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Identity resolution: How to turn fragmented data into rich customer profiles

Author: Tiffany Staples


Businesses rely on consumer data to understand their audience and drive revenue. But as customers interact with brands across multiple channels and devices, and over longer periods of time, data becomes fragmented and difficult to unify. Enter first-party identity resolution. By combining data from various sources and accurately matching it to an individual, businesses can create rich customer profiles that provide a complete view of their audience. This enables more personalized marketing and customer experiences, and helps businesses make informed decisions to improve their bottom line. Let’s explore the magic of identity resolution and how it can transform fragmented data into invaluable insight.

The problem with fragmented data

Fragmented data is a major challenge for businesses that rely on customer insights to drive their marketing efforts. When data is scattered across multiple platforms, channels, and devices, it’s difficult - if not impossible - to get a complete picture of the customer journey. This makes it hard to deliver personalized experiences and marketing messages that resonate with customers. In addition, fragmented data can lead to inaccurate measurement and reporting, which can impact business decisions and ROI.

One of the biggest contributors to fragmented data is the rise of digital channels and devices. Consumers today interact with brands across multiple touchpoints, including websites, social media, mobile apps, and more. Each of these touchpoints generates data, but it’s often siloed and disconnected from other sources - making it hard to unify the data and gain a comprehensive understanding of each individual.

Another issue with fragmented data is data quality. When data is scattered across multiple platforms, it creates errors and duplicates. Worse, data becomes outdated or irrelevant over time, leading to inaccurate insights and wasted marketing efforts.

How identity resolution works

Identity resolution is the process of accurately matching, or stitching, customer data from multiple sources to create a unified customer profile. Essentially, it defragments the data. Here's how it works:

Data capture

The first step in identity resolution is capturing customer data from various sources, including websites, mobile apps, social media, and more. This data typically includes information such as customer name, email, phone, and purchase history. It should also include preferences, website behavior, and loyalty data to round out the profile.

Data Cleaning and Validation

Once the data is collected, it needs to be cleaned and validated to ensure accuracy. This involves removing duplicates, correcting errors, and standardizing data formats so the data is actionable.

Data stitching

The next step is to match the data to create a unified customer profile. This involves using deterministic or probabilistic matching algorithms to identify common data points across sources and create a unique identifier for each customer. Most importantly the identifiers from disparate systems must be matched and merged to create a single identity graph for every individual. It won’t do you any good having four separate and distinct identifiers for the same person.

Data Enrichment

Finally, the customer profile is enriched with additional data to provide a more comprehensive view of the customer. This may include demographic information, social media activity, and more. It often includes data collected from partners and third-party sources.

Benefits of identity resolution

Identity resolution enables businesses to get a complete picture of the customer journey and deliver relevant experiences and interactions that resonate. By resolving identity, businesses can create detailed identity profiles that include information about individual user preferences, behaviors, and interests. This enables brands to deliver personalized experiences and marketing messages that are tailored to each individual’s unique needs. By providing relevant and personalized content, businesses also improve consumer engagement and drive conversions.

The importance of identity resolution and personalized experiences in today's business landscape is clear, but what do the statistics say? Here are some key numbers that highlight the impact of personalization, and it can’t be done without comprehensive, real-time identity resolution:

  • Companies that excel at personalization generate 20% more revenue than those that don't (Epsilon)
  • 87% of marketers say that personalization positively impacts customer retention (Evergage)
  • 63% of consumers expect personalization as a standard of service (Accenture)
  • 80% of consumers are more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized experiences (Epsilon)

Identity resolution delivers improved customer insight by providing a comprehensive view of customer behavior across channels and devices. This enables businesses to gain valuable understanding into customer preferences, behaviors, and interests. By analyzing this data, businesses can make informed decisions about marketing strategies, product development, and more.

Improving customer engagement and driving conversions leads to increased revenue and improved ROI. In addition, by gaining a comprehensive view of customer behavior, businesses can optimize their marketing efforts and reduce wasteful spending.

Steps to implementing identity resolution

Implementing identity resolution can be a complex process, but with the right solution it doesn’t have to be. To prepare, here are some key steps that businesses can take to make it easier:

1. Define your objectives

The first step in implementing identity resolution is to define your objectives. What do you hope to achieve with identity resolution? Are you looking to improve personalization, gain better customer insights, or improve ROI? Once you have a clear understanding of your goals, you can develop a strategy that aligns with them. Consider where the data will be used, and by who – this includes downstream applications.

2. Collect and clean data

The next step is to collect and clean your customer data. This involves gathering data from various sources and cleaning it to ensure accuracy. This step is crucial, as inaccurate data can lead to inaccurate insights and marketing efforts.

3. Choose an identity resolution provider

There are many identity resolution providers on the market, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. It's important to choose a provider that aligns with your business needs and objectives. Look for a provider that offers a comprehensive solution, including data capture and collection, cleaning, stitching, enrichment, and activation.

4. Integrate identity resolution into your marketing strategy

Once you've implemented identity resolution, it's important to integrate it into your marketing strategy. This involves using the insight gained from identity resolution to deliver personalized experiences and marketing messages that resonate with your audience. It's also important to continuously monitor and optimize your strategy based on the insight gained from ongoing identity resolution.

Best Practices for Identity Resolution

When implementing identity resolution, there are some best practices businesses can follow to ensure success:

Prioritize data quality

Data quality is crucial for accurate identity resolution. Make sure to collect and clean your data regularly to ensure accuracy. It's also important to establish data governance policies to maintain data quality over time.

Focus on the consumer experience

Identity resolution should be used to deliver personalized experiences and marketing messages that resonate with your audience. Focus on the customer experience and use the insight gained from identity resolution to create experiences that are tailored to each consumer’s unique needs.

Continuously monitor and optimize

Identity resolution is an ongoing process. Consumers interact with your digital properties over long periods of time and through multiple visits on multiple channels. Successful identity resolution requires capturing all data, from all sources, without being deprecated or deleted. Look for an identity resolution solution that can persist identity across device, channel, domain, and time. Continuously monitor and optimize your identity resolution strategy to make informed decisions and improve your bottom line over time.

Examples of Successful Identity Resolution

Identity resolution has been used successfully by many businesses to drive revenue and improve customer experiences. Here are some examples:


Starbucks uses identity resolution to personalize the customer experience across multiple channels. By collecting data from the Starbucks app, website, and in-store purchases, Starbucks creates a comprehensive view of each customer. This enables them to deliver personalized offers and recommendations that drive customer engagement and loyalty – even delivering offers while a customer is in store, or close to a location.


Nike uses identity resolution to deliver personalized experiences across multiple touchpoints, including mobile apps, websites, and in-store experiences. By collecting data on customer preferences and behaviors, Nike can deliver targeted marketing messages and offers that resonate with each customer. This has helped Nike increase revenue and improve customer loyalty.

The Very Group

The Very Group uses identity resolution to ensure the quality and relevance of each customer’s experience across channels and domains, based on their evolving behavior. By capturing insight into search terms, sorting preferences, and even the use of filters, the digital retailer gains deep understanding into how each customer is interacting with their site. They even use identity resolution to prevent fraud.

Identity resolution software and tools

There are many identity resolution solutions on the market. Some are standalone, or add-on solutions, while others are embedded within a CDP (customer data platform) or personalization engine. Most offer a comprehensive solution for collecting, cleaning, and matching customer data but they don’t actively capture the data – you’ll have to figure that out yourself.

Identity resolution software often includes data onboarding, matching, and enrichment. They typically use a combination of deterministic and probabilistic matching algorithms to create a comprehensive view of the customer. If they do offer data capture, it’s usually limited by third-party cookie blockers and data timeout restrictions because they’re not capturing first-party data – which means the identity resolution is incomplete at best. The other major roadblocks organizations face with identity resolution is the delay in receiving the data (it’s not true real-time) and the inability to persist identity across domain, channel, device, and time.

Consider these factors, and your use case, when choosing an identity resolution solution.

Identity resolution is a powerful tool that enables businesses to transform fragmented data into actionable insight. By accurately matching data from various sources, businesses can create rich customer profiles that provide a comprehensive view of the customer journey. This not only enables more personalized marketing and customer experiences but also helps businesses make informed decisions and improve their bottom line. With the right strategy and tools, businesses can implement identity resolution successfully and reap the benefits of a more personalized and data-driven approach to marketing.

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