<50% of brands have basic identity resolution capabilities, finds Forrester

Identity resolution is the ability to accurately and persistently identify real people across online and offline interactions. Real people—not just cookies, not just devices, not just email addresses.

Why does identity resolution matter?

Because it is foundational to successful marketing in a digital world. Think about it. You’re trying to reach the right person at the right time with the right message. If you can’t reach the  right person to start, you’ve already failed. And you might not even know you failed because measuring performance without quality consumer identification is sketchy at best.

As it turns out, there are lots of brands seeing less than success with their identity resolution programs. We commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a study to understand the current state of identity resolution, and we found that at best, half of brands are capable of fundamental identity resolution capabilities, like accurately finding customers across devices, controlling messaging frequency and sequencing and building a unified customer profile.  

For the identity resolution research, Forrester surveyed more than 200 brand marketers on their ID strategies and how they apply to their marketing & business goals.

Here’s just a sampling of what they found.

Many programs lack core components of strong identity resolution

Building an understanding of your customers requires a sound structure, built by five critical building blocks of identitypersistence, recognition, scale, accuracy and privacy and compliance.

The study found that although 66% of brands have an ID strategy that’s at least one year old, the great majority are still struggling in multiple areas:

  • Persistence—71% of respondents struggle to maintain accurate IDs of their customers over time.
  • Recognition—69% struggle to understand what percentage of an addressable audience is active and reachable.
  • Scale—63% struggle with the size of their identity program, or the amount of the addressable audience they can reach.
  • Accuracy—58% struggle to ensure that opt-outs and customer privacy controls are in place.
  • Privacy and Compliance—40% struggle to ensure that opt-outs and customer privacy controls are in place.

Get the Forrester Consulting identity resolution research now.

The identity resolution research concluded that a majority of brands aren’t driving maximum value in their marketing because they face challenges across each of these identity pillars. Across all categories, just half of marketers are fully capable of fundamental identity resolution capabilities.

Deficiencies in identity resolution create challenges downstream

With shaky identity resolution foundations, brands are facing numerous challenges with using and activating their customer data. The top challenges are:

  • Determining the right audiences for online campaigns (56%)
  • Proving performance and measurement of customer marketing (52%)
  • Optimizing online campaigns (50%)
  • Personalizing online campaigns (47%)

But not all industries studied in the identity resolution research struggle with the same challenges. Top challenges by industry include:

  • Automotive: Determining the right audiences for online campaigns (63%)
  • Retail: Determining the right audiences for online campaigns, and proving performance and measurement of customer marketing (both (52%)
  • Financial services/Insurance: Personalizing online campaigns (58%)
  • Travel: Optimizing online campaigns (55%)

The C-suite doesn’t see it the same

Forrester’s identity resolution research indicated that there is a big disconnect between the C-suite and their director-level counterparts. C-level executives were far more confident in their identity resolution than director-level associates, who are more likely to be in touch with how the program is actually working.

Executives in the study were:

  • 25 percentage points more likely to be extremely confident in their customer ID profiles’ completeness and accuracy
  • 32 percentage points more likely to rate their programs’ persistence as excellent
  • 16 percentage points more likely than directors to believe their brands were ready to immediately leverage new online and offline customer data to update customer profiles and activate against new information.

Thanks to this disconnect between executives and other areas of the organization, many brands lack internal consensus on their identity resolution challenges and opportunities. They also lack clear program ownership between organizational silos within the company.

According to Forrester, these misaligned identity resolution programs hurt customer experience and brands’ financial and performance metrics.

Shift your identity resolution focus for near-term wins

Eventually, you can expect big gains from a robust identity resolution program. In the qualitative side of the study, one enterprise marketing director explained:

“Our identity program is aimed at helping us better understand how to focus our marketing on all our different types of customers. How does a customer react to our value proposition and why, how do they choose between products and why. It’s an integral part of what we are trying to do with our customer knowledge base and is the core of how we are delivering one-to-one experiences for our customers.”

But if you’re just starting out, or if you’re struggling to get your identity program running optimally, Forrester recommends you shift your immediate focus to improving marketing performance and reducing waste.

The identity resolution research explains that even mid-sized brands stand to recover seven-figure savings by reducing waste to gain efficiencies. A focus on improved targeting and accuracy, for example, can reduce your spend on audiences that aren’t performing.

Don’t build on a shaky foundation

If you want to survive and thrive in the digital world, identity resolution is foundational to your success. The cornerstone to your customer data management, personalization and more. You need to get it right before you build your impressive skyscraper—or it may just come tumbling down on you.

Check out the rest of Forrester’s identity resolution research for more findings and recommendations:

Is Your Identity Program Built on a House of Cards? Brands Risk Missing Key Business Benefits with Unfocused Identity Resolution Programs, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Epsilon-Conversant