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August 7, 2018

Identity Graphs: What They Are and How They Make Marketing Smarter

Customer data is often incomplete and overwhelming. Here's how Lytics stitches it together into actionable, real-time user profiles and personalization strategies that drive real business success.

It’s no secret that customers want a personalized marketing experience.

It’s also no secret that personalized experiences drive higher revenues and more customer loyalty.

Which is why personalization is top of mind for many marketers.

But with the same customers interacting with your brand across multiple devices, sometimes logged in and sometimes browsing anonymously, the question is how.

How can marketers create a consistent, relevant experience? How can we identify users correctly, connect the data that comes in from a dozen different devices and sources and customize an experience that works for each person?

The answer starts with a technology called the Identity Graph.

What is an Identity Graph?

In case you’re not already familiar with the term, here are the basics:

The core mission of a Customer Data Platform (CDP) is to create profiles of each of your customers so that each person can have a better experience with your brand. The more you know about your customers, the better you can personalize their experiences.

Aaron Profile

The Identity Graph’s role in this process is to take that customer’s data from all the different data sources you’ve got—from your website to your email marketing platform to your CRM—and stitch all that data together into real user profiles.

And the real magic of the Identity Graph is that the stitching is flexible—and intelligent. When user behavior across devices is consistent, the graph associates that user's activity together to deliver experiences based on all of it. For example, if a user starts reading an Economist article at home on her tablet, continues on her phone on her way to work, and then finishes on her office laptop, that behavior is connected within the graph.

But sometimes behavior across devices isn't consistent, and Lytics is set up to recognize the inconsistencies as well. For example, a family might share one account for shopping. Jane might order her clothes from her laptop and Tarzan might order from his mobile device. Lytics is smart enough to know that Tarzan doesn't want mobile updates for dresses and Jane isn't into browser ads for loincloths.

So if you’ve got a customer logging in on their smartphone, making a purchase on their tablet, sharing their email with you on a laptop and then chatting with your sales team, who then logs that info into your CRM, the Identity Graph works in real time to stitch the data from all those different sources and interactions together—all without losing the nuance between devices and the ability to market to Tarzan and Jane individually.

Identity Graphing and Smarter Marketing

So now you’ve got robust customer profiles stitched together across devices and updated in real time—now what? How does that make your marketing smarter and more personalized?

The answer is in what comes next: not just collecting data, but using it to create more personalized customer experiences.

For example: let’s say you’re a bookseller and you’ve got a customer named Jane. Jane’s a loyal customer. She has an account with you. You have her email, her shipping address, saved billing info, a purchase history, and data on what kind of articles she reads on your site. You also know that Jane only opens your emails once every two weeks even though you send them twice a week and that she’s most likely to make a purchase on a Monday.

Let’s say you also know that customers tend to unsubscribe to your mailing lists if they get too many emails they aren’t reading.

So, what if you only sent Jane an email every two weeks and always on a Monday? What if you used what you knew about Jane to touch base with her on the day she’s most likely to buy? What if you could increase her likelihood of staying on your email list by sending emails less frequently?

Of course, with thousands or even millions of user profiles on the site, it’s not possible for individual marketers to go into every profile and make these kinds of decisions.

Which is where a smart CDP like Lytics comes in.

Not only does the Identity Graph stitch together user data to give you these kinds of insights into Jane’s buying habits and behavior, but it is also set up to automatically categorize Jane based on her behavior and interaction with your brand. Your team just has to set up audiences and Jane will automatically be included or not included based on her behavior.

Cdp3

Large-Scale, Real-Time Prediction, and Personalization

It all starts with customer profiles. If you don’t have those, any predictions you make will be based on a broken image of your customer—fragments of who they are and what they want. This is the trouble with most customer databases. They’re disconnected collections of data. They’re unwieldy. They’re not updated in real time. And often the different sources of data don’t communicate with each other.

And that’s the key: To make truly accurate predictions, you need truly accurate customer profiles. And to have truly accurate profiles, you need to stitch all that data from all those different sources together.

Once you have the data all stitched together, the challenge becomes making sense of it and taking action on it. Because without action, what good is a database full of profiles?

Tools like Lytics behavioral scoring—which tells you how engaged a user is with your brand compared to their own past behavior (are they reading more articles from you this month than last? Are they opening fewer emails than usual?)—help you take that data and make it into something actionable.

Modeling Behavioral Segments List 2X

If someone’s no longer engaged with your brand, you can exclude them from costly marketing efforts and focus on people who are more likely to buy. You can also target customers whose engagement is dropping to try and get them back on board with a coupon, a relevant piece of content or even a call from your sales team when appropriate.

You can identify your most engaged customers with a few clicks and set up a marketing experience just for them with a few more. Same thing with the least engaged customers or customers engaged with a specific subset of content on your site.

And, importantly, with Lytics, all of this happens in real time. You’re not basing personalization on week-old information. The Identity Graph is importing and stitching together new user behaviors and information as they happen. So if last week your book-buying customer Jane was searching for baby shower gift books, but this week she’s interested in adult science fiction, you can act on this week’s information, not last week’s.

The other key here is that this all happens automatically and on a large scale. If Jane is a power user, she’s automatically added to any power user data you import into other tools or use to target a new campaign. If tomorrow Jane’s engagement with your brand drops off altogether, Lytics will automatically re-categorize her based on her behavior.

It’s this kind of smart marketing that increased Agora Financial’s monthly revenue by 167 percent and helped Access Intelligence grow their professional services business by 54 percent. Because it’s not enough anymore to engage with every customer in exactly the same way, to treat power users like new users and vice versa. To really see results, you have to know your users. And to know your users, you need a way to stitch all that data together and take action on it.

This is what we’re passionate about here at Lytics—harnessing the full power of customer data and personalization to better connect with customers. It’s about driving business goals and it’s also about giving customers better experiences.

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