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Managing consumer identities with a single customer view

This article is an excerpt from Experian Marketing Services’ 2016 Digital Marketer Report. Download the full report to discover more insights and trends for the upcoming year!

Remove the divisions causing a disjointed customer journey

The term “single customer view” gets used in many ways and it can mean different things to different people. For our purposes, a single customer view is a person’s identity — the core attributes that bring together marketing events, such as each individual’s behavior, contact data, preferences and motivations.

Managing identities isn’t just an academic exercise. Every organization needs a marketing strategy that helps them understand who each individual customer is no matter when or how they are engaging with your brand. Doing so demonstrates that you have a firm grasp of your customer’s potential needs and their value to your brand. But how do you get started when there are a multitude of identifiers across numerous customer touch points?

  1. Assess your current marketing strategy

Identity data is constantly flowing into organizations. In many cases, there are specialized applications that manage this data, such as CRM systems, marketing databases and other platforms for email, social media and so forth. The problem is, for most organizations, there isn’t a seamless connection between each of these data sets.

First you need to uncover all of the places in which your organization is capturing customer identity data. From there, it’s a matter of pinpointing which processes are currently in place for connecting disparate pieces of data, then highlighting what is working and what is not.

  1. Build customer identity profiles

To begin building identity profiles, start by using the first-party data you capture from all customer touch points. This should give you a good foundation from which to begin. Increasingly, organizations are also relying on third-party data to help fill in the gaps of what is still unknown from using first-party data alone. The key is to make sure this is done in a privacy-compliant manner, using a trusted third-party data provider.

While it may be fairly easy to capture all of this data, it is much more challenging to maintain these profiles over time, as well as adapt to new and different kinds of data as they emerge. You will need to put mechanisms in place that can intelligently determine which pieces of data belong to which consumer and manage these identity profiles over the long-term.

  1. Get organizational buy-in

Once you have defined your needs, it’s time to get organizational buy-in. Of all of the steps needed to build a single customer view, this is perhaps the most daunting. Ultimately, you need to reach the key decision makers. But along the way, you must seek out others in order to gain support and momentum toward making any changes to the status quo.

Start by figuring out who owns the data and the systems that consume, use and store it. These individuals may need to be engaged in decisions to make changes. Other points of contact include those who ultimately use the data. This includes marketing, analytics and even customer service teams, who can help isolate how the data is being used and point out any gaps that exist between the current and ideal state.

  1. Define value of a single customer view

The next key activity is to define the value of a single customer view to your organization.  Most organizations operate with a set of key performance indicators. There are several areas that may be relevant to your organization. Some examples include cost savings, revenue lift or brand experience.

Also, don’t forget to build your business case for funding and determine next steps. Each organization will be different in this regard, though most companies require that new investments go through a formal process. Knowing all of your stakeholders, as well as the value you define as part of this step, will be important when making your case.

  1. Implement, test and expand

Finally, it’s time to implement and test what’s working and what’s not. For example, after you launch an identity management solution, are your email programs improving because you now leverage offline and in-store behaviors? Is your website conversion improving because you are able to more carefully tailor content and messaging? And for the ultimate test, is actual customer feedback improving as a result?

Linking organizational data and gaining a single view of the customer transforms generic experiences into meaningful ones. It’s what makes interactions intelligent no matter where you reach the customer.

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