Bridge Generation Gaps with Email

Ask different people from multiple generations what types of content they like to receive from their favorite brands, and you’ll get a variety of answers. But the one thing they all have in common may surprise you: They all want brands to use email as a primary communications channel (with some caveats).

Baby Boomers will take the time to read all longer-form content like blog articles and ebooks. Generation X-ers want to read pieces with shorter, more concise copy, and like to view/download videos. Millennials spend much less time reading than their older counterparts, preferring instead to watch videos and other forms of visual content.

Everyone’s on Facebook, but Boomers don’t spend much time on Twitter. Gen X-ers are on Facebook and Twitter, and Millennials are more active on other platforms like Instagram and SnapChat.

Yet, their collective reliance on email remains as strong as ever.

That was one of the key findings of Adobe Campaign’s third annual consumer email survey. Sixty-one percent of consumers indicated that they prefer to receive offers via email, a 24 percent increase over last year.

The report’s authors admit to being surprised by discovering that’s even the case with Millennials, especially considering all the other communications platforms they use, adding, “we supposed they might be migrating away from email. Surprisingly, it turns out email is just as sticky with them as it is with consumers overall.”

The survey also reveals some important lessons for marketers:

  • Customize content: 34 percent of consumers become frustrated when brands recommend items that don’t match their interests.
  • Inform: 40 percent wish email content was less promotional and more informative.
  • Cater to the Mobile Lifestyle: 21 percent who check messages on mobile devices are annoyed about brands’ lack of mobile optimization.
  • Don’t overwhelm: Half say that the most annoying thing about emails from brands is when they arrive too often.

There is a big asterisk attached to all these findings. As people continue to hunt the unicorn that is a work-life balance, more of them are reducing how much time they spend reading emails and managing their inboxes. The overall number of hours consumers spend on email each day decreased 27 percent from last year across both personal and work accounts.

That means your email marketing campaigns not only have to meet your customers’ expectations for providing customized information that is optimized for consuming on all their devices. You also have to ensure your messages actually reach their inboxes.

The next question that pops to your mind is likely “OK, so what makes a successful email?”
Unfortunately, there is not one standard answer. There are many variables to consider, such as the nature of your business, your brand and your customers’ wants and needs.

But those intangibles aside, successful emails follow a template that meet a few key criteria. This infographic provides the structure you should follow to make it easy for your recipients to engage with your messages.

Be Thoughtful About Engagement

The purpose of every email you send, no matter its content or whether you’re targeting Boomers, Gen X’ers or Millennials, is to complete a transaction. Remember, they don’t want to feel deluged by information that isn’t useful.

You want to convince your customers to redeem a coupon, visit your e-commerce portal, sign up for a newsletter, share information with their family and friends, etc.

Your customers welcome these messages because they deliver relevant and personalized information that relates to something they’ve done on your website. Done right, every transactional message is an opportunity to build engagement and reinforce your brand. But as our research has found, that can be easier said than done.

We recently surveyed more than 1,800 SaaS, e-commerce, and other software businesses to assess how they’re using transactional messages and other email notifications. We published the findings in our annual Transactional Email Benchmark Report that reveals why many businesses struggle with implementation, governance, and deliverability. Take a look and see how it might help your efforts to bridge the generation gaps with email.