Family using wireless devices at home

Omni-channel. Most of us are familiar with the word by now–it’s the new standard for marketing and it allows you to gain a holistic view of your buyers.

A properly implemented omni-channel marketing strategy leads to better targeting, stronger results throughout the customer lifecycle, more value for your buyers, and higher ROI for your business. But this requires taking into account knowledge about a buyer’s entire footprint across channels, which can often exist on different devices.

It all comes down to syncing the valuable data that lives in difference siloes, thus enabling a more personalized, seamless, and comprehensive view of the buyer’s journey. For example, marketers can leverage a buyer’s desktop website behavior for stronger, more personalized mobile targeting, as well use mobile location data to attribute store visits and measure digital reach.

So, how do you integrate different touchpoints to carry out your omni-channel marketing strategy? Here are three steps to complete the picture of your buyers across devices:

1. Understand What Your Challenges Are

Marketers are not short on challenges in today’s multi-channel world. Namely, they may not know who, specifically, their audience is or where they are, and how to carry forward their behavior and actions from one channel to another. Many brands use cookies or login systems to learn about their buyers, but even in those cases, they know very little about their interests and preferences, and it’s difficult to reach them outside of a single platform, not to mention across devices. Understanding these nuances is essential for marketers to establish stronger, more personal relationships with their buyers.

However, with buyers interacting with your products or services across several devices–desktops, laptops, smartphones, and tablets–it can be difficult to tie those buyers to a unified identity. A desktop visitor might be stored as a separate record from the same person visiting your site on mobile due to distinct identifiers that may not translate well across devices, such as cookies and mobile device IDs. This is the fundamental problem of device proliferation: digital identity fragmentation.

To fuse this information together, start by understanding what your challenges are. Think about what you’re trying to solve and where your gaps exist, then ask yourself questions like these to try to narrow down the root cause:

  • Do you have a large desktop user base, but need associated mobile devices?
  • Do you have a list of app users, but need a way to tie that to desktop or mobile web users?
  • Is your goal to take learnings from one platform to another to provide a specific service or recommendation, drive personalized content, or something else?
  • Are you able to understand a buyer’s journey across devices to solve for attribution, measurement, and insights?

2. Learn How to Solve Those Challenges

By selecting the right solutions, marketers can easily make their data work for them. Many brands already use data management platforms (DMPs), which help profile users across different platforms, such as desktop or mobile, and even email databases or loyalty programs. While these data warehouses maintain and hold data, by nature, many DMPs can’t necessarily match users across screens because this data may not be connected to a marketing automation platform or CRM system that holds valuable buyer data to conduct more seamless experiences.

Even when there is a strong connection between DMPs and marketing automation, you may find value in an independent identity solution. There are solutions out there with cross-device pairing technology utilizing either deterministic or probabilistic device-matching, the two most common ways to solve for cross-device identity.

The deterministic approach is essentially person-based identification that involves collecting personal data and using that data to connect users across devices, typically through a login system. Whereas, the probabilistic device-pairing method uses accessible data–from ad requests, for example–to make predictions about users. There’s a tradeoff between scale and accuracy with these two solutions. As the accuracy of the solution increases, the pool of correctly matched buyers dwindles, and vice versa. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, and it’s likely that a mix of both will work for your brand.

So find where the perfect mix of known and predicted information is for your campaigns. For some instances, you may want only 100% accurate information, such as pairing a physical address to a buyer’s name. But perhaps for an online ad campaign, you can afford to be less precise in order to reach a wider audience. Or maybe it’s a combination, such as when you’re looking to connect purchase history of a customer, so you can attribute appropriate value and further improve site personalization efforts or email marketing initiatives.

3. Leverage Cross-Device Data to Add Value

The most important value-add for cross-device data is that it enables marketers to extend and enhance their own first-party audience data. Whether you’re using your own audience, a partner’s list, or third-party DMP segments, the ability to leverage audience data to understand a complete picture of buyers is critical for digital marketers. This opens up a slew of applications from targeted advertising and dynamic content, to web personalization and account-based marketing.

The opportunities around automated campaigns and lead nurturing are particularly interesting. Many brands understand who a buyer is on one device due to a login or registration that they have tied cookie or device ID. But with the omni-channel prevalence of today’s buyers, it’s important to bring that extra data into a customer record to send out relevant, personalized campaigns triggered by activity or inactivity.

Airlines and retailers are great examples of where adding an identity layer can be a boon to a brand’s automated marketing efforts. Many consumers will log into to their account on desktops, allowing the brand to associate that buyer to a handle, but those same consumers may rarely log in on mobile devices. But we all know that consumers are on mobile, so if an airline knew that someone was looking at flights to Alaska or a retailer knew they were checking out a particular sofa on mobile, those brands could append the customer record and automatically send an email when that product category went on sale.

Ultimately, the sophisticated use of omni-channel, cross-device audience data leads to more value for everyone involved. Marketers can improve their targeting abilities across campaigns to drive higher value and ROI, and buyers are provided with more relevant messaging across channels and devices.