Three Marketing Steps to Attract Millennials and Gen Z

By Doug Wilber

Many traditional banks struggle to attract younger customers today. Generation Z and millennials are digital natives, and their preferences for virtual convenience do not wane when it comes to banking.

In one 2021 survey from EY, nearly half of millennials and Generation Z surveyed named a fintech firm as their most trusted financial institution. In another recent report from Chase, nearly all members of these generations surveyed said they used mobile banking apps to do everything from making deposits to checking credit scores. Younger audiences are online, and they want their banks to be, too.

As millennials are currently the largest group of homebuyers and Generation Z is becoming more active in the market, banks that cannot appeal to them will risk losing significant business opportunities as more flock to fintech options and digital direct alternatives. Already, 70 percent of millennials said having a digital mortgage process would impact their lender decision.

So how can traditional banks appeal to younger customers and stop losing out on major opportunities? The following steps can help:

1. Humanize your brand

As many as 88 percent of consumers rank trust as a significant component when deciding which products and brands to buy. Trust plays an even bigger role in banking given the sensitive nature of finances. For millennials and Generation Z, banking isn’t only about technology; it’s also about forming trusting relationships. And your bank’s employees are your best assets when it comes to trust-building.

Put a human face behind your brand by enabling your employees to connect with younger audiences where they are—on social media—with a social selling strategy. This method involves giving your employees the guidance and resources they need to get in front of millennials and Generation Z with relevant, branded messaging from their own social media accounts.

2. Focus on financial education

Young people are constantly inundated with misguided or uninformed financial advice from TikTok and other sources. Even their well-meaning family members and other older mentors might inadvertently give irrelevant or outdated information as the options for savings, retirement, loans and other financial needs have grown more sophisticated.

Your bank can help fill the education gap by sharing financial information that is helpful, compelling and non-promotional. For example, younger audiences might appreciate a guidebook for first-time investors, a step-by-step student loan repayment plan for recent grads, or information on buying a first home for newlyweds. Online banks might be able to offer speed and convenience, but they are not the guiding hand young people need to make smarter decisions about savings, borrowing, financial planning and more. That’s where traditional banks can build trust and find their greatest competitive advantage.

3. Personalize your digital marketing

Younger customers expect and reward brands that provide a more personalized experience. In fact, 41 percent of Generation Z surveyed by WP Engine said they would share their data in exchange for more personalization. In banking, digital customer experiences should be tailored to an individual level to attract younger customers.

Paid social media advertising is an excellent way to land your loan officer’s messaging right in front of those who will find it most valuable. Consider the educational content discussed above, for example. You can personalize paid social media advertisements based on interests, geography and age, so you could target a student loan repayment plan guidebook to people in a college neighborhood who have recently graduated. This form of targeted outreach is much more effective than broad tactics like TV or out-of-home advertising.

Landing pages are another great option for personalizing the digital customer experience. Create a landing page on your website for each guidebook and gate the content behind an information request form. Visitors can input their contact details in exchange for the content. Loan officers can link to relevant landing pages from their social media posts, then collect visitors’ information for a personalized follow-up approach.

With the right technology, banks can match the speed and convenience of fintech services. But the true competitive advantage is in building relationships and fostering trust. Meet millennials and Generation Z where they are online with a personalized approach and specific value, and your bank be at the top of their list for their next financial need.

Doug Wilber is the CEO of Denim Social, a social media management software company that provides tools to empower marketers in regulated industries to manage organic social media content and paid social media advertising on one platform.