Email Marketing to Younger Audiences
Some Internet marketing doomsayers will tell you today's young audience no longer responds to email marketing. Don't believe it! The truth is, the trend toward social media sites and instant messaging will actually drive an increase in email marketing response in the future. Here's why, with some ideas for catching that wave.
A Techno-Centric Generation
Significant leaps in technology since the birth of the commercial Internet in the early 1990s have guaranteed that each successive generation is more technology-savvy than the last. Members of Generation X were the original Internet babies, the first group exposed to online technology as it took root. They embraced email as an instant method of communication, feeding the decline of traditional marketing methods such as direct mail.
The generation immediately following, known by such titles as Generation Y and Millenials, never knew a time without the Internet and are now driving the explosive growth of blogging, instant messaging and social networking sites. Does that mean that email will reach a point in the future when it's no longer a viable form of marketing?
Surprisingly, no. This techno-centric generation knows that social media has its limits, especially as they begin to enter the workforce. Their companies may create profiles on social networking sites, but they'll still need a way to communicate with vendors and customers. In the same way, blogging is here for the long haul, but it's not an appropriate method of interacting with individual clients.
What all that means is this: the two generations poised to become dominant in the workforce understand that inbound and outbound marketing still needs a large-scale, flexible framework to reach a mass audience. And that framework is email.
But Not Your Mother's Email Marketing
There will, however, continue to be major shifts in the way email marketing is done, depending on other available technology. For example, with blogs and business networking sites being widely used by younger prospects, the wise email marketer will build a strategy that combines those media with email marketing messages, rather than pretending they don't exist.
Let's use a hypothetical accounting software company as our marketing example. The marketing manager of that firm understands he's dealing with a younger, technologically advanced group of accounting professionals. He creates an online marketing strategy with a multilayered approach, rather than depending solely upon website ads combined with targeted email messages.
After creating blogs with different accounting emphases, and building profiles on social networking sites like FaceBook and LinkedIn, he builds localized series of email marketing messages which do two things. First, he focuses in on the specific accounting software needs of each segment of his email list, and secondly, he points toward the blogs and business networking sites that will appeal to each of those segments.
He knows it's a waste of time to send shotgun-style messages to this sophisticated audience. By zeroing in on what each group needs in all his marketing, he'll see much higher email open and sales rates.
Watch Your Language!
Another major consideration email marketers should keep in mind when creating email marketing campaigns for twenty-and-thirty-somethings is that old-style sales language doesn't work. These up-and-coming professionals, students and entrepreneurs are wise to the hype...they live on the Internet, after all! This audience may be more cynical and less susceptible to verbal manipulation, so why waste time trying those tactics?
Plan, instead, to capture their imaginations. What are the possibilities your product represents? How much time, money or hassle can you save them? Can your product be downloaded rather than shipped, read in electronic format rather than printed, or digested quickly rather than requiring a semester to learn?
You don't have to use trendy slang to capture younger business, but you should know what's completely passe'. Consider what's happened on television and in other segments of the Internet in the past five years. The pace is faster and the attention spans shorter, even among well-educated young professionals. The days of endless sales pages and email marketing messages are over, if you hope to build a younger audience.
They're not interested in being "sold", but they do like being entertained. Link to a video on YouTube or your website for maximum interest. By the way, if you're not using audio and video on your websites (and in email!), this age group will yawn past your advertisements. That's the language of sales to these new generations. Email marketing and email advertising can include web links to several areas of your site including a video... remember to keep your audience focused on the action you intend them to take when using email marketing communication.
Capitalizing on Youth
Don't listen when other marketers tell you they've abandoned the idea of success with email marketing and email advertising. By combining multimedia interest with intelligent, fast-paced copy, you can win the attention of younger prospects. Stay flexible and look for ways to combine new technology with your email marketing campaigns.
Commit a portion of your marketing budget to learning what works for this audience. They are, after all, your future market. If you're willing to learn new ways, you can gain a whole new generation of loyal customers.