Millennials in the workforce – They’re Heeeeeerrrre!
The Millennial Generation – aka “Gen Y” – are people who were born between 1982 – 2001. There are 79 million Millennials in the United States. The oldest of this generation are thirty-three years old this year and they are now the majority of today’s professional workforce (35%). If you aren’t ready for the changes Millennials will bring to your business, you’d better get going.
Millennials are the first “native” technology user generation. Unlike Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964) and Gen Xers (born 1965 – 1981), Millennials have never known a world without the internet. The toys in the cribs of Gen Y had higher performance microprocessors operating them than was used by NASA to operate the Lunar Rover (the unmanned vehicle used to explore the surface of the moon). Millennials don’t just “get” technology; technology is in their DNA.
As with all generations, technology has shaped the way in which Millennials think, communicate, study and behave. As the first “technical natives,” Millennial in the workforce use technology as the core means of communication, and they don’t distinguish between “personal” use of technology and “work” use of technology. For Gen Y’s, it’s all personal – it just may happen to involve discovering something they need to know related to their “day job.” Whether it is texting their peers, searching the web, or checking with their social network, Millennial “workers” expect immediate and ubiquitous connection.
If you are a B2B marketer, you know that your business buyers are now mostly Millennials.
As the youngest population in today’s workforce, most of the research assignments are being done by Millennials. The decision makers may still be Baby Boomers or Gen Xers, but the investigation and business cases are being done by Gen Y. And how do these knowledge workers find out about your business? That’s right – via technology: web search, YouTube, social media, their Millennial friends. And, they are doing this research way before you ever know they are doing it.
Unless you have been under a rock for the past five years, you know that B2B buyers are waiting longer and longer before they contact potential vendors. Have you stopped to think about why this is? Because they can. Prospective buyers no longer need to contact you to find out what you offer and why you think your products and services are unique. Now, consider this clear trend against the context of the changing workforce. Millennials are doing the research and putting together the recommendations. They use smartphones and tablets to identify the best solutions, not telephone calls with the prospective vendors. They use their social network to get recommendations and referrals. When they are ready to contact you, they will find you. And when they do, these Gen Yers will know more about their options than you will.
So, if you aren’t by now, get ready for the Millennials. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Millennials don’t think of personal and work as two distinct activities. They blend them. That’s a big reason why YouTube has become the second largest search platform for businesses.
- Millennials expect to learn about your products and services without having to contact you. What previous generations thought of as “advanced” research, Millennials consider basic. Hint: If they have to contact you to learn about your offerings, you’ve already lost them.
- Want to get on the Millennial radar screen? Go where they are: social media.
- To reach them, entertain them and make it easy for these tech-savvy buyers. Long, verbose whitepapers and case studies gated behind web registration forms? Are you kidding?! Try videos on YouTube that link to your website.
- Since Millennials don’t feel the need to contact your sales reps, invest in technology that will enable you and your reps to identify them. It isn’t that Millennials don’t want to talk to you – in fact, Millennials constantly communicate! But, you need to become part of their conversation and stop trying to make them part of yours.
Depending on the industry served, a typical B2B small to mid-sized business will get thousands of unique web visitors each month.
Most digital marketers are thrilled if 2%-3% of these unique visitors self-identify interest by completing one of the forms on the website. At this conversion rate, marketing is able to generate several hundred “warm” leads for sales follow up on a monthly basis. To digital marketers, these are “signals” of market demand.
The other 97% of the web visitors
who don’t complete a form are visible to digital marketers as numbers. This monthly web “traffic” is measured by web analytics tools such as Google Analytics (GA). Measuring web traffic is useful for determining the effectiveness of marketing campaigns – events, SEO/PPC, advertisement, direct marketing, etc. Marketing spends a lot of money to generate awareness and drive prospective buyers to their website. Determining the effectiveness of these dollars by measuring the amount of monthly web traffic is critical feedback to marketers. Hence, the rise of “data driven marketing.” For digital marketers, tools like GA help measure the “noise.”
But, the ultimate goal of marketing is to generate revenue. Creating compelling campaigns that get prospective buyers to your website is a means to the end goal of generating revenue. Sales teams don’t find web traffic measures particularly useful when it comes to generating revenue. To support revenue generation, marketers must be able to increase the ratio of web visitor “signals” to the “noise.” In other words, marketers must make more of the 97% monthly web traffic volume actionable by sales.
That’s why we made VisitorTrack
VisitorTrack gives digital marketers the ability to increase the “signal” to “noise” ratio from the thousands of monthly web visitors who are otherwise visible only as numbers. VisitorTrack starts with identifying the “invisible” web visitors who don’t self-declare. Next, we filter out the unidentifiable visitors – those who came to your site via an ISP or some other service provider that masks the visitor company I.P address. Unless you sell to very small businesses and/or home office businesses, this filtering process reduces the noise to a more relevant set of business prospects. Like all good web monitoring tools, VisitorTrack identifies the specific web pages and content viewed by these visitors which provides deeper insights to the interests of these prospective customers. Then, VisitorTrack appends this visitor data with demographic and firmagraphic company information. Once the company data are identified, VisitorTrack further filters the visiting company data based on user-defined criteria – industry, geo-location, company size, pages visited, etc., and delivers this visitor data via automated reports to the designated marketing and sales professionals. Voila! Signals from the noise.
Web visitor data collected via form conversions are collected as signals of market demand. The visitor information is immediately ready to pass to sales as a “warm” lead. For a well performing website, these signals are generated by 2% – 3% of the visitor traffic. The other 97% of visitor traffic is anonymous and is collected as noise. Converting this noise to more actionable data requires sophisticated intelligence and automated filtering technology. That’s why we made VisitorTrack.
Contact forms? So what’s the problem?
I am dating myself here (and outing my inner nerd), but does anyone remember that Star Trek Episode: The Trouble with Tribbles?
At first, Captain Kirk and his crew loved these fuzzy little creatures. Everyone wanted one. But, as they began to re-produce by the 1000’s the Tribbles became a big problem. Nobody was sure what to do with all of them!
Enter marketing automation. The savior of all things digital marketing. The adoption of marketing automation tools over past years has been vigorous to say the least. The institution created an entire industry around building content to “feed the machine”. The goal being to produce the ever coveted conversion (read: contact form completion). These forms represent rapidly expanding galaxy of leads being created for B2B sales teams.
Contact Form Submitted . . . Guess what? It may be too late!
Do you find that the deal is mostly sealed by the time the prospect completes the most coveted form of all (the form asking for a conversation with a sales person)? Does it feel like the only thing left to negotiate is the price?
If you are reading this post, you probably agree that the B2B landscape has been changing. The transformation is largely due to a prolific amount of content on the web. Content designed to help the prospect maneuver their way along the buyer journey. Infographics, ebooks, whitepapers, videos, webinars, revenue calculators . . . . scores of content that helps the buyer form an opinion, set purchase criteria, make a “short-list” of vendors to consider and be pretty sure of the offering they like best (often with up to 70% certainty). Much of the previously mentioned checklist is well under way before a prospect completes a form requesting a conversation with a sales person.
Sales teams that wait for contact forms to be completed may be putting themselves in danger of being too far behind in the buyer journey.
The result: Lost traction with the prospective buyer. The sales person is forced into reactive mode, responding to RFQ’s with pre-defined requirements that are often more suited to the competition’s offering than their own. The opportunity for influence has gone out the window, and the scramble is on to find a way to preserve what little margin remains in the deal.
Successful sales organizations (and the marketers that support them) know that getting ahead of the buyer journey is key to a sales person’s success. By coupling a deeper understanding of their prospect’s digital body language and the ability to identify who is anonymously visiting their website can be very powerful. This is especially true if you consider that often less than 5% of website visitors fill out a contact form. Gaining intelligence on these engaged prospects (most of whom are invisible to you. . .your CRM. . .and your automation tool), early in the buyer journey, could be just the thing you need to differentiate yourself from the competition.
If you are relying on contact form conversions as the ONLY source for identifying interested buyers, you could end up being late to the party.
Beam me up Scotty, time to go close some deals.