According to a recent eMarketer study, almost three-quarters of retailers in North America have listed “Personalization” as their #1 priority for 2017. But many of those brands also indicate it could take up to three years to implement their personalization strategies. In today’s “always-on, always-moving” world, consumers expect every engagement from you to be personalized now – not in three years. And they expect the same level of familiarity at every touchpoint. No matter if that interaction is online or offline.

So how do you deliver on that expectation today?  It starts with thinking beyond the channel-specific personalization. To connect effectively with customers, it has to be more than just about a responsive design or product recommendations. Every engagement is a continuation of a lifelong conversation. Brands need to be able to hold a conversation, be thoughtful, interesting, and relevant.

In order to captivate and maintain your audience, you need to know as much as you can about them. In addition to their purchase history or loyalty information, you need to discover their attitudes, behaviors, and preferences.  It’s about understanding who that consumer is at the identity level and making that intelligence readily available to your entire organization.   

A complete picture of your consumer requires three key components — identification, enrichment, and consistency. According to the 2016 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey from Boston Retail Partners, roughly 70% of retailers see customer identification as their top priority for customer engagement. Correctly identifying a consumer, especially if they are anonymous, is becoming increasingly difficult as the number of devices and channels continues to grow. Having an email or a cookie is no longer enough to connect the dots across a consumer’s fragmented journey.

The quicker you can identify a customer or prospect, the greater the influence you can have over their purchase decisions. The quality of your customer’s identity will inevitably determine the quality of the customer experience you deliver. The more you now about that consumer, the more personal and relevant you’ll become when they’re ready to buy.

The eMarketer study showed that while many retailers (34%) currently offer product recommendations and personalized offers, that intelligence is often based on loyalty data or purchase history. This is information that changes quickly and is often stale or unreliable. Brands are now looking at new data points like browsing history (30%) or social-media posts (36%) to personalize the customer experience.

By layering demographic, psychographic, geographic, and behavioral attributes on top of your current CRM records, you can deliver an engagement that drives action and attention. This was a critical strategy discussed at the National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show this past January. Brands like Nike and Xerox have already found success in delivering customization and personalization options to their customers, while Macy’s and Walmart are starting to turn to technology to solve their customization problems.

Having robust customer intelligence is only effective if it’s being used correctly. For example, 79% of retailers are currently not providing customer attributes/preferences and product recommendations to associates. This missed sales opportunity can be solved through consistency and unification. By collecting, storing, managing, and delivering your customer intelligence in a consistent way, and by linking disconnected systems within your organization with a single identifier, you can unify the data and provide transparency across your organization to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

With everyone taking their cues from the same playbook, you’ll have a greater chance to earn wins. Omnichannel personalization is obtainable, it’s just a matter of having the right tools to accurately identify, enrich, and unify your customer data.

For more information on how Neustar can improve your customer intelligence, please call us at 855-898-0036 or visit www.neustar.biz/marketing.