What Are Unified Profiles and Why Do They Matter?

In the quest for more relevant marketing communications, unified profiles will be the next milestone achievement.

Lasse Lund
April 11, 2016 - 4 min. read

Personas are a relatively well-established concept, particularly since the advent of inbound and digital, helping marketers to craft targeted messages for their prospects. Yet despite claims of 360º views of the customer, there have always been gaps in these personas – blind spots that limit the effectiveness of the message.

These gaps, along with a relentless focus on making changes to boost campaign performance, have led to the development of the ‘unified profile.’ Unified profiles are about to transform social media marketing all over again, potentially offering the very first opportunity to gain a true 360º understanding of customers, their pains, and their preferences,

The problem with current persona creation
In Britain, the average household owns 7.4 internet-connected devices, while US households have 5.2. In Australia, some families have as many as 20, when you consider smart TVs, tablets, mobile phones and laptops. And the rest of the developed world shows similarly high rates of adoption. The way in which each of these devices is used can give some insight into who these people are, and what they like.


Traditionally, each device has had to be treated as a different user. Jimmy may own an iPhone and an iPad, but when he accesses the web, there is not normally anything to tie iPad Jimmy to iPhone Jimmy. This device-centric profile building process creates a disconnect that unified profiles try to address.

Under the existing system, any personas built using iPhone Jimmy and iPad Jimmy will be flawed. Jimmy possibly uses both devices for different tasks, so that the dual account approach treats Jimmy as two people, with completely different interests.

Any content created targeted at either of these personas will be flawed and unbalanced, and therefore, less likely to succeed.

What is a “unified profile”?
A unified profile is intended to reduce these gaps by monitoring an individual’s activities across every device. For the very best results, your information gathering processes need to be able to monitor customers and prospects at every touchpoint. One estimate from RocketFuel suggests that the unified profile approach gives marketers up to 200% more data to use in their campaign planning.

This data is then compiled to provide a more complete profile of the individual. This immediately opens the door for more personalized marketing campaigns, built on finely-targeted messaging and offers. With a collection of highly-accurate unified profiles, it also becomes possible to better segment the contact database, perhaps offering even more options for future targeting.

For the digital marketer, unified profiles also provide the opportunity to create more accurate personas. Personas that do not contain the usual information gaps or broad generalizations. Again, the RocketFuel report also suggests that a unified profile allows them to improve campaign performance by 30%, boost conversions by 100%, and increase campaign reach by 50%.

What part does social media play in unified profile creation?
Because the unified profile relies on capturing customer data from every angle, the social media team will be instrumental in that process. The average person now holds seven social media accounts, offering far more potential engagements that need to be monitored than other traditional channels. Additionally, each social channel comes with it own community and behavior. A person may not discuss their favorite football team on LinkedIn, a channel more geared towards professional networking, but come game day you can find them cheering on Twitter and Facebook. As you collect the data from various social channels into a unified profile, you get a better understanding of your customer, individually and as part of a group, so you create more relevant messages for them.


You also have to consider social message volume. The average US smartphone user spends over 34 hours each month online, and a third of that time is using social media apps. During that time they will engage with thousands of updates across multiple platforms, providing plenty of opportunities for your social team to observe their personalities and preferences.

The social team will need access to a tool capable of helping to automate much of the data aggregation and analysis. They will also need training and assistance to sift through all of the available data to prioritize signals above the noise.

Using the unified profile
The unified profile, and any personas derived from them, can be used for any marketing campaign, regardless of channel. The social media and digital marketing teams will finally have an accurate set of personas against which they can create content.

A persona built on unified profiles is also likely to be far more accurate than those used by your competitors. The additional detail uncovers previously invisible secondary factors that can be addressed, further establishing your brand’s credibility as a market leader. And your social team will have all the information they need to present that content in the most effective way to your prospects.

To learn more about using personas as part of your social media marketing mix, and how Falcon.io can assist with the analysis required to build a genuinely useful profile, please arrange a quick demo with our team.

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