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How to Combat User Anonymity

Remember the days of AOL? The Internet was a largely uncharted, somewhat daunting landscape driven by user anonymity. You went online to escape yourself, not to be yourself. Take the movie You’ve Got Mail as a classic example of this: “Shopgirl” was Meg Ryan’s AOL user name, and it was a near scandal when Meg and Tom finally decided to meet in person.

Nowadays, however, virtually everyone is active on some type of social network, bearing their entire lives to entire networks of friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and, at times, the world. While the Internet of the past preaches complete anonymity as the Holy Grail of online etiquette, modern businesses understand that the playing field has turned its tables since and recognize the importance of gaining an accurate, complete view of the customer early on.

In other words, by failing to incorporate user identity, businesses forgo opportunities to connect with and engage customers at an individual level, as these anonymous visitors continue to stay anonymous and businesses are left in the dark trying to market to an unknown audience. Because of this, anonymity is the enemy of every modern marketer — although it is not an insurmountable foe. In that vein, here’s how to combat user anonymity.

Capture Identities Seamlessly and Immediately

With so many people sharing their personal information on social networks, businesses can take advantage of these opportunities by leveraging their users’ data points in ways that add value to both parties. For example, an e-commerce business looking to reduce cart abandonment rates can send tailored reminders to customers who didn’t complete the path to purchase prompting them to finalize their purchase.

In order to begin personalizing user experiences, businesses need to collect and store user data in a secure, seamless way via social login. Social login essentially acts as a gateway to customers’ social profiles: by allowing customers to log in to your site using their existing social profile credentials, you eliminate the roadblocks to site registration (e.g. tedious forms) while collecting actionable social data on your customers, such as their full names, email addresses, birthdates, interests, friends, and more. Social Login is also permission based, giving customers transparency over what social profile information is being shared with your brand.

Use Case: Forbes

Forbes, one of the most influential sources of business and technology news on the web, boosted its registrations by integrating social login across its site.

Specifically, the news publication implemented social login for an improved registration and sign-in experience, along with a series of social plugins to facilitate and foster online engagement.


Forbes experienced a significant increase in newly registered users on its site, with over 50% of its new user base choosing to register for the site through social login.

Saying Goodbye to Guessing

As personalized marketing continues to replace mass marketing techniques of the past, marketers should consider the implications of failing to integrate consumer identity into their marketing strategies. To learn more about how to best capture and leverage social data and user identities, download the free white paper, 3 Ways Online Anonymity Hurts Businesses and Consumers.

By Emma Tzeng

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