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Fixing the Broken Customer Experience: The Customer Identity System

The single customer view is one of the key buzzwords in marketing today. Brands are looking to have an omnichannel view of their customer across different channels, different devices. But how do they accomplish this? How can they see that I am the same person on my phone that I am on my desktop, and making a purchase in store? The easiest, and most common, tool is the customer email address.

Email is the workhorse of marketing; it’s the most important data point within the customer identity system. Most brands gave up on separate usernames, and instead have the email address as the username. This way, customers don’t have to remember separate usernames, they just have to remember their email address. Marketers can then take this email-based account, tokenize it, and share it across the customer’s ecosystem. From a direct marketing perspective, it really comes down to a basic concept: if we have the email, we can market to them.

From the store marketer’s perspective, it’s hard to see the benefits of email. These marketers are compensated on foot traffic and revenue to their store, and an email doesn’t necessarily correlate with foot traffic. Asking for an email at point of sale is extra work for the store associates, slowing down the transaction and creating a poor customer experience. What they don’t realize is that by having the email address, they are opening the possibility of more intelligence and a full customer view, which leads to a more targeted and effective shopping experience.

In today’s world, most customers say yes to email capture, because they see the benefits of personalized marketing across a digital ecosystem. Our clients see anywhere from a 50% to 80% capture rate, and in-store point-of-sale is the most significant source of email capture. Let’s say an omnichannel retailer has 1200 stores. 95% of the brand’s revenue is created in their stores. If you doubled the amount of email capture in those stores at point of sale, your database will explode with active, engaged customers.

On top of all this, the most important reason for trying to capture an email: treating our customers like individuals with whom we would like to build a relationship. When customers make a purchase, they have taken the first step towards developing a relationship, and marketers are reciprocating by enrolling them in email blasts that aren’t targeted or relevant. Once a customer makes a purchase, they should be treated like an individual, with messaging that is targeted to their preferences and lifecycle. The best way to do that is with a single identifier, like a simple email address.

The Buyer’s Network

We know humans have a one to many relationship with emails, or even a many to many relationship. One person could have multiple email addresses, that maybe they share with other people in the household. If they share an Amazon account for example, or a Netflix subscription, everything is tracked through one email address. Teenagers who used their parent’s credit cards are now also using their own, so how are they all related?

We like to call this a Buyer’s Network. Somehow, all these different emails and people are connected through a network of shared identifiers. We’re not sure how, but we know that our marketing efforts to this one address are influencing multiple people within this network.

This is where the value of an email really stands out. Or a tokenized credit card. Or a mobile phone. Or a physical address. Or any other identifier that allows you to see the Buyer’s Network. You can send a catalog to one household, and know that multiple consumers will see the offers in this catalog. You know one person has multiple email addresses, so you send an email to each address, using the same messaging. Tactics like these nearly double revenue, but only make sense if you can connect people in the Buyer’s Network through a shared identifier.

All of a brand’s revenue comes from customers. The ability to see and understand those customers and fix the broken customer experience will create more incremental revenue. Just blasting emails is alienating your customers, but the identity system empowers marketers to stop blasting. Marketers can employ lifecycle marketing – focus on groups of customers, and get existing repeat buyers to keep coming back. With a key identifier track the same customer across different channels and devices, and inferring who is in that consumer’s Buyer’s Network, marketers can send messages that hit the right consumer, with the right message, at the right time.