Why Build an O2O (Online to Offline) Strategy Part 3 – Identity Graphs & Personalization

From the Tech Life Collection by Karthik Srinivas

In part 1 we defined what O2O means and in part 2 of our deep dive into O2O we looked at attribution and the need to align your teams.

In this instalment of our O2O series we look at tracking, identity graphs and how identity graphs are vital for personalization in your O2O strategy.

Let’s dig in!

O2O part 3 - tracking and identity graphs
Photo by Samantha Borges on Unsplash

Tracking and Identity Graphs

If you have a website it’s likely that you already have tracking set up to measure sales. You may even have a multi-touch attribution model to weigh the effectiveness of, for example, your social advertising and search campaigns.

One way of integrating your online efforts into your offline space is through the use of QR codes.

QR codes are very popular in ASEAN and are used by most retailers to help their O2O strategy. QR codes are often used on in-store POS (point of sale) materials. Customers often get discounts or offers by scanning these QR codes. Which is a great tactic to increase sales and engagement online and offline.

But for a more comprehensive view of what your customers are doing and where they are doing it, you need to build an identity graph.

What is an identity graph?

On average a user accesses the internet from four different devices everyday. Online analytics tools may show these visits as coming from different users, even though they are from the same user.

To make this problem worse many companies have customer data on many different systems. Like a CRM. So data can become fragmented or, even worse, duplicated.

An Identity Graph is a database that links up all the identifiers that we can associate with an individual customer. These identifiers can include device ID, phone number, email address, username and even a physical address.

By connecting these identifiers you can find out who your customers are and how you can reach them more effectively. It’s the cornerstone of an effective O2O strategy.

Why build an identity graph?

Here are some benefits of using an identity graph solution to collate customer data:

Control over your data

When you own your identity graph you have more control over your data. You also have the benefit of defining your own set of rules to create the links between customer identifiers. This ensures consistency. But you can also work with a single technology partner to help you build your identity graph.

With third-party cookies being phased out by the big browsers, businesses who can build their own identity graphs (by themselves or with a partner) will be able to adapt very quickly. They will not have to worry too much about third-party cookies and data loss. So they can continue to offer their customers better experiences.

Attribution across devices

We discussed attribution models in depth in part 2 of this series. An identity graph helps to resolve some of the issues associated with attribution in an O2O strategy.

One way that a lot of retailers solve their attribution problems in O2O is with a “loyalty” system. A loyalty system helps build a complete identity graph and can help to log in-store as well as online purchases.

But with users using multiple devices an identity graph helps you to get a real view of each individual customer, no matter where they are or what device they are using.

This insight gives you more control over your marketing campaigns and your messaging.

Customer engagement

We will talk about personalization in the next section, but identity graphs really help with customer engagement metrics across each channel.

Offline customer data can be captured within your identity graph. The biggest two examples are contact information such as a home address and in-store purchase history (which can be captured via a loyalty card). These identifiers can be matched with online activity to get a holistic view of your customers.

When you connect your online and offline identifiers you have a treasure trove of data you can use to optimize your entire brand. Not just your digital marketing, but your in-store experiences and brand advertising. This will increase engagement from your customers and build brand loyalty.

Actions you can take

  • Assess the data you currently have. Does it sit in several different silos?
  • Can you “match” the data you have?
  • Do you rely on third-party cookies for your web analytics? 
  • Pick a technology partner to help you build an effective identity graph solution

MAQE has an experienced data science team that can help you to generate a powerful identity graph solution for your O2O strategy. They can help you to match customer identifiers so you benefit from powerful on and offline customer insights. Talk to us via [email protected] to learn more.

O2O Part 3 - Personalization
Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash


How do Amazon, Netflix and Spotify get their personalization right?

If you’re thinking about Identity Graphs again, you’re on the right track!

All of those giant companies use identity graph systems to understand user preferences and make recommendations. It’s how Netflix knows what you like.

You can also use the Netflix example for your O2O strategy.

Ever had an email from Netflix that recommends a particular series? That’s personalization based on ID graph data.

By using the data you have in your identity graph, you can send powerful, tailored messaging to your customers. With enough data, you will have a holistic view of each customer on an individual basis. So why not talk to them directly?

It’s possible that you can simultaneously send out marketing and offers messaging to different demographics and even individuals using your identity graph data. The right messaging will get these customers into your stores and, likely, increase sales. The clarity provided by identity graph data can help to ensure ROI on your on and offline messaging.

By giving people what they want, you can get more traffic into your stores and onto your website at the same time.

Actions you can take

  • After building your ID graph system, use insights from your data to optimize brand tone of voice
  • Use personalized communications to drive sales both on and offline
  • Use your data to optimize your in-store experiences. The more data you have, the clearer your physical retail direction will become

Come back soon for the fourth and final instalment in our O2O series. We will be talking about beacons and why you need to build an on and offline community.

Contact us via hello@maqe.com.

How MAQE can help

MAQE’s data science team are experienced in building Identity Graph systems to help your O2O business adapt to the age of personalization. Our insights will help your organization become aligned around a shared goal. We don’t view on and offline as separate channels or silos. They are equally as important when creating great customer experiences. Get in touch via [email protected] to find out more.