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Millennials Might Like Email More Than You Think

Posted by Joe Clarkin on 5/12/16 11:00 PM
Topics: millennials, Marketing to Students

When it first came on the scene, email was like Facebook, Twitter and all the other social networks rolled into one - it was people's only way of communicating via the web. But in the many years since, it's popularity and usage has declined as these other, more feature-rich methods have blown up. This has led some people to decry email as something younger generations - namely millennials - are not interested in.


In her article entitled, "Surprise! Millenials Love Email Just as Much as Everybody Else," author Kayla Lewkowicz writes that that notion might not be as true as conventional wisdom might imply.

Millenials are mobile first

As Harvard Business Review argues, millennials reach for their phone before any other device. So if you’re not optimized for mobile, you’re losing a huge opportunity. Mobile opens averaged 55% in March, and were likely higher among millennials, so it’s more critical than ever to make sure you’re providing a cohesive experience across multiple devices. If they can’t see your message, they definitely won’t engage; even worse, you might encourage unsubscribes and negative social sharing.

This isn’t just important for reaching millennials, but for all of your subscribers, as mobile continues to dominate as the primary platform for media consumption.

Millennials prefer quality over quantity

Over 60% of Adestra’s respondents believe that they receive too many promotional emails, though that’s exactly the reason they sign up. Savvy millennials know that marketers aren’t providing coupons and promotions via social media. You have to be on email to get those.

According to Adobe, 39% of millennials want to see fewer emails and 32% want to see fewer repetitive emails.

How do millennials respond to too many emails?

They’re more likely than any other age group to enter an old or fake address when prompted, especially if it’s intrusive. It’s more important than ever to send relevant, targeted communications that your subscribers are interested in, not just because you want to provide a great customer experience, but because failing to do can lead to unsubscribes or worse—being marked as spam. Millennials aren’t afraid to mark unwelcome emails as spam, seriously hurting your sender reputation and your ability to send emails in the future to anyone.

Millennials will change what email looks like

Because of millennials’ growing buying power, marketers will have to adjust their email and other marketing programs to cater to their expectations. Here’s what our experts from the Future of Email Marketing in 2020 report had to say about the impact of this generation:

Real-time engagement

“The email channel will evolve faster over the next five years than at any time in our history,” says Ryan Phelan, VP of Marketing Insights at Adestra, “Email, in turn, will become more real time. This will not only change consumers’ medium for consumption (i.e., introduction of new technologies), but also the frequency of response, and possibly lead to shorter and more instantly consumable message content.”


A second trend? Millennials’ relationship with privacy is dramatically different than generations before. Because of this, adds Phelan, “We will see broader and more extensive use of data. Email has not taken advantage of the data-rich environment that other digital marketing channels enjoy.”

Millennials are willing to engage with brands on a much more personal level by providing data, but they expect something in return.

Personalization and relevance

Though millennials might be chronic over-sharers, they’re very concerned about trust. They expect brands to remember who they are and what they like. Failing to provide this kind of customer experience is a huge turn-off, especially in email.

Says Eric Stahl, Sr. VP of Product Marketing, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, “With Millennials becoming the top group desired by brands, marketers are going to need to be extremely careful to earn consumers’ trust and keep it. More than any other, these subscribers want personalized, relevant communications at each step along their journey, but they expect brands to respect their preferences.”

This means going beyond the “Dear [Name],” convention. Millennials are digital natives that don’t fall for those kinds of tricks. They crave authentic, one-to-one interactions. The opportunity is to use the data to make an impression on your subscriber and build a brand new kind of relationship—one that transcends the physical and digital worlds.

To reach millennials, brand have to adapt

Each generation exists in a different cultural bubble, meaning they have different preferences, attitudes, and ideas on everything from political representation to advertising and marketing. While email will remain an incredibly valuable channel, it will evolve.

As we’ve seen in the realms of economics, politics, and technology, millennials are the impetus for change. As marketers and designers, we’ll have to work harder to build trust and send relevant emails. Staying flexible, curious, and collaborative is imperative to succeed. Email’s changing—so email marketers will have to change too.

— Kayla Lewkowicz, Litmus blog
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