The rise of the connected consumer has had a profound impact on a number of industries, perhaps none as much as marketing and advertising. Digitally savvy consumers navigate an increasingly complex path to purchase that includes multiple touchpoints and devices – sources they refer to before, during, and after shopping.

For marketers, the proliferation of digital channels and devices offers more ways to connect with consumers than ever before. But despite advancements in technology and practices, many marketers struggle to deliver the right content and offers to the right audiences.

Traditionally, marketers have segmented audiences by demographic attributes such as age, race, gender, marital status, income, education, and occupation. From there, they’ve created a profile of their ideal customer and designed campaigns to win them over. But consumers have changed, and what marketers may have assumed about their customers based on their demographics in the past may no longer be true.

A new category of consumers

Consumer habits, including how, when and how often they interact with brands, have significantly changed in today’s era of constant connectivity. For instance:

  • The typical American household has five connected devices, including smartphones, tablets, connected TVs, and laptops for work and for home.
  • Empowered consumers access content differently, typically using both print and digital to get their news and other content.
  • Consumers aren’t choosing between content types, but rather adding more content to their routines. For example, in addition to traditional radio, consumers are adding streaming services to their listening habits.
  • Consumers are shopping at work and from home, altering when marketers can expect to connect with them.

Together, these factors are forcing marketers to rethink how they reach and engage their best customers. The power has shifted from brands to consumers, who expect relevant brand interactions no matter what device they’re using. Audience-centricity has become central to the success of both the execution and the measurement of most marketing practices.

To be effective, marketers must know more than basic demographics; they need to know who their customers and prospects are, what they are like, and how they behave. Only then can they target each specific audience segment with more relevant messages, at the right time and place, and with the optimal frequency.

Identity resolution to the rescue

In this new world of marketing, identity resolution has emerged as a way to better understand customers and prospects. Identity resolution refers to the practice of reconciling user data from multiple sources into a single unique identifier for each individual. The result is an enriched, anonymous profile of each individual that interacts with a brand that marketers can use to improve targeting, frequency, and reach.

However, identity resolution is more than just the starting point for understanding consumers; it’s also the foundation for better measurement. When these profiles are integrated with multi-touch attribution measurement, marketers are able to see which marketing and media tactics are most effective for each type of audience, and use this insight to optimize spend and improve the consumer experience.

Improving campaign effectiveness

With a better understanding of consumers and messages that best resonate with them, marketers can start to personalize their marketing campaigns to influence consumers’ attitudes, affect their propensity to buy, or provoke another desired action. While this isn’t always easy to accomplish, developing a strategy that incorporates these five steps can help:

  1. Research: Collect and analyze as much customer data that’s available via browser, device, app, etc.
  2. Plan: Develop a plan based on the most current understanding of who each customer is.
  3. Execute: Deliver messages with contextual relevance across channels and tailor the media according to where the customer is on their respective journey.
  4. Optimize: Learn from customer behavior and continuously adjust strategies to reach customers and prospects.
  5. Measure: Combine profile and performance data in real time to measure campaign performance across channels.

By embracing these best practices, marketers can reach and interact with consumers in a coordinated and relevant fashion that respects their behavior and interests, while driving the best results for their business.

Modern marketing requires an understanding of who consumers are as individuals. To be successful, marketers must strive to precisely measure and understand what’s resonating with their most valuable customers and prospects – and transform that guidance into effective marketing that produces the best possible outcomes for their business.

Originally published here.