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Merkle Customer Identification Investments Feb2020One of the things that customers say helps them feel like individuals is for companies to recognize their activities across all channels. Business executives appear to understand this, with a study [download [age] from Merkle finding that the majority of marketing executives surveyed believe it’s critical (47%) or very important (51%) for their organization to understand who their customers are across all channels.

The good news is that almost two-thirds (63%) of executives say their organization is at a stage where they do know who their customers are across interactions, and that they are able to unify and inform experiences based upon that information. However, there is room for improvement, as 27% report they are at a stage where although they can identify customers across channels, they are yet to tie the data from those channels together.

But even though a large number of companies are at a mature stage, in that they can identify their customers and bring all the data together effectively, challenges still remain. Market factors represent the most common hurdle to managing customer identity in-house, cited by one-third (34%) of respondents. One of these market factors is walled garden media, which continues to be a thorn in the side of marketers attempting to build out and improve on their first-party data.

In order to better identify customers, two-thirds (66%) of the businesses surveyed plan to invest in advanced analytics to help with segmentation, modeling and customer analysis. Another 63% say that they will invest in customer data to better understand their customers and as a basis for targeting and analytics. As accessing customer data becomes more difficult due to increased regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA, 18% of executives cite privacy and regulations as the biggest barrier to managing their customer data.

Identity resolution/graph is another area 53% of businesses plan to invest in this year, as they seek to obtain a persistent identity of customers for matching and on-boarding for targeting and analytics.

So, what are businesses doing with the data they are receiving from their identity resolution programs? As revealed in separate research from Epsilon-Conversant and Forrester Consulting, some of the top use cases for US companies using customer ID resolution programs include customer preference management, customer profile development, targeting audiences and segmenting customers. This could all help to better personalize the experience for customers, a tactic that achieves a return on investment for the majority of marketers.

The full report is available for download here.

About the Data: Figures are based on a survey of 150 marketing executives at companies with a 2018 pre-tax revenue of at least $200 million.

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