De-Duplication and Customer Identification: The Cornerstone of Personalisation | DMA

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De-Duplication and Customer Identification: The Cornerstone of Personalisation


Econsultancy state that “60% of marketers admit that their biggest barrier to effective marketing is the quality of their database”. Folding your digital and traditional channels together brings huge benefits for both you and your customers. Breaking down existing data silos and integrating into a meaningful single view of each and every customer is both your biggest challenge and biggest prize – but there isn’t always the time, resource or expertise internally to make this a reality.

Are you one of the 17% of organisations that has developed a truly cross-channel, cross device customer identity solution? If you are, you can stop reading now, the rest is old hat to you.

But if you are one of the 83%, you probably understand that we are not simply talking about data cleanliness here. I don’t know how many times I have heard the saying “A database is only as good as the data it holds”. However, it’s oft-repeated because it’s true; you will not have an efficient database if you are loading inaccurate information.

Getting accurate information into your database is only the first step. You can still have clean and accurate data going into your database but without an accurate dedupe and customer identification process this data can still become dysfunctional. You could still have multiple records for the same customer. This all needs to be resolved to enable accurate and effective marketing communications. A Single Customer View with an effective dedupe process will resolve these issues and allow you to understand the full value of the customer and then potentially even a true household value! Communicating to a household with a combined knowledge of all individual’s activities can be even more powerful.

According to a DMA survey the most significant challenges to executing a marketing programme are lack of data (26%) and data degradation (29%). If you cannot accurately identify an individual browsing your website as a customer you’ve recently sent a catalogue to, then you are never going to be able to carry out effective cross-channel or multi-channel campaigns.

So I’ll ask you some questions:

How accurate is the customer data you hold in your database?

Is all of your customer data available in one place – transactional, behavioural, product, profile?

Can you track all customer buying behaviour both online and offline?

Are you increasing profit levels by using accurate data?

The things that get in the way

If only we lived in an ideal world! Customers often create another account when completing transactions, staff don’t always have time to find the correct customer details on the system, customers use multiple email addresses for online activity, incentivising staff to sign up new customers means existing customers end up having new accounts created… Customers and staff just don’t have the time if the correct details aren’t easily accessible. For all of the above, and more, no matter how stringent your processes, inevitably human interaction means it will never run as efficiently as it does in your lovely flowchart! This results in many customers having multiple accounts, which could all be active at the same time!

How can we communicate with a customer that might have multiple accounts? Sure it can be done, but not done well! We don’t know everything about that individual even though, ironically, they may have provided all the necessary information. We don’t have all their transactional activity combined into one record, different contact permissions might be held for the same customer over their different records. Tracking campaign performance becomes inaccurate where the responses don’t tie up with the original intended recipient. All of this means that personalisation becomes inaccurate and inevitably customer value is lost.

Mobile, Mobile, Mobile…

According to Google’s new multi-screen world study, 67% of consumers have used multiple devices to shop online and typically 3-5 devices are used within the purchase process.

In this modern age customers are using multiple devices and a dedupe process needs to have the ability to track the entire process and therefore create a single customer view that holds all this information under one accurate customer record.

This is cross device tracking and without this you can’t really understand customers’ buyer behaviour to accurately implement genuine personalised communications.

Your database needs to develop with your customers

Not all companies’ customer data is the same. Some clients will capture many data variables that can identify an individual across many different platforms and channels. Others will only capture minimal variables. Review your data to determine the availability of customer identifiers and then build the necessary de-duplication process based on that and their individual requirements.

Every Single Customer View database will be different. Your communications are bespoke for your customers, you database needs to be bespoke for your company.

But the work shouldn’t stop there. Building an accurate single customer view is one thing but continuous enhancement of customers’ behavioural and transactional activity going forward will lead to much more effective and valuable marketing activity.

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