Increasingly I am hearing from different companies on how they are resolving the problem of linking their offline data assets to their online world. Unfortunately, their efforts are missing out on the intricacies of creating associations in the customer’s true path to purchase. Much of this is fueled by organizations trying to come to terms with marketing attribution and measurement and working with digital management platform vendors or digital attribution vendors.
Companies are using an ID created during the conversion process (e.g. Order Number, Purchase Id, Quote ID) as the means to associate the digital identity attributes to the offline record of the person. Typically, during the conversion process consumers are supplying the attributes of name and address to create the linkage. It is great that companies are even doing this! Many companies fail to even do this level of integration, but what companies are failing to do is to take the offline association further. They are not considering aggregate identities, like household, to truly understand what affected the conversion.
Here is an example:
Gener Inc. Insurance is looking for new customers by leveraging a new movers list they bought from a data supplier, and recently our consumer, Linus van Pelt, just moved into an area serviced by Gener Inc. Linus receives his personalized piece of mail touting the HUGE cost saving he could receive by switching to Gener Inc. Linus takes the letter and begins doing some quick research on Gener Inc. His first stop is Google. It is followed by reading a couple of reviews, and ultimately signing up for more information from our insurance company. After this, Linus hands the “HUGE savings” letter to his wife, whom makes all the important decisions. His wife then begins to conduct a similar review process: Google to review site to blog to banner ad to quote. Finally after much deliberation, she purchases a policy from Gener Inc.
Now that our insurance company has a new customer the question becomes who in the organization gets the credit for this customer. In reality, most organizations attribute the win to the last click. In this case that would be the display media team. (I will save discussing the last click problem for another time. I am sure most of you understand the problem with it. I can almost hear your next attribution vendor quoting you the problem statement, “50% of your marketing budget is wasted. The challenge is knowing which 50%.”) Some companies, and soon to be most companies, will be looking at techniques to assign the new customer success to multiple marketing efforts, and this is where resolving an individual to an event or individuals to an event becomes very important.
In a typical scenario where your digital partner is helping associate the offline events to the online events they are asking for the quote id / policy id and associating this to the individual that completed the process. As you can immediately see this would only capture the events associated to Linus’ wife. The key thing, that they missed, was the “HUGE Savings” letter Linus received in the mail. There is some debate about the value of the other activities done by Linus before handing the letter to someone whom could do something, but the letter should not be left out of the picture.
This is why we need to think beyond just the Order Id or Quote ID. These identifiers do not consider aggregate identities, like household. Aggregate identities are import because we market at both the individual and the aggregate level. Without this understanding, our measurements and decisions are only partly right.
We need to make sure we bridge the online and offline identity and consider all parts of this bridge. I just talked about attribution, but this affects all areas of our marketing efforts. Another example of the problem is when we continue treating Linus as a prospect when he has already become a customer.
There are 5 questions I ask myself when devising my individual to event association plan.
- What are all the identity types of my audience?
- single identities – individual, business
- aggregate identities – household, organization
- What are the all the attributes of each identity?
- How do I capture each attribute for each identity type?
- How do the identities relate?
- What becomes the system of record for all identities?
This plan has to be owned at an enterprise level. If we allow the plan to be owned by a single group, we run the risk of having desperate efforts that yield inaccurate results. In the end, we may end up wasting 75% of our marketing budget if we don’t solve for this correctly.