Sus or Bussin? How Email Marketers Should Approach Gen Z Buyers


If I said “Rizz”, “Drip”, or “NPC”, would you have any idea what that means? If the answer is “no”, then just search your contacts for your favorite 14-year-old and they will enlighten you.

Generation Z, or those people born between 1997 and 2012 according to Pew Research Center, represent $360B worth of disposable income.

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Despite the massive financial opportunity, Gen Z continues to mystify email marketers and the marketing community at large. Gen Z is so different from preceding generations that Vogue claims they “Broke” the marketing funnel.

Fact or fiction?

Like many things, the truth is often in the middle. Gen Z does have different tastes, preferences, behaviors, and language compared to Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers.

But, believe it or not, they are still human. They still use and actively check email. And it is possible to market to them.

In order to capture our slice of the $360B pie, we must first understand them. And that’s just what we are setting out to do. Let’s begin.

So what makes a Gen Zer anyways?

Of course each person in Gen Z is unique. But as marketers it’s our job to find patterns. So here are a few Gen Z traits to help us paint a mental picture.

For one thing, Gen Z is known for oversharing. Think about it. They are growing up in the age of social media. They’ve been pressing “record” and “post” since the minute they first acquired a phone.

They love “mom jeans” and the 90s (hello Kurt Cobain t-shirt!)

oh and did you know they like to write without capital letters and very little punctuation?

no cap (that means “I’m not kidding” in Gen Z).

Twenty-three percent of Gen Z have tattoos but 39% percent already regret it.

They get perms and care about the environment and love secondhand shopping and voice notes, but not phone calls.

Woof! It’s a lot to take in all at once.

How do we turn this data into actionable information for email marketers? First things first.

Gen Z and email: Do they use it?

The answer is “yes”.

Believe it or not 76% of Gen Zers check email at least once a week..

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This is less than Gen Y, but only by 8%.

Also consider that the youngest of Gen Z are 12-year-old kids. I don’t remember if I had an email address when I was 12, but if I did, I definitely wasn’t checking it!

It’s a reasonable assumption that as Gen Z ages into secondary education and the workforce, those daily and weekly numbers will rise.

Do you speak Gen Z? Email preferences you need to know

According to Campaign Monitor data, 63% of Gen Z made a purchase as a direct result of an email in the past 30 days. This is on par with purchases from social media (70%).

This data supports that email is an important and effective channel to reach Gen Zers. But data from Backstroke shows that generational preferences are very real. No where is it starker than with Gen Z.

So how do you market to them? Here are four tips.

1) Keep subject lines… long?

That’s right. Despite their espousing of capital letters and short form video addictions, Gen Z actually prefers subject lines that are longer than 6 words (or 34 characters). The context matters to them so feel free to be a little more verbose than you would talking to Millennials or Gen X.

2) Use all caps sporadically

It should be no surprise that Gen Z is “anti-all-caps”. THAT’S PREFERRED MORE SO BY BOOMERS.

What might surprise you is that Gen Z prefers sentence case about 30% more than Gen X and 100% more than Baby Boomers.

That’s right. To capture the attention (and dollars) of Gen Z, try and stick to sentence case… Either Like This or else This is fine too.

3) Sprinkle in the slang

The younger the demographic, the safer it is to use slang.

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But buyers beware. While an expertly placed “himothy” or “drip” will crack the Gen Z wallets wide open, improper use will come across as “cheugy” and create the opposite effect.

Not sure if you speak fluent Gen Z or not? Take our slang quiz. And if you score less than perfect, you can always study up using our Gen Z vocab flashcards. Seriously… you don’t want to mess this up. It’ll give them major ick.

4) Keep it moody

We use Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotion to categorize messages by primary emotions. 

As it turns out, anticipation, joy and sadness are the primary drivers of email engagement for Gen Z.

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Anticipation and Sadness especially stand out given just how much Gen Zers react to these emotions compared to other generations.

Take a closer look at Anticipation where you can clearly see Gen Z responds in a big way. Ahh… to be so young and full of life ????.

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Use words and/or campaigns that create a feeling of mystery, suspense, or FOMO to tug at Gen Z’s anticipatory tendencies. Don’t shy away from strong emotion when speaking to this audience.

Go forth and market

Hopefully you found these tips helpful. The revenue opportunity from Gen Z is undeniable — and growing as more from this generation age into the workforce.

Not only is the money pot growing, but so too is their use of email. Marketers will need to get wise to the email idiosyncrasies of these youngsters and seek to speak in their language, on their cadence, and with the right content and promotions.

Alright, bet. Until next time!

zyanya bmo kJTQrwWkQ2k unsplash 600Photo by Zyanya BMO on Unsplash