Today’s marketers are missing a trick if they are not targeting their audience by age group. It’s increasingly important to tread with caution and avoid stereotyping by listening to your data. We’ve all shared a joke with a different generation, whether it’s how our parents are behind with technologies, our mums continue to text with one finger, or baby boomers telling millennials and centennials to get off their devices. But, that doesn’t mean everyone in a generation acts in the same way.

So, why do marketers continue to target different generations with the same approach? Mailjet, a European email service provider conducted two recent pieces of research that highlight where brands are missing the mark with the targeting of their customer communications. They recently found that 27% of over 55s feel that the messaging they receive is targeted towards younger generations.

Marketers can look to technology to better understand their target audience and how to reach those individuals effectively. But, what do brands need to do to make their communications appeal to their customers, no matter their age?

Personalisation is still key

Offering a personalised experience remains key to all generations, with 40% saying it has the biggest impact on whether they convert with a brand or not. Such approach is most influential with consumers between the ages of 45 and 59, with 84% of over 55s deleting anything that looks ‘salesy.’

When it comes to travel marketing, 60% of baby boomers agreed that they would be more likely to book with a travel company that proactively approached them over email. However, they also stipulated that these interactions had to be relevant to their travel interests. Marketers need to focus on creating email content that is personalised and captivating to their audience.

JetBlue goes beyond the “hi first name” mark with their level of personalisation, using data their customers give them. This example shows that they incorporate the sign-up date within their email strategy to engage their customers and persuade them to rebook their next trip with them.

Craving real-time communication

Over a third (37%) of Brits admit to checking personal emails during the working day, with most (61%) admitting they will check for product delivery updates and product offers. When asked to put a figure on the number of times they look through their personal emails a day, one in 10 admitted to checking at least 20 times or more. And, 84% allow for real-time notifications across their portable devices to alert them when brands have reached out via email.

A need for real-time communications is even more important for consumers under the age of 30, with 60% of millennials using their work email accounts for personal communications. As many as 58% actually look for real-time notifications after interacting with a brand, with only two in five (43%) receiving real-time notifications the minute they come into contact with a brand.

Brands could be missing out as nearly one in five (18.7%) consumers aged 30 and under are converting after receiving an email. Younger consumers look to convert in the moment with the timing an email is received being the most influential factor when making a purchase. Brands need to ensure content is relevant and responsive to the design needs of a younger, mobile generation.

Real-time needs are not exclusive to millennials as over 55s are increasingly turning to email, with nine in ten respondents checking their emails every day; that’s more than double the number checking Facebook (40%). Although it’s important to realise that different generations are moving into the digital age at varying paces. Emailing in real-time is only relevant to a proportion of over 45s with 72% admitting they’ve still never noticed a real-time notification on any device after coming into contact with a brand.

Norwegian Air, famous for their timely Brad Pitt/Los Angeles campaign, are a great example for real-time retargeted emails. The travel brand understands capturing browsers in the moment is important to ensuring customers book their flights with them and not with another airline.

Playing catch-up

Regardless of recent rumblings about the growth in social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, overwhelmingly consumers still take the most notice of brands through traditional channels with email (61%) leading the way, then broadcast TV (34%), and direct mail (19%).

Whilst one in 10 (11%) state they are now most likely to convert directly through a mobile device, few are yet taking note of brand communications and offers delivered through the likes of Instagram (8%), Twitter (11%) and Facebook (25%), suggesting these channels still have work to do to catch-up with more established advertising channels.

Consumers under 30 are the most receptive to brand messaging on social media. However, it’s important for brands to consider all age groups as a whopping 62% of Brits over 65 now have a Facebook profile. Marketers need to consider the overall customer experience and ensure that channels are no longer standalone; email and social channels need to complement each other.

Our last example today comes from Habitat, which uses email to drive traffic to its Facebook page, increasing the number of touchpoints they have with their customers and giving them the ability to maximise engagement.

Email campaigns need to be tailored. By understanding the nuances of each age group and making use of personalisation data, brands can ensure that they deliver campaigns that hit the mark. The days of spray and pray are gone, email marketing must be created to appeal to the individual whether that means utilising real-time insights, data-driven campaigns or new communications channels.