Millennials have shown that, when it comes to brand communications preferences, they don’t have a lot in common with Gen Xers, and Gen Z is proving to be an even quirkier crowd for effective engagement. And Generation Alpha, which is coming around the bend, will almost certainly react and respond to brand outreach in a whole new way.

These differences make personalized comms messaging a top imperative as brands begin to outline their 2018 engagement strategies. But according to a new study from Yes Lifecycle Marketing, two in five communicators don’t tailor their initiatives to audiences of different age groups—and therefore missing out on substantial engagement opportunities as consumers of all ages demand more customized content.

The report, A Blueprint for Using Audience Insights to Inform Marketing Communication Strategies, based on an annual survey of 300 marketers online and during Shop.org, found that just 11 percent of marketers claim they can personalize all content in real time—indicating that nine out of 10 must improve their personalization efforts.

Communicators should personalize content based on age—why don’t they?

Identifying the roadblocks

The study also found about a quarter of marketers (27 percent) can execute basic personalization tactics, such as using a customer’s name or birthday. Another 26 percent can personalize based on browsing or purchase history, but say it’s tedious to do so. And 17 percent of marketers state they cannot personalize content because they still have trouble collecting and analyzing data.

“Personalization isn’t limited to a customer’s name; and marketers who go beyond this simple data point in order to customize communications will reap the benefits,” said Michael Fisher, president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing, in a news release. “Marketers should tailor content to their customers’ habits and demographics. Fairly easy-to-implement adjustments, such as triggered campaigns and lifecycle messaging, will go far.”

Communicators should personalize content based on age—why don’t they?

Younger audiences in particular respond to personalization

Although personalization is a good strategy for engaging consumers of all ages, younger consumers find it especially important. Nearly half of Centennials, age 18-21, (45 percent) and Millennials, age 22-37, (49 percent) make purchases because of the level of personalization within a brand’s email content, meaning that personalization translates into revenue.

Some brands already practice personalization. In fact, of brands that personalize content based on age, two-thirds do so via email. Social media (38 percent) and website (35 percent) round out the three channels that marketers are most likely to personalize content based on age.

“The takeaway from the data is obvious: consumers want marketers to personalize content based on their individual characteristics and attributes, and marketers still struggle to do so,” said Michael Iaccarino, CEO and chairman of Infogroup, the parent company of Yes Lifecycle Marketing, in the release. “To alleviate personalization woes, marketers need a partner that can help them enhance and leverage their customer data in order to improve personalization, and as a result, increase revenue.”

Communicators should personalize content based on age—why don’t they?

Additional findings from the report include:

  • Less than a quarter of marketers personalize display (24 percent) or direct mail (23 percent) content based on customer age.
  • Driving revenue (40 percent), acquiring new customers (24 percent), and engaging customers (17 percent) are the three biggest priorities for marketers heading into 2018.
  • Only 16 percent of marketers believe millennials are most influenced to purchase by the email channel; yet 67 percent of millennials report finding email valuable when researching products.

Download the full report here.

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