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Gen Z Mobile Marketing: 7 Tips to Capture Interest and Drive Engagement

With an estimated annual purchasing power of $143 billion, it’s never been more critical to ensure that the mobile campaigns you’re shipping are hitting the sweet spot of this burgeoning demographic. Take these tips to connect with, engage, and nurture your Gen Z audience

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Gen Z today comprises around one-third of the world’s population. Born between 1997 and 2012 and raised alongside Internet technology since the very beginning of their lives – they hold in their hands (literally, ninety-eight percent own a smartphone) an estimated annual purchasing power of $143 billion.   

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As ever-increasing numbers of this generation complete higher education and take their first steps into the workforce, mobile marketers without a robust Gen Z-focused strategy won’t make it. And treating them like any other demographic isn’t going to cut it, either.  

In marketing it’s always a good idea to start with the customer and personalize every possible touchpoint. With Gen Z’ers taking control of the type of content they want to receive and engage with, it’s never been more critical to ensure that the mobile campaigns you’re shipping are hitting the sweet spot of this burgeoning demographic. Without further ado, here are seven tips for maximizing success. 

Tip #1: Make it personal  

Recent estimates tell us that there are around 68 million Gen Z’ers in the United States, 74% of which are willing to spend more with a brand that delivers a great customer experience. Even better? They’ll share their personal information to get it.  

Think about how your Gen Z audience will benefit by sharing their location with you. What value will you bring to the table when you ask them to participate in a survey? What’s in it for users you want to spend time reviewing your products? Can they quickly see the value of opening that push message?  

By ensuring your relationship with your Gen Z audience is a two-way street, you’ll be more successful in collecting the insights that will allow you to engage them with the personal, relevant, valuable content they want. 

Tip #2: Make it authentic  

Ernst & Young’s 2021 Gen Z research found that this demographic values “trust, transparency, and authenticity”, the latter cited as a critical element in how they evaluate a brand’s products and services.   

What does that mean when it comes to mobile marketing? In short, brands have to be vocal about their values and principles all while backing them up with actions. Gen Z is far savvier at seeing through empty promises, gimmicks, and meaningless slogans.  

To build authenticity, marketers really need to dig deep to understand the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of their Gen Z audience so they can create campaigns that communicate authentically and creatively. As always, your analytics platform is key to mining these insights (and you can find out more about how to do that right here).  

Tip #3: Make it snackable  

Research tells us Gen Z customers multitask across different screens with their attention quickly being pulled in different directions. The result? Shorter attention spans and limited time to consume content that demands focus for longer than a few seconds.  

In short, Gen Z snacks on content (think TikTok, Insta reels, and Snapchat). It’s also worth noting that iPhone ownership amongst Gen Z currently sits at a whopping 83% (compared to just 10% using a Samsung device), so they are in far greater control over the type of content they see on their device.  

Key takeaway? When creating campaigns targeted at this audience, keep it short and make it snappy!  

Tip #4: Make it innovative  

Gen Z has never experienced life without the Internet. They’ve grown up alongside some of the most disruptive technologies to emerge over the decades; voice, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and augmented reality, to name a few.  

Gen Z responds remarkably well to marketing that provides opportunities to ‘experience’ offers. Apps like Ikea, Nike, and L’Oreal excel in this domain, delivering virtual experiences in which users can actively participate and keep them engaged – therefore elevating the likelihood of conversion.  

In the coming years, using these technologies to deliver personalized experiences that help users discover, explore and purchase across your digital real estate will be essential to successful mobile marketing amongst the generation. 

Tip #5: Make it social  

Over 50% of the global Gen Z demographic uses social media daily, spending almost 3 hours scrolling through their social media feeds to connect with others, pass the time, and discover entertaining content.  

This audience is also more likely to discover products on social media with 97% claiming they use socials as their main source of shopping inspiration. Long and short? Being social counts! Especially when it comes to driving your Gen Z audience to your app.  

Gen Z’ers who follow and consume your social content will often extend your brands’ reach by prolifically sharing the content they love with others who may not be on your app. You can capture that new audience by implementing DDLs (deferred deep links) across your social channels. To steer new users to your app, quickly introduce them to the delights of sticking around, and don’t forget to implement DDLs on your social profile pages to capture a wider Gen Z audience beyond your campaign efforts.  

Tip #6: Make it entertaining   

Now back to that short attention span we mentioned earlier. A highly effective way of engaging your Gen Z users beyond a few seconds is through gamification. When gamification is used successfully, it compels curiosity, encourages competition, and gives your Gen Z audience that feeling of control they seek when it comes to brand interaction. What’s more, gamification offers the immediate gratification that Gen Z loves, ensuring that over time they’ll start associating your app with positive experiences – compelling them to return for more.   

There are loads of ways to add gamification elements to your app; competitions, performance charts, quizzes, points, and badges – to name a few. Starbucks, for example, rewards app users with ‘stars’ each time they buy a drink. Once customers have accumulated enough stars, they’re rewarded with a discount to use in their next purchase.  

Another stellar example of gamification is the Nike Run app with timed challenges that compel user participation, leaderboards to track progress and share achievements, and personalized coaching plans that update as users advance in their fitness journeys. The result? It’s now the number one running app in the world with almost 50 million miles logged globally every month.   

Tip #7: Make it visual  

There’s a major reason why TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram are among Gen Z’s most-used apps. This group of users gravitates towards highly visual content with a strong preference for video, streaming around 23 hours of video content every week.  

Why video? Quite simply, it’s a far richer form of content than text and images alone – and it gives them more control over how they engage. If your Gen Z audience is more interested in aesthetics, they can consume the content with the volume off. And if it’s the content that they’re after? They can listen without watching. They can also watch the entire video or just a snippet (remember, Gen Z loves control over their content!)  

Bottom line? Video rules for Gen Z, so if you’re not on board with video as part of your mobile marketing campaigns, it’s time to get started!  

Let’s go Gen Z, let’s go! 

When it comes to mobile marketing, not all audiences are created equally. By learning about Gen Z’s unique preferences and what makes them tick, brands can start cultivating long-term connections that offer real value to your audience, your brand, and the bottom line.  

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Bob Lawson

Bob Lawson is Director of Mobile Offerings at Optimove. He joined Optimove early in 2022, when it acquired Kumulos, the company he co-founded. Kumulos was a market-leading Mobile and Web Messaging Platform serving a broad range of industries. Bob has spent more than 18 years in technology, particularly Mobile MarTech. He has held commercially facing roles in start-ups, scale-ups, and large enterprise businesses, particularly in Mobile Technology. Before working in the Tech space, he spent 15 years in Financial Services, most recently as Marketing Director of one of Europe’s largest Fund Management Companies.