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Want a Great Personalized Experience? Create a Unified Customer Profile

Collecting customer data into one profile

Consumers expect a personalized experience, but providing that is easier said than done. You’re collecting information from both your known and anonymous users, but what do you do with that information once you have it? Have you overlooked some information that you’ve already collected that would improve the customer experience? How do you manage all of this across all of your touchpoints?

The answer? Build a unified customer profile -- a data-level hub that pulls the most useful customer information into one place, connecting all relevant systems and providing the best possible basis for a personalized experience.

Getting Started

The majority of the visitors to your website are anonymous. How do you personalize a digital experience for people who haven’t identified themselves? The answer is by setting up a profile for each visitor, even the anonymous ones. Anonymous visitors can still provide you with valuable information that you can use to build their profile. This includes: which site referred them, what device they are using, their geographic location, etc. You can also start to see their content preferences, what keywords they click on and how long they spend on your site. Anonymous visitors also deserve and expect a customized experience, regardless of what information they choose to -- or choose not to -- provide you with.

As soon as someone visits your website, it’s an opportunity to improve their experience, but it’s a fast moving one. You only have seconds to grab their attention, to make them feel welcomed. If you establish a profile upon an anonymous user’s first visit, then once they identify themselves -- by signing up for an email, purchasing a product, or registering on the site -- you already have a base profile to work with. By adding the e-mail address you just captured to their anonymous profile, they become a known user and you will gain a clearer view of who they are and what they are interested in.

Growing Profiles Over Time

These profiles are progressive, meaning they do not contain all of a customer’s information upon creation but rather, continue to build over time. More data is captured with each subsequent visit to your site. What pages do they view? What actions are they taking? Then, as soon as they respond to a call-to-action (CTA) or “raise their hand” by using a social sign-on or entering a contest, ideally their anonymous profile would then be linked with their known profile, consolidating all their information. This gives you a comprehensive and continuously evolving view of who your customer is, what they like, and what they do on your site.

While aggregating customer information into a unified profile creates a better, more personalized experience for the customer, it also is benefits your marketing organization. A unified customer profile enables the information to be shared across your internal marketing channels, across teams and across marketing tools. With all of a customer’s data -- from CRM, email, your online store, etc. -- in one place, anyone within your organization has a much more detailed view of the customer and can use that information to draw new insights. This breaks down silos, improves reporting and generates better insights to be used in other marketing initiatives.

Multi-channel vs. Omni-channel

Customers interact with brands at many different touchpoints. It’s not unusual for a customer to visit both an online store and a physical retail location, to follow their favorite brands on social media or to sign up for emails and newsletters. Interacting with your customers across various platforms is the basis of multi-channel marketing.

As a digital marketer, not only do you want to interact with your audience at any and all places that they are engaging with your business, but you want their experience across all these devices and platforms to be seamless. This connected experience, which puts the customer at the center of all interactions, is called omni-channel marketing.

By cultivating an omni-channel approach, you not only collect more data to enhance your unified customer profiles but you're building a better experience and therefore improving customer loyalty. You are showing your customer that you know what they like, you remember their preferences, and that providing attention to their needs extends across your entire business. That’s the recipe for customer success.

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