Identity resolution is becoming an even more important tool in your marketing arsenal as privacy concerns increase and targeting mechanisms disappear. While customer data platforms (CDPs) promise to unite the data you need to better understand your customers, they are not always a reliable reference point. Let’s discuss how you can correct for the common shortcomings of both identity resolution and CDPs to create a single source of truth—and get the full story of all your customers.
But first, what exactly is identity resolution?
Identity resolution describes the process by which a business creates a single, unified customer profile by attributing all customer behavior and interactions with the business, across all touchpoints, platforms or channels. In a nutshell, it helps you recover value from all the data points generated from anonymous or unknown visitors, which can account for upwards of 98% of all web visitors.
Third-party cookies will be phased out eventually…
As technology providers like Google and Meta continue to phase out the third-party cookie, identity resolution – and the CDPs that help orchestrate it – are of heightened interest. Companies are becoming even more dependent on their first-party data to derive insights, segment audiences and activate targeted, personalized offerings.
Additionally, new privacy regulations like the CCPA allow consumers to request access to all data an organization has about them, making match accuracy in identity resolution even more critical. Brands will similarly have to strike a balance between delivering personalization and not alienating consumers through invasive targeting methods as they build out marketing strategies for new platforms like the metaverse.
… but technical challenges still persist
While the concept may sound simple, identity resolution increasingly presents an enormously complex technical challenge. Why? Because the number of potential touchpoints from which you have to gather data is exploding.
According to Park Associates, internet households now own an average of 16 connected devices in 2022. In 2021, the number was 13. But the complexity doesn’t end there. According to Google, 90% of web users move between devices to complete a task. You might start considering a purchase on your phone, then check it out further on your desktop. You might even then make the purchase in-store, creating three separate touchpoints for one purchase.
What about unknown customers?
While CDPs help simplify the challenge of collecting so much disparate data, you may not be gaining as clear a picture of your customer base as you think. While many CDPs leverage omnichannel data and help match individual identifiers to associate customers with their interactions across touchpoints, a significant shortcoming plagues these platforms. Oftentimes the CDP can only match identifiers for known targets, or rather, those customers who have provided some level of PII.
Unfortunately, many brick-and-mortar retailers lack mechanisms to identify their customers. As a result, they don’t know who’s visiting their stores, don’t have insight into their purchasing behavior and can’t target these individuals. So none of this information makes its way into the CDP, in turn making the resulting customer profiles unreliable.
Loyalty data offers one workaround in this scenario. Many retailers create loyalty programs for the express purpose of gathering valuable customer data, since customers volunteer information to join. The retailer can also track their purchases if they use their loyalty ID at checkout.
The problem is, loyalty data can be deceiving. Retailers will likely see an uptick in signups when they launch promotional offers and count that surge as evidence of traction. In reality, however, most of these customers stop identifying themselves once they’ve received the offer. On the whole, these programs generally reach 5-15% penetration, so the vast majority of customers remain unknown, not understood and unreachable.
Solve the unknown problem with a single source of truth
Offline identity resolution helps solve the unknown customer problem for brick-and-mortar retailers and create a single source of truth for customer information. Multiple sources of data – including POS, mobile, email, SMS and more – should come together with market-leading offline identity resolution, card data and consumer attributes to create one unified, privacy-safe profile of your customers.
While it’s easy enough to identify the myriad of digital touchpoints that should contribute to customer profiles, even retailers with strong ecommerce capabilities should not discount the importance of offline touchpoints. Consider our example from above: you start researching a product on your phone, then on your desktop, but make the actual purchase in-store. Without offline identity resolution, a crucial data point – your actual purchasing behavior – is missing. Additionally, postal addresses are an important identification tool to link identities in your database, which improves the quality of your data, in turn bolstering the reliability of the insights you draw from your CDP.
Offline Identity Resolution that incorporates point of sale (POS) data combined with bank transaction data, and proprietary, self-built census of offline identity and behavior enables identification of individuals behind in-store transactions. This creates a more complete customer profile than using digital touchpoints alone.
Start today with Bridg
Bridg is the first data and audience solution for brick-and-mortar businesses that enables the identification, understanding and engagement of all customers (loyalty, non-loyalty). We can help you identify offline customers and build rich privacy-safe profiles that are targetable across virtually any digital channel with transparent closed loop measurement.
We enable brick-and-mortar businesses to go beyond the constraints of the known customer universe (e.g; loyalty, online ordering) and utilize purchase intelligence and behavioral insight across ALL customers to drive strategic and tactical actions in support of customer engagement and top line growth.
To learn more about how we fuel the “art of the possible,” check out our white paper here and our case studies here.