Identity Resolution: Who are Your Customers and Where are They?
Identity resolution is exactly what it sounds like: assembling all the pieces of data associated with a person to create a whole picture. Think of it as a puzzle. Your targets drop pieces of data at every stage of their customer journey. When you put those pieces together into a unified picture, you are better able to understand your targets and therefore create a better customer experience.
To reach your customers when and where they are most likely to engage along their customer journey, you must piece together their data to be able to analyze their habits and preferences. There are three data collection points to consider: channels, touchpoints, and devices.
Where are your customers?
Identity resolution is also known as cross-device identification or cross-device targeting. The average U.S. household owns 11 connected devices. If one person uses even half of those (TV, smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, laptop, etc.), consider the different pieces of data each picks up and how many opportunities you must reach that target. (We’ll discuss identification and targeting separately later.)
Google did a study on the consumer’s path to purchase which revealed the importance of devices to the consumer’s decision. When making large, more expensive, longer-term purchase decisions, chances are that consumers will take some time to research. Whether they end up purchasing online or offline, you must make sure that you have a website, that your website is mobile-friendly, and that consumers can easily find reviews of your products and services.
The online world is not replacing the offline one when it comes to consumer purchases. Rather, access to online research complements offline purchases. According to the same Google study, “[o]n average, only 11% of consumers can be treated as strictly ‘online customers’ and 12% can be earmarked as strictly ‘offline consumers.’” This proves that the customer journey involves several different touchpoints.
Touchpoints are places where your customers or targets interact with your brand. Each interaction, or touchpoint, influences your customers’ opinion of you, your company, and/or your product or service. Some examples of touchpoints are
- Mobile interaction: ads, social media, apps
- Print: ads, media coverage, reviews
- Web: website, online search, content
- Marketing: ads, emails, promotions
- People: reviews, recommendations, gossip
And there are many more. Google did another study that involved analyzing users’ clickstream data. One of the findings of the study was a range of online consumer touchpoints: 20-500! Now, this study strictly focused on the online journey for product purchases, but the same statistics carry over to professional services. The point is that the more expensive the product or the larger the investment, the more time and research customers will apply which results in more touchpoints along the way.
You might have noticed, from the list above, that some touchpoints you won’t be able to control as easily as others. What you can control are channels. Channels are planned points of customer interaction. Here are some examples:
- Targeting ads on Facebook
- Advertising through print, digital, or both
- Running a lead magnet
- Emailing subscribers regularly
The channel is how you introduce yourself to and build relationships with your customers. We’ll tie all this back to identity resolution shortly….
Who are your customers?
Chris Ridson lists appropriate, relevant, meaningful, endearing, and connected as five ways to connect to your targets and customers through touchpoints. Here’s what you can control:
- Your content, brand, and message apply to who your customers are individually
- You meet your customers’ needs
- Your brand or business matches your customers’ values
- Your brand and messaging are user-friendly, personalized, and empathetic
- It is easy for your customers to contact you and engage with you
Your ability to check all these boxes will be determined by how well you know who your customers are and where they are at. You need to be able to create a personalized customer experience and reach them at as many touchpoints as possible. This is where identity resolution comes in.
Cross-Device Identification vs. Cross-Device Targeting
Depending on who your target audience is, they likely spend most of their time on the Internet from a personal device. A cross-device identification (DCi) solution—or identity resolution solution—takes your customers’ activity from all devices they use and assimilates it into one customer view or profile. This profile then informs your targeting.
Above, we talked about how many different devices, touchpoints, and channels there are between you and your customers. To appropriately meet your customers where they are, you need to know where they’re going. This is where cross-device targeting comes in: once you know who your customers are, then you’ll know how to best reach them and interact with them.
Identity resolution is a great solution for customer data integration (CDI) and master data management (MDM). Some benefits include:
- Connecting data – taking all the data from your customer’s touchpoints and using a unified profile to understand who that customer is
- Consolidating identities – associating all data from one customer into one, correct profile
- Apply insights – use the customer profile you create to inform future interactions
- Enrich profiles – gather more data as more touchpoints are reached
- Mirror audiences – build look-alike audiences and reach customers just like the ones you’ve already identified
- Scale-up – improve your customer interactions to become more personalized and increase profit and revenue
- Authentic relationships – create better customer experiences by providing relevant and personalized content and information
Gather the data, organize it, and use it!
Why Identity Resolution Matters
Technology is a great resource for consumers. It’s easier than ever to research a product or service before committing to a purchase. That’s good news for you because the more touchpoints customers reach, the more information you must use to your advantage.
Identity resolution provides you with organized information that can be used to improve the customer experience and put you ahead of the competition. Knowing who your customers are and where they are allows you to make proactive marketing decisions. You need to know what’s working, what’s not working, and who is the most interested in what you have to offer. Then, you can start bringing in more customers just like the ones you’ve already built relationships with.