email marketing strategy

How to win everyone’s inbox (even Gen Z’s)

March 2023

There is a marketing myth that just won’t die: GenZs and Millennials, with their adorably short attention spans and their TikTok obsessions, are not interested in emails. If you regularly check your inbox, you’re either a Gen X, a Boomer, or a dinosaur. However, the myth is just that – a myth. The reality is that even in this age of social media, email is a powerful marketing tool.

We asked Laura Contreras, elespacio’s email marketing expert, to tell us how, when and why businesses should use email to communicate with customers – whichever generation they belong to.

“Social media and email each have different strengths. The best route for businesses is to use a combination of both.”

Is email marketing still as important as social media?

Definitely yes. The bottom line is that they’re very different channels with different executions, so they have very different purposes in the overall marketing strategy.

Email marketing is better for reaching people. If you have 5,000 people on an email database and 5,000 social media followers, the value of those 5,000 is very different. The email audience is more loyal. Email also has higher click-through rates, which leads to higher direct conversion rates, which leads to a higher return on investment.

Social media, on the other hand, is more sticky; its virality means posts are more durable and engagement is really good in the longer run. It’s also great for assisted conversions, so all the while in the background it’s boosting brand awareness. And, unlike email, it’s a key channel for collecting data.

So each channel has their strengths. The best route for most businesses is to use a combination of both.

“The secret to marketing to younger generations is to make the experience easy and convenient for them.”

What about email marketing for young Millennials and Gen Zs? Is it true they’re not into emails?

There is an idea that younger generations are only reachable on social media, but I don’t think that’s true. We just need to tailor the email experience to them. For example:

· They’re more tech-savvy and more likely to be using their phones, so we need to optimise all communications, even for purchases, for mobile.

· Their attention span is much shorter than that of older generations so GenZ emails need to get straight to the point.

· They’re less likely to be loyal to specific brands, so we need to make sure that what we’re offering, and what the customer will get out of it, is clearly communicated.

· They don’t like it when we ask for too much information. They think that businesses hold too much information about them, so we should ask them only what we really need to know.

· Younger generations are interested in the environmental movement, so if you have any environmental credential badges, it’s important to add them to your email.

All in all, the key to email marketing to GenZ and other younger generations is to be open, honest and ethical, and to make the experience really easy and convenient for them.

“Any personalised elements you can add will slowly but surely improve performance”

What are the most important elements in any email?

Although email didn’t start as a visual medium, visual elements are key to good performance. They’re what catches your attention in the first few seconds after opening the email, and that’s when you decide whether you’re going to continue reading or not. Having clear copy and clear CTAs is also important, as well as interesting subject lines.

How important is personalisation?

It’s very important. If you’re sent an email about an interest you have or a product you’ve looked at before, it’s much more relevant and the chances of you engaging with it are much higher.

Any personalisation elements you can add are going to slowly but surely improve our results, whether that’s higher click-through rates, open rates or whatever we use to measure the success of an email.

Which leads neatly to the next question. How do you measure the success of your campaigns?

There’s no straight answer to that because it depends on the objective of the email. Promotional emails would be measured on conversions and revenue generation, while if we are working on nurturing and customer retention, it would be more about engagement.

Overall, the ones we always look at are the click-through rate, which elements are more appealing and, of course, open rates, although there is discussion around whether this is a good metric. Open rates can sometimes be a little ‘inflated’, so it’s not always reliable to use industry benchmarks. It’s more useful to compare open rates to your own previous campaigns.

It's also important to check delivery and subscribe rates, so you can check the health of your database and make sure your audience is right and your communications are right for your audience.  

“It’s a mistake not to analyse results and to prioritise large audiences over engaged audiences”

Are there any practices that are ‘dead’, and how is email evolving?

I don’t think it’s a case of ‘do not do this, or do not do that’ but there has been an evolution over the years. Being too pushy with sales doesn’t go down well anymore. Another mistake is prioritising large audiences over engaged audiences, and not analysing results – data is power! Whatever we can learn by sending emails and doing lots of testing helps us improve.

So nothing is dead, we just need to make use of the tools we have and take into account that different generations like different things. In the future, I see visual elements becoming increasingly important. Adapting to mobile and dark mode will be key as the younger generations use these more – and perhaps less frequent but more valuable (and less spammy) communications.

Watch the full interview with Laura here. And if you’d like to know how email marketing can work for your brand, get in touch. 

Illustration: Magdalena Wilk