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The marketing industry has been awash with articles and papers talking about marketing technology and the importance of linking identity management across an enterprise’s investments. And rightfully so. Brands should be laser focused on these topics because, simply put, they are the fundamental building blocks for establishing a meaningful, direct relationship with customers and, in turn, gaining competitive advantage.

The challenge, like many past inflection points in our industry, is how to capitalize on this. What is needed, beyond the actual physical technology and people? In my experience, the “how to activate” is often the last consideration, but really, it should be the first place to start. Let’s take a deeper look at how this impacts the need for a tactical, ground-up data plan for identity management.

Identity as a whole is impacted by the level of fidelity of your data and how it’s able to paint a clear picture of your customers, their brand interactions and the end-to-end customer journey.

Let’s use the analogy of music to help bring some clarity. I’ve always appreciated sound quality and the impact it has on my listening experience. There are multiple areas that impact the sound quality, from the environment you’re in (e.g., subway vs. home) to the device with which you’re listening (e.g., Apple earpods vs. home speakers). Most important, though, is the source. If the source file (e.g., MP3 vs. FLAC) is not high quality, your listening experience can suffer.

It’s the same with identity. Identity necessitates the highest fidelity source of data. In this case, moving from a cookie-based to a people-based world is like moving from music on cassette tapes (remember those?) to high-quality digital music files.

Today’s world of marketing is complex, with multiple ways to link customer data. These range from cookies to offline transactions IDs, all the way to people-based, one-to-one linkage. As marketers progress in adoption to 100 percent people-based marketing, they must think about why all people-based IDs are not equal and how the fidelity (i.e., the cleansed one-to-one view of a customer) impacts identity all the way through activation.

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As you continue on your journey, there are many identity-related considerations, including the four key areas listed below. They illustrate the impact identity has on your people-based marketing activation, using as an example a group of customers who are top-tier loyalty members:

1. People-based platforms must be connected to activation. If an ID is not linked directly to activation, drop-off and de-duplication can occur, impacting one-to-one marketing and marketing ROI results.

Example: You want to cross-sell into this group with a new premium product by leveraging an integrated campaign with paid display and measuring the incremental impact of display on sales. To enable activation, you’ll need to turn the loyalty-based PII to anonymous IDs, such as cookies, and activate them via platforms like demand-side platforms (DSPs) for paid display targeting.

This process of turning a known loyalty audience to cookies needs to be seamless and is the point where media marketing ROI can be impacted. Industry challenges like cookie deletion and changes in devices (e.g., a new tablet) necessitates that your PII data be linked and refreshed continuously with your customers’ cookies, otherwise breakdown can occur.

If cookies are lost, it will adversely affect your ability to measure downstream engagement and the incremental effect of paid display ads on sales.

2. People-based platforms need to bring higher fidelity audience profiling capabilities from rich third-party data, leading to better insights and more precise models.

Example: Let’s say you want to use third-party data to get a deeper understanding of your audience’s interests in your new product segment. What happens if a high percentage of individuals just got a new mobile device, and they don’t authenticate for several weeks? Audience-based platforms need to continually link between known and unknown IDs; otherwise, customer insights will not be precise.

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3. People-based platforms should be connected directly to offline martech PII data, enabling one-to-one resolution at the anonymous ID level.

Example: Relating to our first key area, connecting your offline PII to anonymous IDs is critical. If you have a high-value group of known customers you want to activate and cross sell, the need to speak to them one-to-one in any channel is critical. If you’re speaking to someone in a display ad and you can’t be certain it is the person you are targeting, then your ability to extend your conversion is highly limited to known channels, such as email.

4. People-based platforms should be able to easily interact/activate with offline segmentation models that incorporate a mixed set of martech data from DMPs to loyalty programs enabling seamless activation and optimization of marketing ROI insights.

Example: The adage “what’s old is new again” is a key theme in the way CRM principles are being extended to today’s ecosystem of digital marketing. Many organizations have invested a lot of time and effort into “offline” models. Whether they are credit risk models or customer segmentation across product offerings, the ability to take offline PII based-models and bring them into a digital ecosystem is critical.

While these considerations are just a starting place, I hope they help bring some food for thought in our exciting and rapidly changing marketing ecosystem. Here’s to continued success in 2019 and beyond.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

MarcRossen lg

Marc Rossen is a Vice President and M1 Data Science Lead for Merkle focused on transforming our clients marketing through people based marketing strategy and activation. The M1 Data Science team is experts in people based addressable data, MarTech platforms, and application of analytics to drive change for global marketers. Prior to Merkle, Marc led strategic relationships with global Omni-Channel marketers at Epsilon.



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