There are dozens of think pieces about how old school marketing techniques don’t work on Gen Z. Some publications have gone as far as declaring that “email is dead”. These takes are exaggerated and alarmist, but there are absolutely differences between email marketing for Gen Z vs previous generations.
In this guide, I will explore:
- Why you want to create email marketing campaigns for Gen Z
- What makes Gen Z unique
- 5 ways to create successful email marketing campaigns for Gen Z
When you’re finished reading, you’ll be ready to plan effective content for your Gen Z audience.
Why create email marketing campaigns for Gen Z?
First, let me debunk a recent marketing myth: email marketing is not dead, not among Gen Z or any other generation. Email is, in fact, an essential part of modern life. You need an email address to sign up for almost everything these days, and email is how many teens are applying for their first jobs.
You don’t need to take my word for it either. Research shows that 58% of Gen Z checks their email multiple times a day, despite most of them receiving fewer than 20 emails per day. Considering the estimated 121 emails per day older generations receive, this means there’s a lot less competition for attention in Gen Z’s inboxes.
Gen Z also outnumbers millennials, making up 32% of the world’s overall population. In the US, they make up a full 40% of consumers. If you’re not marketing to them now, you’re leaving money on the table. Worse, you’re putting your business at major risk of becoming obsolete as Gen Z grows up and gains more purchasing power.
What makes Gen Z unique
Millennials have been on the internet since a young age; Gen Z has never known life without it. This, combined with living through increasingly rapid technological, societal, and environmental changes, has given Gen Z a unique perspective.
Here are a few of the most noteworthy facts for email marketers to know about Gen Z:
- Gen Z is enthusiastic about receiving emails from brands. More than 30% want to receive emails from brands a couple of times per week, and another 27.5% want to receive brand emails daily.
- 66% of Gen Z uses an ad-blocker.
- Gen Z is the most progressive generation; even Republicans in Gen Z tend to have more progressive views than peers from previous generations.
- They are highly interested in entrepreneurship. A full 72% of Gen Z want to start their own business someday.
- Gen Z wants to support businesses that share their values. One survey discovered that 77% of Gen Z look more favorably on brands that promote gender equality and 61% are willing to pay more for products that are ethically and sustainably sourced.
- They want to feel a personal connection to brands. As a result, 63% of Gen Z prefer to see “real people” in ads instead of celebrities.
- Gen Z struggles with mental health issues. 47% report feeling anxious, sad, or stressed most of the time.
- 64% of Gen Z believes brands should provide personalized experiences.
- They use the internet to make informed decisions. 68% of Gen Z shoppers look at three or more reviews before they purchase a product.
- Gen Z is 50% more likely to leave a review than millennials.
Overall, Gen Z is digitally savvy, financially minded, and eager to support businesses that share their progressive values.
How to engage Gen Z with email
1. Display your values
Perhaps the most important thing you can do when building any type of marketing campaign for Gen Z is show them you’re on the same side morally.
For Gen Z, this doesn’t mean just making an allyship statement whenever a major crisis hits. To them, an allyship statement means nothing if it’s not backed up by actions. In fact, when corporations made allyship statements during the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, 67% of Gen Z said their purchasing decisions would be influenced by how well companies lived up to their statements.
In other words, if you want to impress Gen Z, you need to show that your values impact how you do business. You can do this in your email marketing campaigns by using inclusive language and imagery and emphasizing sustainable parts of your production process.
If your company has already made public statements in response to major events like the Black Lives Matter protests or the pandemic, you can win Gen Z over by sharing how you’ve lived up to those statements. However, it’s important to avoid a self-congratulatory tone in these emails. For many members of Gen Z, inclusivity and equal treatment of workers are the bare minimum.
Finally, if your business isn’t already based around these values, it’s time to reassess what you’re doing. As Gen Z gains more purchasing power and becomes an increasingly large part of the workforce, businesses that don’t exemplify these values will find themselves losing ground to those that do.
2. Treat them as equals
We tend to think of Gen Z as “kids”, but that’s only somewhat true. The oldest members of Gen Z are 24. They’ve finished college. They’re working jobs and paying bills. They’re adults, and they want to be treated as such.
But it’s also important to treat younger members of Gen Z as equals. They’ve been online, surrounded by online ads, their whole lives. They’re skeptical of traditional marketing methods and tired of being sold to.
There are a few ways you can adjust your marketing to show Gen Z that you consider them equals:
- Use a friendly, candid tone
- Emphasize how Gen Z can contribute to/help your brand, not just how you can help them
- Don’t hide anything, lie, or manipulate facts to serve your purpose; Gen Z can see right through those techniques
Most of all, remember that you’re not entitled to Gen Z’s inbox; they’ve given you the privilege of having their email address. Make sure to earn it with every email.
3. Focus on lifting them up
For a long time, one of the most popular marketing tactics has been to prey on people’s insecurities. Whole industries are built around not only preying on these insecurities, but creating new ones.
This style of marketing has been effective, but it’s not going to work on Gen Z. They’re aware of these marketing techniques, and they’re tired of them.
Instead, your emails should focus on lifting up this already stressed out generation. Emphasize how much you value Gen Z as customers. Show them how your products/services can help them reduce stress. Maintain a friendly, cheerful tone throughout your emails. All in all, you want to make every email a pleasant experience.
4. Personalize, personalize, personalize
Personalization is mentioned in almost every marketing guide here on MailPoet because it’s one of the best ways to improve your marketing campaigns. This is particularly true if you’re marketing to Gen Z; 64% of consumers in this generation expect personalized brand experiences.
The good news is that personalization doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, most email marketing services already have tools in place to help you personalize your campaigns.
Here are a few easy ways you can personalize your email marketing campaigns:
- Use your subscriber’s name. You can use their name in the subject line, at the beginning of the email, and even in the body of your email. To do this in MailPoet, simply type “[user:firstname| user:lastname | default:subscriber]” into the appropriate area.
- Send emails based on user activity. Show customers you understand their interests by sending behavior-triggered emails. These are emails that go out when someone does something like making their first purchase or buying an item from a specific category. To start using this tactic, check out our guide to WordPress autoresponders.
- Segment your audience. This tactic breaks your main list down into smaller lists based on people’s specific interests. For example, you might want to create a segment for people who have purchased a specific product from your WooCommerce store. You can then send those people email campaigns along the lines of “if you liked this, you might also like this”. MailPoet makes this kind of segmentation easy through our WooCommerce integration. Check out our guide to segmentation to get started.
With these strategies, you can make sure every email goes only to the people most eager to receive it.
5. Share your social proof
Social proof is anything that shows that people are already enjoying your products/services. This can be reviews, testimonials, pictures of people with your products, or anything else that clearly demonstrates a person enjoying your brand. If you want to connect with Gen Z, most of whom read reviews before making purchases of any kind, this content is essential.
If you don’t have much social proof, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to encourage reviews and testimonials. Here are a few of my favourites:
- Create a WordPress autoresponder that asks users to leave a review 1-2 weeks (more if shipping is required) after they make a purchase.
- Ask followers on social media what they like about your brand.
- Run a contest requiring people to post pictures of themselves interacting with your products/services.
Of course, you also want to make sure you’re respecting people’s privacy. If you plan to use the best quotes in marketing materials, make that clear up front. You should also get permission directly from your customers before sharing anything with identifying details in it.
Once you have the social proof, you can place it front and center in your marketing emails. Casper does this really well:
6. Let them choose how often they’ll receive emails from you
One of the most difficult things to figure out is how often to send marketing emails. How do you find the perfect balance between maintaining a presence in your audience’s inbox and being perceived as overbearing or even spammy?
One strategy that works particularly well for Gen Z is to let them choose how often they receive emails from you and/or what types of emails they receive. For example, you might give them the following choices:
- Daily promos/deals
- Weekly promo roundups
- Monthly newsletter
You can then maintain separate lists or list segments based on user preferences.
Pro tip: You can set up automated post roundups in MailPoet so you don’t have to manually create emails for each of these groups.
7. Keep content short + formatted for readability
Gen Z has a famously short attention span. They’re also on their phones all the time, and long content is hard to read on a small screen, especially when the paragraphs themselves are long.
To make sure your emails are reader friendly, follow a few simple rules:
- Get to the point of your email right away; don’t give your audience time to wonder why they’re reading it.
- Limit your paragraphs to 2-3 sentences.
- Organize your content with headers so people can choose what they read.
- Use images to break up large chunks of text.
- Choose a template with lots of white space.
- Make sure links aren’t placed too close together. Take special care to avoid vertical stacks of links.
- Before you use a new template, send an email with that template to yourself to view what it looks like on a mobile device.
If you follow these rules, your content will be easy for Gen Z to read, enjoy, and take action on.
Final thoughts on how to engage Gen Z with email
Gen Z is quickly becoming one of the most important consumer groups in today’s economy. If you want your business to stay relevant as the world changes, you need to engage with this generation.
The good news is that tailoring your content to suit Gen Z doesn’t mean alienating other parts of your audience. In fact, many of the strategies for appealing to Gen Z are rules for any good email marketing campaign in today’s world.
You can start building better email marketing campaigns for Gen Z, and everyone else, in a seven easy steps:
- Display your values
- Show your audience that you value them as equals
- Focus on lifting them up, not preying on their insecurities
- Personalize your emails by using names, segmentation, and behavior-triggered emails
- Share your reviews and testimonials
- Let your audience choose how many/what types of emails they’ll receive from you
- Format your content with readability in mind
Most of all, remember that authenticity is key. Gen Z wants to feel connected to the people behind the brand, not just the products/services you sell.