What is People-Based Marketing?

Peo·ple Based Mar·ket·ing

/ˈpēpəl bāst märkədiNG/


Definition: People-Based Marketing enables brands to create a cohesive marketing system, centered around the individual consumer and anchored by the collection of real-time behavioral data combined with first party brand data. With People-Based Marketing, brands can ingest and respond strategically to consumers in real-time across devices and channels, unifying the customer journey, unlocking a new source of revenue and achieving a truly omnichannel business.

Understanding People-Based Marketing

People-Based Marketing is the most targeted and powerful type of Behavioral Marketing, relying on the combination of behavioral data and user identification. As opposed to Behavioral Marketing, which takes a reactive approach to user behavior, People-Based Marketing allows brands to become proactive — creating a marketing strategy that’s ready to meet the user wherever he/she chooses to engage.

A successful People-Based Marketing strategy boils down to three key elements: Identification, Data, and Automation.


Identification refers to the process of marrying consumers to their connected devices, with the ultimate goal of ensuring persistent, cross-device recognition for a single view of the consumer. Today, the average identification rate for eCommerce companies is approximately 5%.

So while many brands have large email lists, they’re not able to associate their audience to an email address across every device a user might be browsing on. Most companies can only identify the traffic that logs in, which for eCommerce brands is typically around 2% of their audience.

Particularly considering that the average digital consumers in 2016 owned 3.64 connected devices, this statistic is troublesome. How can brands create a connected experience for consumers who are becoming increasingly accustomed to a multi device and multi channel shopping experience?

Think of brands like Amazon, on the other hand, which can successfully identify their audience across every device and channel (mobile web, desktop, Alexa, Prime Now app), because they require that most users remain logged in.

While not all companies will be able to replicate the identification feat of Amazon, with the help of identity resolution and people-based marketing technologies, brands too can begin to get a single view of their consumer that spans any and every device


Today, brands have a plethora of data on each of their customers. From purchase data to email engagement to device information, the list of potential data points is endless.

Until recently, however, that data has remained dark and unusable, due to the limitations siloed channels have put on it. There has existed no way to combine the information from in store POS sales to online sales to email engagement and website browse behavior and create actionable insights accordingly.

With an identification-first approach, however, tapping into those dunes of dark data suddenly becomes possible, since it all ties back to that first point of identification – the email address. Now, brands can organize all their data the people-based way, attributing every piece of data (regardless of which device it occurred on) to the single individual in question.

These customer data profiles shouldn’t be limited to historical data, either. They should simultaneously record behavioral data, or the actions that consumers are taking on your website in real time:

  • which device they’re on
  • whether they made it to a product page, category page
  • if they’ve added items to cart
  • which categories and/or products were visited
  • whether or not they read product reviews

Ultimately, by linking together these data points (brand’s first party consumer data with the individual consumer’s behavioral data) and connecting it all to the consumer in question, brands suddenly gain a singular view of their consumer.

No longer fragmented across different channels and devices, or the multichannel perspective, brands can finally visualize consumers as consumers first and foremost. The fact that they are consumers who then engage across various devices and channels as part of their single journey to conversion becomes secondary and unlocks the omnichannel view.

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel Infographic
(Image Source)


Automation has thus far been limited by the siloed state of marketing efforts and lack of consumer identification — the most obvious example being the cart abandonment email. The majority of eCommerce companies today have implemented cart abandonment email automation, triggering the send of an abandonment email when an individual on their email list abandons their shopping cart onsite.

The problem with these emails for most brands today is that they’re useless across devices. If an individual opens in clicks through the email on their mobile device (as most consumers today do), the cart is not replenished, because the email relies on cookie-based data which doesn’t translate across device.

Furthermore, since the brand can’t recognize the individual when he begins engaging on his phone, it can’t associate the cart data either on this new device.

People-Based Marketing automation, true to its name, relies on people-based targeting, replacing the need for and far exceeding the power of cookie-based data. Brands unlock a singular view of consumers, one that anchors all of the data discussed above to a single email address.

As a result, brands can automate their marketing approach across all devices and all channels under a single cohesive marketing strategy. The power of People-Based Marketing stems from the fact that it looks at the business’ lowest common denominator, the consumer, as opposed to a specific channel or device.

The People-Based Marketing Ecosystem

The people-based approach allows brands to take an active role in communicating with their audience. Without identification, standard behavioral marketing strategies are reactive and limited in their response.

Just consider what your triggered channels, whether retargeting ads or cart abandonment emails, look like today. They react to the abandoning action a user takes onsite, deliver the message, and the story ends there. It’s a multichannel strategy at best.

People-Based Marketing, alternatively, enables brands to become truly Omnichannel through a major shift in business perspective.  It’s a perspective that puts customers at the core of the business model and reorients all marketing channels (email, ads, website, stores, app, television) to revolve around them.

Furthermore, by placing the customer at the center of the business, brands will unlock the ability to unify the various fragments of the customer journey through the connection of those same marketing channels.

Now, instead of the retargeting ads or cart abandonment emails beginning and ending with the single communication, they can build on top of one another. If she opens the cart abandonment email on her phone but doesn’t click through, the brand can retarget her across all her devices with an ad with a better incentive. Or, if she views an ad but doesn’t click through, the brand can send her a notification with a more intriguing incentive.

Based on how she engages with the notification, the brand can deliver an email that motivates her to take whichever action makes the most sense at that point. In other words, marketing strategies become individual self-sustaining ecosystems, unique to the customer in question and responsible for unlocking a new source of revenue for brands, available only through the omnichannel view of the business.

Last Updated: April 26th, 2018