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Marketing Continuity: The Solution to the Customer Experience Problem

By Larry Drebes | Posted on May 01, 2014

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With every advancement in mobile experiences, it’s gotten harder and harder for marketers to piece together what their customers are doing. Today’s marketer looks holistically at the entire customer experience, but the customer experience is increasingly fragmented. Customers have multiple devices, interact with campaigns in unpredictable ways, and don’t follow the “ideal” path that the marketer has carefully constructed. Throughout all of these changes, a marketer’s effectiveness relies on knowing as much about their customers as possible, and connecting data from different sources to a unique, known individual in order to make informed decisions, and provide offers and messaging relevant to that customer. So, how can marketers solve for this new reality in a way that scales?

Marketing Continuity

Marketing Continuity is the term we have developed at Janrain to talk about the connected insights that marketers must enable across their marketing and business systems. Marketing Continuity is a framework for creating a flexible customer experience, that moves a user through a deepening relationship with your company. It starts with a defined customer journey, but then allows your individual customers to diverge from the defined path, and customize their journey. All of these elements must work:

  1. Across Devices
  2. Across Channels
  3. Across Business Systems
  4. For Analytics and Attribution

With these capabilities, you know that who I am when I interact with your brand – whether it’s on a mobile app, your website CMS, your eComm platform, commenting system, or your analytics solution. It’s always me, Larry. And the next time you make a decision about whether you want to send something to me, you can consider all of my actions across your system, and across my devices.

Harder Than It Sounds

CMOs are directing marketing teams to, “get a complete unified view of our customers.” But the complexities of the problem start to emerge rapidly once you dig in.

  • How much of your system relies on cookies, and therefore struggles on mobile?
  • Are you prepared for a future where browsers disable 3rd party cookies by default?
  • How many different databases are you storing customer data in?
  • What are the front end and back end considerations of identity resolution?
  • Do all of those databases talk to one another?
  • How many of those databases share the same customer profile, so that you can identify a user across your different systems?

Marketers have gotten much better at storing data about customers and their behavior, but how much of that data is actionable? How can it be used to make a customer’s experience easier or more valuable? Can be leveraged by marketers without relying on IT resources and complex querying and matching, or without the aid of a dedicated data scientist? These are huge barriers for most organizations. The CMOs we work with want a data model that looks something like this:


Practically speaking, this is impossible for most organizations without a customer profile management platform. That’s why Janrain manages a customer profile record that stores all of the most important and actionable pieces of data about a user – a one-stop shop for the marketing team to collect, store, manage and distribute customer data (request a demo if you’d like to see exactly how we do that).

Mobile is the New Black

Making Marketing Continuity work across devices is the biggest opportunity for many organizations. More and more of your traffic is coming via mobile – consumers are now spending 37% of their time on mobile devices. As mobile continues to explode, driving mantras such as ‘mobile first’ and ‘mobile only,’ marketers are realizing that they can’t connect all of the dots.

Resolving identity on mobile devices has historically been challenging because desktop technologies just don’t work in these environments. Cookies are device-specific, so there is no way to link cookies between a desktop and mobile device with any degree of confidence; moreover, mobile devices handle cookies differently, and their functionality is limited. Device-generated identifiers don’t link back to a more robust customer record. And statistical and inferential models require you to trust that an algorithm is accurately mapping the right data to the right user, without any confirmation from the customer.

At the same time, consumers now expect full functional parity between desktop and mobile experiences; but many companies still can’t offer this on any number of experiences and conversion points. This is why mobile conversion rates are only 10% of desktop conversion rates.

Working with partners who understand the importance of mobile, and can provide full capabilities across mobile and desktop is critical to your success in the future. You should be asking this question to every one of your partners and prospective partners. At Janrain, we are fortunate to have created full-featured mobile customer profile management solutions with clients such as Whole Foods, Marvel and Channel 4. We have years of experience with mobile identity products, and more capabilities in our mobile SDKs than anyone else.

We want to share with you all that we have learned about mobile login best practices. Later this month we’ll be releasing a white paper and webinar on the topic, so if this sounds like something that’s important to your business – now or in the future, don’t miss it.

Marketing Continuity is a critical framework to enable a modern customer experience. I look forward to talking more with you, and hearing your thoughts about the challenges and opportunities you see in creating a unified view of your customer.

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About the author

Larry Drebes


Larry founded Janrain in 2005 to address the challenge of managing user identity on the Internet. In its early days, Janrain drove the development of the majority of the open source OpenID protocol libraries that continue to be used today by organizations such as Google and Yahoo!, and was a founding member of the OpenID Foundation, a nonprofit governance organization for the industry. Prior to Janrain, Larry was a co-founder of Silicon Valley startups, a web-based service, and Four11 Corporation. At Four11 Corporation, Larry led the development of its RocketMail product, one of the first Internet-based email systems. Four11 was acquired by Yahoo! in 1997, and its RocketMail product became Yahoo! Mail. Earlier in his career, Larry did software development for Raynet, McDonnell Douglas and A.G. Edwards.

View all posts by Larry Drebes