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Seven in 10 (71%) brands have difficulties maintaining an accurate customer ID over a period of time, a problem that makes it difficult for them to personalize marketing messages and keep up with customers across channels and identifiers. So, how are companies identifying their customers across channels and touchpoints? Here’s what recent research [download page] from Epsilon-Conversant and Forrester Consulting found.

The majority (69%) of more than 200 US decision-makers (director level and above) surveyed say they use email addresses to help them identify customers across channels. This brings to mind 2017 research from LiveIntent, in which B2C decision-makers named email addresses the most important piece of customer data.

Meanwhile, another half (51%) of decision-makers surveyed for Epsilon-Conversant’s report are using IP addresses to identify customers, while about as many (50%) are using the login data from their websites.

While these are the most popular methods of identifying customers across channels, there are other, lesser-used, sources that the report suggests can be important sources of customer data and insights. These other sources include the customer’s phone number (48%), social media ID or handle (47%), internal identifiers such as loyalty program and account numbers (46%) and device ID (44%).

Slightly fewer (43% of) respondents say they are using cookies as a source of identity resolution. There may be a reason why this piece of customer data is less popular: while a recent survey has found that advertisers are still relying, to some extent, on data from cookies to target customers, other research does point out that, in an effort to protect their data, two-fifths (40%) of consumers are only consenting to mandatory cookies on webpages.

Getting identity resolution right is important, as poor efforts in this regard can lead to problems such as reaching the wrong customer (45%), wasted marketing spend (42%), offering irrelevant products or services (38%) as well as lost opportunities for cross-sells or upsells, per respondents.

Moreover, as a result of improving their identity resolution capabilities, respondents report they have benefited from more complete customer profiles (44%), better data controls and security (42%), better opportunities to cross-sell or upsell, and more effective marketing measurement. Indeed, respondents say that their customer ID program provides excellent support to key business objectives including improved customer satisfaction (62%), refreshing or strengthening their brand (58%) and improving their data measurement and activation capabilities (58%).

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: The study is based on an online survey of 205 US-based directors (40%), vice presidents (18%) and C-suite executives (42%) in a variety of industries

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