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The 4 Key Components of Identity Resolution

Identity resolution

The 4 Key Components of Identity Resolution

by Barton Goldenberg

Knowing The Customer Is The Key To All Marketing

Today’s customers and prospects engage with brands across many devices and touchpoints.  Sometimes these individuals are well-identified, such as when they make a purchase, contact a call center or complete an online form.  At other times, contacts are anonymous, as when browsing a website or participating in a social media community.  The challenge for organizations in this new environment is to de-anonymize unidentified engagements, capture identifiable but often non-digital (off-line) information, and integrate all this data into holistic customer profiles that facilitate individually tailored marketing campaigns.  The solutions are found in new technologies that together define an exciting new field called “Identity Resolution.”

Identity Resolution seamlessly integrates online and offline data to create a single comprehensive customer data record.  Forrester® identifies four key components of Identity Resolution: data, identities, profiles and outcomes.  Here’s how they fit together:

1: Gather the data. 

Identity Resolution tools first compile customer data from a variety of online and off-line sources.  This data provides keys to customer identity that vary in precision and “persistence,” from something as permanent and personally identifiable as an email address to something as fleeting as an online “cookie” that may only provide an IP address.

2: Perform ‘Identity Resolution’. 

The tools then seek to map this diverse data to a single individual.   Using sophisticated technology, the software knows – via cookie IDs, mobile device IDs, etc. – which  websites or social media communities an individual has visited.  Elsewhere on the Internet, the individual has more than likely revealed either his or her name, physical address, email address and/or a phone number (i.e., the individual has ‘authenticated’).  The software then links the known individual to each of the cookie IDs and/or mobile device IDs that the individual created online.  The result is a merged, single customer data record.

3: Integrate merged data into a holistic customer profile.

The merged, single customer data record – containing device and channel data, self-submitted information, point-of-sale data and information from third-party data sources – is now ready for use in creating holistic customer profiles within a CRM system.

4: Analyze and apply.

The result of the Identity Resolution process is to be able to recognize customers across devices and touchpoints, put customer activities into context, and support relevant customer experiences.  Companies can apply data analytics tools to segment customers and prospects, create look-alike models for ad targeting, determine appropriate offers, suggest next best offer, and more.

At ISM, we have over 30 years of experience helping best-in-class companies leverage people, process and technology to develop Customer-Centric Strategies, of which Identity Resolution is often a critical component.  Learn more about ISM’s Emerging Technology services or e-mail us at

Barton Goldenberg speaks about changes and trends in the ways organizations engage with today’s connected consumer. His real-world examples and humorous style have distinguished him at events including the Gartner 360 Customer Summit, Dreamforce, CRM Evolution and others.

Barton is founder and President of ISM Inc., where clients include Chase Bank, ExxonMobil, Jaguar Land Rover, Johnson Controls, Kraft Heinz, Marriott, Nike, Schlumberger, T. Rowe Price, U.S. Department of Defense, Zumba Fitness and many more.

An acclaimed author, keynote speaker, and member of the CRM Hall of Fame, Barton holds a B.Sc. (Economics) degree with honors from the Wharton School of Business and a M.Sc. (Economics) degree from the London School of Economics.on, always-connected’ consumer.

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