At Journey Summit, Jornaya’s thought leadership event, we learned that marketing to a consumer for a major-life purchase (MLP) comes with a unique set of challenges. The consumer journey often takes many months, during which the vast majority of consumers are comparison shopping.

We also learned that trust is a critical part of the consumer’s decision for an MLP. There’s a high degree of financial and emotional risk involved in these types of purchases, magnifying the importance of trusting the service provider.

With these added layers of complexity, how can the MLP marketer stand out and win? It turns out the answer is pretty simple: 84% of customers say being treated like a person is a critical factor in winning their business.

While it may seem obvious that treating your customer like a person is important, the path to making this a reality within your marketing can often be unclear. During the sessions at Journey Summit, we discussed how the foundation for a people-based marketing strategy starts with having the right data to know who your customer is and what they care about.

Identity Resolution is Critical

If you want to market to people, you first need to know who they are! You’re probably interacting with consumers across multiple channels at different points in time, and you have incomplete information about that customer’s identity. You might have an email address in your ESP, a phone number dialing into your call center, a mailing address in your direct mail campaign, or a cookie or a mobile advertising ID in your digital audience or visiting your website.

If you’re not able to take those different identifiers and tie them back to the right person, it can be very challenging to create a consistent and personalized marketing message that speaks to this shopper throughout their journey.  

If you’re interested in diving deeper on this topic and understanding practical use cases within your marketing stack, I highly recommend this webinar from Joe Doran, Chief Identity Officer at Signal, and David Dague, CMO at Infutor.

Combine Offline Attributes with Online Behaviors

Once you’re able to resolve the identity of your customer, you can begin to layer in additional attributes to understand what they care about. You can enrich your view of that person with basic demographics like their age, gender, income level, credit profile, home and vehicle ownership history, and dozens of other mostly static attributes.

These are useful characteristics to determine if this person is capable of buying your product and if they look similar to your current customers on paper. But even more important is understanding if this person’s recent behavior indicates they are actually in the market for your product and on a journey to buy.

Personally, I’m fortunate enough to be capable of buying a car. A marketer looking at my demographic attributes would be able to determine this and might think I’m a good target. But if that same marketer could also access my behaviors, they’d know that I’m not researching or comparing the latest models online, and I’m not on a journey to buy. I don’t want or need a car right now, and my behaviors make this clear.

Behavioral data is quickly becoming one of the most powerful ways to understand what a consumer cares about and what types of actions they are most likely to take next. In fact, for the first time in history last year, marketers invested more of their dollars in online digital data assets than they did in offline data sets.

So, laying the right data foundation—Identity Resolution + Attributes of the Person—will set you off on the right course to know who your customer is and what they care about at a given point in time.  

Stay tuned for upcoming posts from us on taking the next step: bringing this data together into an execution strategy that delivers the right message at the right time across channels.

(P.S. If you missed our earlier articles about MLP marketing, check them out: Create Customer Experiences that Count! and Work that Matters for Customers Who Care.)

Eli Schwarz is VP Data Strategy at Jornaya.