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Learn How to Engage Gen Z with Email Marketing

Arslan Hassan
8 min read
Nov 22, 2020

Like every generation is different and has unique attributes and behavioral patterns, Gen Z is also a generation with its own particular traits. There are several attributes Gen Z has that marketers should be concerned about. Those attributes include a short attention span and exposure to constant information instantly. 

Gen Z includes anyone born after 1995. By then, technology and the internet were pretty much common in most parts of the world. This generation has searched for answers to all of their questions on the internet. Because of that, they think that if it's not on the internet, is it actually real? 

Challenges with Gen Z and Marketing

It’s common knowledge that the attention span of consumers is dwindling by the day. However, it’s the worst for Gen Z. Research shows that the average millennial has an attention span of 12 seconds. For Gen Z, it’s even less than eight seconds, making Gen Z one of the most challenging generations for marketers. 

Marketers only have less than eight seconds, four seconds less than average, to convince Gen Z that their ad, post, or email is worth their time. Lisa Box of WP Engine, Inc. says that when it comes to Gen Z, the patterns for marketing have to shift from informing to delighting, from celebrity to authenticity, and from generic to predictive. 

Generation Z is 59% more interested in connecting with brands than older generations are because of the prevalence of social media and smartphones today. What’s more, due to the ready availability of information, Gen Z is more skeptical of marketing efforts, and therefore they crave authenticity from brands. 

Comprehensive research conducted by a marketing group in collaboration with the Harvard College Consulting Group found that Gen Z reports low favorability towards the commercial aspects of a brand. Moreover, the research found that Gen Z expects brands to show human characteristics, embrace social responsibility, and communicate with transparency. 

The inherent skepticism of Gen Z is especially challenging for marketers. That makes it hard for them to run marketing campaigns that are authentic, honest, and human while also being profitable for the company. 

Trends in email usage 

It's a common assumption that Gen Z doesn't use email anymore, but that's not true. Research suggests that Gen Z, like its predecessors, considers email the preferred way to communicate with brands.

In a survey, 45% of teens are online almost throughout the entire day. What are they doing online? A survey shows that: 

How to engage Gen Z through email marketing

Email marketing is an old component of digital marketing, and many believe that it does not work on Generation Z. The stats mentioned above indicate that Gen Z checks their emails and are actively interested in receiving emails from businesses and services. So, the assumption that Gen Z is killing emails is not true. If you’re a digital marketer looking for ways to engage with Gen Z, the following are some ways to make your email marketing engaging:

1. Avoid long paragraphs 

It's not surprising that a generation that conveys their thoughts in under 280 characters prefers shorter paragraphs. Gen Z is famously afraid of length. While longer paragraphs are a hassle for anyone regardless of generational differences, they’re particularly challenging for Gen Z. 

More and more, we see content becoming shorter to increase readability. Just a few years ago, the average length of a paragraph was three to five sentences. Now, that has gone down to only two or three sentences. 

The main reason? The younger generations, primarily Gen Z, do not even want to begin reading content that appears too long. Shorter paragraphs are easier to scan and more engaging.

To keep this generation with a short attention span hooked, your email should be short, precise, and to the point. If you are going to make it long, chances are your email will get deleted or they may even unsubscribe. Adding short sentences with a picture or a visual can make your email look interesting and worth their time. 

As mentioned above, Gen Z has a short attention span of about eight seconds, so long paragraphs are a big NO! 

2. Highlight your values 

Gen Z is much more aware of how they spend their money and are considered belief-driven buyers. That’s why you need to be vocal about your values and tell them how you are helping the customers as well as what you are giving back to the community.

Marketers may use email marketing, social media marketing, and blogs to subtly get out the message about what you are doing without sounding inappropriate, promotional, or condescending. Let your subscribers know how you are trying to make a difference no matter how small it is. 

3. Create a subject line that catches Gen Z's attention

Most of the time, emails go unopened because they don't seem interesting enough or appear to be too promotional. When sending emails to Gen Z, marketers must keep in mind the interests and preferences of this finicky generation.

For marketers, that means taking out the misleading and clickbaity subject lines that are in all caps. Replace them with concise and honest subject lines that get to the point. Be honest about your offering while still making it sound interesting. 

Having an appealing subject for the email will persuade your audience to open your email. You must work on better email subject lines instead of old and boring ones. Asking questions, being funny, or creating curiosity through email headings can increase engagement through emails. 

4. Work on visuals and format 

Using the same old format for your emails can get you in trouble, especially with Gen Z because they are always interested in exciting and engaging content. To make your emails appealing and engaging, work with professional designers to add animated GIFs, graphics, videos, and other appealing visuals in your emails.

Trained professionals can create content that your audience would like to read. Once you grab their attention, your work is 90% done. Having videos in your emails is also a great way to enhance interactions and gain the attention of your readers. You can include videos that showcase company culture, product launches, or any other thing that the audience wants to know about. Remember to keep your videos short, original, and engaging. 

5. Develop a relationship 

Why should Gen Z be interested in your products? Research suggests that Gen Z is more disloyal to brands when compared to previous generations. You must carefully focus on developing a relationship with your audience that will resonate with your brand’s values. 

Use your content, design, and language in a persuasive way to convey what your brand is about to build a mutually beneficial relationship. Keep it simple and authentic. Gen Z doesn't like promotional embellishments because it makes a brand sound phony. It's better to stick to the point and convey how you are delivering value to the consumer while still ensuring the well-being of the society and environment.  

Your company's brand story is important when marketing its products and conveying messages about what you believe in is essential. Your story shouldn't just remain hidden in one of your webpages. You should actively convey it on different platforms like social media and email marketing.

6. Focus on user-generated content 

Gen Z tends to shop based on reviews and recommendations, especially from famous people, also known as influencers. So, you must also focus on using user-generated content to help them make a choice. 

Several brands are now reposting and using user-generated content to attract new audiences towards their brand. Adding reviews and testimonials in emails is a convincing tactic to attract an audience. User-generated content is a good way to increase your conversions with email marketing. 

7. Give your consumers what they’re looking for 

Keep in mind the content that your audience is looking for in an email. 

According to a survey:

Survey your audience and determine their preferences to increase the effectiveness of your email marketing campaign.  

Email marketing is a powerful tool to connect with Gen Z

Now that you know the trends and practices that Gen Z is most interested in, you can easily engage with them through email marketing. Providing useful information, introducing special offers, and giving promo codes in email marketing efforts can help you gain traffic and increase your audience.  

According to research, Generation Z includes 40% of all consumers in the year 2020. If you execute your marketing strategy while keeping these key points in mind, Gen Z can help bring in sizable revenue.

Young consumers share the same motive as any other generation. That’s to build a relationship with brands and businesses and to make wise decisions based on exposure to information. Just the mediums and patterns have changed.