Why Customer Identity Graphs are so Important

. September 29, 2017

It’s crunch time for customer identity. Today, brands are capturing more customer data than ever before across a multitude of channels and touch points. But many companies struggle with using that data to construct useful customer identity profiles – “identity graphs” – that can greatly improve marketing measurement capabilities and accuracy while helping you create better customer experiences.

Recognizing customers across multiple channels and devices while using multiple data points to create a single view of that customer has never been more important or relevant.

Creating a customer identity framework is vital to filling the gaps in your customer intelligence.

Traditional customer data sources such as CRM platforms can’t really help much. Their customer identity capabilities are rudimentary. They merely manage customer contact data, not actual identity. That requires triangulating a great deal more data.

Establishing true identity is a complex and nuanced task. But if you resolve and manage identity right, it will allow you to understand a tremendous amount about customers at specific moments in time.

Customer identity can be one of the most valuable, unique and proprietary assets that a brand owns.

As a recent Forrester report points out, accurately establishing customer identity is one of the most vexing challenges facing brand marketers today. But it’s a challenge that marketing organizations must meet since customer identity can be one of the most valuable, unique and proprietary assets that a brand owns.

A good starting point is to create a solid framework for resolving cross channel, multi device, online-offline identity.

Identity Graph Basics

An identity graph is a tool that lets you connect and unify data on individual customers gathered from a variety of channels, devices and touch points. The more channels and devices in play, the more customer identity data there’ll be. You can use it to create more personalized messages and fine tune your marketing measurement.

Identity graphs are not cookie-cutter friendly. They come in many shapes and sizes. As you continue adding data to an ID graph it becomes smarter, deeper and more valuable for targeting customers and improving customer experience.

Establishing true identity complex. Done right, it will allow you to understand a tremendous amount about customers at specific moments in time.

Marketers deploy a variety of methods for matching data to customers, including direct, or “deterministic” where the customer has facilitated the match via cookies, through a credit card purchase, or some other authenticating action. This creates “persistent” identity which is another way of saying with certainty that you know (at a minimum) who a customer is, where they are and what device they are using.

Another, more scalable method uses sophisticated probability algorithms to put the pieces together. Done right, this can also be highly accurate, though not perfect.

Such AI-based approaches can sniff out data and seek identity matches continuously, and provide answers in real time.

Creating a customer identity framework is vital to filling the inevitable gaps in your customer intelligence.

Filling Identity Gaps

Inefficiencies in how many organizations currently approach the task of identifying customers creates data gaps – or sometimes more like data chasms. Such gaps make it hard to scale marketing, provide personalize customer experience and measure results.

To help fill these gaps, successful companies build a framework that links customer identifiers (name, IP address, phone, mobile, email, cookies, device IDs and physical address) while also adding on a unique (persistent) ID that can be used across channels. Companies also need to install privacy safeguards that are verified and compliant with all privacy standards.

If you can’t accurately and consistently identity customers across devices – quickly and at scale – your results will suffer. You’ll be unable to consistently target customers with the right type of content, at the right time, in the right context – and do it across multiple devices.

The amount of time it takes for you to tap into customer identity data, connect the dots and establish identity is critical. If you can’t do it fast – and that basically means in real time – you’re efforts may go for naught.

Identity Graph Benefits

Here are six reasons that building out an identity graph framework should be a strategic imperative for your marketing organization:

  1. Extend Marketing Accuracy and Reach at Scale

A solid identity management framework will allow you to identify customers as they interact with your brand in real time. This greatly increases your ability to understand what otherwise would look like anonymous customers and prospects. With a solid identity management framework in place, you can engage customers with far greater accuracy and increase marketing reach by as much as 50%.

  1. Build More Personalized Customer Experiences

Improving customer experiences depends heavily on being able to accurately identify someone and personalize any interaction. Whether your efforts involve current customers, prospects, or both, the experience you provide ultimately determines the quality of your relationship with that individual. In order to optimize results, identity data should be continuously enriched, updated and shared across the entire organization to facilitate greater control and personalization.

  1. Improve Measurement Accuracy and ROI

As the number of consumer touch points grows, so does the quantity of data collected, causing analytic teams to struggle at providing an accurate view of marketing ROI. With a well-constructed approach to identity, you can create a single, holistic view that more accurately measures customer interactions across all channels including digital, mobile, website and phone.

  1. Fill Your Customer Intelligence Gaps

The more data sources there are, the greater the chance gaps will appear if those data sources aren’t properly linked. Marketers can solve that by continuously corroborating, verifying, and appending missing information across customer records, to produce a 360-degree customer view.

  1. Better Offline-to-Online Matching

It’s important to have a persistent cross channel identifier to unify, personalize, and activate customer engagement. Linking records across touch points while enriching identity with demographic, behavioral, psychographic and geo-location data provides marketers with a single lens of the consumer across screens.

  1. Identify Customers in Real Time

The ability to identify a quality lead or an existing customer in real-time is crucial. With an identity framework in place and implemented, your call center, for example, will be able to identify a prospect the moment a call is received, reducing call times and improving customer service. Your digital team will be able to accurately identify an existing loyalist even if that customer hasn’t authenticated.


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Category: Articles, Basics, CMO Briefings, Data, Definitions, How-To, Identity, Innovation, Technology, Trends

About the Author ()

Daniel Kehrer is Executive Editor of the ANA Data Analytics Center (DAC), a leading voice of thought leadership and education in marketing measurement, data and analytics. He is also the Founder of BizBest Media Corp. and previously headed marketing at MarketShare LLC, an advanced marketing analytics technology company.

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