SheerID Expands Vision to Balance Personalization and Privacy

Posted on Nov 13, 2019 · 6 min read

A message from Jake Weatherly, CEO of SheerID

Today we announced that SheerID received a $64 million minority investment from CVC Growth Partners. It’s a big moment for SheerID and our customers. It’s also a milestone that excites me as the company’s CEO and underscores our inflection point in the industry. 

Together with our recent inclusion in Deloitte’s 2019 Technology Fast 500, this latest round of funding provides a massive vote of confidence from leading financial and management institutions. It encourages our team to vigorously continue our mission and will propel the company forward to the next step in our journey.

Expanding the Vision: Connecting with Consumer Tribes

SheerID rose from a long-term dream of mine: to make it easy for brands to connect with important groups of consumers and respect their privacy. 

The inspiration came from my father-in-law. He proudly served in the military and wanted to take advantage of military discounts, but he was uncomfortable having to share personal documents like a DD 214. It seemed like an invasion of his privacy, and it made me notice the many ways consumers were being asked to forfeit personal information to access something they wanted from a brand. I knew there had to be a less intrusive way to verify his identity, and I made it my goal to find it. 

Eight years later, SheerID now offers the world’s leading digital verification system—a platform that enables companies to collect a minimal amount of personal data and instantly verify shoppers like my father-in-law.

While this was clearly a boon to both brands and consumers, along the way we discovered the ground-breaking truth that brands can effectively engage groups based on how they identify.

Take college students, for example. Their shared experience of campus life unites them, making them literally the next generation of international consumers. Or military members, veterans, and military spouses, 85% of whom say they strongly identify with being part of the military community. Or teachers, who are so united in their mission to educate our youth that 99% of them spend personal funds for school-related purposes.

Seeing companies use our platform to successfully recognize these groups made us aware of the tremendous opportunity brands have to win new customers by engaging them not as traditional “segments,” but as members of various consumer tribes. It’s a powerful new way to market to prospects, and the need for it could not be more urgent.

85% of the military strongly identify with being part of the military community.

Customer Acquisition Is at a Crossroads

Brands are burning money to reach consumers. Customer acquisition costs (CAC) have risen nearly 50% in the past five years, and 9 in 10 marketers report spending as much (or even more) across the same channels. Yet 77% of marketers feel greater pressure to meet their acquisition and revenue goals

Meanwhile, many companies are using tools, sometimes unknowingly, that are fundamentally designed to spy on customers without their consent. This trend is alarming consumers and they’re retreating. More than half of internet users worldwide said their concern about online privacy rose in 2019. And 85% of US consumers won’t do business with a company if they have concerns about its privacy practices.

Brands desperately want to connect with customers, but consumers have clear demands. They want to protect their digital identities and choose when and how to engage with a brand.

SheerID’s mission is to bridge this divide by helping brands re-establish trust in digital marketing. And our customers are leading the way.

A New Model: Invite the Consumer

The brands we partner with aren’t just verifying shoppers’ credentials. They’re using our platform to deliver personalized offers to consumer tribes in a way that respects their privacy.

The process is forthright and transparent. Brands create an offer for a group, and if members like it, they opt-in to receive it. And since these personalized programs are consent-based, they satisfy regulations like GDPR/CCPA and support the movement towards greater data dignity.

This shift to “invited personalization” is a radical departure from its “uninvited” predecessor: combing through consumers’ data and leveraging what you find to intrude in their lives. 

Invited personalization is buyer-friendly, and it’s working. Research shows that 68% of consumers say gated, personalized offers are more appealing than traditional discounts, and 94% say they would take advantage of one. 

We call this approach identity marketing. Brands create personalized offers for consumer tribes based on their deep-seated attributes, and consumers respond enthusiastically because they feel recognized and respected.

The Power of Marketing to Consumers Tribes 

Identity marketing is a game-changer, as it launches a more meaningful brand relationship. When consumers feel a personalized offer rewards them for who they are, they don’t just redeem it, they evangelize it. For example, 71% of teachers who receive a personalized offer would tell a colleague about it

It’s easy to see why. Unlike customer segments, who share only a recent purchase in common, consumer tribes are deeply connected. Two thirds (66%) of the military community say knowing someone in the military creates an immediate bond. It’s a remarkable dynamic: members of a consumer tribe hold each other in high regard, even if they haven’t met.

Identity marketing is effective because it plugs a brand into these powerful networks. Brands that support consumer tribes get noticed. And because consumer tribes care about each other, when a good thing comes their way, they share it. 

Purple is just one of many brands that illustrate how this pays off. When the company launched a personalized offer to the military and amplified it through social media, conversions increased by 6x and the program generated a 25:1 ROAS.

71% of teachers who receive a personalized offer would tell a colleague about it.

Identity Marketing is Changing the Way We Do Business

Identity marketing has unlimited potential because membership in a consumer tribe extends beyond one’s career or life stage.

Imagine personalizing offers to local communities, such as a town’s Little League team, or people connected by a social cause, like protecting the environment. The opportunities are endless. And SheerID is committed to bringing all of them to market.

The industry is at a turning point, and around the corner is a future in which both brands and their consumers get what they want: mutually satisfying relationships built on trust. Identity is the future of marketing, and we’re just getting started.

I encourage and welcome your thoughts on this important conversation. Email us at hello@sheerid.com, or join the conversation with SheerID on LinkedIn.

Read our e-book: Identity Marketing and the New Rules of Personalization

Jake Weatherly by Jake Weatherly