Want To Engage Your Customers? First You Must Know Them!

December 2, 2020


Previously we looked at the origins of the Customer Data Platform category and provided some guidelines to help you decide if you need a CDP. Now let’s take a look at one of the central roles of a CDP: identity resolution and management.

What do we mean by identity?

Identity is much broader than just knowing a customer's name, address and other first-party data. Everywhere a customer goes in the digital world there is some sort of identifier whether it be website login ID, mobile app login ID, email address, device IDs, cookie IDs, social handles…you get the idea. The list is long!  Some you can link directly to their real identity while others you can't. The customer is anonymous in those cases. Customers have many IDs in the physical world too: loyalty program number, customer number, account number and others. These IDs are more often linked to their real identity than the digital ID’s since they gave personal information freely in order to join the loyalty program or make a purchase. 

The challenge for a marketer is to know exactly who is on the other side of every interaction...no matter when and where the customer chooses to interact with their brand: offline, online, any time, any device, any channel. In other words, a truly connected view of each customer and their interaction history over time and places.

What does it mean to know your customer?

·         Know WHO they are – definitively

·         Know enough ABOUT them to be relevant when you speak with them

·         Know about them RIGHT NOW, using the very latest data

·         Know them WHEN & WHERE they choose to engage

Your customer might sum it up like this: “Know me and Serve me” - at every interaction point. If you can’t solve the identity problem you won’t meet your customer’s expectations.

What is a marketer to do? Here are some suggestions:

Think broadly about “channels”. The graphic above illustrates that the customer has many ways to engage with your brand beyond email, web and mobile.  Each industry needs to assess the ways their customer might engage and them create the seamless experience their customer craves. View each as a place to serve your customer, in-the-moment.

Bridge your MarTech, AdTech, Social and offline ‘worlds’ by linking identities across all of them. Marketers tend to work in their own channels. It is often not until you get to senior levels that you get a full cross-channel view of customers – such as the CMO! All marketers need to think about how to align their work with those responsible for other channels.

Link “marketing” data with transactional and experiential data. When you send that next email you should know what your customer just purchased. And you should know the experience they just had with your contact center, mobile app or website. This requires that you collect detailed data that represents their actual experience -- such as the specific offers and images that displayed -- not just clicks.

Build on the first-party, curated data you already own. Use your first-party data as a starting point for your identity graph.  You have a valuable asset if you have rich data about your customers. Implement processes that continually expand your view of your customer as new IDs are discovered and matched with what you already have.

Your goal should be to create a rich view of every customer linked together by a unified identity: Interactions + Transactions + Experiences. That’s where a Customer Data Platform can help. After all, this one of the core value propositions for CDP solutions.

This would be the natural point to launch into API’s, algorithms, ETL’s and other technical jargon.  Instead, I will leave you with three analogies that describe important capabilities you should keep in mind while developing your identity management strategy and defining your core requirements.

Rivers: In order to maintain the most up to date view of every customer your ecosystem should enable continuous flows of data and continuous updates to your identity graph. You should strive for real time, or as close to real time as possible for your context.

Bridges: A bridge links locations that are isolated from one another and enables the flow of traffic and commerce between them. In the same way, you need to bridge your worlds together by connecting traditional, digital and emerging IDs. 

 Hub: A hub is at the center of an activity or process. A customer data hub gives you a well-connected way to collect data and manage identity in order to serve business needs across the enterprise. I like to think of this as a Customer Intelligence Hub that links your customer data and your customer analytics to provide the best possible decisions about customer interactions -- automatically, continuously and at scale. The Customer Intelligence Hub orchestrates messages across all channels like smooth-flowing traffic.

What’s Next?

Tools like a CDP and other customer ecosystem components are important but so are the data sources and matching services that allow you to enrich your view of your customers beyond the data you currently have. BLEND360 colleague Josh Kaplan is an expert in this area so watch for Josh's post, coming soon.

What do you think? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the Customer Data Platform space.

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