“Good marketers see consumers as complete human beings with all the dimensions real people have.”

Jonah Sachs, author of ‘Winning the Story Wars’

Market dominance once depended on delivering the best product or service, at the best price. Yet today, rising consumer expectations have changed the rules, making customer experience the new battleground of competitive differentiation.

As a result, outpacing rivals now means following the example of prominent industry pundits such as Jonah Sachs, and building businesses around people.

Of course, this isn’t news to most marketers. According to this year’s Salesforce State of Marketing report, customer experience is a central strategic factor that 68% of global marketing leaders feel their businesses are competing on. In addition, more than half (52%) of customers who participated in the survey suggested they would be ready to walk away from brands offering non-personalised communications.

But while marketers recognise the need to provide consistent, relevant experiences across multiple touchpoints, delivering on that strategy is more complicated. It requires adopting a people-based approach that puts real people at the centre of marketing initiatives.

To better explain the new marketing model, let’s take a closer look at people-based marketing, what it is and why it is essential for optimising consumer experiences, and business results.

People-based marketing 101

People-based marketing embodies the growing industry movement towards consumer-centric communications. It is characterised by use of persistent identifiers, rather than cookies, to produce a holistic view of each individual consumer. Covering unique interests, needs and activity across an array of devices and channels, it allows marketers to achieve a reliable basis for improving targeting accuracy and providing tailored experiences.

For marketers, there are two major benefits of people-focused marketing:

Creating a unified consumer identity

Meeting consumer demand is no simple task for modern marketers. In the era of ever-increasing connectivity, individuals do not take predictable routes to purchase; they plot their own courses that incorporate multiple devices, and a blend of online and offline channels. Consequently, it’s hard for marketers to trace individuals, and deliver the connected and bespoke experiences that consumers want.

This is where people-based marketing can really deliver.

The central aim of the approach is delivering personalised communications. It is enabled by people-based identification, which connects data from across the spectrum of consumers’ interactions with brands. Essentially, this process merges consumer and interaction data from a range of fragmented sources, such as cookie IDs, offline IDs and device IDs. These form one persistent and anonymous identifier that marketers can combine with other first- and third-party data — including intent, interest, and demographic information — to create a comprehensive view of each individual and all of their omnichannel interactions with a brand.

With insight into each individual consumer and the touchpoints they are exposed to on their path to conversion, marketers can offer experiences that exceed the highest consumer expectations of relevancy and consistency.

Optimising resonance and performance

Although highly valuable, a clear understanding of consumers alone isn’t quite enough to ensure communications resonate with individuals. That’s why the second core element of people-based marketing is the combination of consumer data with advanced measurement. When consumer profiles are integrated with sophisticated marketing attribution and modelling tools, marketers can receive an unparalleled view of marketing and advertising performance by audience segment.

The chief benefit of this is that it allows marketers to connect the dots between consumers and their responses to certain messages, tactics, and campaigns. For instance, marketers can determine how consumer exposure to certain emails, display placements and search keywords impacts online sales, in-store purchases, and other success metrics, and how customers, prospects and other key audience segments are responding differently to their marketing tactics. Using this information, marketers can then optimise their budgets across touchpoints, while serving the best message, on the right channel or device, and at the opportune moment to drive results.

The days when brands set the path of consumer decisions are long gone. In the age of the empowered customer, brands must follow in the footsteps of individuals and adapt experiences to accommodate their needs. Success is now the preserve of those who are prepared to take a more human approach. If marketers want to win the battle for competitive differentiation, they need to put the consumer front and centre — in other words, they need to embrace people-based marketing.

Vanessa Tadier

Vanessa Tadier


Vanessa Tadier, General Manager of Europe at Visual IQ.