Profile merging scenarios

An important step in setting up your customer data platform is to determine which behaviors or identifying data can uniquely identify your customers or visitors to your BlueConic channels. Your BlueConic Customer Success Manager can help you to identify these behaviors. Then you can establish a data collection strategy for these behaviors and store this data in a BlueConic profile property that you designate as a unique identifier.

Many BlueConic customers regard the submission of an email address, either through a webform or from a site login, as uniquely identifying behavior, and they designate the Email Address profile property as a unique identifier. In BlueConic, you can use unique identifiers for merging profiles.

Or, you might choose to create a new profile if this unique identifier changes (for example, if someone else logs in with a different email address on the same device). We’ll walk through some scenarios below to help you establish the optimal profile merging strategies.

Scenario A: Customer has 3 visits = 3 profiles

In this scenario, a customer named Josh visits your BlueConic Channel from three separate devices:

  1. Desktop computer
  2. Laptop
  3. Mobile phone

From these three separate visits, BlueConic creates three profiles for Josh. When Josh “identifies” himself on all three Channels, he will have three separate BlueConic profiles. But if you set up Merging rules around the Email Address profile property, all three of Josh’s profiles will be merged into a single profile. BlueConic now sees Josh as one profile across all three of his devices.

Scenario B: Merge rules recognize a user's IP address

BlueConic's profile merge rules include options to enforce IP checking between profiles being merged. There are three options for IP checking:

  • No IP check: Neither profile’s IP address is checked by the merge rule.
  • Regular IP check: Profiles can be merged if either both profiles have an IP address in common, or at least one profile has no IP address (default choice).
  • Strict IP check: Profiles will be merged only if they have one IP address in common.
    Read more

Let’s look back at Scenario A, only this time with the IP checking enabled.

  • Without IP checking: As Josh begins to identify himself from his devices, his three anonymous profiles are merged.
  • With IP checking enabled: Only Josh’s profiles that share a common IP address will be merged. 

Scenario C: New profile created for a new unique identifier or new email address

Next, let’s walk through a scenario where the option to “Create a new profile when the identifier changes” is enabled in BlueConic for the Email Address profile property.

  1. Josh has a profile in BlueConic that contains his email address.
  2. Josh lends his laptop to his sister Jodie.
  3. Jodie logs into the site using her email address.
    Note: The email address that BlueConic previously had will now change from Josh’s email address to his sister Jodie’s email address.
  4. With the setting to “Create a new profile when identifier changes” enabled, Jodie now has her own profile on Josh’s laptop.
  5. In his next visit, Josh will need to log in again on his laptop in order to be connected back to his own profile.

URLs with Unique Identifiers and Profile Merges

Many ESPs allow you to insert parameters into URLs (such as UTM codes). If your ESP allows it, you may also be able to insert a unique identifier as a URL parameter. After a recipient receives an email and clicks a link from that email, BlueConic can listen to the URL and store the unique identifier in the visitor’s profile. This identifier can then be used to link the profile in BlueConic back to the ESP.

Caution: If the person receiving the email forwards your email to another person, both people will be associated with the same unique identifier from the ESP.

Scenario D: Change in URL unique identifier prevents mistaken merges

  1. Josh forwards your email to his sister Jodie.
  2. Jodie clicks onto a link from the email from her personal laptop.
  3. The URL contains a unique identifier, in this case Josh’s (because he was the original recipient of your email). Because Jodie arrives at your site with this unique identifier, and because this identifier is used to merge profiles, Josh's profile and Jodie’s profile are merged.

How can you prevent these two profiles from being merged?

There is a profile property setting in BlueConic titled “Create new profile when identifier changes” and when you use this setting with the IP check setting, you can prevent the undesired merge between Josh and Jodie’s profiles that might occur in Scenario D.

  • In Scenario D, Josh and Jodie’s profiles are merged because they share the same unique identifier. But by using an IP check option, you can prevent these profiles from being merged. Learn more about IP checking for profile merges.
  • Based on the settings for the Email Address profile property, Jodie would need to provide a new email address over the course of her visit in order to create a new profile.

When are merge rules triggered?

Merge rules are triggered when the value for the profile property in the main rule is changed, or if the IP address changes and you have enabled the IP check option. Merge rules are not triggered when the profile property in the subrule changes.

Example: The profile merge rules shown below are triggered when the 'Email' property changes or the IP address changes. It is not triggered if only the 'Mother_s Maiden Name' value changes.

BlueConic-profile-merge-rules.png

Note: If you change a merge rule, it will be triggered when a profile is changed. But it will not proactively merge existing profiles that meet the new rule (until those profiles change).