Email Marketing and Millennials: A Cross-Channel Platform within a Platform

There’s been so much said, written, and debated when it comes to Millennial-driven marketing—and I understand why. For starters, there are 80 million diverse, digitally rooted, massively influential members of this mostly twenty-something generation, and qualities such as brand loyalty and tradition don’t seem to sway their comings and goings. As a result, many brands and marketers have moved away from more traditional platforms, such as email marketing, to reach the 18-34 year-old set. However, given their “always connected” status, email is one of the premier touch points for this seemingly untouchable audience. You just have to know how to use it.

Digital, for Millennials, is a way of life. They’re the first generation to grow up in the digital age, and most don’t remember—or never actually experienced—life without the Internet. While Gen Xers and Boomers were learning to navigate cellphones in their adult years, Millennials claimed earliest-adopter status, with smartphones being tucked into elementary school backpacks, even. Their lifestyle is grounded in that connectivity, and it shows in how they engage with those devices, specifically when it comes to communication: text, email, social media, and other viral communications.

But back to email—many experts argue that email communication is the earliest form of social media and that the proliferation of social is directly tied to the boom in use, availability, and general comfort with sending and receiving email messages. Very simply, you’ve got to have an active email address to even engage on these platforms. Beyond that, though, while the look, feel, and access have changed from email’s earliest days, it’s still email—the core of what it means for marketers and consumers is more or less the same as it was five, 10 or even 15 years ago. You can’t say the same for social media.

So what does all this mean for the digital marketer? Millennials are hands-down engaged in email—90 percent use the Internet to send and receive email—but given their “always on” nature, it can sometimes fall by the wayside as a more passive touch point. It’s your job to use that valuable inroad to pique interest, drive engagement, and encourage conversion for your brand, through content harnessing, testing and optimization, targeting, and automated personalization tactics.

Content, even for Millennials, is king

Content matters, especially to Millennials—to this audience, it’s only branded content if it’s not good. So what does that look like? Information and powerful calls-to-action that are targeted, relevant, and relatable, all in a user-friendly—for desktop and mobile—format. And video’s a powerful integration for email, too—more than three in four Millennials watch videos and television all or mostly online. With this tactic, you’re lobbing that can’t-miss content right into their comfort zone.

Optimize for mobile interaction

Eighty-three percent of 18–29 year-olds have a smartphone, and Millennials check those smartphones 43 times per day, on average. Good news—that means your emails are being viewed (or trashed) same-day. If they’re checking email on their devices, they’re likely clicking through, sharing, socializing, and converting from that same platform—so make sure your communications are optimized for smartphones and tablets. That doesn’t just mean the email layout but also the path from that email to your site and, once there, as the journey continues through product pages, recommendations and checkout. So make your point boldly, quickly, and succinctly—free shipping, 20 percent off, a new recommendation for a music playlist—and drive them to engage further right this minute, within an extended brand experience that’s just as powerful, relevant, and mobile-friendly.

Segment, and then automate the experience

This isn’t a time to try buying lists or mass-messaging thousands or even millions of prospective customers. Take a step back from your lists and employ a target-centric two-prong approach: personalize for the anonymous visitor—a hallmark of Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target, in tandem—and leverage authentication data coming in from those once-unknown, as well as authenticated, consumers. That’s where Adobe Campaign comes in. Adobe Campaign can take it all in, segmenting massive audiences by various attributes and creating cross-channel workflows against those individuals or groups. So, for example, a marketer can run an SQL query on a Millennial audience and drag and drop an email campaign into the workspace. From there, it’s easy to say—and automate—that, based on the response to this piece of the campaign, a direct mail, follow-up email, or other tactic organically follows, based on the authenticated data points you’ve got. This year, Adobe Campaign is going to be an even more powerful force, specifically in the targeted email workflow space, as well as for delivering personalized experiences across channels, with Adobe Target creating relevant content and experiences for those segments.

Going a step farther with Adobe Target, automated personalization—another centerpiece of Adobe Target Premium—is key when it comes to this Millennial-targeting conversation. Integrate some relevant content, messaging, or recommendations, and push that out to targeted customers or segments—Adobe Marketing Cloud’s profiles and audiences core service can help. All too often, marketers get bogged down in creating those relevant experiences within their websites, ignoring the path that leads to those personalized moments. But personalized emails have 29 percent higher open rates and 41 percent higher click-through rates than mass-blasted, non-personalized emails. Need more proof? Transaction rates and revenue-per-email are, on average, more than 6 times higher than for generic ones. Automated campaigns set off by consumer behaviors and site interactions have similar boosts, with 25 percent higher open rates and 51 percent higher unique click-throughs, with twice as many conversions.

All of this—and then some—can be managed with Adobe Marketing Cloud. Start by bringing in a host of Millennial-friendly solutions, including Adobe Target to test, optimize, and automate, plus Adobe Social to integrate those viral experiences, learnings, and touch points. And because of Adobe Marketing Cloud’s profile management core service, it’s all unified under a single user profile. Layer-in Adobe Experience Manager to deliver the most relevant messaging across all channels at exactly the right time (too much, and you’ll no doubt alienate the twenty-somethings) and to track rendering across a variety of devices. Take all that and feed it back into the powerful Adobe Marketing Cloud solution—Adobe Analytics or Adobe Campaign, for example—and keep refining and perfecting your outbound Millennial communication. Simple enough, even for this notoriously challenging, but critically important, generation.