It’s important that you take the long-view with e-mail as Gen Y + Gen C (if you don’t know about Gen C, read Brian Solis’ new book) gain spending power. Gen Y may be unemployed, up to their eyeballs in student debt + living with their parents, but things aren’t going to stay that way. In fact, Gen Y could outspend the Boomers as early as 2017. Because your business will be relying on Gen Y dollars sooner than you may have imagined, it’s to face the music. Marketing to Gen Y is going to require, well, un-marketing; collaboration, reciprocity, listening, trust and putting customer service and experience at the top of your priority list. E-mail can help you accomplish the aforementioned requirements, but it’s likely going to mean a huge shift from what you’re currently doing.
10% or ‘free shipping’ e-mails that come more frequently than our snail- mail
I know you see a small spike in sales on these days and it leads you to send these again and again, but what you aren’t considering is you’re missing out the opportunity to do so much more. People are giving you their e-mails and allowing you into their inbox because they expect more from you, Gen Y will be expecting a lot more. If you’re going to send an e-mail offering a discount, make it count, and earn your click-through. Less frequent, bigger discounts will lead to better open rates and sales. I’m willing to bet if you moved your discounts primarily to your social channels and used your e-mails for other initiatives, Gen Y would like you even more since that’s why they ‘like’ or follow you in the first place.
E-mails that alert us to your new blog post on a topic no one cares about
It goes without saying that if your company is going to invest time into producing content, it should be content that the majority of your customers care about and can use. It should be a resource, it should be delivered in various forms i.e. video, visual, text, it should be mobile-accesible as 58% of Gen Y between the ages of 23-31 own a smartphone and are very connected, and it should rarely be about the actual company.
Email is your opportunity to share values and experiences. It’s an opportunity for you to let your customers know you’re listening, you’re growing with them and you’re tuned into their needs. Gen Y cares about making the world a better place and email is a great channel to show them that your company does too. Highlight the causes and organizations that your company is involved with and make them socially shareable or actionable for optimized reach and engagement.
Some other thoughts on changing the way we use email…
I believe there will be a huge change upswing in co-marketing, partnerships marketing and collaboration which will appeal to Gen Y because it’s easier to trust someone who is willing to support or partner with someone else, the same goes for brands and businesses. We see this with bloggers and industry influencers now, brands highlight bloggers with huge social followings hoping to get a piece of their loyal followers. I suspect we’ll see brands supporting and collaborating with other brands that make sens for their demographic. Is the future of marketing a place where shopping at Whole Foods gets you a pretty good discount and exclusive deals at Lulu Lemon? I could be wrong, but I see a great deal of strategic partnerships and collaborations that attract Gen Y. Highlighting these partnerships though e-mail and social etc. further emphasize brands understanding of their customers needs and wants.
Gen Y values peer reviews and recommendations and as heavy social media users, they’re seeing these reviews regularly. They rely peers and the Web when making purchasing decisions and they share their experiences good and bad. Highlighting customer experiences may also be something that should be included in e-mails regularly along with an easy way for customers to give feedback (though Gen Y will prefer to give feedback through another channel) asking and then showing the result of their inquiry will resonate with them.
These are just some thoughts as we move forward into new territory. One thing is for sure though; Gen Y will move out, get married and be a great challenge for all marketers. Using e-mail in new ways and for new reasons is a great start, but I think at the center of all marketing activity, we need to focus on customer experience for long-term successes. It’s important to Gen Y and a huge competitive advantage, if it’s at the core, I think you’re on the right track.
Your new marketing mantra for Gen Y should be “customers make my brand, my brand does not make them”