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Improving Customer Targeting and Personalization Through Social Identity


Guest post by Andrew Jones (@andrewjns), analyst at Altimeter Group covering Social Media and Customer Experience

Modern marketing is about more than just informing prospects and customers about products, but building relationships with them. The contextual insight available in social media offers an opportunity to better know and engage audiences with compelling, personalized content and experiences across channels. The following is a condensed excerpt from a forthcoming report.

The Fragmented Customer Journey

The customer journey has become incredibly fragmented, moving across various channels and devices, and saturated with more messages than ever. At the same time, customers have been empowered by new technology, increasingly expecting consistent, personal experiences. As a result, it has never been more necessary—yet also so complex—for brands to target and personalize customer messaging.

So why are marketers still sending untargeted, “batch and blast” emails, serving static web pages, and delivering the same ad to everyone (or just a small handful of segments)?

Lots of Data, Limited Context

With the proliferation of customer data in CRM, eCommerce, web analytics, loyalty programs, and other databases, enterprises have troves of information about their customers. Yet companies often understand customers in the context of their transactions and rarely as individuals. Customer identity today is a shattered mirror, with little pieces of it spread throughout the organization. Customer Service, sales, marketing, and loyalty each see a different piece of the profile. Without the right context, brands will never be able to build good relationships with customers.

The Value of Social Identity

Social media has played a major role in compounding the complexity of today’s customer journey, yet is also laden with customer insights unavailable on other channels. Suresh Vittal of Adobe says that, “Social yields sentiment, preference, and influence in ways that no other data source can.” Social profiles contain demographics, age, geography, affinity, influence, and more, while ongoing social signals can provide insight into a customer’s real-time context and needs.

For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll define Social Identity as, “The information about an individual available in social media, including profile data as well as ongoing social activity.” Social Identity can:

– Enable better targeting and personalization throughout the customer lifecycle
– Help provide consistent customer experiences across channels
– Provide a clear source of social media ROI
– Increase the efficiency of marketing and advertising budgets

Targeting and Personalization

In a recent interview, Jack Krawczyk, Pandora’s director of product management, said:

“Targeting users is basically the currency in data right now. Companies like Pandora and Facebook know users’ names and can track their media consumption or stated preferences across computers, tablets and phones, and have an advantage over companies relying on Web browsing cookies.”

Brands can access many of the same data points today, and those that do can better personalize content: is using social login to allow visitors to register and sign into its website. Not only does then personalize the site experience, but it also sends highly personalized emails. For example, it sends offers for personalized jerseys based on a user’s favorite team and last name as their birthday approaches.

Social Media ROI

While the value of social media is typically hard to measure beyond vanity engagement metrics, other channels have metrics directly associated with ROI (e.g. open rates, CTR, downloads). Social Identity can directly impact those metrics:

Cox Media Group is increasing subscription rates by incorporating Social Identity to personalize the website experience, making sure users don’t see the same articles again and see those most related to their interests.

Improving Marketing and Ad Spend

Marketers are spending more on technology every year—especially technology that can engage customers in personal ways at scale, like marketing automation, email service providers, retargeting, and dynamic web content. Social Identity improves value of these tools by improving targeting capabilities:

Interscope Records has seen email open rates increase by over 9x in some cases, by sending customers messaging relevant to the artists they care about, based on their social signals.

In the report, I discuss ways to apply Social Identity throughout the Customer Lifecycle, but I’d like to know: how and when can additional customer insight help you build relationships with your customers? Please let me know in the comments.

Infinity Loop via Shutterstock

12 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Improving Customer Targeting and Personalization Through Social Identity”

  1. danmac30 says:

    It is funny how we have come back to the human side of marketing. How do we connect to the customer journey not some funnel we have made up to suit our sales objectives. It just makes sense. Yes there are more tools, more CRMs, and data but at the end of the day it is all about understanding your ideal customers and giving them the experience they want. Most of us still can’t do this even with technology.

  2. Andrew Jones says:

    Completely agree Danielle, marketing today is about more than informing prospects and customers, it’s about building relationships with them. Marketers obviously need technology to do that at scale, though — to gain customer insight and then to engage them with relevant content and experiences.

  3. Bill Solano says:

    We need to tailor our marketing to our target market and provide a consistent message across our marketing channels. If we saying something on Facebook, we should consider that our massage should be congruent with post we do on twitter and instagram. In addition to sending the same message across to our target market in our follow-up emails. I totally agree that you need to validate the ROI on your ad spend and track where your getting your most bang for the buck. Thanks for your article.

  4. Gib Bassett says:

    I liked this statement within the context of what progressive CPG brands are trying achieve absent closed loop insight into monetary transactions: “companies often understand customers in the context of their transactions and rarely as individuals.” Instead, brands have had to extend the concept of a transaction to the digital interactions that collectively fuel a living profile of their consumer if they hope to tap into the 1:1 potential of digital and social (on top of looking at sales data in the aggregate). It’s leading CPG brands to move away from one-off campaigns to messaging platforms that engage their consumers in ongoing communication informed with these profiles. It’s this insight and point of view that brands can bring to retail channels to move away from a purchase centric view of their customer. In the end, collaborating this way will drive transactions but it requires give and take from both sides.

  5. Dadie Host says:

    The Adobe and its new features … are surprising, cutting-edge and truly useful enhancements.

  6. Sankar says:

    Hi Andrew,

    You are head on. Thought I should share the following couple of links that would be of interest to you:

    1) There is a good scope, as you say, to know the customer (his/her current context, mood, and needs) better with “likeography” (from the “likes” of Facebook) than “psychography”, so to say (Here’s a newsletter on this topic:

    2) Behind every social act, there is an every-day identity, and social platforms merely help customers nurture (and act based) on some of their identities. You may like to have a look at the types of customer identities (and what role they play in social engagement) in this blog

    Looking forward to reading your articles in future


    • Andrew Jones says:

      Thanks Sankar,

      1. Unfortunately, the link doesn’t seem to work! But agreed, and it’s even beyond Likes, but other social actions (follows, RTs, comments, shares, listens, etc.) and even text analysis for key words, sentiment.

      2. It can be very helpful to organize aspects of identity as you have, like family, personal, professional. Nike cares more about your identity as a runner or soccer player than your identity as a marketer or lawyer. Depending on how Identity is organized and prioritized for an organization impacts the information they want about prospects and customers. So much context is available in social media that’s unavailable elsewhere; marketers that can leverage those insights can gain a meaningful advantage and build better, more valuable customer relationships.

    • Sankar says:

      Thanks Andrew, I am sorry that the link does not work. Looking forward to reading your thoughts in future.

  7. PYS UK says:

    Resources like the one you mentioned here will be very useful to me! I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful.

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