Best Practices

6 CDP Identity Resolution Mistakes (And How to Stay Clear)

Nicole Mitich
Nicole Mitich June 22, 2023

Nicole Mitich is the content marketing manager @ Census. She's carried a love for reading and writing since childhood, but her particular focus is on streamlining technical communication through writing. She loves seeing (and helping) technical folks share their wisdom. San Diego, California, United States

Oh, identity resolution… It’s touted as one of the best features of customer data platforms (CDPs) because it transforms a jumble of data points into a coherent customer profile. And CDPs really lean into that sentiment with their marketing copy. They promise that with identity resolution you can:

“Create a 360° view of your customer!” 

“Deliver personalized experiences across all channels!”

“Drive customer engagement like never before!”

That all sounds well and good, but in reality, identity resolution opens up a minefield of potential pitfalls. One misstep and your customer data may blow up into a mess of contradictions and inaccuracies. 💣

But don’t panic! We’ll help you sidestep the six most common errors in managing customer data so you emerge with an accurate, unified view of your customers.

The biggest mistake of all?

It's tempting to think that a shiny, off-the-shelf CDP is the answer to all your prayers. But here's the thing: that's probably your first mistake.

The truth is, you don't need to buy a CDP at all. In fact, you can build your own composable CDP, custom-built to your company’s unique needs and capable of growing and adapting with your business.

The rise of the modern data stack and data activation means that companies now have access to best-in-class solutions for each component of a traditional CDP. Book a demo with one of our product specialists to see how we can help you sync customer data to all your marketing and advertising tools, without any code.

Just follow our lead. We’ll get you where you need to be.

1. Inadequate data management

Proper data management is crucial for creating complete and accurate customer profiles. 

Not collecting enough data or not collecting the right types of data is like trying to paint a portrait with only half the colors on your palette. 🎨 You might end up with something vaguely resembling your subject, but the details, the nuances, the things that make them unique, will be lost.

Then there’s the issue of data quality. Poor data quality is like a scratchy recording of a song. It's there but distorted, marred by static and interference. Inaccurate, outdated, or incomplete data can lead to poor identity resolution, resulting in a complete misunderstanding of the customer and, ultimately, ineffective marketing strategies.

2. Disregard for data privacy

It's easy to overlook or dismiss data privacy as an afterthought, but disregard it at your peril! Not respecting data privacy regulations can lead to legal issues and damage your company’s reputation.

Treat your customers' data with the respect it deserves. After all, it's not just data; it’s a reflection of the individuals behind it.

3. Failure to update customer profiles

Failing to update customer profiles is like playing a piano that's out of tune. 🎹 The keys are all there and the pianist plays skillfully, but no matter how good the pianist is, the music is discordant and jarring. 

Customer behavior and preferences can shift over time, just like the tension of a piano string. If customer profiles aren’t regularly updated, it can lead to outdated information and inaccurate identity resolution.

And without the most recent data, your understanding of your customers is outdated, and your marketing strategies may miss the mark.

4. Over-reliance on third-party data

There's first-party data, collected directly from your customers, and there's third-party data, collected by other entities and purchased for use in your CDP.

First-party data is more likely to be accurate, relevant, and compliant with privacy regulations, and it allows for more unique and personalized customer insights. Third-party data, on the other hand, can be useful for providing additional insights or filling gaps in your own data. But it's not a substitute for first-party data, just a supplement. 

After all, third-party data is available to anyone willing to pay for it, including your competitors.

5. Ignoring offline data

Imagine trying to understand a story when you've only read every other page. 📕 You might get the gist of the narrative, but key plot points will be lost. The same is true for customer data. Without offline data, your understanding of your customers is full of holes.

Offline data (think: in-store purchases, call center interactions, and event attendance) can provide valuable insights into customer behavior that online data alone can't capture.

6. Not testing and validating

Testing and validating is the dress rehearsal before the show. It's the final check, the last opportunity to catch any missteps before the curtain rises. 🎭

Not testing and validating is like skipping the dress rehearsal and going straight to opening night. It's a risky move and can lead to missed cues, forgotten lines, and a performance that falls flat. In the context of CDPs, not testing and validating can result in inaccurate identity resolution,  a poor understanding of your customers, and marketing misfires.

Steer clear of these mistakes, and you’ll be well on your way to effective identity resolution

Identity resolution may feel like a minefield of potential mistakes, but if you've been following along, you're now equipped with a map and a metal detector.

And if you're looking for a way to navigate the complex world of identity resolution with more control, flexibility, and precision, a composable CDP might just be the way to go. 🧭 Unlike an off-the-shelf CDP, with fixed features and capabilities, a composable CDP is custom-built to suit your unique business needs.

🗺️ If you're ready to take the first step on this journey, why not try Census to build clear, unified customer profiles and sync them everywhere? Book a demo now.