The modern consumer is more connected and has more information at their fingertips than at any other point in history. Consumers can now interact with brands through dozens of potential channels, including online sources like social media, banner ads, and the company website, as well as offline sources such as billboards, the call center, and brick-and-mortar retail stores. The sheer number of possible touchpoints can confound even the savviest marketer, but is especially problematic in the face of the fragmented marketing technology stack and siloed data that many brands currently use.
For brands to remain competitive in the age of the empowered, connected consumer, they must be able to connect customer data across channels into a coherent whole. This reality in modern marketing puts new emphasis on identity resolution capabilities, which can help marketers and other stakeholders unify data across silos into a single composite view of the customer that can then be leveraged in omnichannel customer engagement efforts.
To understand the importance of identity resolution, it helps to first understand what it is. Identity resolution in the simplest sense is an operational process to identify an entity – for example, a person, household, or device – through an automated process that may use a combination of deterministic and probabilistic matching. It is the cornerstone process in data quality initiatives, progressive profiling, and the creation of a unified customer profile or “golden record.” Identity resolution may, in practice, include standardizing, normalizing, validating, and enhancing data as part of an automated process.
Knowing that the customer who just put an item in their online shopping cart is the same person who interacted via a web form can allow you to provide a different interaction than if those two pieces of information were disconnected. In this way, identity resolution informs more contextually relevant interactions because you’ve gained the ability to leverage unified customer data in a way that was not previously possible.
The ability to recognize customers across channels has taken on new importance in the modern age. The multi-channel, multi-device world that consumers operate in is only going to increase in complexity. Consider that Winterberry Group recently found the average consumer uses seven connected devices, up from three in 2014, and recent Accenture research found that 87 percent of consumers use a second screen device while watching television. With Gartner predicting that the Internet of Things (IoT) will be 20.4 billion devices strong by 2020, it’s incumbent on brands to provide a consistent experience regardless of channel.
Part of providing that consistent experience is the ability to connect data across channel-specific and functional silos, while also reconciling the different sources of customer data into a unified profile. Identity resolution capabilities play a key role in this environment – you need to know who your customers are, and meet them where they are, to close the gap between customer experience and expectation. This becomes even more vital in a world where customers interact through multiple channels in the course of the modern customer journey.
It’s for this reason that you need to ensure your marketing technology stack has strong identity resolution functionality. If you’re able to reliably recognize customers across channels, and understand their past history with your brand, then you can provide the kind of contextually relevant interactions that improve loyalty and ensure long-term success. Without the ability to recognize customers across channels, you risk sending the wrong message to the wrong customer.
The ability to quickly and efficiently recognize your customers regardless of channel can make a substantial difference in meeting customer expectations. If you’re able to accomplish this quickly and efficiently, then you can provide the contextually relevant interactions which will increase engagement and allow you to succeed in the world of the omnichannel customer.