To say that we live in a customer-driven world is a huge understatement. Customers tell us what they want us to share, when they want to know it and how they want to receive the information. Even further, those same customers assume that companies know – and remember – everything about them in order to have positive experiences.
Most companies do their best to gather disparate chunks of customer information, but they’re not always sure what to do with it or how it can benefit them when it comes to engaging and ensuring customer loyalty. Integrating all this data has its own challenges due to the technology, strategy and employee skill sets of an overstretched marketing department.
Unfortunately, the customer’s drive for repeat, frictionless experiences doesn’t stop in spite of the many challenges a company faces under the ongoing influence of disruptive digital technologies and the market realities of new digital consumers. They want what they want, and they want it when they want it. So, how can a business integrate all customer information to create the perfect customer experience?
Enter the customer data platform.
The customer data platform (CDP) is the new darling in the marketing technology space. In its simplest definition, it is software designed to give savvy marketers consistent insight across all channels to better drive one-to-one customer interactions.
According to a study conducted by digital agency Wunderman, 87% of people now measure their experiences with any brand against mega brands such as Uber, Netflix and Amazon. Much of this stems from the consistently positive mobile experiences these companies provide.
Companies now must anticipate and address real-time customer needs in order to meet the expectations of nearly half of Americans who have made the mobile mind shift. This means connecting channels and data sets at a speed and scale like never before. CDPs make it possible to meet customer expectations by creating these seamless experiences, despite internal organizational and technological challenges.
Marketing is in control of this one.
Capitalizing on big data is not new – far from it – but data warehouses and data lakes don’t organize data properly for ultimate marketing benefit. A CDP puts marketing in control because of pre-built processes and specialized technologies designed for marketing use. General-purpose technologies that try to solve multiple issues at once just don’t work for effective marketing strategies.
According to the Customer Data Platform Institute, a CDP is a marketer-managed system, meaning it’s built and controlled by marketing, not the IT department. While there will be some technical support required, for the most part a CDP doesn’t require extensive tech capabilities, making it practical for most marketing teams. But even better, marketing controls the data and can share as appropriate and make revisions without any other group approvals.
Marketing gets a single version of customer truth.
More and more marketers are being drawn to CDPs because of the holistic view they present of their customers, which, in turn, allows marketers to create personalized customer journeys optimized across all channels. It doesn’t hurt that marketing enjoys owning the customer database instead of relinquishing control to IT, which was a common behavior in the past.
Regardless of where a CDP resides within the enterprise, marketing’s main objective remains the same: actionable insights. The data silos of the past were challenging at best, and integrating data from multiple sources was tedious. Real-time customer information was a marketing unicorn – a thing of awe but never seen.
A CDP will stitch together all the disparate data sources to present a single version of customer truth. Off-the-shelf segmentation with traditional databases pales in comparison to the industry-specific, hyper-relevant, meaningful experiences that you can create for your customers across all channels. True personalization on the customer path to purchase is a reality with the help of a CDP.
Find the right CDP for your organization.
Not surprisingly, there are multiple versions of CDPs available, so how do you know which one is best for your business? The first things to understand is the functionalities of a CDP and how it will integrate into your marketing strategies. Some fundamental capabilities include:
• The unification of data
• Prospective customer base tracking
• Marketing insight
• Safe connection with other external systems
• Appropriate customer targeting analytics
• Workflow compatibility
• Easy export of data
• Industry-specific data
• Easy customization
• Collection of digital and non-digital data
• Tight security
These are all important factors to consider, but it’s also critical to choose the right data partner when investing in a CDP. A credible partner will be willing to work with you to capture the data that’s right for you and create a customized data solution if necessary.
The best CDP partner will have extensive experience in data curation. You’ll want someone who knows the challenges of working with big data, as well as all types and sizes of data sets, and can finesse the results into an appropriate solution. Make sure that your CDP partner has all the data you need so you don’t have to piece together data sets from multiple vendors.
Before aligning with a partner for your CDP, try to get an understanding of the full value they will bring to the relationship. The data will be critical, of course, but so will their ability to understand analytics, predictive modeling, ratings, scores, cluster analysis and other techniques.
With the integration of CDPs into marketing initiatives, it’s no wonder marketers are wholeheartedly embracing them. It’s almost as if they’ve been working with one hand tied behind their backs when relying on traditional data sources and delivery options. No more. The opportunities for even closer customer engagement are here. Marketers just need to do a bit of due diligence related to their business to make savvy choices that bring customers even closer – longer.