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4 Ways Gen Z Uses Email Differently

by | March 29, 2023

For Gen Z, email is almost never a formal business medium. Learn how Gen Z uses email and tailor your message to their style and values.
Gen Z Uses Email illustration

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

True or false: Gen Z uses email differently than other generations. 

Well, yes and no. Data shows that Gen Zers use email less often than any generation before them. These young people born between 1997 and 2012, are the first digital natives. Since birth, social media and other technology has always been a part of their lives

Gen Z also has spending power. In 2020, they accounted for 40% of all consumers with more than $44 billion in their virtual wallets. 

Gen Zers prefer easy messaging and quick responses. Most prefer sending direct messages in Slack, Zoom, or through DMs on social networking sites. These direct messaging functions may explain why only 14.4% of Gen Zers say they use email for work. 

The good news, however, is that across all age groups, 68% of consumers say email is their preferred communication method for receiving marketing messages and interacting with eCommerce sites. 

How can brands best send emails to Gen Z consumers? 

Luckily, there’s no reason to rewrite the rules. With a few tweaks, the same advertising tactics that work for older generations can reach Gen Zers.

Here are four approaches aimed specifically at Gen Z users.

1. Advertise Values First

Two pairs of eyeglasses

More than any previous generation, Gen Z prioritizes a brand’s values over their product. The younger generations want to know what a brand’s mission and values are. They also want to see those values communicated with authenticity

Gen Z consumers want to know that their purchase has the power to give back. Through email, a brand can easily share information about their engagement with diverse social groups. For instance, including a sender’s pronouns in their signature or asking the email recipient to submit theirs. 

(Ever see she/her/hers or they/them/theirs after someone’s name? Those are their pronouns!) 

Big brands show their social impact all the time. The eyeglasses company Warby Parker started a Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. For every pair of eyeglasses a customer buys, Warby Parker will donate a pair to someone in need. 

2. A Picture Lasts Longer

A young woman frames a scene with her fingers

Email is generally considered a text medium. Yet with overconsumption of digital media and access to high-powered tech, advertising campaigns that prioritize quality images tend to fare better. 

This means successful emails have more clear, high-quality photos than words. Want to step it up a notch? Personalize emails by combining campaign images with a consumer’s name or product suggestions. 

3. Slip In Some Emojis


Don’t have the funds for big-budget photos? Never fear. Emojis, the highly recognized cartoon images featured on most tech devices, are just as effective. Emails with subject line emojis have higher open rates and click-through rates — metrics that show how many people open an email and follow a link inside.

In fact, 44% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy a product or service when email subject lines contain an emoji. 

4. Optimize for Mobile

Mobile email

What’s one of the easiest ways to be accessible to Gen Z? Optimize your email communication for mobile. Approximately 67% of Gen Zers use their cell phones to check their email. Optimizing email campaigns for mobile means all images and text are of the right quality for mobile viewing. 

Many email marketing campaign platforms allow senders to test an email for mobile viewing prior to sending. Make it an automatic part of every campaign to ensure consumers can view your emails from any device. When someone can click through to your site on their phone, it’s easier for them to share your product with their friends.

Reaching your target audience goes beyond having good English grammar and spelling. Helping your advertising campaign finds its place in Gen Z’s world means prioritizing authenticity, optimizing for mobile, and high-quality images. 

We Build Better Emails

Not sure where to start? College Marketing Group (CMG) helps brands craft effective email campaigns to reach every generation.

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