What Good is Personalization Without Identity?

4cite LogoBy now it’s widely understood that personalization has become a hot topic for marketers. It’s been covered by countless industry thought leaders and the revenue benefits that it yields gets touted by major brands on a daily basis. That is no secret.

You’ve heard and seen the headlines before…

  • Personalization is the future of marketing
  • These 10 brands are taking personalization to the next level
  • X% of marketers say it’s important to create 1:1 messaging and seamless customer journeys
  • The cookie is dying, everything will become people based

Don’t worry, this article won’t rehash these often used, surface level headlines. It’s not that they aren’t important, they are directionally correct. It’s that the market is “missing the boat” of scalability, as it pertains to personalization.

Brands and agencies are constantly testing new creative, new technologies, new offers, etc. but when was the last time you heard about a company testing to see how many visitors (As well as their activity) are getting tracked, segmented and activated correctly? I’ve come across very few, which tells me most companies are not taking advantage of their own 1st party data to facilitate a true omnichannel marketing strategy.

According to eMarketer, 70 percent of people expect personalized experiences when engaging with brands online. Which is why 94 percent of senior-level executives, who participated in a 2016 PWC study, said they believe delivering personalization is critical for engaging their customers.

Digging into those stats even further, it begs the question… how can a brand build and customize personalized messaging without being able to deterministically identify large percentages of online visitors? Visitors who engage on multiple devices, and may shop without ever logging in. If a customer of yours visits your website and adds products to their cart without logging-in, your ESP is missing this.

In other words, relying on cookie-based solutions and the “out-of-the-box” services that ESPs provide, is not enough to capture online intent and subsequently uncover large sums of incremental revenue. Brands are not operating full tilt. They’re calling out the benefits, and the ROI personalization drives, but are not widening their “fishing nets.”

Without modern identification technology, brands are leaving massive amounts of revenue on the table simply because they are not capturing enough data from their website is something that should be considered extremely important in 2018, particularly for e-commerce centric brands. Using basic “trigger” functionality does not capture nearly the amount of website activity that brands believe it does.

Based on a variety of studies, estimates state that over $200 billion in revenue are left in carts annually. This is an example where brands are simply failing to take advantage of intent-driven shopper data and powerfully use it to return shoppers back to checkout.

Also Read:  How Marketers Can Use Customer Behavior to Drive Revenue

Shoppers have literally said, “Add this to my bag, I am least somewhat interested,” yet companies are not realizing that more revenue is out there. The only thing standing between businesses and more revenue is increased identification for people shopping online. Stop leveraging traditional display retargeting to get back in front of a cart abandoner when the email channel is craving more from your brand.

Brands must learn that personalization is important, but what is more important, is the “capturing” of as much shopper behavioral data as possible, on each and every visit. Across platforms, ad campaigns, email, and on-site, across all device types.

So, what if I told you that personalization is nothing without identity?

Some marketers may disagree and point out the revenue they derive from implementing personalization and product recommendations in email, for example. Or they may say that they don’t need help with triggering cart abandonment emails because their ESP already does it for them. They’ve already checked the proverbial box, so to speak.

Headlines like the ones mentioned above have led hundreds of vendors and agencies to claim that they can help brands personalize shopping experiences based on intent. Which they can. The question doesn’t surround the if, it’s attacking the scale. How many people/shoppers can they really help personalize the journey for if their onsite visitor identification is sub 15%? (The ability to tie a visit, as well as all actions taken, back to an email address for 1:1 targeting in email and on People Based Marketing platforms, i.e Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, LiveIntent, etc.)

What many marketers don’t realize is that even if they have begun personalization efforts, they are missing out on so much more.

Also Read:  Death of The 3rd Party Cookie

Brands are struggling to recognize and segment large percentages of website visitors and fostering that data to create 1:1 messaging at scale.

For a large retailer, how much revenue can truly be derived from only personalizing 5, 10 or even 20 percent of online consumers? Brands often pledge to test new technology but far too many “check-the-box” too early. You can’t personalize the experience without deterministic identification.

66 percent of marketers say they are working toward securing internal resources to execute personalized marketing programs yet the customer experience for many consumers has remained stagnant, even when shopping online with the biggest retailers in the country (not including Amazon).

Also Read: Interview with Bob Gaito, CEO at 4Cite Marketing


Try it for yourself. Visit a retailer’s website, subscribe for their email newsletter and click through on the first email you receive. Many times, the first thing you will see is a lightbox popping up with verbiage that sounds something like, “First time here? Sign up for our newsletter.” This is an example of how brands can’t even recognize their own subscribers onsite (Even through an email blast click-through) and display lightboxes that disrupt the shopping experience and ultimately treat every visitor as a first-time shopper.

How then can brands increase identity and truly take advantage of all the things personalization promises to deliver?

It begins with speaking to email service providers and platforms promising “singular customer views” and “1:1 marketing capabilities”. Ask them how many website visitors they are able to identify on a daily basis. Is there an opportunity for MORE? The answer is yes.

For instance, at my company, we often hear marketers say, “I don’t need help with cart abandon trigger email” or “we don’t need help with sending our email blasts because our agency already works with a vendor who assists with send-time optimization.” (Two strategies for fostering personalization based on shopper behavior or activity.)

However, in just five days, 4Cite helped uncover over 8,000 additional cart abandoners for one of the country’s most recognizable outdoor apparel brands. For those who like percentages, that’s a 141 percent lift.

In the following diagram, the left column represents the amount of cart-abandonment triggered emails the brand would have sent through their pre-existing ESP without 4Cite. The middle column shows the number of emails that could have been sent with increased audience resolution.

  Without 4Cite With 4Cite % Lift
Day 1 2,352 4,030 71%
Day 2 812 2,741 238%
Day 3 844 2,338 177%
Day 4 505 1,734 243%
Day 5 1,470 3,554 141%

Why does that 141 percent lift matter? Especially to the C-Suite level? Because the revenue available to recover actually “moves the needle.”

A Salesforce study revealed that 60 percent of cart abandon emails resulted in a sale within 24 hours of the email going out. Secondly, according to Econsultancy, for every single cart abandonment email sent, each email delivers more than $8 in revenue. Still not impressed? The average order value (AOV) of purchases from basket abandonment emails is 14.2% percent higher than typical purchases, per SalesCycle.

My point is this…focus on identity before you attack personalization. With identification, personalization will follow.

With increased identification, brands can leverage identified online shoppers to tailor consistent shopping experience across multiple devices and channels – inclusive of email, people based ad platforms, onsite and with direct mail.

The numbers speak for themselves. The revenue is waiting for you.

Also Read:  Beyond Personal – Why Individualization Is the Key to Marketing Success

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