs to offer some value for the reader, such as by helping them improve their study habits or apply to schools. Ebooks, webinars and how-to articles are all effective pieces of content that appeal to the on-demand lifestyle of Millennials.

Millennials enjoy using apps.

As you look for ways to set your higher institution apart from others, consider developing an app. Apps are sometimes preferred to mobile websites because they are fast, easy to navigate and convenient. There’s far less loading and “next” buttons. And, you can create a truly unique experience for your Millennial audience.

Some schools are uneasy about developing an app because they don’t know what the process entails and the costs associated with it. Let us assure you that creating an app doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive when you work with the right team.

In fact, building an app for your higher institution can bring you the following benefits:

  • Stay ahead of the curve

  • Appeal to tech-savvy Millennials

  • Increase engagement, trust and loyalty

  • Get prospects and students to stay longer on your site

  • Make it easy for alumni to donate

  • Save money off printing and mailing brochures, catalogs, magazines and more

  • Show your environmentally friendly side

  • Offer specific content that targets different audiences

Millennials are looking for relationships. They don’t want promotional content thrown at them. They don’t want their time wasted. In order to be successful with this audience, you must listen to their needs, nurture them through the funnel and be available for questions or concerns. This is how you build relationships, and this is how you win over Millennials.