Forrester: “Identity Resolution Unlocks Modern Marketing”

Forrester publishes findings from 300 marketing execs on the state of ID resolution

Identity resolution is the key to marketing performance, including maximizing marketing efficiency, increasing company revenues and improving customer relationships, according to a new study published by Forrester.

“Overall, marketers believe that ID resolution is a key capability for driving business growth and customer satisfaction,” says the Forrester report, but “marketers are rarely very confident their ID resolution programs have the depth, accuracy, persistence and scale they need to succeed.”

These identity resolution findings are based on the responses of 300 B2C marketing executives and directors working at major retail, publishing and travel companies in North America.

The ID resolution Forrester report had three key findings:

1. Identity Resolution: The Key to Marketing Performance

As consumers have shifted to multi-touchpoint, multi-device shopping journeys, cookies have lost their reputation as an effective means for finding and targeting customers, and marketers have found it extremely difficult to link a consumer on one device or touchpoint to another unless they’re logged in.

But most marketers note that less than a quarter of their site traffic is.

A majority of marketers said that incomplete customer ID resolution means they can’t effectively deliver behavioral communications at scale and that they struggle to target mobile users and devices.

This translates to missing a significant opportunity to drive one-to-one relevant messaging to customers when they are most likely to take action and convert. In fact, almost 70% of marketers believe their incomplete ID resolution is causing them to have limited scale of behavioral communications such as event-triggered email, SMS and push campaigns.


If businesses can’t respond to customer needs in context—at an appropriate time and on the device of the customer’s choosing—they face further lost opportunities. The data showed that companies that were more confident in their ID resolution programs experienced more efficient marketing spend, increased ability to attract new customers and decreased customer acquisition costs.

71% of marketers believe identity resolution would have a significant or major impact on their ability to attract new customers.

According to Forrester, having confidence in your business’ ID resolution coincides with improved business benefits. For example, companies that were more confident in their ID programs reported things like improved marketing spend, increased ability to attract new customers and decreased cost per acquisition.

The report further states that identity resolution enables firms to improve their customer data management, increase the effectiveness of targeting and personalization, improve customer loyalty, enhance company revenues and drive more effective and efficient marketing programs.

2. There is Major Identity Resolution Overconfidence Among Marketers

As the popularity of customer identity resolution rises, marketers have begun to realize the complications of connecting customer identifiers across a multitude of touchpoints—from third-party persistent IDs to email addresses, to transactional data, device IDs, social media credentials, IP addresses, phone numbers and login data.

Less than 25% of marketers are confident in their ability to manage customer IDs with sufficient depth, accuracy, persistence and scale.

The Forrester study found that while brands are confident in their ability to perform ID resolution, they appear to only be able to effectively do so in limited circumstances.


In fact, though most marketers said they can identify their customers during a website visit, a closer look revealed that this capability is frequently unreliable and only includes their own desktop sites, limiting the scale of identity-reliant benefits.

3. Lack of Technology Hinders Retailers’ Identity Resolution Programs

Technology is a critical component to ID resolution success. Marketers who expressed very low confidence in their customer ID capabilities cited a lack of technology as being the primary factor holding them back.

Overwhelmingly, and across each dimension—depth, accuracy, persistence, and scale—marketers said that it was lack of technology, rather than a lack of skills or institutional knowledge, that limits their ID resolution effectiveness.


Much of this struggle relates back to the shift to multi-touchpoint, multi-device brand relationships. With this shift, cookies, the once gold standard of identity, have become more difficult to maintain. Today, mobile OS platforms often block third-party cookies by default, and since cookies are specific to a browser, they do not travel across devices, making it extremely difficult to link a consumer on one device or touchpoint to another.

91% of marketers blame their lack of technology for their inability to accurately ID customers.

To overcome this challenge, Forrester recommends investing in technology rather than trying to build in house in order to benefit from the built-in best practices and ongoing innovation that is core to most technology providers’ business models. These third-party solutions offer network effects that provide scale no individual organization can achieve on their own.

To read the full 12-page Forrester identity resolution report, download it for free here.


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Lucy Leonard

Lucy is Wunderkind’s Content Marketing Manager. She is a fan of the em dash, a connoisseur of 140 characters, a creator of content and a lover of words. She also hates the Oxford Comma… a lot.

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