The game changer in retail personalization: Consumer identity management

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While many retail marketers are excited about the opportunities technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence will bring in terms of customer engagement and meaningful connections, the reality is that most haven’t even figured out how to tackle truly personalized omnichannel engagement.

For brick-and-mortar retailers, hybrid retailers, online-only ones and everything in between, omnichannel yields a significant advantage in personalizing engagements. Inbound and outbound touch points, including phone, digital and social across multiple devices, traditional direct mail and addressable TV are just a few of the avenues for brands to personally connect with consumers these days.

However, the challenge lies in the consumer data behind those engagements — or lack thereof. Key questions often arise when looking at this data: Who is the customer, what are their likes, what about purchase histories, life stages and lifestyle patterns?

Knowing these answers and having accurate insights are critical to meaningful interactions — both inbound and outbound — especially as the holiday shopping season gets started. In fact, marketers reveal that targeted personalization improves consumer engagement by a whopping 74 percent.

Surprisingly, however, on average 25 percent (PDF) of the customer data that brands maintain is inaccurate, incomplete or out-of-date at any moment in time. This often translates into poor or subpar interactions at best.

In part, the reason is that many organizations still haven’t mastered the integration of consumer data resident in multiple internal systems — think CRM (customer relationship management), loyalty databases, payment and financial systems. Through the use of a consumer identity management strategy, consumer data is continuously cleansed, updated and tagged with a persistent ID number to keep the customer’s profile linked across multiple databases.

More data doesn’t necessarily translate to positive personalized interactions

As consumers sign up, change, cancel email addresses, social media accounts, phone services and more, the dizzying array of consumer identifiers are constantly changing. This makes it much more difficult to accurately identify consumers to cultivate authentic personalized connections using dynamic and relevant content.

Strength in numbers and scalability is a critical component of any brand’s marketing campaigns. However, inaccuracies in identity data, incomplete or incorrect lifestyle-indicating attribute data, or poor interlinking between them will significantly limit the reach of a campaign and weaken the effectiveness of personalization.

As an example, if nearly 25 percent of targeted consumers use a different email for Facebook than what’s in a brand’s CRM system, a brand’s Facebook campaign will yield lower match rates, lower reach and less-than-optimal performance.

Meaningful personalization requires real-time access to comprehensive, accurate, interlinked identity data at scale to ensure data is rich, accurate and complete, while also being able to suppress duplicate records and exclude those with a low propensity to buy. This identity data must be correctly interlinked with up-to-date attribute data such as consumer demographics and psychographics, mobile and online behaviors, propensity-to-buy scores and purchase histories through customized messaging that drives stronger response rates.

After the first interaction or purchase… now what?

For many retailers, what might have drawn the customer in for an initial purchase is not necessarily the reason they may return to fulfill subsequent needs.

It’s no longer enough to simply maintain the identity of each consumer for their initial interaction because they’re more than likely to follow up with a second or third visit from a separate device, email or social media ID. In this case, you can’t follow their buying and life journey — or meet them with the consistent and relevant messaging that will pull them closer to a buying decision.

Omnichannel marketers utilize a blended approach — tying devices and channels together with foundational consumer identity data to ensure that no matter if a customer is in a store getting messages via beacons or interacting by phone or digital, they can accurately identify a consumer wherever and whenever they engage for a personalized, relevant experience.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

A 25-year veteran of the Information Services and Analytics industry, Dave Dague is a cross-channel consumer identification, verification and marketing solutions thought leader to the advertising, financial services, retail, telecommunications and other industries. Prior to joining infutor as executive vice president of marketing, Dave served as CMO for Gravy Analytics, a Gannett-backed mobile, location-based behavioral insights company. Previously, Dave was CMO for Neustar and CMO for TargusInfo, which was purchased by Neustar in 2011. Dave has also served as an adjunct professor of Marketing and Sales Management at the undergraduate level.


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