People-based marketing is turning the world into a small town. Not the kind of small town like El Segundo where you can walk behind the counter of the local diner and refill your own coffee. Rather, it’s a Truman Show kind of small town where you know what your customers eat, shop, and post online—and that can have benefits for everyone, consumers and companies alike.

Before big data and machine learning became available for smaller companies, all you knew about online customers was someone had visited your site on a browser from a certain region of the world. Your customer was a “cookie.”

With the proliferation of multiple work and personal devices (computers, tablets, phones…), the understanding of the human behind the visit has become more difficult. You might recognize Jane when she visited your site on her work computer, but not when she dropped by on her personal smartphone or tablet. You may think you had multiple site visitors, while you still don’t know very much about Jane and her needs at all.

But that’s all changed.

Marketing game-changer

People-based marketing (sometimes called identity-based marketing) is changing our direct marketing strategy. Its focus is uniting the touchpoints of a business with an individual online.

Tech giants such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook can track people across multiple devices because users are required to log in to use their services. That’s a luxury most websites and small companies do not have. But now, there are third party companies that are creating “identity graphs”: unified databases of devices and people that are not tied to a specific platform.

According to Francesco Gatti, CEO of Voltn and a thought leader in the field of people-based marketing, “Much of the customer journey, everything up to registration or purchase, happens out of sight of marketers. But identity resolution uses opt-in partnerships and public data to shed light on who these window shoppers are.” Depending on the audience and website, it’s possible to recognize anywhere from 10 to 30 percent or more of a given website’s traffic.

Identity resolution

Identity resolution services use cookies and site logins to match website traffic to known users; then internal and partner databases enrich those records as needed. Most importantly, identity resolution isn’t the same old aggregated data. It’s not counts of unique visits—it’s names of users and their emails. Instead of pie charts and graphs about gender, age, and socioeconomics, we get public records appended by a person.

Such a tool means our company has now been able to add new leads instead of hitting up the same old email list.

Multiple touch points

Before we did people-based marketing, we were like everyone else, spending our online marketing budget on pay-per-click advertising with Google and Facebook. But with those big ad platforms, we never owned the lead. It was just a shotgun-and-a-prayer approach of hoping we would reach a potential customer just because they had browsed our website once.

But identity resolution has been more effective for our reach. We know who the people are and if they are the kind of people we want to contact. Then we use the identity data to write direct emails, do email marketing campaigns, and send general newsletters, lowering the cost of advertising and lead acquisition by 20 percent. Instead of focusing all of our ad budgets on pay-per-click advertising with small to no returns, we now concentrate our money and time on contacting people directly and get better results. Our business is all online, but other businesses could also use the information to do direct mail and phone outreach.

We all live in a small town again. With identity resolution, we can get to know our consumers and potential customers better, so we can better serve their needs.