7 email campaign tactics to win over Gen Z

A lot of marketers tend to lump millennials and Generation Z together when it comes to strategies and tactics. This is a big mistake.

Gen Z's browsing and buying behavior is drastically different than that of millennials. Yes, both generations are digitally savvy, but their general habits are very unique. Before you design an email campaign to reach your Gen Z audience, it’s important to understand their specific values and characteristics.

And before we get any further: Leave your traditional marketing strategy grounded on the runway, because it doesn’t have a clearance to fly in Generation Z airspace. It will get shot down.

In this post, we’ll go over a few key ways generation Z differs from their slightly older millennial peers. We’ll also offer some specific strategies you can use when designing your email campaigns for Generation Z.

Gen Z Vs. Millennial 

The two generations aren’t complete worlds apart as they share some similarities. For example, both generations value products and services that make their lives easier. And they both appreciate brands that share their values.

However, Generation Z differs from millennials in several key areas. Writing for Inc, generational expert Ryan Jenkins highlights eight pivotal characteristics that set the two demographics apart:

  1. Gen Z is more realistic than optimistic.

  2. Millennials opt for collaboration whereas Generation Z prefers independence.

  3. Generation Z never experienced a life without smartphones and internet connections with 40% valuing working Wi-Fi over working bathrooms.

  4. Millennials freely share personal information online while Generation Z is more reserved and cautious.

  5. A large majority of Generation Z prefer to communicate with colleagues face-to-face.

  6. Generation Z watched millennials accumulate burdensome student debt, so they opt for non-traditional education.

  7. Millennials tend to job-hop when they feel stagnant. Meanwhile, Generation Z role-hops to absorb training and experience.

  8. Generation Z interacts with their peers on a global-level more than millennials.

With their direct spending topping out at a whopping $143 billion, marketers would be foolish to write-off this important demographic.

Just like with any other demographic, you can’t force Generation Z to adapt to your previous marketing tactics. Instead, marketers need to change their outlook and behavior to win hearts and minds.

Keep the following tips in mind before you put your fingers to the keyboard to design your first email campaign.

1. Consider them as equals.

This is the very first point marketers should consider before anything else. Ad blockers are a staple across this generation’s entire online activity from browsers to mobile apps. They simply don’t want to be sold to—they want to be an active part of the buying process.

Marketers should write their email copy in a way that reflects this relationship. Speak very matter-of-factly about your brand and the services you provide. Be sincere.

Don’t hide anything or attempt to dupe your subscribers with any type of clickbait or misleading subject lines. Generation Z knows that you aren’t entitled to their inbox space. They know they’re completely in control of this relationship.

Simply be genuine and speak to this generation as if they’re your friends or colleagues. After all, this is a business relationship.

This email from Anchor gets to the point right away and bluntly explains what’s new by treating the subscriber like a peer.

This email from Anchor gets to the point right away and bluntly explains what’s new by treating the subscriber like a peer.

Image Source: Really Good Emails

2. Focus on the value of your product or service.

Although Generation Z has massive purchasing power, they’re also strapped for cash. Rent in the United States is astronomical and eats up a considerable portion of their income. Many may choose to continue living with their parents to save money.

Their parents worked and raised them through the 2008 housing crisis and recession so Gen Z is much more frugal and cautious with money than other generations.

It’s crucial for brands to focus on the value of their products or services in every email campaign. If low prices aren’t one of your main selling points, design email content that gently nurtures Generation Z over a longer period of time. Perhaps when they’ve saved enough money or landed a better paying job, they’ll convert into buyers.

3. Be vocal about how you help customers—and the world.

In this respect, Generation Z is very similar to millennials. 50% of worldwide consumers consider themselves belief-driven buyers and this figure is likely to be much higher among gen Z.

Generation Z wants to know that brands are taking care of their peers around the world. They don’t want their hard-earned money to line the pockets of CEOs—they want it to improve the lives of others.

Use your email campaign as an opportunity to vocalize your support for people around the worl—how do you give back? Make sure to word your copy in a way that isn’t cocky or condescending toward the people you help support.

Be realistic about your role in the world and let subscribers know that you’re actively trying to make a difference.

A large part of Warby Parker’s business strategy revolves around giving glasses to those in need. This email was used to specifically highlight that.

A large part of Warby Parker’s business strategy revolves around giving glasses to those in need. This email was used to specifically highlight that.

Image Source: Milled

4. Everything must be mobile-friendly and convenient.

98% of gen Z around the world owns a smartphone. In North America, half of this generation prefers their smartphone as their top device for accessing the internet (the other half chooses their laptop).

In the Middle East and Asia-Pacific regions, this figure is much higher: 80% prefer to use their smartphone for browsing the internet.

This generation has never known a world without widespread internet access. Many of them were small children when their parents purchased their first smartphone.

It’s crucial for brands to make sure that every single email campaign looks beautiful on every mobile device. Over half of all emails are already opened on smartphones. Among Generation Z, this figure is likely skewed even higher.

Keep in mind that a subscriber may open your email multiple times on different devices. Does your email look amazing on every device?

5. Be realistic, not utopian.

Millennials were raised by baby boomers with optimistic perspectives. Gen Z, on the other hand, has a more realistic perspective on life and this carries over into their buying behavior.

If brands want their email campaign content to resonate with Generation Z, they shouldn’t produce anything overly promotional or act like they can single-handedly change the world.

Be realistic about your place in the world. Provide content to your subscribers that can help them improve their lives in ways that are relevant to them.

By gaining a thorough understanding of your Generation Z audience, you can provide them with the most valuable content without having to resort to hyping anything up.

6. Personalize their experience but respect their privacy.

Consumers, in general, have come to expect personalized content. It’s no secret that brands are collecting data on their browsing behavior. That’s exactly why people across all age groups assume brands have the ability to provide them with relevant content.

In fact, 42% of people get annoyed if brands don’t offer personalized content.

Generation Z is no different. If you can’t provide an email campaign that specifically relates to their needs, then why should they bother to care?

At the same time, Gen Z is much more careful than millennials with how they share information online. They’re definitely more reserved and cautious. Marketers should respect this if they want to earn the trust of this generation.

Be upfront about which types of data you collect and how you use it. Stick within ethical guidelines and your young subscribers will appreciate the effort.

Lyft sent this email based on the subscriber’s current location. As a bonus, it breaks down the cost-effectiveness of using the rideshare app and provides a cost estimate calculator.

Lyft sent this email based on the subscriber’s current location. As a bonus, it breaks down the cost-effectiveness of using the rideshare app and provides a cost estimate calculator.

Image Source: Pinterest

7. Get to the point.

Generation Z has a lot on their plate. Their online attention is likely already bombarded with notifications from at least a dozen apps.

If you want to stand out and catch their attention, you need to speak concisely and get to the point quickly. Don’t beat around the bush in your subject lines and copy. Let them know what’s going on immediately. If your subject line and preview text are straightforward and crisp, they’ll probably feel more compelled to open the email.

This writing strategy will also help you avoid any kind of clickbait or misleading content.

Wrap up

Generation Z is unique. To produce the best results possible from an email campaign, it’s important for marketers to appreciate this generation’s values and behavior. This generation more than any other does not want to feel like another sales figure. A realistic (rather than optimistic) strategy based on mutual respect will get you far with Gen Z.


Do you need help designing custom email campaigns that look beautiful on mobile and integrate well with other apps and platforms? Check out some of our features to see how Emma can help take your email marketing to the next level.

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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