One of the most common forms of communication these days is email. From grandparents to young adults, if they have access to the internet, they likely have an email address. But what is the best way to market to these different age groups through email? I find that the answer varies based on generation.
Start by segmenting your audience:
• Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
• Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980)
• Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996)
• Generation Z (born 1997 and after)
Email segmentation and personalization are certainly strong marketing trends, and the days of sending the same email to your whole email list are dwindling. Email is still effective, as long as your content is relevant to your audience.
Emailing Baby Boomers
Baby boomers were not exposed to technology or digital marketing until they were into adulthood. The good news is that email is now an integral part of their lives. However, many are still not as likely to buy online. According to findings from a 2016 survey conducted by BigCommerce, which surveyed 1,000 American online consumers, only 41% of baby boomers prefer online shopping to offline shopping, compared to 67% of millennials.
While younger consumers may feel more comfortable making purchases online, many baby boomers prefer to pick up the phone or buy in person. I’ve found that this generation appreciates interacting with someone who can answer their questions on the spot and confirm their orders.
To accommodate their desire to speak to a human, try replacing your “Buy Now” button with “Call Us To Book.” When it comes to your tone and writing style, opt for well-written content without slang or hashtags. I find that long-form emails with proper courtesies are better received.
Emailing Generation X
According to a survey, reported on by Retail Dive, Generation X tends to show a high level of brand loyalty. A few ways to connect with this generation include sending a “thank you” email after they make a purchase, inviting them to become a VIP member or providing perks like contests or discounts.
In their late-30s to 50s, Generation X consumers likely have established careers, families, homes and busy lives. This is important to keep in mind when sending them an email. They may not have time to read through long paragraphs of copy. In my experience, short blurbs of text and a clear call to action (CTA) works best. Make sure your emails are easily browsable on a phone for busy professionals rushing to pick up their kids from school.
Many millennials embrace technology and have lived with it for most of their lives. In fact, 92% of millennials own a smartphone, and they use it frequently for social media apps or music. One of the biggest trends we’re seeing on these platforms is video, being consumed by 89.2% of millennials.
Experts say that by 2020, video will account for nearly 80% of mobile online content consumption. This is hardly surprising considering millennials are now the largest population in North America. So, I believe the best way to connect with them is through video. Many email marketing platforms allow you to embed videos directly into your email. This means that a user doesn’t even have to leave their email app to watch it.
Millennials are shown to be less inclined to participate in loyalty programs. They know there are options available for almost any product or service. This means that you can’t take them for granted and you have to gain their attention before they give you their money. As a marketer, it’s your job to consistently produce and share engaging content to successfully grab the attention of millennials.
Emailing Generation Z
According to Campaign Monitor’s study of 300 Gen Zers, the majority (almost 65%) use email for personal communications. Chances are, their email use will diversify significantly when they start their professional careers. Which is probably a good thing for business-to-business (B2B) marketers.
For business-to-consumer (B2C) marketers, if you’re marketing to Gen Z, you’re probably focusing mostly on social media and video. But if using email, it’s important to speak directly to their interests. One thing to keep in mind is that most Gen Z consumers do not make a professional income yet. This means that their parents still hold the buying power, so don’t forget to target them, too.
What can you do if you can’t segment by age?
Not all marketers have information about their subscribers’ ages. So, if you have to send marketing emails to subscribers across different generations, here’s what you can tweak:
• Offer different means of getting in touch with you. As mentioned before, baby boomers might want to talk to a real person on the phone, while millennials may prefer to use a live chat or simply do things independently online. So, try offering different CTAs (e.g., “Buy Now” or “Book a Phone Consultation”). You should also provide different ways to get in touch with your brand. Facebook Messenger and live chat might be awesome for one consumer, but another may prefer emailing support or speaking to an agent on the phone.
• Offer multiple content types. If you use email as a way to promote branded content, try offering it in different formats. Try sharing the same message in a blog post and in a video. This will be more accessible to a variety of users.
• Show what you stand for. No matter what generation we are a part of, everyone responds well to authenticity — messages that sound legitimate, not forced, from brands that are “real.” Another thing that resonates with consumers of all ages is brands that support social causes. Does your business have a positive impact on the environment or support a cause? If so, don’t hesitate to tell that story and make it a part of your email strategy. Philanthropy is understood by all.
So, whether you’re emailing baby boomers or trying to reach Generation X, keep these tips in mind to help cater your strategy to each audience segment. Remember, marketing should never be a one-size-fits-all approach!