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article imageQ&A: Why businesses need to identify consumers for growth Special

By Tim Sandle     Sep 20, 2020 in Business
As businesses start to rise up out of the economic turmoil that the coronavirus pandemic has caused, one important element of the recovery strategy is with identifying that right consumers to target. An Experian expert explains how.
To gain an insight, Digital Journal spoke with Aimee Irwin, Experian’s Vice President of Strategy for Marketing Services, on the importance of being able to identify consumers as the economy reopens. Central to this strategy is the application of artificial intelligence. Identifying consumers is critical and this is a step towards reinforcing brand loyalty.
Digital Journal: Why is it important to be able to identify consumers as our economy re-opens?
Aimee Irwin: Identity has always underpinned our entire ecosystem. People want to be recognized and want to receive communications that resonate—it creates a more personal and relevant experience. And with COVID-19, identity is more critical than ever. We have an obligation to help consumers navigate the recovery and connect them with products and services. But the challenges that consumers are facing are based on their unique circumstances and situations—the priorities for one individual will look much different from those of another and circumstances can change quickly in the new COVID world. Add to that more and more people are shifting to a digital experience—primarily to minimize face-to-face contact; that creates hundreds of different touchpoints.
Irwin: In order to create these relevant experiences, marketers need to understand how consumers absorb information and engage with brands across all of their devices—that means connecting digital and offline attributes, such as mobile ad identifiers, Connected TV IDs, transactional data and IP addresses. The more insight marketers have on customers, the better positioned they will be to reach them through preferred communication channels and help them address their most pressing needs. For instance, based on Experian data, we know that at the end of 2019, 37% of new vehicle buyers returning to market were willing to switch brands; automakers can identify those in-market car shoppers and deliver messages that resonate—elevating their conquesting campaigns. More importantly, automakers can help in-market car shoppers find a vehicle that meets their needs—perhaps one that they may not have considered previously.
DJ: How has COVID-19 made an impact?
Irwin:COVID-19 has changed consumer behavior. And in every sense of the word, the pandemic has been unprecedented; marketers can’t solely rely on the data and patterns from just a few months ago. For instance, we’ve seen more consumers shift to the digital ecosystem—at first, the shift was taken out of necessity, to reduce the face-to-face contact, but now we’ve seen more folks recognize the convenience that it provides. Consumers should always be at the center of business strategy, so marketers need to adjust, and meet them where they are; in the digital world.
In addition, during times of uncertainty, consumers expect brands to be more helpful and communicative; to be sincere and empathetic. Brands need to be human and establish that connection; build trust with them. A critical component of that approach is to leverage data and identity to better understand consumers—marketers need to understand what matters most to consumers and what specific challenges they’re facing. It’s only then, that they can create and deliver messages that resonate and meet consumer expectations.
DJ: Is it challenging to properly identify consumers in today’s digital environment?
Irwin:People consume information through multiple devices; smartphones, tablets, laptops, TV, etc., and tend to bounce between them throughout the day. Add to that people are engaging with brands through different channels; social media, email, website—these create hundreds of digital touchpoints. Brands need to stitch these touchpoints together to build identities and understand consumer needs, but it can be difficult, oftentimes brands view these in siloes. Breaking out of that siloed mentality and viewing it through the lens of a single identity will help you understand your customers and create more value for them.
DJ: Are AI and advanced analytics changing how we approach identity? What other technologies play a role?
Irwin:Artificial intelligence and advanced analytics open the door for marketers to use data more effectively and gain deeper insight into their customers—helping them better understand behaviors and preferences. And with the shift to digital and mobile, being able to sift through hundreds, if not thousands, of digital touchpoints and offline metrics can help marketers create that single customer view; but also enable them to connect with consumers in a more meaningful way. In fact, at Experian, we have a research and development group, the Experian DataLabs, that constantly tests new data sets and employs advanced analytical techniques to address challenges, such as identity resolution. We’re strongly committed to leveraging and investing in the most advanced and innovative technologies to constantly improve our identity capabilities.
DJ: How do you see identity evolving in the next five years?
Irwin:Identity is going to continue to evolve, particularly as digital adoption becomes the norm. The digital-first strategy will continue to accelerate. We’ve already seen connected TV and mobile become pillars of an individual’s identity, and we can expect different components to be added to that list of identifiers. However, what won’t change is the need to connect these touchpoints and identifiers together. Stitching these touchpoints and devices together will position marketers to create relevant and valuable experiences for consumers across all marketing channels.
More about Consumers, consumer identity, Marketing, Artificial intelligence
 
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