Know Your Customer Better Using Customer Attributes in Adobe Experience Cloud

by Susan Vertrees

posted on 12-17-2018

Your company has a veritable treasure trove of data about your customers, residing in your back-end systems, with its value mostly locked away and unrealized. This data can include information such as memberships, loyalty level, age, gender, products owned, interests, and lifetime value. This data can be hugely valuable if you can find a way to unify it in one place and communicate the same data across Adobe solutions in real time.

This blog post will walk you through the step-by-step process to unify that locked-away data by bringing it into the Adobe Experience Cloud through Customer Attributes so you can discover actionable business insights to move the needle on your KPIs.

Why use Customer Attributes?

Customer Attributes is a mechanism of uploading information about a known user into Adobe Experience Cloud for use across multiple Experience Cloud solutions.

A key advantage of using Customer Attributes is that you can use your customer data across different Experience Cloud solutions, such as Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target, to obtain a more unified view of the customer. Additional advantages are that Customer Attributes fields can be used in segmentation, calculated metrics, shared audiences, and general reporting.

Customer Attributes gives you the ability to easily import your offline data into Experience Cloud. For example, you can upload your customer’s card holder status (an attribute contained in your customer relationship management system) to Experience Cloud to obtain a view of your conversion grouped by loyalty level.

You might already be familiar with Classifications — metadata you can upload to Analytics that can group more granular values into broader buckets. Customer Attributes works in a similar way, with a few key differences:

Getting started

The process for getting started with Customer Attributes is like Classifications, and includes the following four steps:

  1. Sync your visitor ID with your customer ID.
  2. Configure the schema.
  3. Upload data.
  4. Analysis and activation.

Step 1: Sync the visitor ID with customer ID

Classifications run on standard props and eVars, but Customer Attributes captures data through what we call a declared ID. This declared ID is a snippet of code that binds the Experience Cloud Visitor ID with your customer ID(s). You might recognize this code because it is the same code that powers the Device Graph, Adobe Audience Manager, and other Experience Cloud features.

To make this association, refer to the code in the following example. If a user has multiple IDs, those can be passed in at the same time as separate aliases.

Where [name of ID 1 or 2] is the “alias” of this ID—a friendly name, and [customer ID value 1 or 2] is the user’s actual customer ID.

Note: To use Customer Attributes with Target, this code needs to execute before the Target mbox request. This means it should be the second thing that executes after the visitor ID service. Adobe’s tag managers (Launch, by Adobe and DTM) have a built-in tool to manage this from inside the tool, meaning you don’t have to write any additional code to trigger it.

When this has been deployed successfully, you’ll see a server call to with your aliases and IDs.

Step 2: Configure the Schema

Once code is in place to associate the new customer ID with the Experience Cloud Visitor ID, the Customer Attributes schema can be configured. A schema is the configuration for the data points and data types Customer Attributes is aware of.

Log in to Experience Cloud and click the nine dots icon > People > Customer Attributes. Click the + NEW button to create a new schema. Give your schema a name and description. In the alias field, use the name of the ID we set in the code in step 1 and click save.

Now we need to tell the schema what fields it should expect. You can do that by uploading a small sample file of 5-10 records. Your new customer ID value should be the furthest left column of the file. The rest of the fields can contain whatever data your business requirements dictate, as long as the fields are named the same between this sample file and the ongoing maintenance uploads. Here’s an example file:

Upload the sample file by clicking into the attribute and scrolling down to the file panel. You can drag and drop the file into the browser window or use the file explorer to select the file.

The wizard will prompt you to validate the schema and assign friendly names and descriptions to reports, as well as set data types. Most fields will be a “string” data type, but attributes that have a number data type will be available as both a metric and a dimension in reporting. Click save in the top right.

Once data has been uploaded, we need to configure Experience Cloud to push data down to Analytics and/or Target. Scroll down a bit to the subscriptions area and click + NEW. Select the solution you would like to push data down to. If you select Analytics, select the report suites you want to use. Select the attributes you would like to push down to the solution. Keep in mind that depending on your contract, you can have somewhere between 15 and 200 attributes pushed down at any one time (while you can upload as many as you want, you can only have 15 to 200 attributes active in reporting at any one time).

Click save in the top right corner, and let the loading icon spin for a while. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the screen and set your attribute source to active. Hit save again. You’ll be taken back to the list of attributes. Congratulations, you have successfully configured Customer Attributes!

Step 3: Upload Customer Attribute data

After having defined the fields in the system, you can now start uploading data in those fields. You can upload data using either of the following ways:

When a file is successfully uploaded and processed, you will see the status as Complete in the file panel.

Files will be picked up for processing in 1-4 hours. Processing takes another 1-4 hours before data is available for reporting.

Step 4: Get started with Analysis and Activation

Congratulations, you have the actionable data ready in Experience Cloud! Reporting will show up in Reports & Analytics at Visitor Profile > Customer Attributes > * or in Workspace by filtering on the attributes’ display name as configured in the schema. If you are a Target user, these will show up in the audience creation step, under visitor profile, with a prefix of the attribute name.

Some tips on working with this data: Customer Attributes fields can be used in segmentation, calculated metrics, shared audiences, and general reporting. However, they cannot be used in Data Warehouse exports or segments applied to Data Warehouse exports. They are not included in data feeds. Once the data has been ingested, it cannot be exported again.

Now that we have discussed how to get data into the Customer Attributes system, stay tuned for my next post on tips and tricks for making the most of your Customer Attributes data.

Topics: Digital Transformation