Posted on: April 8, 2019
One thing was evident last week at Martech West in San Jose, California: The Customer Data Platform (CDP) is settling in as a foundational element in the marketing technology stack. As a topic of conversation, CDP worked its way into every presentation I attended. And, without exaggeration, each person I spoke with was there, at least in part, to learn more about the category.
This renewed focus on CDP comes as no surprise. Customer data integration challenges have been a significant, ongoing barrier to creating connected, contextual, and personalized experiences and processing data to analyze and report a unified view of customer behavior across channels.
Jeff Cram and I attended Martech West to facilitate a workshop on Wednesday afternoon entitled “Creating Connected Experiences.” In it, we talked a lot about the challenges associated with designing, building, and deploying world-class connected experiences. The participants in our workshop almost unanimously cited siloed customer data as a top-five challenge to solve in 2019.
In addition to my work as a marketer, I’ve facilitated workshops on the challenges associated with digital for over a decade, and this has been a universal trend. Search on Google for ‘Top CMO priorities” and read a few articles. It’s hard to miss the practically comical year over year themes on data integration. The more recent public backlash on privacy and data protection has only served to increase the urgency of finding a long-term and scalable solution.
Why a customer data platform may be right for your team
Given all this excitement I thought now might be a good time to explore the top reasons for a Customer Data Platform and how they are different from and integrate with the rest of the marketing technology stack.
If your organization collects and processes data with multiple tools across different channels and departments, chances are it has been a challenge to pull together a holistic and complete view of your customers. Without a 360-degree customer view, real-time, actionable insight that is meaningful to the business is a challenge.
But this is a very general rationale for a customer data platform, and I am a ‘healthy skeptic’ about the acquisition of new technology. On my team, the first step is the ability to clearly describe a use case we can’t currently satisfy with our existing capabilities.
Typical CDP use cases include:
- Inform the personalization of content on a website leveraging data gathered across online and offline tools and channels.
- Collect data from across tools and channels to track and understand individual customer journeys.
- Connect location data and online customer behavior to deliver individualized product recommendations.
- Automatically integrate customer profiles with a CRM when a lead reaches configurable thresholds for behavior or data.
- Easily provide self-service data portability or right-to-be-forgotten compliance features at the push of a button.
- Most of the organizations we work with at Connective DX are trying to solve for one or more of these scenarios.
How customer data platforms are different
In recent conversations, I’ve learned some people seek to better understand the difference between the functional capabilities of a customer data platform and the solutions on the market, to decide whether they need to buy ‘yet another solution’ or leveraging existing technology to satisfy their needs. The fatigue with purchasing solutions is understandable, but there are reasons why customer data platforms are truly unique and the indispensable foundation of your ecosystem.
Customer Data Platforms provide a persistent and unified customer database with a complete view of each customer including identifying information and anonymous behavior analytics by capturing data from multiple systems and storing it over time at scale and with the highest levels of certainty. While other solutions in the stack also deliver on this statement to varying degrees, none are built expressly for this purpose and to make that data universally available to all other tools.
Built from the ground up for business users, a CDP requires minimal technical resources to set up and maintain but not to configure and use over the long run. This focus on the user saves time, cost, and risk while giving business users needed control over their data in the long term.
A typical CDP also allows the business user to configure segments and will include a rules engine for triggering events based on the activities of individual personas within a segment.
Some solutions also offer machine learning and predictive analytics, further increasing the value of the centralization of customer data inherent to the category. This capability allows organizations to sidestep at least some of the labor associated with personalization delivered with a rules-based approach.
If you’re still unsure about the value or application of a customer data platform, we’d love to help. The promise of an integrated understanding of the customer is unquestionably necessary for high-performing teams delivering connected, contextual, and personalized experiences at scale. We can assess your current approach to data and make recommendations on the journey ahead in terms of people, process, and technology. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.
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