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How to email market to youngsters

How do you reach a young audience? Most marketers will not have a straight answer at hand. The main problem is that rapidly changing technological environments leave many a classically trained marketer stuck with a younger target audience they don’t really understand ...

Here’s a short example to illustrate. Most marketing managers grew up or learned email as being one of the first online communication channels. You could directly message contacts or groups. But youngsters nowadays don’t use email as their main communication channel. They prefer more direct channels such as Whatsapp, Snapchat, FB Messenger,... That doesn’t mean they don’t have an email inbox. It just means they use it differently.

So marketers should ask themselves just one question: how do young people want to communicate, and how can I facilitate this using email marketing.

If you are skeptical about marketing to youngsters, let’s sum up the 3 key reasons why you shouldn’t be:

1) Kids and young adults influence the household budget.
Mom and dad hold the wallet, but kids influence the purchase of products and brands.

2) They have their own (disposable) budget.
Youngsters have a weekly budget at hand, and in most cases, it’s a disposable budget they can spend.

3) You can start building lifetime customers right here
Everyone can come up with numerous products and brands from their childhood. If you have children yourself, what are the chances you both go looking for the same products? Quite high, right?

So if you are convinced about the power of youngsters, it’s time to get your plan together. But before sending out your first campaign, there are 2 ground rules:

There is a code of conduct on how to market to youngsters, so make sure that your message is compliant to the rules (do not directly ask youngster to ask their parents to buy something, marketing products such as alcohol is a no-go, …)

Youngsters have a very accurate bullshit radar. If you think you can go Mad Men style and sell them something with a catchy visual and slogan, you might be painfully wrong.

So how do you get started? Let these 6 tips lead the way…

1) Don’t think in terms of sales, but in terms of engagement
Don’t sell to young people, find out how you can engage them with your brand. They’ll find your product much easier to get into (but don’t forget about point 3)

2) Mobile is key
Youngsters are mobile. Their smartphone is a natural body extension. If your emails and post click journey are not responsive, forget about it.

3) They are not looking for conversations with brands
Who doesn’t get annoyed with brands always asking for engagement? More than 50% of youngsters are not looking for conversations with brands. If brands can facilitate the communication with their peers, that’s a completely different story.

4) Offer real value, fun, free stuff or cool contests
Youngsters are looking for new stuff that holds value for them. So, if you are not providing something they want, you’ve already lost.
TBG Digital's Jeremy Waite summarized Red Bull's successful social strategy as follows: "50% of young people go online to waste time. So let's give them some really cool shit to do when they get there."

5) Make your communication transparent and open
Don’t smooth talk or wave some fog around your product. Youngsters want clarity and fairness. As said, their bullshit radar can be very sharp. Use a clear, open and direct tone of voice with a witty undertone.

6) Communicate your purpose
Kids can identify with brands that have a clear purpose, because they are building their own identity. Take Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream. They are a part of the Unilever group, but have a solid history and communicate clear values.


 Youngsters are not easy to reach via email, but that’s mostly because marketers extrapolate general rules to kids, which won’t work. You’ll need a specific approach to get them engaged with your brand.  

Posted on
Jul 17, 2015