Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are everywhere. The new ‘darling’ of the MarTech stack. The promise of finally being able to unify data, stitch digital identities and build audiences for the ultimate Omnichannel experience. Sounds like the promised land, and now there are a multitude of vendors selling “all flavors of CDP.”
In fact, since 2018 the number of CDP vendors has risen by 60 percent, with over 100 vendors now operating in this space. And with the recent announcements of Salesforce and Adobe both moving into the CDP arena, it’s becoming a crowded and complex space to navigate. But before you sign that CDP order form, here are 7 things you need to be doing.
1. Understand the Value a CDP Can Bring to Your Business
The unique advantage that a CDP can bring to the table is its ability to bring together a variety of formally disparate data points, like web browsing, app, and CRM data. Together, these help you better understand your customers and more importantly, leverage initiatives to address customer segments or Personalization opportunities in a persistent and unified manner. This deeper understanding and capability has not previously been possible for marketers.
But while there are unique advantages to acquiring this type of technology, without the right mix of planning, strategic insight, and team capability to manage migration, the ‘big utopian dream’ of a CDP can quickly turn into a nightmare.
2. Audit Your Existing Platforms
While the rise of the Customer Data Platforms is a hot topic right now, there’s also a great deal of opportunity that exists within your existing orchestration and analytics platforms – just waiting to be discovered and utilized. The end goal of CDP implementation is activation – being able to leverage customer data that was previously inaccessible to Marketing and customer experience teams. This enables a deeper level of Personalization and Segmentation, which is all available and actionable within your existing platform.
However, it also shows how many orchestration platforms have the capability to execute on many use cases. Many orchestration platforms offer accessible features for Product recommendations that unifies product stock data, onsite browsing data and customer lifecycle segments with retail POS data. This enables the marketer to quickly action core Personalization tactics, without the need for a CDP.
There is a point where orchestration platforms have limitations, especially around data integrations from a variety of sources. However, the key is to identify where your orchestration platform ends and where a CDP starts. Chances are, there’s plenty of untapped revenue opportunity you can leverage without a CDP. This may mean having the right knowledge, skills, and processes in the room.
3. Identify Key Use Cases
Once auditing your current orchestration platforms, it’s time to unearth the unique opportunities a CDP can bring to the table for your specific situation. While many CDP vendors will offer a number of use cases that could be tailored to your industry or customer groups, these are often quite high level or not actionable based on what your team is focusing on.
The key to a successful CDP roll out has more to do with your business objectives, than it does to the technical aspects. Address your core objectives by allowing your customer insights or data analytics teams to identify key friction points for customers, or discover segments that may not be utilized – or other opportunities that can have a tangible impact. This process will give you a framework to then evaluate initiatives, and a methodology for prioritizing deployments.
Developing a list of data points required, how use cases will be executed and most importantly the size of the opportunity, will help your team focus on getting the right use cases into the market, so you can see a return from your implementation. One great way to unearth these use cases is to invite your key stakeholders to ideate together on approaches to a CDP implementation, based on data-driven insights and your business objectives.
4. Create an Iterative Process
It is worthwhile looking at how your current data, tech and Marketing processes line up and in what ways a CDP will change or augment these processes. The challenge with a Customer Data Platform is that changes how your customer data is managed and activated. For example, if you have a monthly reporting session, where insights are fed into initiatives that require execution within the coming month, then adding a layer of reporting on CDP will open a wider opportunity for ongoing optimisation and improvement.
Often it is the case where a use case may not fully work out in its first iteration. But building out a strategic process that combines data analytics, marketing and other key stakeholders will allow for ongoing optimization of initiatives and in-market testing. This could have a huge impact on returns. Establishing a process, right at the early stages will set you up for success and enable your team to make decisions during the deployment and implementation of your first use cases.
5. Think About Integrations
As many CDPs have the capability to integrate with a wide variety of vendors and platforms, there’s likely not going to be a problem with utilizing the built-in APIs and connectors that most CDPs have to offer. Yet problems could arise ‘the other way around,’ when an integration is managed by the receiving platform, especially when it comes to activation.
One example is dealing with unknown and known audiences. A CDP can be a game-changer when connecting known customer attributes to online behavior. This is especially the case when it comes to the unknown, or cookie-related identification. These platforms also offer a rich source of audience profiling and segmentation that can be leveraged in paid media – utilizing social or display platforms for execution.
However, many orchestration platforms can only action known customer attributes, leaving on the table a large potential customer base. This customer pool will then require an additional work around, resulting in more time and dollars spent. So asking the hard questions on where the platform breaks on activation, can really help you side-step a few potential land mines, especially as you get closer to the execution phase.
6. Create Team Alignment
Owning a CDP is by nature “silo destroying”. Because the purpose of the platform is to bring together a variety of data sources to unify the customer view, you will need to think about how to bring your teams together.
In most use cases, you will need to invite your paid media agencies, campaign specialist, tag management and integration specialists, as well as orchestration platform stakeholders and other parties to make a CDP a success. More importantly, involving these parties early (before you sign the contract) will mean that a shared understanding of a CDP can be realised, fast-trackinghe executional phase and allowing for prep to get underway on how teams are briefed for use cases, who owns what and what the process will look like.
7. Identify When Is a Good Time to Sign Up
The above list can be daunting to say the least, as there can be a fair amount of preparation before signing on to a CDP. Yet by implementing a light-scale solution to each of these areas will put you well ahead of most companies that purchase a CDP.
Focusing on auditing your existing platforms first, identifying key use cases and your integration requirements will address some of the key pain points when rolling out a CDP. This will then allow you to focus on your process for improvement and stakeholder involvement, which will ultimately help fast track your onboarding experience and get you to market faster and smarter.