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Identity is the key to marketing magic

Marketing can sometimes feel like a mythical quest. Marketers are asked to decipher and glean meaning from disparate customer behaviors, and from those often-elusive signals forge campaigns that drive business impact.

Makes slaying a dragon sound easy, right?

The right tools can turn that marketing fantasy into reality. Customer data platforms (CDPs) can fulfill that promise. By cleaning, unifying and organizing your first-party data, you can start uncovering—and using—important customer insights. And when coupled with identity resolution, these powerful pieces of mar tech can create person-based marketing that enhances the customer experience.

CDP Institute white paper, sponsored by Epsilon, “Identity Resolution Lays the Groundwork for Stronger Media Activation Through Customer Data Platforms,” explores why identity is the key factor in building stronger campaigns and customer insights through a CDP. Here are some key takeaways.

Putting the pieces together

To have a connected customer experience, you need to start with the right foundation. But customer data is inherently fragmented because of the litany of identifiers assigned to individual consumers, like email addresses or third-party cookies, and the vast number of channels consumers occupy.

Depending on how many identifiers a person has—say, several different email addresses or account numbers—you might see that person as several people when you go to execute a digital media, connected TV or some other campaign. If you are using a customer management tool merely as a repository, this becomes hazardous to marketing efforts.

What you need to do is unify your customer data.

CDPs powered by native identity capabilities do just that: They improve the quality of your data through deduplicating and organizing it, making it far more usable for marketers. It also unifies that data by linking those various identifiers to one cross-channel profile, and completes the profile by gathering other attributes, preferences and behaviors.

As a bonus, some CDP solutions enhance the data, too. This means layering external sources of data like demographic, intent and location history, onto customer profiles.

“CDPs underpinned by a strong and persistent identity layer develop deeper customer profiles on an individual level, leaving behind vague segmentation and inaccurate profile information,” the CDP Institute founder David Raab explained in the white paper. “Identity resolution that uses enhanced data from multiple sources fills in missing pieces of information that make profiles more robust.”

Actionable insights matter

Better customer data puts you ahead of the curve when it comes to media activation. Why? These holistic profiles give you a complete picture of who your customer is, what their preferences are and when, where and what they buy. This spins “spray and pray” on its head. You don’t have to guess when you can know.

Unlocking these insights on the person-level (and in aggregate) gives you the power to tailor marketing experiences based on what works. You deploy the right messages in the right channels to the right people—the people ready to buy right now.

Better data also equals better journey analysis and orchestration. You can see the path of the individual along with the path of various audiences and segments across all your channels (paid and owned).

“These unified views of individuals enable person-based marketing and empower marketers to make effective decisions and send instructions to delivery systems to execute those decisions,” Raab shared.

The power of closed-loop measurement

Person-based marketing also enables person-based measurement across owned and paid channels. When you see the behaviors of a person, in conjunction with the rest of your customers, you can start seeing patterns on an individual and aggregate level. The key to this is identity that provides full transparency across channels.

You can also start testing strategies to make them even better (or, sometimes, to know that something isn’t working.) How does adjusting specific parts of a campaign strategy impact your segments? How does it impact individuals? What insights can you glean from seeing the evolution of campaigns on both levels?

Injecting those insights back into your new strategies means you’re relying on accurate, actionable data to drive the ship.

Create persistent, personable marketing

Ultimately, identity lays the groundwork for higher-performing campaigns from start to finish: It unifies your data, enables enrichment, reduces media waste and provides the key to measurement. Unified and enriched customer profiles inform campaigns that work harder and reduce ad waste, and in turn, produce performance insights that flow back into those customer profiles.

Brands don’t need white-haired wizards, enchanted swords or powerful mythical creatures to make marketing magic. With the right mar tech, you can create your own marketing destiny and create higher-performing campaigns today.

“The potential value from customer data activation is huge,” Raab explained. “CDPs powered by a strong identity layer can use persistent, coordinated and current data to see individuals, launch campaigns across all the channels their customers occupy and have confidence they’re reaching in-market customers who are ready to buy.”

This article was originally published on Adweek, January 2024