It’s no secret that consumers demand personalized experiences when interacting with brands. In fact, 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences. To help meet this demand, CMOs are investing up to 29% of their marketing budgets in technology. But in a recent survey of 190 marketing influencers worldwide conducted by Ascend2, 63% of respondents said that data-driven personalization is a difficult tactic to execute.
So why is it so hard to deliver highly contextual and individualized consumer experiences in real time, at scale?
For most brands, the answer boils down to one thing: poor identity resolution. Identity is the foundation for knowing who your customers are, recognizing them across their devices and tailoring every message based on what they need and want. Yet a 2019 Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Epsilon shows that only half of brands at best are capable of fundamental identity resolution, like finding customers across devices, controlling messaging frequency and sequencing and building a unified customer profile.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to manage data with identity resolution best practices and how combining with real-time customer profiles unlocks the value of your tech stack to create the best, most connected customer experiences.
In the pursuit of delivering highly relevant customer experiences, you've likely already invested in many of the key elements to deliver personalized connections, but upstream data and identity issues continue to create execution challenges. Adding multiple execution platforms to solve for channel specific use cases further compounds the issue.
Many point solutions required to message or interact in a specific channel only need a fragment of a profile to execute. This is both good and bad: good because you can make things happen with little information; bad because this fragmented approach diminishes your ability to orchestrate and deliver the right experience in real-time, across channels.
Now add compliance and governance to the mix. Data usage across channels is limited by consent, regulations and contracts. Inability to accurately resolve consumer identities to their consent and preference choices across channels can have major implications for your brand and can’t be overlooked, especially with the advent of new privacy regulations. Compliance and governance implications aside, the inability to honor customer-declared preference won’t earn you accolades from a customer experience standpoint either.
A shaky foundation
Brands across industries who are struggling to unleash the full value of their marketing tech investments haven’t mastered some fundamental best practices. These include data management, data hygiene and persistent identification of offline or first party profile data. Why?
First party profiles are messy. They come from many sources, change over time and are frequently prone to input error. And in some verticals, they are sparsely populated. Inconsistencies and gaps are magnified when flawed data is uploaded into marketing applications, since the bulk of these tools lack the capabilities to inherently improve it. Highly inaccurate data is the unfortunate consequence, and ultimately results in persistent misalignment of profile data and poor customer experiences.
Risks to customer experience
Activating against profiles instead of communicating with a person, creates missed opportunities and waste. It could also negatively affect customer loyalty. For example, it’s not a good look when your loyal customer receives a new customer offer.
Even as the channels expand, your customer’s exacting expectations remain the same. Failure to deliver on those expectations will cause customers to avoid your brand. The ability to effectively manage data and coalesce multiple profiles accurately over time is, and will remain, crucial to establishing and maintaining the health of your marketing efforts.
While it’s difficult to quantify financial impact of poor customer experiences, there are a few benchmarks to consider. According to a 2018 Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Adobe, experience-driven businesses have grown revenue 1.4x faster and increased customer lifetime value by 1.6x more than other companies.
Shoring up your building blocks
It’s paramount to understand the data management and quality processes involved in creating the people-based profile that ultimately serves as the source of truth for marketing across channels.
Some questions to consider to help you determine the efficacy of these processes include:
Can you align the same individuals from your offline customer data to a persistent ID recognizable across online channels?
Your customer is still the same person, regardless of the channel in which they engage. You need the ability to identify your customers by linking their online and offline behaviors to maintain that valuable connection to them. Sole reliance on unstable cookies or device IDs is insufficient. The best way to maintain a privacy compliant connection between your online and offline customer data is to continually align and link them using offline transactions. Marrying up online identifiers to high quality offline transactional data leaves the guesswork out of the equation.
Are you able to learn more about your customers demographics, lifestyle, purchase behavior or provide additional contact points to reach your customers?
Understanding what motivates your customers outside of their interactions with your brand can be the driving factor in creating more value for your customers, ultimately leading to higher satisfaction with your brand and more sales. Filling in gaps in identity can also help improve your ability to reach your customers in the channels they care about and prefer to engage in.
Do you leverage advanced hygiene techniques that continuously improve name, postal, email and phone data quality for optimal recognition and reach?
Misaligned name and contact types and over-incorporation of invalid data types can quickly impede accurate identification. If your software provider is unable to recognize anomalies and fix outdated or completely incorrect data for your customer, a larger percentage of duplication in profile IDs will occur and continue to proliferate across your enterprise. Recognizing the nuances in name-based data is critical to optimizing recognition and delivery of marketing messages regardless of channel it’s activated on.
Unlock and supercharge your martech investments
Adopting some of these core practices will involve internal transformation, and can be supported by Epsilon, with a payoff that has lasting effect which truly unlocks long term value. To achieve personalization goals and realize the full potential of your marketing technology investments, make sure your solutions can:
- Provide integrated data onboarding and identity resolution best practices that recognize customer signals across all channels they interact with
- Adapt to changes in a consumer’s identity but also recognize behaviors that reflect interests and key buying signals in order to provide a valuable experience
- Seamlessly integrate every individual’s channel activities to maximize accurate measurement that will lead to better performing personalized dialogs
- Identify and fill in gaps in your customer data to maximize channel reach and message relevance
- Holistically honor individual preferences, consent and customer privacy across your marketing stack, while also maintaining compliance as new regulations go into effect
Employing these critical best practices around identity and data will ensure brands like yours are able to deliver on highly contextual, relevant and in the moment experiences your customers expect, while helping to bulletproof and fuel your marketing investments for the future. The ultimate payoff with identity resolution is realized through unique and highly personalized dialogs with your entire audience, one at time.