Email marketing

How to Target Your Email Marketing to Generations X and Y

Latest posts by Liviu Tanase (see all)

Generational marketing has gained a lot of recognition over the past few years. There are numerous studies that help us better understand our audience by focusing on the traits of each generation. Let’s take a look at Generation X and Generation Y: how can startups craft email marketing campaigns that will resonate with them?

By tapping into each of their mindsets, you can find some answers.

Generation X: They were born between the early 1960s and the late 1970s.

Generation Y: Also often called millennials, they were born in the 1980s and 1990s.

What they have in common: Email is their preferred form of online communication.

Generation X: The loyal ones

Gen Xers are ambitious, pragmatic, innovative and eager to accomplish entrepreneurial success. Many of them are startup founders, and Harvard Business Review has dubbed them as “the greatest entrepreneurial generation in U.S. history.”

Gen Xers are known to be dedicated workers, and are usually active parents trying to strike a work-life balance.

What you should keep in mind before sending them a marketing email:

  • More than 80 percent of Gen Xers use social media and check their email several times a day. They still shop in stores, but have fully embraced online shopping.
  • While they are interested in novelties, Gen Xers are less susceptible to trends. What they care about the most is how your product impacts society in the long run. The values they cherish in a brand are honesty and integrity.
  • Gen Xers tend to be extremely loyal to brands that have gained their confidence. Offer them an incentive and they will reward you with long-term commitment. Coupons, discounts and other loyalty programs are the best way to keep them on your list.
  • Time is especially important to them, so keep your copy short and on point.


Generation Y: The connection seekers

Optimistic, driven and hard-working, millennials are the “awakened” generation. After Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, they were the first ones who made the pursuit of happiness their primary goal. They value experiences above economic success and are more likely to spend money on a vacation than a new couch. That doesn’t mean they don’t love to spend; they’re actually big spenders, just more cautious in their shopping decisions.

What you should keep in mind before sending them a marketing email:

  • They are very interested in what’s new, so marketing to millennials should focus on the innovative aspect of your product or service.
  • There is nothing that Gen Y appreciates more than genuine relationships, whether with another human being or with a brand. Learn about them, understand and respect their individuality, and create email marketing copy that expresses curiosity and a desire to connect.
  • Although young and adventurous, they have a strong sense of money value. Just like Gen Xers, they appreciate a good deal! Offer them free shipping, discounts and anniversary gifts, and they will always return to you.
  • Gen Y is the demographic that buys online the most. Shopping ease is important to them, as well as what other people think about your company. Most Millennials will not make a purchase without checking reviews and asking for their friends’ opinions. In your emails, find a way to include a reflection of what others think of your brand.
  • Try not to over-sell your product to Gen Y. Focus on how they would benefit from it and make relevancy the guiding principle of your email communication.
  • Millennials best respond to copy that is personalized, honest and short. They appreciate humor and good stories that are visually appealing. They won’t remember you for a sales pitch, but will react to entertaining content, enhanced by great photos and videos.

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But first, you need to reach your subscribers

Before we refine our strategies and target each generation with the right content, we have to make sure we actually reach our subscribers. Email list hygiene plays a crucial role here. An email verification system will remove invalid and risky addresses from your list, so you can make the most of the contacts you’ve gathered and market to them efficiently.

Treat your list as if it were your most valuable asset, because it is: the return on investment is $44 for every $1 spent. Treat your subscribers as individuals and cater to their specific wants and needs, and your startup is on a good path.

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