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Millennials Prefer Email, but Only If You Do It Right

Sure, Millennials prefer email when asked how they want to get retail messages. But that doesn’t mean you keep doing what you’ve been doing. Millennials are a different breed, and, as such, require a different approach. Here’s how to wrap your head around the Millennial mindset, to make your email marketing targeted towards this up-and-coming crowd more relevant to them and more effective for you.

Are you making this group grumpy?

According to, 42% of Millennials want to get promotional messages via email. Only 5% want to get these messages via social media, and a tiny 2% via text. And this is an audience worth paying attention to. They are the next big generation of spenders. They have $2.45 trillion to spend, and they will be 75% of the workforce by 2025. They are also the most educated generation to date and almost half spend an hour per day online shopping.

But don’t try to access their spending power via social networks. For this crowd born between 1981 and 1997, social means social: They’re not on Facebook and Tumblr to hear from marketers. They are there, snapping selfies and posting vines, to interact with their personal online networks. Compare how they feel about marketing via social channels and how they view email and omnichannel communications: They don’t want to hear from their bosses via a tweet or a SnapChat. Why would they want to hear from a retailer that way?

They want email; so what?

Knowing this generation prefers email for marketing messages isn’t enough. You need to know them as a generation, to know what they value and how to target your email marketing to them in a way that gets it right. So here’s a rundown of the Millennial mindset…

Researchers have concluded that Millennials value experiences, sharing, connection, passion, happiness and discovery. They see themselves as members of a global community. They are extremely tech savvy. They like personal attention and they are avid consumers.

They’re not all about themselves and their spending, however. They seem narcissistic with their selfies, but they do care: 61% are worried about the state of the world and want to make a difference. For you as a marketer, that means 90% will switch from one brand to another if the other brand supports a cause. It also means 83% are likely to trust the other brand more, and 60% will pay more money for that other brand’s product.

They are avid consumers yet jaded, and they are much more likely to listen to their friends and peers than they are to believe any marketing spiels. They use their social networks, blogs and online reviews to do their research, although they will spend time at your website too.

They do like attention. They have body piercings and tattoos because they want to be unique, and they are very much a me-first generation, having grown up the most doted upon generation to date, with overprotective parents and overcrowded calendars. They are used to being both entertained and the center of attention, and this means they want their experiences to be personalized too. They don’t want a cookie cutter approach from you.

I hope this paints a picture for you and helps you to see how maybe your broader brush approach to email marketing is going to fall flat with a generation like this. It’s not just their comfort level with technology that sets them apart, as you can see.

What this means for your Millennial emails
Now that you know the Millennial mindset, what do you do with that info? Revamp your email marketing to map to it:

  • Be mobile: These people sleep with their smartphones by their beds. They’re checking email before pouring coffee. They are tied to their mobile devices, and they’re constantly checking them. Your email marketing absolutely positively has to be mobile friendly with responsive design, links that are easy to click and landing pages that are also optimized for small screens.
  • Be ready: These mobile emails need to go to landing pages that are also mobile friendly, but you also must have your website in good shape for when Millennials are checking you out—and by “good shape,” I mean mobile friendly. And do have an active social media presence, one that you constantly pay attention to. Just don’t rely on social as a primary marketing channel.
  • Be exclusive: Millennials don’t want to be grouped together. They want to be unique. That’s why the tattoos and body piercings. Your email marketing has to appeal to this desire to be treated as an individual. Start by segmenting your Millennials from your other customers. Then target them with exclusive offers.
  • Be short (yet frequent): For a generation raised on fast-moving media, short and sweet will prevail but that doesn’t have to mean less content or messaging. It simply means you should chunk up your content and send more emails more often but with significantly less text.
  • Be interesting: However, even short and sweet and often won’t guarantee engagement. So be interesting! Millennials love to be entertained and they love to share the things they love.
  • Be transparent: Millennials don’t care what you have to say about you. They care about what others say about you. So be transparent. Offer easy ways for them to review you, and to find reviews about your brand or product. Use your email marketing program to actively solicit feedback and reviews.
  • Be cross channel: They prefer email as the marketing medium, but they are still on social networks and using SMS, so be able to move your marketing across channels so it’s seamless for them.

Chances are, this segment of the population is going to make up the bulk of your target market someday. Start cementing a brand loyalty with them now by marketing to them on their terms by tailoring your email marketing to their Millennial mindset.

Marco Marini
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