Marketing Strategy

Marketing to Millennial Parents: What Your School Should Know

June 14, 2021

This article was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated to include up-to-date information. 

The next generation of prospective parents have officially arrived: meet the Millennials. There are currently around 7.6 million Millennials in Australia (born between 1981 - 1996), with numbers expected to grow to 8.3 million over the next decade. If you were to paint a picture of a ‘typical Millennial,’ there are probably a few stereotypes that come to mind. Perhaps, you instantly see a twenty-something snapping a selfie on their latest iPhone? This young image easily comes to mind for many, despite the oldest of this generational cohort has already surpassed 40. 

If your school finds it challenging to market to Millennial parents, you’re not alone. With shorter attention spans and greater access to information than the generations before them, schools have their work cut out for them. This article will share key Millennial habits and behaviors to ensure greater marketing success at your school. From parenting styles to digital practices, we’ll cover everything you need to know.

 

Meet the Millennials

While a debate still exists on the exact dates, born between 1980-1996, Millennials exceed Baby Boomers as the largest generation to date. Coming of age during mass globalization, technical advancements and financial crises, their behaviors, values, and purchasing decisions are unlike previous generations. 

Millennials are more educated than previous generations, with 39% holding a bachelor’s degree or higher. However, their value of education might be why this generation has a significant amount of student loans and debt. This elevated financial stress is a major contributor to Millennials choosing to either delay or not have children. This means a deadly combination of difficulty to afford tuition fees and a reduced application pool driving a more competitive landscape for schools.

 

Changes in parenting styles

When marketing your school to Millennial parents, it’s important not to assume that you’re only talking to Mothers. More Millennial Dads act as the primary carer and identify fatherhood as a central part of their identities. Additionally, YouTube data found that Millennial Fathers consume more parenting-related content than Mothers, and about 86% turn to YouTube for guidance on key parenting topics. 


Millennial parents tend to take a less hierarchical role with their children than previous generations regarding family dynamics. Around 74% say they provide their children with more decision-making power and involve them in household decisions. Why is this important to note? It means that children of Millennial parents might have greater influence in choosing which school they attend.

 

Millennials and smartphones: a dynamic duo

Forget desktops, laptops, and tablets — Millennials and smartphones go hand-in-hand. The latest data says that more than 85% of Millennials own a smartphone, not an unexpected result from this tech-savvy generation. But, they don’t just own smartphones; they do just about everything on them. Millennials are accustomed to receiving instant access to information anywhere, anytime. From banking to online shopping, Millennials rely on their smartphones for numerous daily tasks. 

You won’t find Millennial parents digging crumpled-up newsletters out of school bags. That’s why Digistorm creates custom school apps with specific modules designed to help every school reach its unique communication goals. Schools often juggle multiple communication channels to keep their community up to date with the latest happenings. 

Whether that’s emails, newsletters, notices, paper handouts, or event calendars, ensuring the right audience has access to the correct information is a struggle. School apps are an easy way to centralize all communication into one easily accessible place that Millennials are already attached to — their smartphones. 

Digistorm school app

Image: A Digistorm App with custom modules

 

But, it’s not just that smartphones are more prevalent; the way Millennial parents research schools has changed too. Around 55% of Millennials say Google is their go-to resource for finding answers to their burning questions. In turn, not only does your school need to provide better online experiences through mobile-optimized websites and lead capture forms, but you also need a strong SEO strategy in place to maximize your visibility.

 

Press pause on traditional advertising

84% of Millennials say they don’t trust traditional advertising, so if your school invests in TV ads, radio, or billboards, it’s time to rethink your strategy! In search of more genuine feedback, this generation is fans of online reviews. Word-of-mouth marketing takes a new approach in Google and Facebook reviews on everything from choosing where to eat to where Millennials should send their child to school. 

Research shows that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust their friends, so it’s essential to focus on building your school’s social proof. Your next step here is to create an online review strategy for your digital marketing plan to boost your digital presence and reputation by asking existing families to write a public review. 

 


Learn how to create a team-wide reviews strategy in our post:

How to build and manage your school's online reputation

 

 

Social media natives 

Unlike younger generations, who’ve never experienced a world without social media, Millennials can remember a time before Mark Zuckerberg owned the digital landscape. Though it would seem for many, they aren’t looking back, with 90% of Millennials having at least one active social media account

So, which platforms do they like best? Facebook still leads the popularity chart (88%), followed by YouTube (83%). A key point to remember when planning content for your school’s social media channels is that Millennials look for authentic experiences. They aren’t looking for highly polished and curated social media feeds but genuine moments. User-generated content is just one way you can achieve this. Lean on your community, staff, and student leaders to highlight your school’s unique selling points



Remember! 

  • Parenting styles have changed; consider whom you’re marketing your school to.
  • Millennials rely on smartphones, and Google searches more than any other generation — make sure your school website is up to scratch! 
  • Place important information in the palm of their hands with a custom school app.
  • Traditional advertising won’t win them over; focus on building an online review strategy instead.
  • Connect with Millennial parents through authentic social media experiences.

Want to learn how to take your digital marketing strategy to the next level? Dive into our Complete Social Media Marketing Toolkit for Schools.