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Is Email still relevant to Millennials?

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 15 Mar, 2017
Essential Essential topic

Take note of these 5 tips for keeping your campaigns relevant to newer generations

A lot has been said about millennials. You know who I mean, you’ll have seen the definition a million times: those born between 1985 and 2000, the youngest of whom will not know what the back of a stamp tastes like, the generation for whom everything is Google'able and for whom there’s no lack of answers for life’s mysteries, big and small.

What makes this generation particularly interesting for marketing professionals is that, thanks to social media and cookies, this generation is easier to read, understand and know than generations past and, not only that, but they’ve been shown to be a more loyal group than their ancestors but, what about millennials and email? Is email still relevant?

Millennials and email

At Benchmark Email, we are particularly interested in the importance of emails in the life of millennials as well as whether email marketing will continue to remain one of the marketing mix’s most efficient instruments for this group or whether they will turn away from this communication channel completely. Numerous studies suggest that millennials believe in email, checking their inboxes daily – perhaps several times – for new messages and giving the channel a high priority in communication with companies. While social media is often preferred when it comes to entertainment and keeping in touch with friends, email is top for more formal matters or keeping up to date on offers and new product offerings from their favourite brands.

Tailor your email marketing

Even though things are looking positive for the relationship between millennials and email marketing, we mustn’t forget to adapt our campaigns to the generation in question. Here are a few areas to bear in mind:

1. Content personalisation

Do not send generic mass emails to millennials. Customise content not only to them as a group, but also to each individual recipient whenever possible. By personalise, I don’t mean just using the “Hello [first name]” tag and leaving it as job done, this trick is something that we’re all pretty used to now. Segment lists, automate and use all the information available to you: Why exactly did our young subscriber register? Where were they and when was it? What products have they bought or viewed? At what time of day do they open their emails? And so on. As mentioned, the millennial is a transparent human being who expects you to use the information you have gathered about them to speak to them personally, showing that you know and understand them.

2. Multi-channel Millennials

Millennials are multi-channel. The coexistence of social media, website and email is not a threat to email, but rather the chance to place the right impulse in the right channel. Let’s take a brand of leisure clothes as an example:

● Share images and videos on Facebook, Twitter etc. of exciting activities where your clothing is featured.
● Send a newsletter with new products, special offers and direct links to the different departments of your online store. Use segmentation and targeted emailing to adapt to the preferences of each subscriber.
● Invite them to share on social media the items they liked or bought on your website and remind them to sign up for your newsletter (in case they haven’t) and thus close the circle.

3. The right moment

According to research from Adobe, 70% read their emails in bed. This leads to the easy but possibly premature conclusion that campaigns ought to be sent early in the morning in order to achieve higher open rates. Morning emails may also see more engagement. A/B testing for send time and day will show you if this is the case for your subscribers too. Aim to make your offer attractive enough so that, in the case that the subscriber can’t act now, they keep it to come back to it when they’re ready.

4. Responsive is not enough

Adobe’s research also found that 88% of millennials read their emails on their smartphone. It is therefore no longer sufficient to design just for desktop. Your newsletter must be designed with mobile in mind. Think first about how you want to convey your message on a handheld device, adjusting your layout until the outcome is right.

Besides this, it is, of course, recommended to keep the content concise and interactive. You’ve got just over a second to make an impression and get your point across. Be sure to link to your website and social media too.

5. TL;DR 🙂 😛 # @

Communication methods have changed over the years and they continue to adapt to the new channels available. Don’t be afraid to overhaul your copy and subject lines accordingly. In general, “less is more”, because Twitter, SMS etc. have accustomed this generation to succinct content.

Emojis, hashtags and @ symbols are also part of their daily conversations and are no longer viewed as dubious. Be careful if you are not 100% comfortable using these since excessive or inappropriate use can look a bit embarrassing. Do bear in mind though that special characters in the subject line may trigger spam filters and a study has shown that a hashtag in the subject line lowers open rates, possibly because – just as on Twitter - no further content is expected. Test to see what works for you and your audience.


Millennials continue to use emails, especially for more formal matters and for communicating with brands. However, do make sure that you adapt your campaigns to this specific target group and bear in mind the following points:

● Content personalisation: Tailor the content of your newsletter to each subscriber as far as possible by using all the information you have on them.
● Multi-channel Millennials: Combine social media (branding and entertainment), email (offers and information) and your website (transactions) for optimum results.
● The right moment: Investigate when would be a good time to send your emails to your subscriber and react accordingly.
● Responsive is not enough: Design with mobile in mind and understand how your message should be conveyed on a mobile device
● TL;DR 🙂 😛 # @: Use special characters carefully and try using a short summary at the end of long posts.


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