Don't Think You Have an Identity Crisis? Think Again

By Dave Dague | 11.21.17

Maintaining a strong brand identity is no longer marketers’ only potential identity crisis. As important is managing their prospect and customer identities. 


Managing identities extends beyond the basics of understanding target audiences. The proliferation of digital identities has made the engagement process far more challenging, creating a consumer identity crisis that could ultimately damage a brand’s image.


Recognizing a consumer in an instant from any channel or device is critical not only to marketing successes, but also to marketing innovation and customer experience excellence. As omnichannel, artificial intelligence (AI), and other complex technologies continue to proliferate, marketers must ensure they can trust the validity of the identities for the inbound and outbound consumers they’re trying to reach, regardless of the channel or device.


Knowing the consumer—whether the marketer is targeting her or she’s on the other end of an inquiry via phone, a web form, or an email—is critical to marketing performance. It’s also essential for ensuring a positive customer experience. As an example, the content, vehicle for delivery, and treatment of a message from an automaker should be quite different for a 70-something woman from Oklahoma versus a 20-something man from Brooklyn both searching for a new car. But if the identity information the automaker has on a consumer is outdated or incomplete, its marketing team won’t even get to that level of insight.


Unfortunately, for most marketers, nearly one third of the data in their enterprise CRM system or customer data platform is inaccurate, incomplete, or outdated at any given time. This translates into a major identity crisis. And with the seemingly endless and overwhelming data sources available, integration of data silos with complete, up-to-date, and accurate identity information is a challenge that can inhibit the personalization today’s consumers expect.


So, how can marketers get a better handle on their consumers’ identities?


To avoid an identity crisis and effectively target and personalize to the degree that today’s consumers expect, marketers should follow these three consumer-identity best practices.


Stop the excuses and start keeping your data clean

Yes, managing data sources today can be overwhelming. Keeping data accurate and up-to-date is complicated by consumer’s evolving life journeys. Consider just this one area of identity data changes: 4 million marriages, 1.6 million divorces, and 4 million children born each year.

But the most successful marketers know that verifying and completing the data they rely on to identify consumers is critical.


Keeping current with basic consumer data such as name, address, email, phone, and IP addresses, as well as completing partial identities, helps marketers to successfully identify, understand, and market to their consumers. An email address alone, or even an email address combined with a name, are only partial identities that would be infinitely more valuable as part of a complete consumer profile.


Tackling your consumer identity data strategy head on should be a top priority.


Link, link, and link again

First-party data comes from multiple entry points within the company, including CRM, customer service, and accounts billing. So, each touchpoint customers have with a company may be associated with a unique, siloed dataset within that organization. That’s why it’s critical not just to validate that the data is accurate, but also to link the data to get to a holistic view of each customer.


Using a persistent identifier, it’s possible to connect consumer identity points, such as name to phone number, name to address, phone number to address, even email address to email address—especially important considering that, according to Accenture, one in six Americans create a new email address every six months, and one third change their email address annually. Knowing, for example, that the email addresses ddague@gmail, dave.dague@hotmail, and dave@infutor all represent me can be a big win for marketers trying to reach me. The reason? Consolidating identities can help scale digital marketing campaign reach.


Once identities are linked, scoring the data will help improve lead qualification as a seamless component of the marketing and sales flow process. Scoring helps further validate the identity, but also can indicate buying power and other qualification and personalization attributes.


Look beyond the snapshot

With a complete, accurate base of consumer identities, marketers can then enhance those profiles by adding third-party demographic, behavioral, and lifestyle data. This type of consumer intelligence offers a robust view of the customer—one that enables more effective personalization and targeting and enhances the overall consumer experience. Along with deep historical data, including past purchases and data such as home and auto ownership, it also is the foundation for building predictive behavioral models based on historical and present attribute data.


Consumer intelligence helps inform more effective segmentation strategies and can improve programmatic ad programs, as well. Having access to integrated, complete identity and attribute data, and then using analytics to anticipate behavior and contextualize messaging propels omnichannel campaign success. For instance, real-time targeted ads that take into account linked customer identities, attributes, and context can lead to increased scale, awareness, and recognition and drive more sales. Deep historical customer intelligence is also the foundation for AI-driven marketing programs.


Sure, marketing has always been focused on knowing the consumer. But marketing organizations that don’t address the complexity of today’s expanding and ever-changing data will wind up with a consumer identity crisis that could impede their progress toward marketing innovation, as well as deliver lead them to deliver negative brand experiences.


So, address consumer data challenges with a diligent and committed effort to understanding and continuously verifying and enhancing consumer identities. This critical foundation will serve as the basis for which all marketing initiatives can thrive.

About the Author

As Infutor’s EVP of Marketing, Dave Dague oversees marketing organization, driving the strategy for the Infutor brand and market positioning, and the execution of the company’s integrated marketing initiatives. A 25 year veteran of the Information Services and Analytics industry, Dave brings significant expertise in cross-channel consumer identification, verification, and marketing solutions across industries.

Previously, Dave served as CMO for Gravy Analytics, a Gannett-backed mobile, location based behavioral insights company. Prior to Gravy Analytics, Dave served as CMO for Neustar and prior to that, he served as CMO for TargusInfo, which was purchased by Neustar in 2011. Dave has also served as an adjunct professor of Marketing and Sales Management at the undergraduate level.