Just two decades ago, the notion of a "customer journey" was limited to how a customer traversed the aisles of retail stores. The path to conversion and the checkout counter was short, straight, and narrow. A customer saw a mass-media advertisement for a product and went to a local store to buy it.

The Internet, of course, changed all that. Today's plethora of online, mobile, and social channels has created an often circuitous path-to-purchase as consumers use a variety of channels to research, explore, connect, and buy.

How can marketers keep up with this quick-shifting, multiscreen, channel-hopping shopper? Knowing customers in a single channel is no longer good enough. Knowing and recognizing your customers at every point of interaction is a must.

To see true, one-on-one marketing success, marketers must develop a full, holistic view of their customers that leads to a rich bounty of insights.

Marketers know this cross-channel perspective goes hand in hand with the business benefits that come from a broad and deep understanding of the customer journey. Nine in 10 marketers rank cross-channel identity and a unified customer view as critical to helping them to meet their marketing goals, according to Signal's recent study, "Preparing for Cross-Channel Success: Solving the Identify Puzzle."

Here are four important ways that cross-channel identity helps marketers drive business benefits to boost the bottom line.

1. A cross-channel identity is the key to truly knowing your customers

Consumers expect the brands they buy from to provide a seamless experience from start to finish, no matter which or how many channels they choose. Cross-channel identity solutions can help unlock the deep customer understanding—of behavior, channel choice, and communication preferences—required to provide the frictionless exploration that consumers want. Because of the latest cross-channel technologies, you can use your own first-party data to create deep and rich profiles of your customers to understand their individual journeys and deliver optimal experiences across all touchpoints.

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image of Marc Kiven

Marc Kiven is founder and chief revenue officer at Signal, a global cross-channel marketing technology company.

LinkedIn: Marc Kiven