Sell to Win

How to engage millennials with email

Jacob Thomas
Contributor, Sell to Win
Jacob Thomas
Contributor, Sell to Win

Proper email marketing allows companies to learn about and build relationships with their target audience, increase brand authority and customer loyalty, and boost revenue.

In short, email marketing is an incredible channel that's been proven, time and time again, to produce amazing ROI.

But how does email perform with younger generations specifically? Do Millennials still check their inboxes daily? What about Gen Zers, the generation succeeding millennials?

A quick internet search reveals that young people use email every bit as much as previous generations—maybe even more so. Check out these stats:

The power of email marketing extends to Generation Z as well:

  • 58% of Gen Zers check their inboxes multiple times a day.
  • Over 30% of Gen Zers want to receive emails from brands multiple times per week, while 27.5% of them want to receive emails from brands on a daily basis.
  • The average Gen Zer only receives 20 emails a day max, which means there will be less competition when using email to market to this demographic. Hello opportunity!

Obviously, the question isn't "Do younger generations care about and use email?" The question is, "How should my brand use email to connect with millennials and Gen Zers?"

That's what we'll talk about in the next section!

7 ways to engage millennials via email marketing

Email marketing works, plain and simple. But the strategies that proved effective when marketing to Gen Xers aren't always the same when trying to connect with millennials and Gen Zers. Here are seven ways you can engage younger generations with email marketing: 

1. Optimize your emails for mobile devices

59% of millennials and 67% of Gen Zers check email on their phones. If your messages aren't optimized for mobile devices, you're alienating a HUGE portion of your audience and it's unlikely you'll ever find success with email marketing.

Fortunately, mobile optimization is a piece of cake. Simply partner with an email service provider like Nutshell to gain access to tons of mobile-friendly email templates.

2. Master the art of must-click subject lines

Your email subject lines are incredibly important, regardless of who you're marketing to. But when it comes to younger demographics, your subject line is even more crucial. This is because Millennials and Gen Zers are constantly inundated with content.

66.2% of Millennials receive up to 50 emails a day. And the average Gen Zer spends almost three hours a day on social media and 23 hours a week streaming videos.

Young people are bombarded with advertisements, blog posts, YouTube videos, and digital communications, all vying for their attention. If your email's subject line doesn't grab them by the metaphorical lapels and pique their curiosity, your message will be deleted in a flash.

You'll need to test your subject lines to see what performs best. But here are a few tips:

  • Get to the point: Vague and/or overly clever subject lines confuse readers. Make sure yours are abundantly clear and less than 65 characters long.
  • Use action verbs: Words like "Buy," "Shop," and "Look" help clarify to users what you want them to do, increasing the likelihood that they'll do it.
  • Personalize your subject lines: Personalized marketing campaigns are always more effective. Boost your open and click-through rates by using your subscribers' names in your subject lines or sending them uber-specific messages.
  • Tap into urgency: Why should your subscribers open your email now rather than later? Flash sale? Limited stock? When possible, add an element of urgency.
  • Don't fear the emoji: Some people think emojis are unprofessional. The truth is, millennials and Gen Zers use them ALL. THE. TIME. Throw one into your next subject line and help your message stand out from the others in your subscribers' inboxes.
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3. Regularly share company values and beliefs

Younger generations aren't only looking for great deals on top-level products. They also want to support brands that align with their personal values and beliefs about the world.

So what does your company stand for? What causes does it support? Do you donate a portion of your profits to charity? If so, which ones? Are you committed to sustainable manufacturing practices and ethical working conditions for your employees?

Toms, the shoe company, is a great example of a value-driven brand. Every time Toms sells a pair of shoes, they donate a second pair to a person in need. Their customers couldn't be more excited to support this initiative and have helped Toms explode in popularity.

Once you've identified your brand's values, share them with your email subscribers!

Email is the perfect channel to share the mission behind your brand and connect with millennials and Gen Zers on a deeper level. And it will lead to greater profits for your company: 92% of millennials are more likely to purchase from ethical companies.

4. Create an enticing customer loyalty program

Customer loyalty programs are awesome—every brand should have one. Seriously, studies show that 52% of consumers will prioritize the brands with whom they earn rewards/points.

Digging deeper, we find that 76% of Millennials and 43% of Gen Zers say that a quality loyalty program will increase their frequency of buying from a brand. In other words, your brand's loyalty program could be an amazing source of extra revenue!

Email marketing can assist your loyalty program efforts. How? Simply send your subscribers special offers, coupons, early access to sales, etc. to make them feel special and increase their spending. Trust us, your younger customers will really appreciate it!

5. Make audience segmentation a top priority

Modern consumers want to have personalized interactions with the brands they buy from. So don't even think about sending another generic email blast to all of your subscribers at once.

Instead, segment your email list into like-minded groups so that you can mail each of your subscribers personalized offers and content that you know they'll enjoy. Don't worry, it's not nearly as difficult to do this as it might sound…

  1. Collect data: You need to learn about your audience before you can segment it. Who are they and what do they like? What do they hope to accomplish? Have they engaged with your brand in the past? Input all of this info into a CRM like Nutshell.
  2. Choose your segmentation strategy: There are plenty of ways to segment your subscribers. For example, you could divvy them up based on demographic details like age and gender, their physical location, their actions within your marketing funnel, or a combination of these things. Choose the right segmentation strategy for your goals.
  3. Send personalized email campaigns: Once your email list is segmented, you can send subscribers highly targeted messages. For instance, you can send the men on your list offers for men's products, while women receive offers for women's products.

According to the University of Southern California, 85% of Millennials are more likely to purchase if the offer is personalized to their interests.

6. Always have something valuable to say

Every email you send should have a specific purpose. This is email marketing 101, but it's especially pertinent advice when attempting to engage Millennials and Gen Zers. 

Like we mentioned earlier, Millennials and Gen Zers consume content on a near-constant basis. Because of this, they naturally tune out anything that doesn't immediately interest them or that they don't find relevant to their current life situation.

To successfully use email marketing to reach younger generations, you need to ONLY contact them with relevant messages that contain a lot of value.

Now, "value" can come in many different forms…

A sale on relevant products and/or services is valuable. Information about relevant topics is valuable. Interesting and/or entertaining stories are valuable.

What's NOT valuable are overly promotional messages that are obviously only created to generate revenue for the company that sent them. These kinds of emails turn Millennials and Gen Zers off because they come across as spammy and insult their intelligence.

7. Experiment with different email strategies

Finally, don't be afraid to experiment with different kinds of email content and approaches to presentation. For example, if you always send plain-text emails, try using one of your ESP's eye-catching templates and including beautiful imagery in your next campaign.

Or really step up your game and test interactive content. You know what we're talking about: emails that tempt subscribers to play a game or scroll through an interactive menu.

Here's another idea: experiment with multimedia…

Don't use static images in your emails; use GIFs and infographics instead. Better yet, embed a full video if you think your audience will get a kick out of it.

The Millennial and Generation Z demographics LOVE visuals. It's one of the main reasons why sites like Instagram and YouTube have become so popular. Or why more than 82% of Millennials admit to binging Netflix shows for more than 5 hours on occasion.

See if you can tap into the visual content craze to improve your email campaigns.

Connect with younger generations

Here's the deal: email marketing is a fantastic way to reach Millennials and Gen Zers—despite the occasional blog post stating that email is dead. You just might have to tweak your strategy a bit to engage younger generations in relevant ways.

Fortunately, the seven tips listed above will help ensure your email marketing efforts attract Millennials and Gen Zers, get them to buy from you and earn their loyalty.

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