According to conventional wisdom, millennials aren't interested in email. They're so preoccupied with social media and text messaging that, for them, email is obsolete. This is, however, one of those generalizations that's far from the truth. The reality is that millennials like to communicate using a variety of platforms and devices, including email. True, young, tech-savvy people spend many hours per day on their phones. But one thing they also do on their phones is read and send email.

person typing on a computer showing email icons coming out of the laptop.

While millennials haven't stopped using email, you do need to keep certain things in mind if you want to capture their attention. One thing that's true is that outdated email marketing tactics won't get you very far with this audience.
Let's look at some tips for making your emails relevant to millennials.

1. Assume they're using smartphones. A recent study revealed that, for 90% of 18-24 year-olds, smartphones are the most popular device for checking email. This is crucial for businesses to keep in mind when targeting this population. Responsive design, which makes content accessible on all devices, has been the trend for a few years now. It's time to take this to the next level, which means employing mobile-first design. It's now safe to assume that your millennial readers are on mobile devices.

2. Keep messages brief. People who grew up in the pre-mobile and pre-internet days learned to read longer copy, typical in typewritten letters and in the early days of email. Millennials, on the other hand, tweet and text, which require far fewer words. While your emails will obviously be longer than tweets, don't make them any longer than necessary. Younger users have short attention spans. And, remember, they're usually on phones, where it's not convenient to scroll down long messages.

3. Find the best time to send emails. Keep in mind that millennials are changing the way people do business. The conventional 9-5 routine is fading away. This affects all aspects of marketing, including email. Many millennials read and send emails while watching TV or lying in bed. Of course, one of the basic tenets of any marketing campaign is testing. It's always best to do A/B tests to find the ideal time to send your emails. Don't, however, make the mistake of using outdated notions of when your audience is opening your emails.

4. Make your emails visual. Millennials are extremely visual. They like images, videos, memes, and emojis. You can make your emails more interesting by adding compelling visual elements. A simple way to get started is to use emojis in your emails. If you're not familiar with them, learn the basics or get a millennial to help you. A more advanced option is to incorporate video in your email, a feature that's getting more popular. No matter how you do it, find ways to make your emails more visually interesting.

5. Personalize emails. While millennials are not opposed to advertising and marketing, they don't appreciate a generic approach that doesn't recognize them as individuals. Personalization in email traditionally means including the recipient's name, but that's only the first step. If you want to reach younger audiences, you have to go beyond this and send out relevant messages. This means segmenting your lists for different types of customers.

6. Connect email to other marketing channels. To say that millennials love their smartphones or spend lots of time on social media is true, but really misses the point. It's more accurate to say that they like to connect with the world in a variety of ways. They like to access information on many different platforms. That's why your best strategy is to create multi-faceted marketing campaigns. Get signups to your list on your website. Use email to send traffic to your website and Facebook page. Include social media buttons in your emails so subscribers follow you on Facebook and Twitter. This helps you create an integrated approach that engages your millennial audience on multiple fronts.

7. Keep hype to a minimum. Millennials don't react well to messages that contain too much hype. Avoid exclamation points, exaggerated claims, and tactics that savvy younger people are likely to find tacky or cheesy. A more straightforward approach works best. You should certainly not hesitate to discuss the benefits of your offer but be aware that millennials are fairly cynical about traditional high-pressure sales tactics.


One of the most fundamental principles of marketing is to know your audience. If millennials are your target, make sure you understand their language and preferences. Take the time to study other websites, social media pages, videos, and other content that's popular with this audience. Contrary to rumors, millennials haven't abandoned email. They do, however, have their own distinctive preferences and habits that you need to learn.

Reprinted with Permission