Musings and ramblings of a digital agency.
By On November 19 2019 Email Marketing With 0 Comments Permalink

4 Email Marketing Essentials to Engage Gen Z

Generation Z are taking over. Fast. By 2020, they are expected to account for 40% of all customers[1], with a combined purchasing power of $44 billion ($600 billion, when accounting for influence on their parents’ spending)[2]. While change can be scary, this generational shift also presents a variety of opportunities for savvy marketers. 

As Gen Z’s influence continues to grow, email marketers will be forced to adapt their strategies to engage younger consumers. In fact, this change is already underway, as 65% of marketers say they intend to increase their spending on marketing to Gen Z[3]

Putting your money where your mouth is is a good start, but this begs the question: what does engaging Gen Z actually require? Well, we’ve put together this handy guide detailing 4 email marketing essentials to engage Gen Z. 

From A-Z, our guide has got you covered! 

#1. It Pays to Pay Attention 

It is often said that Gen Z has a shorter attention span than previous generations. Technically, this is accurate – studies show that Gen Z has an average attention span of 8 seconds, compared to an average attention span of 12 seconds for Millennials. However, this doesn’t tell the whole story. More accurately, Gen Z have developed a sophisticated ‘content filter’.  

Because they have grown up with access to so many digital platforms and so much information, Gen Z have adapted to quickly assess large quantities of information. Consequently, they are better able to judge what is worthy of their attention and what isn’t. 

Of course, once something does grab their attention, Gen Z’s focus and attention span is comparable to previous generations[4]. Essentially, younger consumers are becoming more selective, meaning you may have to work harder to earn their attention. 

For email marketers, this means it is critical to grab Gen Z’s attention immediately. Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities to do just that, with 45% of Gen Z members saying they are online ‘almost constantly’, and 44% saying they are online multiple times per day[5]

Additionally, a recent survey by CampaignMonitor revealed that 58% of Gen Z respondents check their emails multiple times per day, while a further 23% check their emails at least once per day. Only 0.98% say they ‘never’ check their emails[5].

In simple terms, members of Gen Z are online a lot and check their emails frequently, providing email marketers plenty of opportunities to reach and engage this audience. 

While their shorter initial attention span poses challenges, this simply means savvy marketers will have to adapt and find new ways to grab Gen Z’s attention! 

#2. Quality over Quantity

As mentioned, Gen Z have a more sophisticated and selective ‘content filter’ than previous generations. Unsurprisingly, this means they tend to value quality over quantity, and are pickier about the content they choose to engage with. 

According to CampaignMonitor, 37.4% of surveyed Gen Z members receive only 1-5 emails per day, while a further 29.5% receive 6-20 emails per day[6]. For context, the average office worker receives 120 emails per day[6]. Overall, this means two thirds of Gen Z (66.9%) receive fewer than 20 emails per day. 

Similarly, 37.5% of surveyed Gen Z members say they subscribe to 0 email newsletters, while 39% say they subscribe to 1-5 newsletters, and 17.4% subscribe to 6-20 newsletters[5]. Again, this is lower than previous generations, with Microsoft estimating that ~50% of emails in a typical inbox are marketing newsletters[7]

At first glance, this might seem like a disaster for email marketers. After all, how are you supposed to reach someone who chooses to receive fewer emails? However, there are a few mitigating factors. Firstly, younger members of Gen Z are not yet part of the full time workforce, meaning their average email intake is likely to increase over time. 

Secondly, Gen Z’s selective tastes can be viewed as both a positive and a negative for email marketers. While you will likely have to work harder to reach Gen Z’s inbox, once there, you face significantly less competition. This may also lead to increased loyalty and long term engagement, with 55% of Gen Z members saying they will stick to a brand they like[8]

Basically, if you do earn a spot in Gen Z’s inbox, it means you’re probably doing something right, and they’re likely to stick with your brand for longer. 

Gen Z’s selectiveness also means you may have to cede more control of how they engage with your content. Studies show that Gen Z are relatively evenly split about how frequently they want to receive brand emails: 31.8% want brand emails a couple of times a week, 27.5% want brand emails once a day, 19% want brand emails once a week, and 18.4% want brand emails once a month. 

As such, a robust, sophisticated preference centre is essential. Simply ask Gen Z subscribers how frequently they want to receive your emails, and segment them into the appropriate list. 

#3. Master Multi-Platform 

Since it is more difficult to reach Gen Z’s inbox, adopting a multi-platform marketing approach is crucial. According to CampaignMonitor, Social Media (1,591 votes) and Email (1,515 votes) are Gen Z’s two preferred platforms to engage with brands. Other popular channels include In-person (1,453 votes), Ads (1,268 votes), and Chat (1,159 votes)[5]. Essentially, Gen Z has a variety of preferences for engaging with brands, and expect different experiences on different platforms. 

For example, 27.9% of surveyed Gen Z members say they have made one purchase as a direct result of email marketing in the last month, while 28.5% say they have made 2-5 purchases as a direct result of email marketing in the last month. 5.9% said they made 6-10 purchases, while only 1% said they had made 11+ purchases[5]

By comparison, 33% of Gen Z respondents said they had made one purchase as a direct result of something they saw on social media, while 29.5% said they had made 2-5 purchases, and 29.8% said they had never made a purchase as a result of something they saw on social media[5].

Individually, these may seem like unremarkable figures. However, in conjunction, they show the importance of a multi-platform marketing strategy when interacting with Gen Z. Rather than favouring one single platform, purchasing decisions are influenced by different messages on different platforms. 

Given there is significant overlap between those who said they had made at least one purchase as a direct result of email marketing and those who said they had made at least one purchase as a direct result of social media marketing, focussing solely on one platform would mean limiting your potential audience. 

Therefore, it is important to understand the unique aspects of different platforms to ensure your multi-platform messaging is complementary, and working towards an overarching goal. 

#4. Collaboration Counts 

In general, Gen Z don’t like being sold to. Or, rather, Gen Z don’t like to feel like they’re being sold to. Instead, a highly personalised, collaborative, and interactive approach is usually advisable. Demonstrate why your product is valuable and your brand is trustworthy, rather than simply telling them what to do.  

According to an analysis by CampaignMonitor, the words and phrases Gen Z most commonly associate with email marketing include ‘spammy’, ‘pushy’, ‘annoying’, and ‘boring’[5]. Thankfully, it wasn’t all bad news, as they also identified positive phrases such as ‘exciting promos’, ‘great offers’, ‘interesting’, and ‘helpful’. This shows that Gen Z are open to email marketing, as long as it meets their needs. 

Due to Gen Z’s shorter attention span and general skepticism of marketing (only 1 in 6 Gen Z members trust businesses to act in the best interests of society, according to a recent survey[9]), spammy emails, clickbait tactics, and hard sales are unlikely to be effective.  

To provide insight into the type of email content Gen Z prefers to receive, 82.3% say they like receiving promos and special discounts, 44.3% like receiving product recommendations, 26.6% like receiving company updates, and 20.3% like receiving links to blogs and resources[5].

Similarly, when it comes to actually opening an email, 68% say they open an email because of sales or offers, 60% open an email for relevant content, 36.1% open an email because of a personalised subject line, and 35.1% open an email because of graphics, imaging, or branding[5]

These figures paint a picture of the type of emails Gen Z prefers to receive. Rather than hard sells, your emails should demonstrate authenticity, offer clear value, be highly personalised, and attempt to foster a collaborative, reciprocal relationship. 

According to CampaignMonitor, “this aversion to traditional sales methods supports what we know about Gen Z: they don’t want or trust companies trying to sell to them. They trust one another and they trust influencers who promise products or services or brands can and will make their lives easier”[5].

As such, it is preferable to eschew more ‘traditional’ sales methods, and instead focus on building trust and demonstrating authenticity to your Gen Z audience.

Contact us