Even before I read the recent findings from Epsilon International’s survey I would have said that we struggle as marketers to communicate with our sophisticated prospects and customers in the most appropriate way. Now, I’m absolutely positive that most of us will continue the battle to stay relevant… unless we start to play some serious catch up and hasten our (slowly) changing approach to digital marketing.

The digital media industry has been rapidly growing for some time now, presenting marketers with new opportunities for engaging prospects and massaging customers. And while we have changed our thinking and tactics to an extent, we’re nowhere near where we need to be (as an industry) if we’re to reliably assist the sales cycle.

Epsilon’s digital marketing survey addressed the ‘Millennial’ age group – the 18 to 25-year-olds of this world that are extremely comfortable with the internet. It more or less concluded that they love using their mobiles to search for information and check emails, and are open to receiving information and special offers from marketers as long as the contact is meaningful and not too frequent. Most interestingly, I thought, it highlighted the need for marketers to bridge the great divide between digital and offline marketing. For example, the Millennials are more receptive to messages containing offline specials and opportunities, when marketers are contacting them on a weekly basis.

I use the Millennial survey findings as a backdrop to this week’s blog which argues that we’re not nearly as sophisticated as our customers, regardless of whether they’re under 25 or over 50 years of age. We’re still counting clicks when we should be measuring impressions just as vigorously. We’re ignoring the fact that our customers and prospects are browsing products online via their phone on the way to one of our stores. Our website activity reports are shallow and only tell us if the visitor is unique or a repeat guest. We wouldn’t know if our website is laid out in the most opportune way because we’re not properly tracking internal site searches from customers. We’re also not looking closely enough at how people are finding information and navigating their way to special pages. And we wouldn’t know when error pages pop up in front of customers and so that person navigates away from our site and we are none the wiser. The list goes on and on.

I think the Millennial age group is a perfect example of just how important it is for marketers to become more and more sophisticated in their approach. This is a group of people very comfortable with technology. They understand it and they expect us to understand it. They expect us to know how to use it to better communicate with them and they’ll tolerate our digital marketing rubbish less and less. In fact, this level of expectation is growing across all ages. You know what it’s like yourself when you keep receiving junk mail in your inbox or mailbox. It feels like a waste of time for all involved and yet as marketers we’re still marching out materials that we know aren’t as personalised as they could be.

So why can’t we play the role of both the sophisticated marketer and sophisticated customer? We seem to have the latter down pat; as customers we know what we want and how we like to be contacted. As marketers though, we’re still turning a blind eye but it’s really only a matter of arming ourselves with the right information to develop the right approach, and we’ll be on our way.