Connecting with younger generation through email may be a difficult task. But is it really?

I’m sure you’re familiar with the term “Millennials are killing industries” that was once a popular title of many articles. They mourned over cable TV, doorbells, or even divorce. Furthermore, many are sharing similar concerns when it comes to email marketing. This, however, is an unnecessary fear as millennials and email have a strong, happy relationship. The only thing that is different is the way that you use this channel for promotion. You need to rethink how to effectively advertise your business to reach the younger generation. Find out how to reach millennials with email marketing.

Who are millennials?

Millennials are people born in the late 1980s and onward. The key being that they reached, or nearly reached adulthood around the year 2000. People describe millennials in many ways. Some call them Generation Me due to their sense of entitlement and narcissism. Some say that they are actually supportive and generous, while others say that the term millennial long lost its original meaning.

It is however a fact that each newer generation looks different at advertising and companies. This includes the different channels that are used for promotional purposes. As a business owner, your job is to adjust to the upcoming trends or face the risk of being “irrelevant” or “canceled”. Luckily, there are many ways you can appeal to the millennial generation. Even luckier for you, I’m a millennial myself. That means that the information you’re about to read is taken directly from the source, backed of course by some actual facts.

Email marketing for millennials is doable

Not only is it doable, but it’s also fairly easy to do once you get rid of the ongoing stigma circling around millennials. The first and most important one is that millennials don’t really use email anymore. Now, to some extent, this is a correct statement. Millennials no longer use emails to reach friends and family. They’d rather text them or use various communication channels like WhatsApp or Messenger. They don’t send internal emails at work unless it’s part of the company policy. Google Hangout or a work-approved communicator is often faster and less official than regular email. However, that doesn’t mean that they have completely abandoned this channel.

Millennials still use email to reset their passwords, activate their accounts, or keep up with all the promotional offers of the companies they love. So honestly, it is not that different than the way we nowadays use email anyway. There is, however, a specific way they consume given content and this is the element that most companies trip on. 

Personalize everything 

According to Epsilon’s study, 94% of customers and marketing professionals alike said that personalization is either “very important” or “extremely important”. That is very true when it comes to creating millennial-targeted campaigns. The younger generation enjoys receiving content that is catered towards them. Furthermore, they are more likely to actually purchase something from a company that relies on personalizing content for their subscribers. It’s mostly due to the fact that Millennials live very fast-paced lives and simply don’t have time to go through pages of products to find something that works for them.

That’s why if you haven’t boarded on the personalization train, you definitely should. Track everything that would help you create better, more relevant content for your recipients, but keep in mind to not overdo it. Millennials are not very fond of companies misusing their personal information and could quickly resign from using their services.

adidas personalized shoes

Show that you care

Millennials are quite mindful customers. They pay great attention to the product, quality, brand values, and sustainability. To sum it up - they care. So if you want to win their hearts, show that you value more things than revenue and a good sale.

It’s proven that millennials are willing to spend more money if it means they are supporting a sustainable brand or a brand that cares about their ecological footprint. In my opinion, they are also more likely to support a sustainable brand, even if their products or services do not align with their needs. 

An important thing to note is that for millennials, silence in situations of injustice means that you’re taking a side of an oppressor. That’s why if you decide to ignore ongoing global issues, you might receive a backlash for staying silent. Now, it doesn’t mean that you need to take part in protests or try to overthrow the government. However, simply showing your compassion and wanting to make your brand a better place is enough. 

Plan an email campaign that will showcase how you care about maintaining your company, keeping in mind ecological footprint and human rights. Donate to charity, or even create a promotion that will ensure part of the income will go towards saving old-growth forests or help those in need. Such actions will definitely bring some positive buzz around your business and at the same time, you’ll do something good for the world. Win-win, right?

Pay great attention to the mobile experience

The statement ‘mobile-first’ makes sense for millennials. Most members of that generation own and use a mobile device regularly and check it almost religiously. An email that will be opened on mobile devices like phones and tablets needs to be formatted with responsive design so that it renders beautifully on all screen sizes. If an email doesn't show up correctly, images appear distorted or text is cut off. Then, your recipient is likely to delete the email without engaging with it. A bit of time and testing can make all the difference for ensuring your messages appear as you intend them to on all types of devices.

If you’re not sure it’s worth optimizing for mobile devices, just think of this. Over 59% of millennials use their phone to check emails. Most of them are also making their first “segregation” via phones. This means that they will archive or delete your email if they don’t find it attractive. Then they will probably move onto the desktop to actually engage with the remaining messages, mostly due to comfort. But your not-mobile-friendly email will already be hidden.

mobile experience

Value transparency

Everybody at some point messes up. Then, there are two ways you can go about it - ignore it or apologize. And companies usually face the same choice if they make a mistake. 

There is a saying going around “never apologize, never explain”. It's widely used as a reason to sweep mistakes under the carpet and pretend to not see them. This technique might’ve worked before but nowadays, it will be easily spotted and called out. Therefore, following it can greatly hurt your business with the younger generation.

Millennials are curious customers that will ruthlessly call you out on your mistakes. At the same time will easily forgive said errors, if the company is honest. Compared to their parents, millennials are more patient, laid-back, and forgiving. So the best thing you could do if you want to be more popular with the millennials is to own up to your mistakes and promise to do better. With a transparent approach, this generation is more likely to accept your apologies and move on. Keep in mind though that any shady behavior will be spotted and called out on social media. 

Allow yourself to experiment

As mentioned previously, millennials are quite patient and forgiving, which means they are perfect to experiment on. They won’t get easily upset that the email format changed, or that you switched the design. You can even play around with creating AMP email to make some interactive content that will spike their interest. 

It’s important to also experiment with timing and designs, as millennials can check their email at various times and quite often in bed. This means that you need to adjust the time of sending your emails based on the data you’ve received. You might consider optimizing your email for dark mode and switch between email designs to ensure that it will provide an optimized experience for the recipient.

Finally, not only time is important when sending emails to millennials, but also how often you contact them. If a millennial receives daily updates, it is more likely that after the second or third time, your email will be directed to spam. You need to send emails often enough that the recipient will remember you, but not too often to flood their inbox.

Find the right voice

The way that millennials communicate is quite different from the older generation. They use internet slang and are more relaxed with their tone.

This is a clue for you - how to change your voice to reach millennials. Opt for writing more personal and laid-back messages instead of the usual sales pitches and start getting acquainted with various internet trends and slang. Keep in mind though, that it still needs to be in line with your brand. Millennials will quickly see through if you’re trying too hard to please them. Another important thing to remember is once you switch the voice in your emails - make sure the rest matches too. That means blog posts, social media, landing pages, etc. all have to match the tone you’re setting up.

good vibes only

Pay attention to pictures and fonts

If you have great content but you don’t display it in the right way, then it isn't going to matter what you are trying to say. Life moves at a quick pace these days. The average person is subject to thousands of images, ads, offers, words, and phrases every day.  For every recipient, but especially millennials, clean, attractive images that load quickly are essential to building your brand and communicating your message. In addition, text that is not too long, and is written well (think wit and charm!) will garner your emails more time and attention. Use emojis thoughtfully.

It's important to consider millennials as a group of subscribers that have their own unique set of likes and dislikes when it comes to email. However, these tips we've shared with you can be applied when you consider the different aspects of any group of contacts that you may send to. Age, location, interests, needs, schedules, and more are all identifying elements that you can consider when building your email campaigns. The more time spent on the details, the more success you'll find after you press send.

Anna Wybieralska

Anna is working as a Content Creator in Elastic Email. An email marketing enthusiast with a millennial approach. She's either writing, buying plants or avoiding social interactions.

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