Millennials are expected to outnumber members of any other generation in the USA this year. Defined by Pew Research Center as those born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials constitute a large segment of the market in virtually every industry—including yours, whether you're selling the latest fashion, tech, life insurance, or anything in between.

How can savvy marketers make the most of this opportunity? What's the best way to reach out to the Millennial market? What kind of message is most likely to resonate?

This article will help you create a cold email strategy that'll appeal to Millennials and drive responses.

(A caveat: Send cold emails only if your recipients are US-based. Sending cold emails to recipients in Canada and Europe, for example, is illegal.)

Why send cold email?

Is cold email even a valid strategy anymore? Shouldn't we be reaching out to Millennials on social media or creating viral videos and hashtag-worthy images?

Although social media is popular with Millennials, they're still spending a significant amount of time in their inbox. In fact, Adobe's consumer email survey found 44% of those age 25-34 preferred to be contacted by brands over email, compared with just 9% who preferred social media channels. I'd still recommend using social media to grow brand awareness, but it's clear that emails are still the best way to get in touch with Millennials.

Here are four steps to take for a successful cold email campaign.

Research and segment

Research should be the first step in any cold email outreach, including outreach to Millennial audiences.

Millennials may share certain attitudes as a whole, but they're also an incredibly diverse group, covering everything from students still in university to homeowners entering middle age. If your research goes only as far as saying your target market are Millennials, it's not enough.

Rather than guessing, talk to your existing customers to find out more about them. Beyond the standard demographics, find out about what their biggest concerns are. What challenges are they facing? What are their priorities? What keeps them awake at night? Become an expert on your audience to get your campaign off to the best possible start.

Once you've researched your market, you'll be in a better position to segment for your campaigns.

If the only segments you have are Millennial and non-Millennial, your emails will be vague and unappealing. Instead, segment your list as much as reasonably possible. For example, you could segment based on factors such as location, job role, budget, and so on. Contact enrichment software can help you get a fuller picture of your prospects before you write a single word.

Keep it concise and clear

There are a lot of negative stereotypes of Millennials. Many people seem to think Millennials hate reading and have nonexistent attention spans. As a Millennial, I can tell you that's complete rubbish (although I'll admit to possibly checking my phone more than I should). It turns out Millennials are more likely to have read a book in the past 12 months than previous generations.

However, Millennials spend more time than ever in their inbox, tackling more emails than ever. With all the messages vying for their attention, Millennials are deciding—quicker than ever—what is and what isn't worth their time. If your subject line looks spammy or your message takes too long to get to the point, they'll just move on to the next email.

It's also important to remember more emails are opened on mobile devices than any other platform. That's especially true for Millennials: A massive 90% of those age 25-34 regularly use their phone to check their emails. That means your subject line, your preview, and your email itself will likely be displayed on the small screen.

If your "genius" subject line is too long, or your email goes on for several pages, it's likely your prospect will miss the key points of your email. At Reply, we've found keeping your subject line to 3-5 words and your email itself to fewer than 125 words brings the best results.

Own your brand

We've covered why it's worth optimizing your emails for Millennials, but what if your business and brand aren't designed for Millennials?

In that cased, don't pretend to be something you're not. You may think you can grab a slice of that sweet Millennial demographic by dropping in a couple of emojis and a reference to the latest episode of the Kardashians. If that's not on-brand, though, it's more likely to backfire, like when KFC took to the stage for at Ultra Music Festival.

Instead, own your brand: Being yourself is one of the positive hallmarks of the Millennial generation, and you're more likely to appeal by staying true to your brand. Research by YouGov BrandIndex found that the most popular brands with Millennials included offline, traditional brands like Delta and Adidas. They've successfully appealed to the Millennial demographic without bizarre stunts that had nothing to do with their brand.

When writing your cold email, then, ensure it's in line with your brand. If you're an investment company, then dropping in slang, reality-TV references and a flurry of emojis would likely come across as disingenuous and condescending. However, you could highlight how other Millennials have been able to buy their first house with help from your company.

Of course, beliefs and values are a big part of brands today. How can you make the most of yours to appeal to your Millennial market?

Appeal to values, but also offer value

The Millennial generation is often viewed as being more aware of business-related social and ethical issues than previous generations. According to research by Vision Critical, 71% of Millennials think it's important a product align with their personal beliefs. Accordingly, a smart company will highlight its positive beliefs and attitudes in its cold emails.

However, though your company values may be important to a Millennial audience, they're not a magic bullet. In the same research, an even larger proportion (93%) rate product quality as important. Though Millennials are far more likely than other generations to be concerned with ethical initiatives such as fair trade and organic products, their top concerns are still price and promotions.

What does that mean for your cold emails? If you can show how your product or service aligns with your customer's beliefs, while still providing outstanding value, you'll have a better chance of appealing to Millennials.

You can't make up for a lack of quality with a catchy hashtag. Worse yet, don't try to attach your product/service to an issue via a tone-deaf campaign (I'm looking at you, Pepsi).

When writing your cold email, focus on what tangible value you can offer. It's great to refer to the causes you support, but your primary focus should be demonstrating the quality and value of your product/service.

Let's conclude

Millennials make up a large part of the market; and, considering the amount of time they spend in their inboxes, cold email is a great way to get in touch with them. By researching your unique market and sending them concise emails that are both in line with your brand and offer clear value, you'll be able to boost your response rate.

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How to Write Cold Emails to Millennials and Get a Response

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image of Oleg Campbell

Oleg Campbell is founder and CEO of sales-acceleration platform Reply. He has 10+ years of experience in software development, a comprehensive technical background, and a strong sense of business and marketing.

Twitter: @olegcl

LinkedIn: Oleg Campbell