This article is sponsored by Throtle.
As consumers bounce relentlessly across an increasingly wide array of devices and applications, the data trail they leave behind becomes more and more fragmented. And that’s a problem for marketers who are often left wondering: Who’s the person behind the screen – exactly – that we’re talking to?
To solve the cross-device, data-fragmentation dilemma, savvy marketers are turning to identity graphs (ID graphs). An ID graph is essentially a dynamically maintained database containing all of the information a marketer needs to accurately pinpoint the person behind a screen at any given time.
Identity graphs deliver true omni-channel identity resolution, which means marketers can confidently send highly targeted and personalized messages to customers or prospects at any stage in the purchase journey.
But identity graphs come in different flavors, and some work better than others. For example, many companies build ID graphs by using “probabilistic” algorithms to achieve scale. It’s kind of like sophisticated guessing, but it’s still guessing. At best, ID graphs built this way lead to incomplete, semi-accurate glimpses of customers. At worst, they misidentify individuals altogether.
ID graphs that uncover distinct “deterministic” connections to individuals are far more accurate and useful. For that reason (among others), it’s important that marketers pick the right identity resolution partner.
Below are three rules that can help marketers achieve more accurate cross-device identity to unlock customer insights and inform smarter, more productive marketing efforts:
1. Don’t start with the DMP. Data management platforms are experiencing a kind of “correction” in 2018, as marketers come to grips with the inherent limitations of DMPs, such as poor data accuracy and match rates. In response, some of the most forward-thinking brands are taking a step back to implement in-depth data hygiene processes to improve data quality and match identities more accurately.
“Marketers looking to improve engagement often focus high on the tech stack first -- on their data management and other platform partners without considering the fuel that makes those platforms work,” says Kathy Bachmann, EVP of product management at Throtle. “But that’s a mistake. Identity is the fuel, and without it, the engine won’t run.”
Instead, marketers should seek partners with a direct view to verified identity, including customer data platforms, data onboarding providers and others. Accurate customer data is the foundation on which the rest of a successful marketing stack is built. Without it, you can’t target the right individuals or deliver relevant customer experiences.
2. Don’t underestimate the need for high accuracy rates. Looking at onboarding match rates isn’t enough; it’s important to evaluate how accurately a provider can connect your prospect or customer files with a validated graph. For example, Throtle uses an industry-leading onboarding approach that delivers peak accuracy and identity validation to its clients. The company has developed a comprehensive, validated truth set through a selective, deterministic approach to data validation. Instead of settling for a single match – such as an email address – to verify an identity, Throtle connects data points across multiple external sources to better ensure accuracy.
Matching individuals to multiple touchpoints, such as device IDs, app IDs, phone numbers, street addresses and more eliminates validation errors that can arise from using only a single source. This approach reduces duplicate profiles and results in more comprehensive and accurate cross-channel identity recognition.
“Throtle goes far beyond simply connecting data points,” says Paul Chachko, CEO. “We focus on validation – ensuring that each ID is matched to the correct individual. You don’t hear that in the marketplace much. Many consumer graphs casually compile data without truly understanding if the data belongs to a particular individual or not.”
Using a truth set validated by multiple sources allows brands to uncover subtle discrepancies and compile deeper, more accurate customer insights.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Achieving accurate customer identity resolution can seem daunting. Marketers face internal pressures from chief privacy officers and CIOs, and external partners who often use obscure jargon. When in doubt, ask questions until you fully understand the data privacy and security issues. Take time to understand the value propositions and underlying technologies of prospective providers – including data onboarders.
Understanding the differences between onboarding technologies that are built around cookies, deterministic data, probabilistic data – or any combination of those methods – is an important first step toward choosing the right partner and uncovering profitable market insights.
“There are many onboarding vendors out there who collect and compile a lot of data,” says Chachko. “But that data is less useful and won’t deliver the results a marketer seeks if a brand can’t accurately identify customers across multiple devices and touchpoints.
“Using a deterministic, 1-to-1 methodology is the only way to be sure you understand each customer at the individual level.”
Recent studies confirm that investing in accurate identity resolution improves long-term results In a Wakefield Research study, for example, 75 percent of respondents indicated identity resolution helps improve targeting and real-time campaign optimization. In the same study, 72 percent of respondents believe it will help optimize customer insights and improve the customer experience.
With digital technologies and consumer behaviors evolving side-by-side at an exponential rate, cross-channel engagement won’t be the last major headache digital marketers face. But by gaining the ability to track customers across every device and application, marketers can develop a deeper knowledge of their customers, understand how they shop and learn how they interact with brands. This knowledge will allow them to deliver relevant, personalized marketing experiences in exactly the right time and place.
This article is sponsored by Throtle.