Reaching the digitally connected Millennial market (also known as Generation Y) through the use of a regular Standard Mail piece may seem like a lost cause. But if you understand who your target audience is and how they want to receive messages, you may just see some benefits in your favor.

Millennials are between the ages of 19 and 34. They are the largest generation (estimated at 80 million in the U.S.) since the Baby Boomers. According to the Pew Research Center, they are optimistic and technologically savvy.[1] And according to Experian Marketing Services, almost one-quarter (24 percent) of millennials have a college degree,[2] while 33 percent are married and many (58 percent) own a home.[3] Their buying power is also growing every year.

As a Millennial, I've recycled my share of transactional mail - especially pieces that look and feel like "junk" mail. But recently I got a piece of mail from my telecommunications company that I couldn't help but open. Here are six things this company did right.

1. Be direct. Make sure you state up front (on the envelope) the reason for the communication.
I would have recycled most pieces of mail like this one; it was lightweight and flimsy, and I knew it wasn't a bill because I subscribe to eBill and auto-pay services. But I took a look at the red, boldface sentence on the envelope. "Good news - we upgraded your Internet speed for FREE!" For free?! There has to be some type of catch, right? So I opened it up.

2. Simplify the message. You don't need to use fancy words or overcomplicate the message with Millennials. Make the communication targeted, short, relevant and to the point. According to an infographic by Marketo, the average American's attention span is roughly 8 seconds. In two paragraphs, I knew exactly what the communication was about and what I needed to do to get additional Internet speed (and I don't have to do a thing!).

3. Use color and/or images. Create a piece your audience wants to read. The saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" holds true. Again, you are dealing with a generation that wants the message in a short amount of time. The next generation (Generation Z) after Millennials is no different. They prefer visuals over text. Start now - don't lose their attention!

4. Reward your customers. I was described as a loyal customer, yet I have only been a customer for 2 years. That doesn't seem like a long time to be defined as a loyal customer, right? But to the eyes (and short attention span) of a Millennial, 2 years is a long-term commitment. Many industries, such as telecommunications, struggle with a high churn/turnover rate. Let's face it; there are many choices within the communications market. I'm being solicited weekly to switch my Internet provider and tempted by Google Fiber Optic speed, which is coming to my neighborhood in the fall. Providing additional speed (8 more Mbps) for free is quite a compelling factor as I decide whether I'll continue my already satisfactory relationship. And the extra speed will come in handy while I watch my favorite Netflix show, listen to Pandora Internet radio, respond to a text or two, check my social media sites, or even type up a blog post like this one!

5. Know your customers. I'd be willing to bet big data played a part in this successful communication. Demographics and predictive analytics go hand-in-hand, particularly in the Standard Mail space. Marketers are slicing and dicing data, my data. How else would they know how to tailor a communication that resulted in a positive response? Of course, the power of a thank-you note goes a long way too.

6. Make customers feel valued. This is critical. As I said earlier, the mail piece itself felt like junk mail. But after being wooed by the color message and reading the personalized and well-crafted letter, I thought it had to be a First-Class mailpiece. Nope - they actually sent me a quality thank-you letter via Standard Mail. This is a first. It's nice to be valued as a customer. And had this been sent to my email inbox, it likely would have been overlooked.

Well done, telecommunications mailer! You managed to capture the attention of this Millennial in a way no other company has. Be direct, keep it simple, use color, offer a reward, know your customers and make them feel valued.

By the way - if you are worried about your bottom line to send a thank-you letter, consider what your bottom line would look like if you lost the customer altogether.

Mandi McCoy is Senior Product Manager | Customer Communications | DST Output, LLC. She can be reached at

[1] 'Millennials in Adulthood: Detached from Institutions, Networked with Friends.' Pew Research Center, March 7, 2014.

[2] 'Millennials - an interesting and influential demographic.' Diana Illiano, Experian Marketing Services, March 15, 2013.

[3] 'Millennials Come of Age.' Experian Marketing Services, June 2014.