12 of the best email marketing tactics to win over millennials

A lot of marketers seem to be under the impression that email marketing doesn’t reach millennials in the same way as past generations. But there are many reasons why this is a false perception.

Millennials use email much differently than older generations, but they still want to hear from the brands they love on a regular basis.

The trick is to understand the best email marketing strategy for millennials. They’re a savvy group that isn’t putting up with sleazy marketing tactics anymore. In this post, we’ll go over some figures about how millennials use email, and the twelve strategy tips for targeting this important demographic.

Why should brands care about marketing to millennials?

The question isn’t whether or not you should market to millennials, but how. The figures below make it clear that you can’t ignore the power of email marketing to reach millennials.

According to a study from YouGov, 25% of people ages 18 to 34 check their email before any other platform each morning.

After that, young people stay locked into their emails for a large portion of their day. Adobe found that millennials spend 6.4 hours scrolling through their inbox each day. Meanwhile, 98% of respondents admit to checking their email every few hours while they do other activities like eating a meal or even using the restroom.

With millennials spending at just over $65 billion according to Neilson surveys, it’s important for marketers to understand the proper way to reach this demographic.

Brands need to be authentic, useful, and respectful if they want to win the hearts of younger generations. Keep the following in mind to develop the best email marketing strategy for your millennial audience.

1. Use the right voice in your copy.

People spend the equivalent of a full day each week on their smartphones and the digital world can be a cold place. If you want to win over the hearts of millennials, you need to have an authentic voice.

Speak to your subscribers as if you’re having a one-on-one conversation with them—write your emails for one person. Make sure to use this same type of voice throughout your other content: blog posts, social media, product descriptions, etc.

2. Personalize as much as possible.

According to research from Accenture, 75% of customers are more likely to purchase from a brand that recognizes them by name and offers content based on previous purchases.

Personalization doesn’t end with a custom subject line. You can use a broad range of data such as behavioral tracking to provide your millennial subscribers with content that’s hyper-relevant to their needs and interests.

Gain as much information as you can about your audience. With that information, you can send out campaigns they can’t wait to read.

This email from Dollar Shave Club offers personalized product suggestions based on the customer’s current order—and even offers them as add-ons.

This email from Dollar Shave Club offers personalized product suggestions based on the customer’s current order—and even offers them as add-ons.
Image Source: Pinterest

3. Make sure everything is optimized for mobile browsing.

More than half of all emails are opened on mobile devices. Millennials use their smartphones for all kinds of tasks during the day: finding a ride, looking for food, chatting with friends, catching up on work, and so on.

It’s absolutely crucial to optimize your emails for mobile browsing. If your emails don’t render properly on a smartphone, there’s a more than 70% chance it will be deleted within three seconds. Ouch.

Find an email service provider that offers customizable mobile-friendly templates to ensure your emails look amazing on all devices.

4. Highlight transparency and your brand’s values.

Half of all consumers worldwide consider themselves “belief-driven” buyers who use their purchasing power to either reward or punish brands based on their values. People—especially young people—want to spend their money with brands who share their social beliefs.

You don’t need to fit into any specific mold, just identify your values and express them. It may also be a good idea to take up a pet cause that relates to your industry or brand.

The shoe company, Toms, has incorporated social change into their entire ethos. For each pair you buy, the company will donate a pair.

The shoe company, Toms, has incorporated social change into their entire ethos. For each pair you buy, the company will donate a pair.

Image Source: Milled

5. Reward loyalty.

According to a recent report, 38% of customers consider themselves loyal to brands they love. How do customers express their loyalty? Many said they participate in customer loyalty programs or recommend brands they love to friends and family.

Millennials are more loyal than you might think. You just need to reach them with the right content and context. Let your young customers know that you appreciate their business with special messages, coupons, VIP access, or any other creative tactic you can come up with.

6. Experiment with interactive content.

Interactive content can help you create some of the best email marketing campaigns. Make unique emails that tempt readers into playing a game. Encourage readers to click around your email with an interactive menu.

There’s no need to go over the top with a loud color palette and buttons everywhere. You can still incorporate interactive elements into a minimalist design that engages readers by guiding them rather than overwhelming them.

This email from Tom Raffield includes interactive content in the form of a fun game. It just begs to be clicked.

This email from Tom Raffield includes interactive content in the form of a fun game. It just begs to be clicked.

Image Source: Really Good Emails

7. Get to the point.

Like anyone else, millennials are busy with work, school, and adult responsibilities. They have a lot on their plate. Don’t beat around the bush in your subject lines and copy—get straight to the point.

Keep your writing concise and use as few words as possible. Your subscribers probably don’t have time to read a giant 300-word block of text (although they might click that interesting blog post you’ve included).

Likewise, include a very direct and intentional single call-to-action. If you give your subscribers too many options, they probably won’t take any action.

8. The best email marketing for millennials avoids overly promotional tactics.

Misleading subject lines and aggressive sales tactics aren’t going to work on millennials. They’ve seen it all before and they don’t appreciate it. They feel like these strategies insult their intelligence.

Instead, focus on how you can help subscribers improve their lives. Offer valuable content and demonstrate that you’re worthy of their business. Millennials know that they have limitless choices—show (not tell) them why they should choose yours.

9. Incorporate different types of multimedia.

Email design has come a long way in the past decade. You have no reason to limit yourself to static images and text. Play around with different types of multimedia to keep your readers engaged and interested in your content.

Custom GIFs are excellent for adding a little bit of motion to your graphics or explaining convoluted concepts. Videos and infographics can also help you get out large amounts of information without asking your subscribers to read a 1,000-word blog.

10. Test your emails and landing pages for the user experience.

You might think your emails and landing pages look amazing, but are they user-friendly? Enlist the help of third-party observers to click-through your emails and landing pages. Have them report any confusing, frustrating, or unclear elements.

According to the design experts at Nielsen Norman, a bad user experience could be the final nail in the coffin that pushes a potential customer into the arms of a competitor.

11. Integrate with other channels.

Your subscribers have integrated their browsing behavior, have you integrated your marketing efforts? Everyone has their preferred methods for communicating and connecting with brands: some prefer Facebook, others like brand apps, and many enjoy WhatsApp.

If you want to create the best email marketing strategy, optimize your integration with other channels. Include links to download your app, let them know about your live chat, or provide a link to your Facebook newsfeed. Let subscribers choose their own path.

12. Make troubleshooting and support easy.

If you haven’t seen the memes, you should know that many millennials would rather cut off their left hand than pick up a phone. Who can blame them? Phone calls to customer service departments are often riddled with annoying hold music, long wait times, and infuriating automated prompts.

Create a comprehensive FAQ section based on user-provided feedback. Add a live chat to your website. Create blog posts and videos that thoroughly explain how customers can self-diagnose and treat common problems. Trust us, this small effort will make everyone’s lives easier and your young customers will really appreciate it.

Wrap up

Millennials aren’t an ever-elusive demographic out to destroy whole industries. They just aren’t putting up with previous marketing tactics. Marketing has always evolved to cater to new age groups: Millennials know what they want and what they don’t want.

To develop the best email marketing for this group, stay authentic and true to your brand’s values. Research your audience and provide them with useful content. You may just develop life-long loyalists.


Need some help designing beautiful content that integrates well with other platforms? Check out some of our partnerships to see how Emma can help.

About the Author

Emma Email

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. Unlike other email providers, Emma puts their customers first. It's email marketing that works for you.

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