Why Millennials Don’t Read Emails

Last night we had our annual SSU Wine Club Board planning meeting at my house.  This is usually a relaxed event where we identify the wineries we want to invite to campus next semester, and enjoy a BBQ dinner with many fun wines.  This year’s planning dinner was equally enjoyable, but I was struck by our conversation about how we will promote our educational tasting seminars.

“We will market the seminars via word of mouth and Facebook, of course,” said our new VP of Marketing.  “Most college students never read emails.”

As a college professor, I already knew this, but I was concerned because so many businesses still require email communication.  “Well, I will read email if it is part of my job or a grade depends on it,” another board member responded “but Facebook or texting are much more reliable.”

I leaned back in my chair, took another sip of wine, and scratched my head — feeling trapped in an electronic communication time warp.  It seems that with each new technology introduction communicating between the generations becomes more complex.

“But what about the Constant Contact email campaign you just mentioned you were using to reach people for your job on campus?” I asked our new VP of Marketing.

“Oh, that is to reach out to alumni and community,” she answered.  “We use Constant Contact to send emails to them, but it just doesn’t work with students.  Instead, I have to communicate with them via Facebook using event postings and special group messages.  I just wish Facebook would allow us to send messages to many individuals, but they are not there yet.”

I sighed and took another sip of wine thinking back to the charity golf tournament I spend the last 6 months organizing.  It was the first year we actually used online registration via Constant Contact for our 19th annual golf tournament, but we could only get half of the players to use it.  The others insisted on completing paper registration forms we sent via regular mail.

“Why is it an issue?” another Millennial Board member interrupted my reverie.  “Email is passé.  We don’t need to bother with it when communicating with people in their twenties.”

But I can’t help thinking about all of the marketing and promotion campaigns that are now forced to use multiple platforms to reach different generations.  We live in a time when one age group still requires paper communication; a second relies on email; and a third will only respond to text and Facebook.  How and when do we span this technology gulf of ages?