We are all aware that marketers today use a number of channels to reach consumers with people-based marketing arguably the approach of choice for most marketers. Using data and technology to better identify, understand and therefore engage a real person in a relevant and timely manner is making marketing people-based.
With people-based marketing, marketers have greater assurance that their message is reaching the right customer and in turn driving results. This is because the data reveals their individual interests and preferences, ideally, both over time and in the moment. These insights allow marketers to market and then measure success at an individual level. Ultimately, it allows brands more certainty that they are marketing intelligently. Better for them because it’s better for their customers.

Prior to this, the increasing number of channels and data silos were in many ways, putting marketers at a disadvantage. Before mobile and tablet devices became popular, many marketing departments relied on cookie-based targeting to track consumer behaviour across desktop devices. Quite a few, in fact, still do. However, this shift to mobile only makes it more difficult to create a single customer identity across all digital touchpoints. People-based marketing has to overcome this obstacle and create an omnichannel view of the consumer.

A people-based approach means we are connecting people like never before and to do so, means connecting data and technology, ideally, at the data layer. Over time, new channels and technology have brought more data but also silos. A bolt-on approach or focus on first connecting technology, has hindered rather than helped the quest towards, but not the appetite for people based marketing with around 83% of media buyers already witnessing the benefits of a people based approaches.

The desire is there, as are the challenges, so how can brands unlock the power of people-based marketing?

Combining different types of data

Merging different types of data will help build more detailed, accurate customer identities across devices and channels. Each type of data provides valuable insight. First-party data is perhaps the greatest asset we have for understanding the customer. For example, econsultancy found that 82% of marketers plan to increase their use of first party data, due to its value of understanding and engaging with the customer.
Adding third-party data to first-party data is useful to fill any gaps, as it offers insight into buying intent, especially when targeting a new audience you may not know much about. Second-party data is a relatively new term to describe data. It is simply another company’s first party data, for example, a hotel chain having access to an airline’s first party data to drive deeper customer insights and better marketing. Of course it can be mutual and in this case the hotel’s first party data as used by the airline is considered second party by the airline. Sharing the power we know sits within first party data means second party data has huge potential for people-based marketing.


While you may have data, how can you connect it together with maximum accuracy to deliver the optimum results for customers and for the business? After all, can data be people-based if it’s not associated with the right people? There are aspects of identity that may seem simple such as a utility company feeling sure the customer is providing them with the right address, because that’s where the gas or electricity is being delivered to and metered. Then there are very difficult aspects, such as trying to identify individuals as they skip across mobile devices or even as they walk into a shop unannounced and anonymous. Thankfully, advances in customer recognition or identify resolution for marketing are seismic in actual impact if not in terms of marketing hype, meaning data is better connected, more accurate, insightful and powerful. In many ways, we’re entering the age of identity.

Activating your data

You now have all your data sets! It’s now time to activate and reach your audience.

Some partners choose to only activate their people-based data through one platform, as the majority of marketers still don’t have access to the customer journey across channels. Resourcing should be directed to the partners that can deliver audiences and engage consumers across devices to optimise results.

We experienced this connected approach firsthand through our work with Heathrow Airport. By connecting all their relevant customer data, by creating a customer picture over time but then reacting to customer events in real time, allowing them to create genuinely people-based, one-to-one communication for those passengers and customers across channels. Knowing you’re traveling with your family or not, when there’s an unfortunate delay and knowing the kinds of retail outlets you’re likely to find relevant can make a massive difference to how the customer experiences that delay and therefore your brand. Do that right more often, for more and more customers and you’re well on the way to people-based marketing success.

Privacy and ethical data use

People-based marketing relies on a people-first approach, as we collect and analyse customers’ data to engage with them. Ensuring that it is used ethically and in line with privacy laws is essential. This does not only keep your brand or company safe, but to also ensure that consumers trust us with their data. When we as marketers identify consumers across channels and collect and curate non-sensitive data, it’s merely to ensure the marketing they receive is relevant rather than random. No data, no people-based marketing.

Delivering a better customer experience is a no brainer when it comes to what brands want to do for customers because better experiences leads to better results. And, the single best way to a better customer experience is to make sure your product, service and marketing are people-based. Power to the people!


By Jed Mole, European marketing director at Acxiom

GDPR Summit Series is a global series of GDPR events which will help marketers to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond. Further information and conference details are available at http://www.gdprsummit.london/

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