Understanding how profile merging works in BlueConic
Profile merging is one of the key components of managing your unified profiles in BlueConic. When two customer or visitor profiles are merged, BlueConic follows a merge strategy. The merge strategy is determined by a special tag that is assigned by your application manager or developer to each profile property in a plugin. The merging strategy specifies, among other things, whether one property wins out over another, whether both values are kept, whether numerical values are summed together, and so forth. Determining what the merge strategy is for a profile property is discussed in full in the section Merge Strategy.
Determining that two customer profiles belong to the same individual is the key to profile merging. For best results, you should target profile properties that are most guaranteed to be unique such as, for example, a combination of the customer's email address plus a customer ID or mobile phone number. Use IP checking for additional matching. While two profiles containing the same first and last name likely means that the customer profiles belong to the same person, it is also possible that you are dealing with two different individuals who have the same first and last name. It is therefore important that you create merge rules that are logical and that are most likely to uniquely identify customer profiles belonging to the same person. When the profile merge rules are not able to determine that a customer with multiple profiles is the same person, they will continue to have multiple customer profiles that are updated based on which of your channel(s) they visit.
When two customer or visitor profiles are merged, both profiles are kept. The profile properties and their values that do not exist in the profile that is merged into will be added. The values of the profile properties that are shared by both profiles are merged one-by-one according to the merge strategy assigned to the property in the plugin. Normally, the newest profile becomes the active profile and the older profile becomes inactive.
Older, inactive profiles
When profiles are merged, all profile properties in the older profile are set to null except for two. The only properties that have a value in the older profile are the profile ID and a property called "replaced by" that contains a reference to the newer profile. A profile leftover from merging has a 'Replaced by' value; this older profile is not available for segmentation and therefore cannot be exported in a connection. The older profile is not part of the 'All Visitors' segment, and would not be included in a connection that exports the segment 'All Visitors'.
Profile merging example
For example, the following two profiles, Profile A and Profile B, are determined to belong to the same person because the email addresses match:
The profiles are merged together. The result after the merge is:
Merging is a powerful tool. To ensure that merges happen accurately, in real time, and at scale, BlueConic has some guardrails in place.
Note: Certain out-of-the-box profile properties have system-controlled merge strategies. See Managing read-only, system-controlled profile properties for details.
Why merge profiles?
There are several reasons you would want to merge profiles that have been determined to belong to the same person. By gathering together all the profile properties and their values in one profile, you create a richer BlueConic customer profile that contains the most complete information about the individual's behavior across multiple channels. This makes it possible to target more meaningful dialogues at this customer or visitor.
Profile merging also reduces the total number of unified profiles in the BlueConic database, which can improve BlueConic's performance. By streamlining your profiles using profile merging, you also guarantee that segment values are as realistic as possible.
Merge profiles only when you are certain they belong to the same individual. If you are not sure two profiles belong to the same person, merging them will actually result in a less meaningful merged profile. It is better not to merge two profiles than to merge on a gamble! Using the IP checking feature can help ensure that you are merging profiles for the same individual.