Personalisation is not personal without first understanding customer identity September 14, 2016 by Harriet Durnford-Smith customer identity, Digital Marketing Industry and financial services have increasingly reported challenges to their business models in the wake of the unknown consequences of Brexit and the considerable challenges other sectors like media and retail are facing. Where once organisations like Blockbuster held monopolies over their markets, rapid digitisation and technology-led businesses have left companies reliant on legacy business models falling by the wayside. In a constantly evolving digital landscape it is essential for marketers to utilise customer data effectively so as to stay ahead of the curve. As a marketer, where do I focus my efforts and my budget? Forrester Research states that 49 percent of global decision makers place ‘improving the use of data and analytics technology as a high priority’, which is great news for marketing teams. With online giants like Amazon, Facebook and ASOS setting the bar for customer expectations, it has never been so strategically important for organisations to utilise customer data in order to gain insight. Building an identity and knowing your customers means increased personalisation of services – targeting them with goods and services they like, at the time they’re most likely to purchase and served to them in a channel that they prefer. This in turn ensures increased customer retention and a boost to sales and revenue. In a recent piece of research we commissioned, Retail, Financial Services, Media, Automotive & Industry, Logistics and Utilities leaders all agreed that creating the holy grail of a single customer view was of the most strategic importance to business development and profits. However, these sectors are not realising the potential that already exists in their infrastructure and the complementary technologies – like cloud services, machine learning and data warehouses, that they can deploy to achieve this. Instead, industries seem set to follow omni-channel strategies that have siloed information across organisations, making a single view of the customer harder to achieve. Of those that were interviewed, leaders in retail and Media industries are the two that face the most online disruption and thus, appear to be making more headway with customer identity management. Both industries are successfully using social login, cookies and online behaviour patterns to offer unique personalisation to its customers. However, this isn’t to say they aren’t still struggling like the others to turn a direct-to-customer model into a loyal customer base due to digital variety and choice. Indeed, it is clear that marketers need to focus more effort and investment into collecting customer data. Understanding identity and how that can be utilised to personalise services resulting in increased customer retention, sales and revenue is fundamental to industries that want to flourish in this digital environment. Using customer identity to make personalisation truly personal A single view of the customer with identity at its heart will be invaluable for organisations as the digital revolution continues. Consumer expectations are changing and just as social media is altering customer behaviour, so too will developments such as the Internet of Things, wearable technology and the next wave of mobility. Marketing and IT teams will need to collaborate and consider technology strategy and investments that holds the customer at the centre. One suggestion for this would be modern cloud-based search solutions that collect data and utilise it in order to deliver a fast, future proof search functionality, resulting in a superior customer experience. Technology is giving customers an expectation for personalised services that are bespoke to their needs. It is technology and data that enables personalisation, no matter the market. Industries need to understand that identity is different to personalisation. Identity significantly contributes to the user’s online experience, especially with the merging of the digital and physical world, the transition between the two should be seamless. Most organisations already have the data; the next step is to ensure the systems that store the data talk to each other as digitalisation of the customer’s behaviour is not going away any time soon. You need to start with your technology first, however once you get this right, it presents huge opportunities for all industries and across all channels such as Northern & Shell who are now able to charge advertisers more for precise audience segmentation – and with an increase to 35% email open rate, it is clear that customers have positively responded to the enhancements of targeted advertising and emails. Most sectors are feeling the digital evolution some way or another, from those that jumped on the technical bandwagon a while ago and are now reaping the rewards, to those that are still struggling along with legacy business models that are creating new challenges everyday. Whatever the situation is, what underpins it all is the understanding that customer data is critical to success. Being able to collect, analyse, gain insight from and utilise data can be the difference between an organisation succeeding or folding. Marketing and Technology leaders need to recognise that personalisation is the future, and that identity is the gateway to achieving this. To learn more, check out our report on understanding customer identity. This post was written by Harriet Smith, senior marketing and communications manager at Amido.