The Truth About Email Marketing to Millennials vs. Baby Boomers


An effective lead generation funnel is one of the most important goals for any company to achieve.

A lead-generation funnel that consistently draws qualified prospects will make converting new clients that much easier. Data-driven automation marketers can build funnels to “passively” attract these kinds of leads, too.

What does this mean? In short, companies don’t need to spend nearly as much time or money to see increased conversions.

While many channels exist to support this kind of funnel (e.g. blogs, social media, etc.), email continues to show the most promise. Data-driven automation marketers love email, because once the funnel is built, it can create massive ROIs with little attention.

One reason marketers don’t see amazing ROI from their efforts lies in their lists: They’re not segmenting their contacts.

In other words, they’re treating every recipient identically. Of course, not only is each recipient not identical, but appreciating those differences can make a huge impact when it comes to successfully marketing to them.

Email marketing to millennials vs. baby boomers

You can segment your email list countless ways, but one essential consideration needs to be age–or, more specifically–generation.

That’s because the period in which someone was born has a massive effect on how they interact with email. So, sending the exact same message to a 25-year-old and a 65-year-old could produce poor results.

5 Important aspects of email marketing to millennials

If you know your email list is full of millennials–or you’re hoping to start adding them to your list–then you need to know about the five aspects that differentiate them from the rest of your email prospects.

1. Millennials embrace email marketing

Even though millennials are largely responsible for the messaging apps we have today, they’re still the most responsive generation when it comes to email marketing.

Many marketers assume social media is the best way to reach this age group. They may even skip email altogether, spending the majority of their budget on social marketing.

That’s a costly mistake. In fact, Harvard Business Review tells us, “Email is the best way to reach millennials.”

So, while social media is still great for engagement and email integration, ignoring email marketing altogether is a risk.

2. Millennials check their emails (a lot)

Given the above information, it should probably come as no surprise that millennials are constantly checking their inboxes. In fact, millennials cite email as their preferred source of business communication.

On average, consumers between the ages of 18 and 24 will spend 5.8 hours in their inboxes daily. For consumers between the ages of 25 and 34, that number actually grows to 6.4 hours per day.

Interestingly enough, the younger of the two age groups (18 to 24) are more likely to check their work emails while on vacation (81%). The same percentage checks their email before even getting into work.

This age group is also much more focused on driving their inboxes down to zero, which just goes to show how much they engage with emails.

This is great news for data-driven email marketers, as there are numerous opportunities when sending emails. This also means more testing–the same send-time won’t work for all millennials. This age group is massive and varied, so keep testing and segmenting to find the ideal strategy.

3. Keep Your Emails Short and to the Point

It should also come as no surprise that the generation which coined “TLDR” (Too Long; Didn’t Read) won’t tolerate an inbox full of novellas.

If your company typically sends longer messages, find a way to edit them down (try lots of bullet points), or cut the content into multiple, bite-sized emails.

Check out this marketing email from Marc Jacobs:

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It doesn’t get much more to-the-point than that.

4. Prioritize millennials’ preferred benefits in the subject lines

A good subject line is absolutely essential. If it doesn’t grab your lists’ interest, your emails won’t be opened. In that case, the email’s copy doesn’t matter, because it’s not being read.

Statistically, millennials appreciate nonmonetary benefits more than generations before them. This includes perks like:

  • Discounts
  • Higher-priority service
  • Recognition as a valued customer
  • Personalized products or services
  • Charitable donations

So, be sure to reference one of these benefits in the subject line of your email.

Here’s an example from Blinkist:

marketing to baby boomers vs millennials

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It’s impossible to miss this discount, especially since it’s a prominent, time-sensitive opportunity.

Emphasize your valued-customer perks and personalized products and services in the body of your email. You want to make sure your customers understand the importance you place on their business.

5. Optimize for mobile

Finally, mobile-friendly emails are ideal for millennial business (and other age groups, too).

One potential reason millennials interact so heavily with email could be because they check their phones, on average, 150 times a day. To put that into perspective, if the average millennial gets 8 hours of sleep, that means they check their phones roughly 10 times every hour they’re awake.

Smartphones make reading email fairly effortless. Plus, mobile allows people to read messages anywhere, which gives your business the opportunity to be anywhere, too.

However, if you don’t send mobile-friendly versions of emails, don’t expect your prospects to open your messages or engage with them.

3 important elements of email marketing to baby boomers

Millennials may be more engaged with email marketing, but baby boomers still control 70% of the country’s disposable income. This means your business is ignoring potential business when it ignores boomers.

In fact, baby boomers may be just as profitable of a segment for your company as millennials. Despite what many marketers often assume, baby boomers are just as likely to buy online. Plus, they tend to spend more on each of their purchases.

Just as you take special considerations for your millennial-based funnel, you’ll want to keep three points in mind when building your baby boomer funnel.

1. Baby boomers are email-savvy

There’s a misconception out there that this older generation is less technologically-savvy and, thus, the best way to engage with them is offline–through direct mail or traditional advertising.

This isn’t necessarily the case, though. 95% of Baby Boomers regularly use email, so if you’re not seeing responses from your efforts, try split-testing them through email to see results.

2. Social media may not work for signups

As we covered earlier, you can utilize social media to draw millennials to your email list.

Almost half of baby boomers are on social media, so it’s still possible to attract baby boomer leads through social.

However, fewer and fewer Americans use social media as they get older.

So, if you need Baby Boomers on your email list and haven’t seen much luck through social media, it’s probably because that particular segment’s interest in social is waning.

If you’re building your social media strategy from scratch, choose Facebook to build your baby-boomer email funnel. Boomers prefer Facebook more than any other platform–even more than their second and third favorites (LinkedIn and Pinterest) combined.

3. Choose topics that speak to an improved lifestyle

Baby boomers don’t show any signs of slowing down any time soon. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Baby boomers are active, with weighty ambitions. Millennials are the same, but as we discussed above, boomers actually have the money to back up their ambitions.

Even at the tail-end of the early-aughts recession, 57% of baby boomer homeowners planned to move out of their current homes but not downsize. Instead, 70% of this group believed they would go on to “retire in the best home in which they have ever lived.”

It may be tempting to choose topics that seem empathetic with “getting older,” but resist the urge to write this content. Baby Boomers don’t feel old. Many feel ready to spend money new items that will improve their lives.

Wrap up

Companies have multigenerational customers, and they should market as such. If your company isn’t marketing to both millennials and baby boomers, you could be missing out on a prominent financial opportunity.

So, instead of asking if your email should be marketing to millennials vs. baby boomers, maybe you should be asking how you can market to both.

If you are using email to engage these two demographics, your data-driven automation marketers must understand each segment. Baby boomers and millennials require individual marketing. (And remember to personalize within these two groups! Your customers are still individuals, after all.)

Once you embrace your customers’ generational differences, you can expect better open rates, engagement, and, of course, overall conversions.


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