Wanna Reach Millennials? Get Emailing (Just Do The Math)

Digital marketing can often throw up some interesting conundrums. Surely I can't be the only person in the industry who wonders why so much budget is put into digital display when it is beset by some very obvious problems. Sure, you have fraud and viewability, but the one thing that has always struck me is that for an interactive format, a click-through rate of one in a thousand is deemed about average.

OK -- so digital display is not sold as being interactive. It's about awareness and branding, right? OK -- so now we have to throw in another small concern as well as the sucker punch. On the small concern side, we have yet to mention the brand safety risk of where your name might end up being seen online. The sucker punch? Everyone is going on about reaching the beloved Millennial, yet ad-blocking rates rise as you slide down the age scale from silver surfer to Millennial.

Some estimates suggest that among male Millennials, ad-blocker usage could be as high as one in four. So if you're trying to reach young males and you want to raise awareness, you just might want to have a think about those statistics again. As many as one in four could be blocking you, and even among those who are not, getting a reaction from one in a thousand would be good going.

This brings us neatly on to the question Forbes asked a bunch of marketers recently. How do you get around blocking? My favourite answers were two that fit perfectly together -- cut down on display and focus on email. When combined, that would be my advice -- to all bar the massive FMCGs that have budget to fling at display.

It's not just good advice -- in general -- it's actually a potential answer to reaching Millennials. Recent research reports from Adobe and Adestra separately identified email as the channel of choice when Millennials want to hear from brands. Adobe cited it as the favourite for more than one in two Millennials (58%), while Adestra increased that figure to three in four. Put very simply, Millennials know they are going to be targeted by brands, and when that happens they would far rather deal with emails than pop ups.

The Forbesarticle added a very simple stat. If you accept an average open rate of 20% for email, that's pretty good. It didn't compare this to display, but let's do that now. Most experts are agreed that in the UK at least, visibility is at its very best a 50:50 chance. So even if you have reached the -- shall we say -- three in four male Millennials who don't block ads, you have immediately made yourself invisible to half of them with each ad. That's one and a half people out of every four you are left with.

If you throw in fraud, it's easy to see how that one and a half in four Millennials can quickly become one in four that have a chance of seeing each ad. Of those, if more than one in a thousand interact with that ad, you'll be doing well.

Compare that to an open rate of 20% and there really is only one clear winner in the battle of getting in front of Millennials. It might not be the trendy answer, and it almost certainly won't be the one a guru will talk about at a conference, but there you have it. Want to reach Millennials? Save on display and get emailing. 

2 comments about "Wanna Reach Millennials? Get Emailing (Just Do The Math)".
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  1. Eric Johnson from Arizona State , April 11, 2017 at 2:44 a.m.


    As a Marketing student that is always exploring new and creative solutions to reach and interact with milennials, I found your article to be refreshing. 

    With increasing Ad-blocking technology, I definitely believe companies should stray away from traditional online advertisements. Even for the 75% that can still see the ads, they are often ignored and not specifically directed to the proper audience. 

    I can attest that e-mail marketing has had led to successful turnover rates for me as a consumer, allowing me to convienently connect with some of my favorite brands. At simply no charge, companies can build a databases of customers e-mail addresses. If they were satisfied with their previous purchase, they are more than likely to read the e-mail and become engaged with new products and promotions that brand may be offering.

    I believe that using graphics with products placed in the e-mail marketing campaigns, that the turnaround rate for sales from e-mail marketing could increase by 25-30%. In addition, I believe brands could use special promotions for e-mail subscribers to be entitled to exclusive deals and early access to certain products. Another suggestion would be to increase advertising through social media platforms. This is usually always free or very low cost and dominating the milennial marketplace with high rates of social media usage. 

  2. Sean Hargrave from Sean Hargrave, April 11, 2017 at 3:55 a.m.

    Hi Eric, 

    Thanks for the note, we're all students in this evolving landscape! I agree that email is vastly underrated. It's the ID we log in with (as well as our Facebook credentials) around the net and it's a route back to us. 

    With display, you're right, around a third or a quarter of millennials will be ad blocking and even then you're lucky to get more than half of your spots 'viewable' and not prone to fraud. Some direct buying, though, with a quality publisher is always going to be a good way of raising awareness, though.

    Social and email seem a match made in heaven, driving up email subs, getting content out there in a virtuous circle. Throw in some native advertising in an apt environment and, if you're content led, then there's another string to your bow.

    Don't forget search, though, still accounts for about half of digital spend over here in Europe and a lot of that content on social and native is becoming video increasingly.

    Interesting times. Thanks for taking the time to reach out, Eric.

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