The jury is still out on what makes Gen Z’ers tick, but while the research is still ongoing there is much evidence to suggest that a marketing strategy utilizing machine learning is exponentially more effective with the next generation.

One thing is abundantly clear to every marketer worth his salt; Gen Z customers are “ninja-level” efficient at swatting away regular ads and pop-ups. They are strongly immune to hard sales and obvious sales content.

Despite all the difficulties that marketers are facing in reaching a wide Gen Z audience, Jonathan Jadali, CEO and Founder at Ascend Agency has found great success in leading Gen Z-focused startups to victory in this marketing struggle.

So what makes the typical Gen Z customer tick and how can businesses and startups build a brand that is appealing to them, utilizing cutting edge technologies?

Jadali shares the ways in which he has used a data and machine-learning strategy in getting many of his clients from obscurity to domination of the Gen Z market.

Train Your AI To Get A Bit Messy Sometimes

Content, as they say, is king, but the wrong kind of content isn’t even fit to be a pawn in this game. To get startups headed in the right direction, Jonathan often helps direct his clients at Ascend Agency on creating the right type of content for the right type of client.

While most brands are focused on putting out well-curated video and image content in a bid to drive engagement on their social media platforms, Jadali advises that this might not be the best way to go if Gen Z’ers are your target audience.

The ideal Gen Z customer thrives on spontaneous and ‘messy’ content. As Jadali states, “Gen Z customers are all about being real…they connect well with unfiltered and unedited content because it tends to feel less salesy than others.”

For instance, a makeup brand is better off posting a video of a makeup session, in front of a cluttered vanity table, than a photoshoot with a perfectly made-up face.

This is important to keep in mind when implementing any machine learning into your marketing strategy. Whether you are creating a chat bot, or building a data-driven marketing campaign – it’s important that your system learns to be imperfect.

When AI or Machine Learning is used in marketing, sometimes it can come off as, well, robotic. Gen Z will be an important moment for machine learning marketing as it will help us get closer to contextual AI – machines that more accurately predict and reflect human behavior.

Gen Z wants to see the messiness of life and its process reflected in your content. Brands that do this,  are the brands that they are drawn to and often build loyalty for.

Don’t Sell Them Products

How does it look? How effective is it? How satisfying is your service? All these are valid marketing questions and things that in the past had been asked by your millennial customer base.

According to Jadali, these questions do not matter nearly as much to a Gen Z audience.

“Clearly, customers want products that work and businesses that deliver, but with a Gen Z audience, that doesn’t seem to be the right way to lead in marketing to them.”

Having worked with both Fortune 500 companies and smaller startups alike in the last 3 years since Ascend Agency launched, Jadali is fairly certain that Gen Z customers are way more attracted to how your business makes them feel.

This is where machine learning can really come in handy. Understanding your customers’ moods and habits can help you tap into what makes them feel great about themselves and the products  in their lives.

Gen Z customers are tired of hearing about how amazing your product is, businesses have been hyping up their products for as long as businesses have existed and Gen Z’ers aren’t having any more of it. In Jonathan’s words, “Sell experiences, not products, and your products will head out of your door as well.”

According to Mention, 25% of what you sell is your product. The additional 75% is the intangible feeling that comes with said product.

“What dominant feeling do you want to evoke with your content?” A question that is popularly asked at the Ascend Agency office, is one that has helped brands build consistency in their content style and delivery and that has brought the Gen Z customers in their droves.

This question can be answered through aggregated customer data that helps you better understand the emotions from brands that they also engage with.

Red Bull is a great example of a brand that utilizes data and machine learning in this manner. Their video content covers high-risk sports, like Skydiving, Bungee jumping, etc. From customer data processed by predictive analytics and machine learning systems, the dominant feeling Red Bull chose to evoke is one of courage and strength.

What is yours, Happiness, Reflection, or Prestige? The sooner you can answer that, the sooner you can get your gen Z audience to really pay attention. Machine learning can help you answer this question faster and more accurately.

Use AI To Seek and Create Engagement

Did you know that once an Influencer’s followership crosses the 100k mark, their engagement drops drastically? When did you last get an Instagram reply from Selena Gomez or Christiano Ronaldo? Never I presume. I will get back to this point in a bit.

While Guest Posting and proper ad placement might still work rather well for Millennials, Social media is clearly the major frontier for Gen Z’ers. This is why Influencer Marketing has risen to the fore in the last 6 years.

However, nothing is more important to this generation than being seen and heard. This is why Gen Z customers rate a brand’s authenticity by how well the brands engage with them online.

“If a customer posts a tweet asking you for information or laying down a complaint, the first thing to do is to respond publicly before directing to their inbox as opposed to solely responding to them privately. If they send in a review, respond and thank them. Call them by name, engage with them personally in a way that doesn’t feel rehearsed,” says Jadali.

It goes without saying that brands should be more intentional with engaging their Gen Z audience personally. However, this is hard to scale.

Machine learning is helping brands go beyond the typical automated response we often see in DM and SMS replies. As this technology becomes more advanced, you will be able to engage with hundreds of thousands of customers at once at a deeply personal level.

Micro-influencers drive 60% higher engagement levels and 22.2% more weekly conversions coupled with the fact that they are considerably cheaper. However, their secret sauce is the fact that they are still able to engage with their followers directly far more than celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo or Selena Gomez ever can.

Soon, machine learning will allow for this type of personal engagement at scale. It will also allow for small brands and businesses to authentically engage with customers without having to spend hours of their day on replies and comments.

As Jadali explains, “The Gen Z audience is sensitive, intuitive and versatile, reaching them is not rocket science, it is not science at all, it is an art. It is something that anyone can master, wield and utilize.”

Gen Z will help push Machine Learning to become more human, more perfectly imperfect in it’s responses, and move us closer to contextual AI in marketing and online content.

Source: Forbes

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