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The Surprisingly Successful Way to Market to Teens

Karen Axelton
market to teens

Is your small business marketing to teenagers? Smart move: Teens have major spending power, controlling more than $208 billion annually — some of which is their own spending money and some of which is their parents’. If you think marketing to teens means you’ve got to become fluent in Snapchat or use the latest slang, however, think again. One of the best ways to market to teens just might surprise you: It’s good old-fashioned email.

While you might assume that teenagers dismiss email as a tool for old people, a new study shows that nearly three-fourths (74 percent) of teenagers regularly use email in their day-to-day lives. That’s not just because their parents are making them, either: Half of the teenagers in the study have set up their own email accounts.

More important for your business, email is the number-one way teenagers communicate with businesses and brands. More than two-thirds (68 percent) of teens in the study say their preferred way to receive messages from businesses is by email. In addition, nearly half (49 percent) of teens say the reason they have an email address in the first place is to buy things online — good news for ecommerce retailers in particular.

Now, how can you make sure that your email marketing messages are effective with a teenage audience?

  • Above all, make sure they’re mobile-friendly. A whopping 90 percent of teens use their smartphones to read their personal email. If your email doesn’t render properly on a mobile device, teens won’t bother to read it.
  • Also make sure that any calls to action your emails include can be completed on a mobile device, and that links go to mobile-friendly landing pages. You don’t want to get a teenager to click through your email, only to lose them on a webpage that doesn’t work properly.
  • It’s important to make your subject lines eye-catching and quickly show teenage readers what’s in it for them. You don’t have much time to get their attention, because teens are more likely than their parents are to “triage” their email. In other words, they skim over their inboxes, deleting some messages and saving others for later. Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of teens use this method to go through their email inboxes.

The study shows that teens also use laptops and tablets, but overall, smartphones are their primary tech tool. Tailor your marketing emails for smartphone viewing and keep teenagers’ short attention spans in mind, and you’ll be on the path to success.

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Author information

Karen Axelton

Karen Axelton is Chief Content Officer of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her company’s blog at