The time for those in Generation Z to go into the workforce is fast approaching, and in some industries, already here. Generation Z are those born in the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, the first age group to come after millennials. This group is leaving high school, entering college, and going into the workforce. While Generation Z is similar to millennials in the fact that they rely on technology and expect some flexibility in their job, they are the first generation that has truly grown up with the internet, thus affecting everything from how they work to their expectations.
According to a Forbes article on the ramifications of Generation Z entering the workplace, this group of people not only expect to be catered to (they want jobs they love and perks they actually use), they also multi-task more than their predecessors.
So how can B2B marketers begin to target Generation Z?
There are a few areas of focus, such as customer service and advertising, that will be slightly different for this demographic. Whether or not your business may not have to worry about Generation Z for years or they are slowly making their way into your industry, it makes sense to try to cater to this generation of future CEOs and decision makers.
More Social Media Engagement
Social media is simply part of a Gen Zer’s routine. According to Criteo, the most popular social media networks for this demographic are YouTube, Snapchat, and Instagram. While it doesn’t make sense for every business to be on these networks (especially when it comes to B2B), it’s time to start thinking about how you can leverage these popular platforms to get more visibility and to connect with your audience.
The aforementioned Criteo article points out that Generation Z spends more time than any other generation on their phone and watching video. In fact, the equivalent to almost an entire day each week (23 hours) is spent on average watching videos online. They spend about one to two hours on average on their phone. This means the B2B marketers need to start thinking about video and mobile platforms they can use to reach this audience.
Many Gen Zer’s like using apps to access specific areas of the internet. For your business, it might not make sense to have an app, but for others, it can provide valuable and useful features that go beyond a mobile website.
Amazon’s shopping app is a good example of this. They use product recognition technology to search for a product using the smartphone camera. Simply placing the phone’s camera on an object (say, a new hardback book cover) and running the proper search in the Amazon app will bring up its best guess at products.
Different Ways to Communicate
In addition to using the internet more heavily than other generations, Gen Z also heavily relies on different methods of communication than other groups. The majority of Gen Z uses messaging apps to talk to their friends and loved ones. GeoMarketing from Yext reports that this use can directly correlate to more chatbot interaction with this generation. Because they are already using messaging apps to connect with loved ones, connecting with brands through apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp is a natural extension of their online use.
Besides messaging apps, both millennials and Gen Z prefer texting with people versus placing a phone call. A recent study reported on by Inc found that 75 percent of millennials and Gen Zers polled stated that they would rather text with someone than call them on the phone. This phone aversion can affect businesses too– expect to see a decline in call volume for customer support and sales and an increase in support requests placed via email, chatbots, text, and online website chat.
These text-based lines of communication will affect how companies answer and respond to support requests, sales inquiries, and even the contract canceling process. Some brands have started experimenting with ordering through chatbots in messaging apps. Though these have mainly stuck to consumer brands, expect to see it bleed into B2B at a faster rate as these internet savvy professionals make their way into the workplace.
Different Ways to Order and Convert
Along with offering customer service and support through bots and chat, it seems natural to also extend the order and sales process to these AI-supported systems as well. While some B2B offerings are more complicated than a simple chat transaction can entail, begin to think about how the sales process can be automated to allow your target audience to convert without requiring a real person to be a part of it.
Start thinking about how you can automate your onboarding. Can your contract or non-disclosure process run 24 hours a day, as Gen Zers appreciate better work and hour flexibility? Or what about gathering the initial information needed to start your service offering?
Many companies are also moving to or adding subscription-based services as well. This works well for SaaS companies, but many service-based businesses can also try out this model. For instance, if you were an advertising agency, you could offer set packages that could be customized via chatbot or your website. Once a customer signs up, they could be taken automatically to an onboarding form to gather their initial information. After that, the information could be sent to a project or account manager to finish the onboarding and get their monthly services up and running.
While some B2B businesses feel that packages or an automated ordering service won’t work for their business or is too impersonal, Generation Z does not feel the same. Adweek reports that many prefer to buy using online services from companies that they know, like, and trust to be an immersive part of their identity. This personal habit will likely carry into how they do business.
Meet Customers Where They Are
As mentioned before, brands need to reach Generation Z decision makers and business owners on social media and in apps that they are already using, but this goes beyond having a presence on the platforms where they are most active. It also means “meeting customers where they are”– which may mean the slow decline of other types of marketing, communication, and advertising.
For instance, direct mail is one area that has been steadily declining for the better part of a decade. While it may have a good response rate (about five percent on average), a Gallup poll found that only about a third (36 percent) of all people under 30 are excited to check their mailbox each day. This means that the majority, 64 percent, had reported that they don’t really think about getting their mail on a daily basis.
The same goes for commercials on the radio and TV. While TV and radio are still used by the majority of the population, a growing number of Generation Z don’t have cable TV and prefer premium content instead of what’s offered for free across the airwaves. Podcasts, on-demand, subscription, and paid content is becoming more popular with those under thirty.
Some of the most popular podcasts out today getting millions of listens and rabid fans that sell out live recordings and tour dates, and it’s important for B2B companies to start looking at podcasts as a viable option for their business.
Take MailChimp’s sponsorship of the Serial podcast, named as the 8th most popular podcast of all time, according to Podbay. The ad was well-received by listeners and even turned into a meme and a hashtag due to its uniqueness. As a result, MailChimp is continuing to use podcasts as a viable advertising channel, by also sponsoring NPR’s This American Life podcast and others.
Provide Catered Content
In addition to more lines of communication to companies online, Gen Zers spend a lot of their time online consuming content. Though video is a major part of that, as mentioned above, online content is still the main resource where this generation gets their information.
Mediapost reports that Gen Z expects native and catered content that is perfectly crafted to each channel its on. While content repurposing will likely continue to have its place with the content you’re creating, it is still important to create unique content for all your platforms. Having a seamless integration into where Gen Zers find their information will provide your business with more credibility and foster trust and curiosity about what you offer their business.
When creating content, it’s also important to think about how Gen Z is consuming it. As mobile continues to be the primary device Gen Z (and internet users as a whole) access the internet, all the content you are creating needs to be optimized for mobile.
From mobile-friendly websites to charts, graphs, and interactive elements, users need to be able to access content easily on their phones. If it doesn’t load properly, then they will lose patience and likely not rely on your business site again for other relevant content.
Mediapost also reports that attention span is another key differentiation for Generation Z. Their tests found that six-second interactive advertisements performed better than thirty-second versions. While long-form, high-quality content will still be important for SEO and search engine result pages (SERPs) visibility, advertising content will need to be shorter so users don’t lose interest.
Generation Z is set to become the most powerful digital natives our economy and industries have ever known. They are inclusive, compassionate, and purpose-driven, and the way they feel about their values will affect how they communicate in business.
By looking at new technology such as chatbots, messaging app integration, and other emerging digital platforms, B2B companies can continue to stay relevant with this new generation that that is soon going to become your target audience for your business.