How to Use First-Party Data to Master the Customer Journey


The customer journey is a long, evolving process where brands need to build awareness in order to drive the consumer to purchase. For brands, understanding how the journey is changing is vital to generating repeat purchases, creating brand loyalty, and delivering value that retains customers over their lifetime.

Brands want and need to cultivate long-term customer relationships by building a conversation and influencing consumers with the most relevant messaging at the right time along the consumer journey. This can only be accomplished if they can effectively manage the relationship and dialog with their consumers across all of their devices. But with that comes the need for measurement solutions that are able to paint a holistic view of customer engagement and conversion.

For decades, digital advertising budgets have predominantly focused on awareness to purchase, with most of the effort primarily spent looking at consumer interactions with a single desktop or laptop. As a result, advertising dollars have been siloed to a single device and one set of metrics, leaving brands with a fragmented, short-term perspective of the customer that only captures a small portion of the potential interaction with a brand or product.

Relying on this fragmented approach, marketers could not connect or recognize the same customer across channels, leaving them unable to identify key life changes and other external influences that would impact their purchasing decisions. Compound that with each consumer being bombarded by thousands of advertisements per day and it’s easy to see that a fragmented and incomplete view of the consumer greatly diminishes campaign effectiveness.

Brands need to make themselves more relevant to the individual customer so they can be heard through all the noise, with advertising that is tailored to the preferences of the individual. Demonstrating this personal understanding will help brands foster ongoing relationships built on loyalty and trust, which in turn will drive a positive customer association.

The key to understanding the customer journey and establishing those permanent connections lies in building a foundation of people as the metric. Using first-party data that connects devices and digital actions to the identities of real people that own these devices, rather than cookies, allows the customer journey to truly come to life. Brands can get that much-needed long-term view of the customer that evolves with life changes like marriage, starting a family, or moving.

For example, when someone moves to a new city there are a series of likely actions that will take place, like buying new furniture or even purchasing a new vehicle. In the case of a vehicle purchase, more customers are doing research with their mobile devices than ever before, often times while standing on the dealer’s lot. Dealership visits prior to purchase are at an all-time low due to the incredible depth and breadth of auto shopper information available online.

Using a cookie-based approach, that individual consumer would appear to be a different person when they move from their smartphone to their tablet to their laptop, making it very difficult for the auto brand or the dealer to move them along the purchase process and establish any meaningful relationship with the consumer. If brands are aware of this change in the consumer’s life using first-party data, they can deliver advertisements more effectively with goods or services that are relevant to the consumer based on geo-location, interests, and time spent in the area.

For decades, advertisers have managed their customer relationships through mass media and personalized CRM programs such as direct mail and more recently, email marketing. People-based advertising has created the ability to deliver personalized messaging across all of the consumers’ devices and channels of media consumption. It’s not a one-way street anymore, where advertisers are simply delivering an endless stream of repetitive, noisy ads to loosely targeted consumers. Today, it’s an open conversation that starts with the foundation of having a better understanding of the customer through every life stage.

Learn more about the kind of people-based insights you can get in Viant’s retail white paper, The Anatomy of a Department Store Shopper.

  • #brand strategy
  • #connected devices
  • #cross device
  • #customer journey
  • #people-based marketing
  • #personalized messaging
Up Next

How to Tell a People-Based Provider from a Pretender

Craig Benner, Senior Vice President of Sales, discusses people based marketing–one of the latest adtech buzzwords–comparing it to the earlier days of adtech when programmatic and RTB were being used interchangeably and incorrectly. Craig goes on to define people-based marketing, what it means for marketers, and what questions they should ask before jumping in.

Read More