Are digital marketers losing sight of the value in connecting online and offline identity data?

August 1, 2019

It will come as no surprise to this group that the options for and use of Customer Data Platforms (CDP) are on the rise. Marketers need a central place to hold, access and manage their vast customer data as well as personalize and better target their ad programs to reach the right consumers with the most relevant messaging.

As part of this dynamic, consumer identity markers (names, physical addresses, phone numbers, emails, hashed emails, mobile ad IDs) and identity resolution have become a key enabler for CDP users to fully realize the value of these platforms. How else can you ensure that the consumer data in your CDP is comprehensive, linked and up to date? At any given time, up to 30% of consumer records in brand databases are incomplete, duplicative or incorrect. So it’s critical that marketers have access to dynamically updated identity data. While many marketers assume this type of identity resolution is baked into CDPs, that isn’t always the case. And of the CDPs that do offer integrated identity resolution, there are often some gaps – specifically as it relates to critical offline data.

Enterprise-grade identity resolution offers the ability to resolve all identity markers to a single person, regardless of which enterprise system they reside within. This ensures that there is a single, linked view of the consumer. Typically utilizing an identity graph, or known truth set, to resolve all identity markers to a single view of a consumer, foundational identity resolution enables critical marketing functions such as personalization, segmentation, analytics, outbound activation, compelling inbound engagement in real-time — you name it.

While the advent of CDPs has generally risen out of digital marketing, marketers today who solely focus on a consumer’s digital identity and digital footprint may be missing out on key offline indicators that provide a more comprehensive view of that person, and a critical way to use that information to link online identities. Offline indicators can include name, physical address, emails, phone numbers (mobile and landline) as well as historical auto/home ownership attributes. As consumers live their lives, these markers are constantly changing (marriages, moves, phone changes, email address changes, etc.).

To capture both online and offline consumer data, identity markers that power CDPs must be linked together with a persistent identifier through identity resolution. These identity markers provide an essential way for brands to integrate and update first and third-party consumer records in multiple, siloed datasets, e.g., CRM, billing, delivery, customer care, etc. This empowers marketers to maintain a single, 360-degree view of customer contact, transaction and attribute intelligence for de-duplicated and personalized outbound and inbound transactions. Identity resolution also helps improve outbound marketing scale by enabling multiple identity markers to be tied to a consumer, improving onboarding match rates and driving outbound omnichannel scale. Plus, integrated data enables cross-device and platform tracking and helps optimize campaigns, engagements and channel attribution.

Digital intelligence like browser cookies, tags and mobile ad IDs are by design, anonymized, but many can be tied back to offline data using privacy-friendly hashed emails. Physical addresses and phone numbers are another key component to match to digital identifiers to implement omnichannel marketing. And, some marketers overlook the fact that on average, U.S. consumers maintain three email addresses, and use them differently across platforms (e.g. one address for social accounts, another for retail platforms, another for personal use). Being able to access and maintain a record of multiple, linked email addresses helps ensure that the right consumers can be reached on as many platforms and channels as possible.

Foundationally, marketers need to leverage identity linking and ensure identity resolution is implemented across their entire internal dataset. This is essential to maintaining linked, de-duplicated and enhanced records for use within their CDPs. Whether identity resolution is already part of their CDP’s functionality or accessed through real-time APIs, marketers who leverage on-demand identity resolution, can do so on a record-by-record basis (even from fractional identity marker data), enabling them to minimize data decay to maintain their ability to reliably reach the right consumers at scale.

Since identity markers are constantly changing, those changes must be consistently captured in an organization’s CDP to ensure marketers are delivering relevant and compelling messaging and offers as their target consumers’ lives evolve and change.