“Millennials are the most talked about generation in history … Now people want to know what’s next.”
– Connor Blakley , Gen Z Consulting Expert
Considering how much focus has been placed on the millennial generation over the past half-decade, younger generations must be feeling an awful lot like Jan Brady these days: Unseen and unheard.
While there has certainly been good reason for millennials to have been such a major priority to brands, as they are one of the largest generations in American history , this has caused many to lose sight of what — or who — is coming down the pipeline.
Just as businesses and marketing experts are beginning to finally feel as if they understand the millennial generation , an even more enigmatic group is entering the buyers’ market and workforce: Generation Z.
Gen Z, those born between 1996 and 2010, is comprised of roughly 72 million  teens and young adults whose buying power already exceeds $44 billion  and who influence $600 billion in family spending. These folks will soon represent about 40 percent of American consumers.
For marketers to capture these dollars and reach a generation that has been labeled as “millennials on steroids,” they will need an intimate understanding of how to reach them, where they want to be contacted, and how long they’ve got to do it.
At this point, most advertisers are thinking that this conundrum is a no brainer and social media is undoubtedly the correct approach. If that’s your assumption, your company is in for a rude awakening.
While channels like Instagram and Snapchat are certainly favorites among youngsters, a recent study from Bluecore and NAPCO Research  revealed that Gen Z doesn’t turn to social media to connect with brands or find new products.
Marketing to Generation Z
Since Gen Z actually does use social as a means to connect with friends and family, then what is the right portal for brands to connect with them?
Where Brands Can Reach Gen Z
In the aforementioned study, researchers uncovered that 65 percent of Gen Z respondents claimed email as their preferred channel for brand communications. The next largest group claimed that in-store was their favorite modality; this only accounts for 8 percent of respondents.
The reason that Gen Z prefers email comes down to its level of personalization.
When the younger audience was asked which channel feels most personal to them, near identical results were produced: 60 percent of Z’ers stated email while the next largest group, 8 percent, said Facebook.
What this proves is that personalization is only becoming more important with each subsequent generation; and email is the channel that most effectively delivers the experience younger consumers are searching for.
By using robust email marketing tools, business owners and advertisers can leverage compelling templates suited to Gen Z’s likings (more on that in a moment), establish the most opportune times to send emails, A/B test every aspect of communications for optimal performance, and personalize the living heck out of emails with powerful customization options.
How to Drive Gen Z Sales Using Email
When targeting Gen Z consumers with email communications, you’re not going to be able to use the same old tactics that proved fruitful with Gen X and millennials.
First, you need to leverage video. That doesn’t mean you should include videos. It means you must utilize video.
As shown in an infographic from Upfront Analytics , Generation Z watches twice as many videos on mobile as any other generation, with 70 percent watching upwards of 2 hours of YouTube per day.
If you want to reach this audience, video cannot be neglected.
This also points to another important email factor for Gen Z: minimize your text and use lots of images. With Gen Z, marketers have all of eight seconds to grab their attention; four seconds less than with their millennial brethren.
If you have ever read the way Z’ers write, you know grammar has fallen by the wayside and been replaced with emojis, images and GIFs. For this reason, you need to focus more on visuals to incorporate short but impactful written messages.
The bottom line is that videos and images make emails look better, make them easier to scan, increase the likelihood of a share, and make for a more compelling communication; all of which increase you potential for making a sale.
While we’re on the topic of content, it is incredibly important you serve these visitors only the freshest and most relevant materials. This generation has grown up having massive amounts of information thrown at them and they are masters at separating what they think is useful, what’s rubbish, and what they’ve already seen. If you fail to continually serve up new and interesting information, get ready for your followers to unsubscribe.
The next thing you need to consider for your emails is their level of customization and personalization; again, this is what makes email marketing platforms incredibly important for this generation.
To increase personalized components, advertisers should employ an array of opt-in options as it relates to timing, content and frequency so that youngsters can have a high level of communication control.
All of this means mobile optimization is a must. Mobile is the preferred channel, so a seamless mobile experience is of the utmost importance.
Members of Generation Z are not millennials. If you treat them as such, you won’t create loyalty. This group operates under specific “rules of engagement.” Master the art of the personalized visual communication, and you’ll have their attention.
Depending on the type of business you operate, Gen Z might not be your customers just yet anyway, but rest assured, they are coming. Be prepared, and you will prosper.
Generation Z  Photo via Shutterstock