Young Members 2.0 Lessons in Awareness & Conversion

About 51,100,000 results.

That’s what I got recently when I Googled “marketing to Gen Z.” For the curious, searching for “marketing to Millennials” yielded 56,200,000 results.

We read headlines about younger generations daily, but it’s not every day we get the opportunity to hear from young members (and prospective young members) directly but in December of 2018 Personify surveyed 1,000 Millennials and Generation Z members to understand their perspectives on membership and the organizations with which they engage.

While we talk about them as one audience, young members represent a diverse group. Millennials, born roughly between 1981 and 1997 include those finishing college to parents well into their careers, perhaps with kids. Generation Z is just starting to enter the workforce.

The first trick in getting young members onboard involves capturing their attention. How can associations and other member-focused organizations attract these generations?

Meeting Young Members Where They Are

When asked about all the ways they became aware of the association in which they were the most active, two-in-five young members report they were recruited by someone they already knew and two in five also report they were recruited in person at an event. Other top activities include:

  • Via email
  • Through an online ad
  • Via Facebook

While Facebook performed well in our survey with regards to awareness, other social channels delivered mixed results in terms of their effectiveness in building awareness. In something of a surprise, LinkedIn ranks last among younger association members when it comes to initial recruitment with only seven percent of respondents becoming aware of an association via LinkedIn. In fact, twice as many (15%) attributed early awareness to Instagram.

Their appetite for digital media makes sense. There’s no shortage of articles talking about how digitally fluent Millennials and digital native Gen Z are early adopters in terms of their technology and are never more than arms reach from a mobile device. However, this deep experience has created heightened expectations. Millennials and Gen Z members demand the convenience of a seamless experience at every touch point with brands, both in-person and online. Each touch point must build on the last and be consistent with the next.

Harnessing the Power of Your People

Even with an array of channels with which to get the word out, traditional advertising messages don’t cut it with young members – you need something extra.

recent study from Google found that Generation Z wants brands to be “a representation of their values, their expectations of themselves and their peers.” If they adopt the brand, what does it say about them as a person? Gen Z uses brands to help shape their world.

Why? The implications of being associated with a particular brand is part of it but there are thousands of products in-market today and the options are almost limitless. Although an extreme view, knowledge is available to anyone willing to look for it and networking can be achieved for free through digital sites.

They need a reason why becoming involved with your organization is going to create value in their lives, and they want to see the proof from their peers. After all, both generations distrust advertising and are leery of marketing messages. According to Hubspot, 84 percent of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising and data from SocialChorus shows only six percent of millennials consider online advertising to be credible while 95 percent do trust their friends. Research recently featured in AdWeek suggests  63 percent of Gen Z wants to hear from peers and everyday folks, not celebrities. All told, Gen Z is 1.3 times more likely to purchase a product recommended by one of their favorite influencers than by a television or film celebrity.

Personify saw a similar preference expressed in our own research. When asked where they would be likely to go to learn more about an organization they’d consider joining, young members report turning to other members. In-person conversations, whether at an event (49%) or with someone they already know (42%), proved the most effective in conversion. These one-on-one conversations with real people matter and remain essential in demonstrating value and creating a meaningful experience. When asked how important it was that an association facilitates connections with authentic people who understand their unique needs within the initial part of their journey, 94 percent of young members identified this as important, with almost two-thirds suggesting it’s very important.

Interest in learning more about what this means for your organization? Download our Young Members 2.0 report or watch our on-demand Webinar.