Is Your Marketing Guilty of Mistaken Identity? | DMA

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Is Your Marketing Guilty of Mistaken Identity?


Is Jennifer Greer a 50-year-old mother of three daughters? Or is she actually an 18-year-old male in need of his first real shave?

That’s the question facing marketing execs at Gillette after a promotional package of razors landed at Ms. Greer’s doorstep instead of reaching one of the 2 million teenaged boys the personal care brand thought it was targeting — a faux pas so noteworthy, it even made the pages of The New York Times.

This appears to be a case of mistaken identity. It also brings back memories of previous media reports spotlighting other targeted marketing efforts gone wrong. So how are brands still making these types of mistakes again and again? It doesn’t take a Sherlock to figure out the main culprit, then or now: disconnected and inaccurate data.

Case in point: I recently checked out a data management platform site that invites consumers to view the interest segments associated with their digital activity. According to its data, I’m a male and a female. I’m single and I’m married. I’m a soccer mom and a senior. And I’m between the ages 55 and 64 — which confuses me just as much as the ads I’ve recently been receiving for expectant mothers.

You see, the problem is that many marketers are working with multiple technology solutions and partners, their customer data strewn among dozens of platforms, channels and applications. And while the capabilities for each may be powerful in their own right, when each piece of the marketing stack has its own approach to customer data and identity, brands are left with fragmented glimpses of consumer behaviour past and present, online and off. What’s more, some marketers are supplementing their existing customer information with potentially suspect third-party (e.g., stale or untested) datasets. All of which takes the ability to holistically understand customers off the table — and makes identifying and relating with contextual relevance a gamble, at best.

Identity is the foundation for all consumer engagement. Without identity resolution, marketing efforts will fall short. A customer identity solution integrates all of a brand’s offline and online first-party data to create a holistic view of a single customer. This ensures customer profiles are rooted in the most accurate information, prevents the data loss associated with disconnected third-party solutions and, most importantly, allows marketers to maintain ownership and control over their most valuable asset: customer data.

Are your marketing efforts guilty of mistaken identity? If any of the offenders below are part of your customer identity solution, odds are the answer is “Yes.”

  1. Silos. When data is trapped, disconnected and not portable across the entire marketing stack, it makes resolving identity impossible.
  2. Imprecise matching. Targeting consumers with ads for products they don’t want, don’t need or already own costs brands billions of dollars each year.
  3. Cookies. Rooting customer profiles in fragile, web-based cookies that don’t translate across channels, devices or platforms leaves gaping holes in understanding the buyer journey.
  4. Batch processing. Retrieving static batch files from various channel platforms typically takes five to seven days to process — and that’s a week too late to analyse and react to customers in the moment. Not to mention, if you only recognise half of the customer IDs in a batch, that means the other half of potential customers will be lost in the process.
  5. “Rented” ID graphs. If you’re paying to use a third-party ID graph, you’re limited to the tools and insights these partners allow. Plus, if they don’t share back user-level data or insights, it’s impossible to connect what happens inside their ecosystem with the rest of your marketing efforts.
  6. Static profiles. When customer profiles are created for a specific campaign, then all their information — various types of personally identifiable, behavioural and attribute data — disappears once the campaign ends.

Look, we’re not splitting hairs here. Getting identity right means big business. An incomplete understanding of customers leads to impersonal, irrelevant brand experiences that typically turn people off — so much so that more than 80% of consumers worldwide have stopped doing business with a company following a bad customer experience.

Fortunately, many of the unintended female Gillette razor recipients thought their case of mistaken identity was humourous. And, well, we ladies do have legs.

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