Are Millennials Killing Email? (Spoiler Alert: No)

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From cable television to casual dining chains, many long-lasting industries and popular products are suddenly struggling to find the growth and success they’ve enjoyed for years. And the reason, according to some commentators, is the much-maligned millennial.

Millennials have become a favorite scapegoat to explain the (real or perceived) stagnation and decline of many cultural and commercial institutions. Their influence extends well into the world of marketing, disrupting many time-honored tactics and forcing marketers to rethink millennial marketing campaigns and their approach to media, messaging, brand, and product.

The rise of a generation of tech-savvy brand cynics as a core consumer demographic begs some obvious questions: Do millennials use email? Is marketers’ favorite tool next on the millennial hit list?

The Danger to Marketers

It’s no wonder why marketers would be worried about the ongoing viability of the email. After all; it’s one of the most reliable sources of ROI in the entire digital toolbox. Losing it would be a painful blow to revenue for any business.

And intuitively, email would be an obvious channel for millennials to target (or worse; ignore and abandon). After all, this is supposed to be the generation that is constantly seeking new experiences , suspicious of corporate interaction, and hostile towards intrusive advertisement (84% of millennials don’t trust paid ads).

At a time when new media channels and flashy digital experiences emerge on a constant basis, how can email possibly keep up? Do millennials use email when they have so many other options competing for their attention?

The Good News

If you’re worried about millennials killing your email program, you can breathe a sigh of relief—at least for now.

Despite the disruption millennials are introducing to many other marketing tools, email remains a rock-solid way for brands to make meaningful, profitable connections to individuals in this generation.

In fact, as we’ve been explaining in our ongoing Future of Email circuit, millennials seem to love email.

Between personal and work inboxes, millennials spend more time reading and responding to emails than any other generation.

When you stop to consider what email offers that most other marketing channels don’t, it quickly becomes apparent why it’s millennials’ medium of choice. Email puts the control in the hands of the consumer:

The key takeaway: millennials want to engage with your brand…but they want it to be on their own terms!

How to Make Emails Millennials Love

Just because millennials have a preference for email doesn’t mean you can get complacent with your email program. They still have high standards, and won’t hesitate to unsubscribe or mark your messages as spam if you’re not delivering the experience they expect.

Want to earn, and keep, the favor and loyalty of your millennial subscribers? Start with these tips to make your campaigns for marketing to millennials as effective as possible!

Don’t skimp on the mobile experience.

Millennials check email on mobile more than any generation before them (a trend that continues for even younger demographics!). Make sure your email experience performs seamlessly on mobile devices, especially any of your more dynamic email elements!

Take relevance to the next level.

Everyone wants a more customized, personalized experience from brands. But millennials want it even more than most–and they’re even willing to give up personal information for it. But don’t think elementary personalization tactics are going to cut it; this generation wants comprehensive, one-to-one relevance catered to their immediate environment and preferences.

P.S. Need some help levelling up your email personalization? Learn how to do it easily (and at scale) from our latest ebook!

Let visuals do the heavy lifting.

Keeping emails brief and copy-light is not new advice. But when it comes to marketing to millennials, it becomes even more important to express a lot of information in an efficient, eye-catching way.

Visuals are some of millennials’ favorite communication tools. Millennials who use “visual expressions” such as emojis, GIFs and stickers say that those images better communicate their thoughts and feelings than words do at twice the rate that people over 65 do.

But don’t stop there; elevate your email visuals to the next level with slideshows, mouse-overs, and even fully-embedded embedded video to really keep your millennial audience captivated and entertained.

Ask, listen, and respond.

Millennials don’t want to be marketed to; they want to be part of ongoing conversations where their input makes a difference. 70% report feeling an obligation to share feedback on brand experiences; take advantage of that with invitations to leave reviews or even use live polls inserted directly in your emails asking your audience exactly what they think.

46% of millennials are digital content creators and users. Use their user-generated content in your emails to augment and enhance community engagement (with their permission, of course).

Once you’re getting input and feedback, don’t just sit on it. Use that data to fill out user profiles to provide more customized experiences in the future and inform your entire millennial marketing strategy!

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Mark is Email Experience Analyst for Liveclicker. He writes for and about brands developing real, meaningful relationships with customers through email, content, digital media and more. His love for marketing lies at the place where creative and analytics intersect, and he makes a mean vegetarian chili.

Mark Miller
Author

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