SVP, Marketing, Signal
Customer Identity is a facet of martech that has seen a lot of action in recent times. We spoke to Kathy Menis, SVP, Marketing, Signal to find out more about this.
Tell us a little about your background and your role at Signal.
I’ve been a marketer for over 20 years. When I started my career, the only way to reach customers on a 1:1 basis was to put a catalog in their mailbox, but today consumers are always connected and use up to 7 different devices to interact with brands – myself included. As a working mom, I am very protective of my time and discerning with my wallet. Great experiences matter to me because alternate choices are only a fingertip away. So whether I’m shopping online for girls ice skates or planning a vacation, I’m loyal to brands that understand what I need and make it easy and pleasant for me to make purchases for my family.
Like me, your customers demand relevance, and data is driving that trend. That’s why I enjoy working at Signal to help marketers get closer to their customers and take control of their data across the entire enterprise.
How does that experience inform your work at Signal?
Simply said, I want to make it easier for brands to connect with consumers. Signal plays in an interesting white space between known-user marketing and mass marketing. Until recently, these were two fundamentally different challenges solved with equally different tactics. Marketers have for decades looked to email, direct mail and outbound telemarketing to reach known users; and to TV, radio, print and programmatic for mass audiences of unknown consumers.
Those two universes have rapidly converged over the past two years. Led by Facebook’s Custom Audiences, marketers have come to the realization that they can take the same work that they’ve been doing for decades with direct marketing and suddenly unleash it at extreme scale to get amazing results. So today, marketers are looking for technologies and methods to extend that capability of known user marketing into even more mass marketing channels.
That’s where Signal comes in. We are the connectivity layer that allows that graph of all of a brand’s consumers to be known and utilized at scale. That’s why we call it: a “customer identity solution.” It sits at the convergence of known user marketing and mass marketing.
What is a customer identity solution, and what is its role in the broader martech and adtech stack?
Signal’s customer identity solution allows brands to build their own identity graph, which they can own and manage as an enterprise asset, rather than as a “rented” capability of their ad tech vendors or martech platforms. Over time, the asset gains value as the cloud-based profiles continue linking all digital interactions back to the persistent graph. That graph makes it possible for brands to achieve a 360-degree understanding of their consumers that can’t be built through third-party data and can’t be owned and managed through platforms like Facebook.
Signal does this work for a diverse range of clients across different verticals, including retail, auto, financial services, travel, quick service restaurants — any brand that has a direct relationship with their customers and wants to extend it digitally. And we do it as a neutral technology player that’s not connected to media buying, giving marketers a strong, neutral data set that can power their interactions with customers across all touchpoints.
How does Signal differentiate from other identity solutions?
Fundamentally, Signal approaches identity from the brand’s perspective. A brand should own their consumer identity graph, a foundational asset that reaches across the entire enterprise, beyond the scope of advertising campaigns. Through tech stacks and the marketing ecosystem, through the commerce team, through the service team, brands want to establish and control their own identity asset that they can leverage across the full scope of customer interactions. Signal helps brands build that durable, enterprise-wide identity asset.
Signal also believes that identity must be durable and portable for applications across the enterprise, as well as always-on and actionable in real time. Without these critical capabilities, marketers cannot relevantly communicate with customers, understand cross-channel customer journeys, or continuously deliver personalized experiences.
Of course, there are important technological differences which underlie each of these points of differentiation. But each is reflective of the basic philosophy that the customer relationship:
- A) exists 24/7 across multiple devices.
- B) reaches all dimensions of the enterprise, including marketing and advertising.
- C) must belong to the brand in the form of a durable identity asset.
Give us an example of how a customer identity solution can help a brand.
Brands that are focused on increasing customer engagement and loyalty are those that benefit most from a customer identity solution. For example, a company might want to focus on targeting their most valuable audiences: retaining core customers, re-engaging lapsed patrons and converting casual visitors to regular buyers. These audiences can’t be bought through third-party data sets and might evolve over time as customer relationships evolve. An identity asset will not only give the brand the ability to precisely target each of these groups at critical moments of the customer journey but also own the entire view of the customer as they move through the buying cycle, for closed-loop attribution and continuous optimization.
What can companies do with a complete view of the consumer – the kind that Signal provides?
A truly holistic customer view connects unique identifiers and disjointed profiles from online and offline sources. This view, combined with the ability to recognize customers at the moment of intent, gives brands a strategic enterprise asset to power friction-free customer experiences. Signal helps brands create and build their own identity graphs based on persistent consumer profiles that grow more nuanced and complete with every customer engagement. Because the identity graph is portable, it can be used to tailor the complete online and offline customer experience. This includes in stores, through call center interactions, on the website, in mobile applications — you name it. All of these venues aren’t traditional “marketing channels” but each is an opportunity for a brand to improve customer relationships.
How should CMO’s strike a balance between customer retention and customer acquisition?
For a long time, marketers have had unlimited tools purpose-built for customer acquisition, and unlimited channels in which to utilize them. Every mass marketing channel offers endless opportunities to make the first pitch, and always has.
By contrast, retention and loyalty require knowledge of the individual consumer to personalize and tailor messages based on verifiable interactions. In other words, retention implies addressability. Historically, that’s meant that the strategies for building loyalty and retention were primarily geared toward known-user channels like email, direct mail, or opt-in loyalty programs.
Now, with advancements in identity resolution, addressability is becoming achievable within digital and mass marketing channels. As a result, CMOs are reevaluating their acquisition and retention strategies and putting more resources toward retaining customers — especially their most valuable, profitable buyers. I expect brands to increasingly turn away from pure acquisition strategies and begin measuring and optimizing toward maximizing customer lifetime value.
Thanks for chatting with us, Kathy.
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