An Email Named Desire: Millennials Want Personalized Retail Messages

Millennials love to shop. But they’re not loyal to brands. And they have short attention spans, switching between media platforms 27 times per hour.

Yet they adhere to certain traditional norms. For example, many prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores. And most like emails that cater to their needs and desires, according to “Millennials—Where They Shop, Why It Matters,” a new study by SmarterHQ.

They don’t even mind if you track their behavior, but that doesn’t mean you can deluge them with email. 

For example, 74% say they get too many emails now. And of 1,000 Millennials surveyed, 70% dislike irrelevant, batch-and-blast emails — in fact, that’s a bigger turnoff to them than high shipping costs, irrelevant ads or websites that are difficult to navigate. 

So what works? Personalized emails geared to trigger events. And these shoppers want from one to three emails a month.

Here are five templates that SmarterHQ claims can increase campaign revenue by 291%:

  • Checkout abandonment 
  • Product browse abandonment
  • Back-to-stock notifications 
  • Welcome messages
  • Reengagement emails



Note that all these presume an existing relationship with the Millennial customer.

As noted, 50% of Millennials shop in-store, with females 9% more likely to do so than males. And 1% order from catalogs. But 27% shop on desktops or laptops, and 22% on smartphones or tablets.

Just who are these shoppers? The study found that 30% are bargain hunters, 18% are goal-oriented, 17% are researchers, 14% are casual browsers, 11% are impulse buyers, 6% are brand loyalists and 4% are seasonal shoppers.

Seasonal shoppers and bargain hunters are most likely to shop in store, and researchers least likely. Researchers can be found browsing on desktops or laptops, and casual browsers can be found on phones or tablets.

The lesson from those findings? Retailers have to provide a consistent experience across channels, a task that requires the merging of in-store and online data.

And they have to recognize that 95% of these consumers are doing other things while shopping. Typically, 67% are watching TV, 49% are waiting, 43% are chatting and 40% are working.

“They may get halfway through the checkout process when their boss interrupts to discuss an assignment, or a funny part of a movie diverts their attention for a few minutes,” SmarterHQ notes.

The takeaway? You have to keep them engaged. 

Here’s another cautionary note: Don’t expect online shoppers to buy from you strictly on the strength of your brand. A mere 6.5% of the respondents said they are brand loyalists.

To the extent that they’re loyal at all, Millennials show the most fealty to electronics brands and the least to furniture retailers. Grocery brands are second. 

And Millennials are 28% more likely to respond if you send them personalized communications. That should be easy to do, given that 70% don’t mind if retailers track their purchasing and browsing behaviors.

As Smarter HQ notes: “Now we have insights into every shopper’s experience from beginning to end: whether a website visitor comes from an email, social media or paid advertising, how often they visit the website, what they’ve purchased in the past, what they’re interested in, how far they’re getting in the purchase funnel, etc.” 

So go to it. 

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