Identifying your contacts has key importance in building and updating your contact database, and utilizing Emarsys' personalization capabilities by keeping track of customers' web behaviour. Among our products, Web Extend relies the most on contact identification by using data collection scripts, however, some other Emarsys products identifies contacts as well, like inbound SMS.
Contact Identification by Web Extend
Contacts are identified as follows:
1. Web Extend uses data collection scripts to track website visitors by dropping a first-party, visitor cookie. At this point, the cookie is not yet linked to a specific contact in your contact database, but is used for a pseudonymized identification of the website visitor.
2. Then, for explicit identification, Emarsys offers two alternatives:
By the user's email address:
- The visitor's email address is securely hashed and handled by Emarsys.
- Since all contacts in your database have an email address, this method allows you to achieve a complete coverage of your contact database.
By an external ID:
- This is the customer ID or user ID that your website currently uses to identify registered users.
- If you choose to use this as your Emarsys identifier, you need to make these IDs available in the contact database for each contact, and maintain this list through the contact import API.
- Whichever identification option you choose, make sure to use only one of them for user identification throughout your website and do not mix them! So, do not use one identifier on a certain page and then use the other identifier on any other pages. For example, if you are running a webshop, you must apply the same identifier on all of its pages (Homepage, Product Categories, Cart, etc.).
- Regarding the previous point, apply this logic to your mobile app as well. Use the identifier on your website consistently on your mobile platform as well, to get a cross-platform personalization experience. However, on mobile, customer identification works only by external ID, so if you want to extend your webshop personalization experience to your mobile app, you should use external ID for both as an identifier.
3. When the visitor logs into your website, the website will use one of the above IDs to explicitly identify the website visitor to the data collection scripts.
The same explicit identification happens when a contact clicks through via an email link (Emarsys attaches a pseudonymized contact identifier to all email links).
4. The data collection scripts will then try to match these explicit identifications to the contacts stored in the contact database.
5. When a website user is successfully matched to a contact, the data collection scripts will update the behavior fields. At this point, pseudonymized cookie information is linked to a specific contact in Emarsys.
6. Any future interaction of this contact with the website will be logged and synced with the contact database, regardless whether the user was logged in or not. The data collection scripts will use the browser cookie to identify the user, and will infer the explicit identification from this.
7. If a user is explicitly identified on multiple devices (logs in on desktop and later clicks through an email link on a mobile device), then the visitor cookies of the two devices will be linked to the same explicit identifier, and all future visits of the user on both devices will be successfully identified and logged by the data collection scripts.
Therefore, as mentioned above, it is important to use the same identifier on your mobile platform as on your website pages. Additionally, on mobile, customer identification works only by external ID, so if you want to extend your webshop personalization experience to your mobile app, you should use external ID for both as an identifier.
- For more information about Web Extend's contact identification, see Web Extend - Overview and Identifying users with Web Extend.
- To learn more about how Web Extend processes user data from a data protection point of view, see: GDPR and Web Extend - all you need to know.
- For more information about the data collection scripts, see Implementing the Web Extend data collection scripts.
Contact Identification by Inbound SMS
Regarding inbound SMS, contact identification bears great importance as well for building your database of customers using your SMS services. Though it works simpler than in the case of Web Extend.
Basically your contacts will be matched with their phone number. Then, for existing customers in your database you can trigger marketing events like event registration, reminders, etc. Also, when growing your database and acquiring new customers, you can immediately trigger marketing events for them like welcome messages, etc.