The Empowered Ones: Marketing to Millennials

I find myself in a unique position within the email industry, a millennial immersed within the email universe. Having completed a Return Path internship during the summer of 2017, then returning to complete the final year of university degree in London, studying Business Management. I find myself back at Return Path and ready to pass over my personal and collectively gathered experience of millennials and how we both utilize and criticize email marketing.

Let’s start with the basics, who are millennials, you may know the group as Generation Y or ‘the new generation’. There is no official range, but general thought is that if you are born between 1980 and 2000, you are a millennial. Over the past decade so much has been written about millennials and how their influence upon many markets has become unrivalled, with brands now being created for the sole purpose of dipping into the highly lucrative but volatile market of millennials. In such an environment, there is no one strategy for success and all marketing communications must be carefully created and distributed in the right place, at the right time, to the right segment of your audience.

It is not an uncommon belief within millennials that email marketing could soon be a thing of the past, and at an earlier point I could count myself within this pessimistic bracket. The source of this perspective has been the movement of shop floors from the high street, to our email accounts, and now onto social media platforms. With new advertising features are being added onto our favorite social media platforms daily, notably Instagram’s sponsor feature.

Leading to a rather wide question, how can email marketing keep up with these new and constantly evolving trends? Simply put, in order to stay relevant, email must keep pace with new trends and technology. The boom of the smartphone being the most prevalent game changer and it’s safe to say email marketing has benefited from the smartphone, with millennials in particular classing it as the device they primarily use to check personal emails (Bluescore). Looking toward the future, could wearable technology come to the fore? If so, email must match the trend to satisfy this technology-driven generation.

Millennials may well carry themselves with a huge amount of pride, but not enough pride to avoid turning back to an abandoned cart. Marketers are faced with the dilemma of reminding customers simply forgetting/intending to purchase against those using the basket as a stockpile function.

ASOS are a brand loved by millennials and their success is no mistake. Millennials e.g. 18-29 year olds are the most profitable segment to target abandoned cart emails towards (ClickZ), and this trend has been targeted by the British clothing brand. Shown in figure one, is the drastic increase in read rate of 10 percent when comparing ‘Looks like you let something behind’ campaigns when compared to a 90-Day performance benchmark.

Figure One: ASOS Campaign Analysis, data via Inbox Insight

The oversaturation of consumer markets has led to one massive challenge for all email marketers, breaking through the noise of the packed 8am inbox. Tackling all other senders to be at the forefront of consumer minds. This has become exceptionally difficult when it comes to be smartphones, it has never been so easy and effortless to scroll and delete unwanted communications.

Leading onto one of my personal favorite marketing techniques used against me, or for me, dependent upon perspective! Christmas day comes three times throughout the university year for students, the day student loans entered our bank accounts. ASOS played this perfectly, dropping an email into our inboxes the morning of ‘student loan day’. The student discount had been doubled to 20% for a limited period, leaving me thinking, well now I am virtually rich I can spare some cash for a new pair of shoes. This of course momentarily forgetting student loans are for more important things, like rent and textbooks. This was a brilliant strategy employed by ASOS, and that morning they certainly stood out in my inbox.

Despite all of the trials and tribulations with marketing toward millennials there really is a pot of gold to be found, the very fact that brands have gone from whiteboard to marketplace on the basis of millennial attraction says it all. But remember, when marketing to millennials they are volatile and highly differentiated consumers when compared to the rest of the market. Keeping in mind aspects such as varying holiday and spending schedules, trend-driven mindsets and consumption driven by the latest and greatest within the technology industry.

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