What to Expect When You’re Launching a Customer Data Platform in 2019

zylotech logoIn this article, I tell about three great tips for a smooth Customer Data Platform rollout in 2019

Customer Data Platform or CDP as they are know in the Marketing Technology community. Anyone who is a part of the MarTech world in 2019 is surely familiar with these three little words. CDPs, as Customer Data Platforms have come to be known have revolutionized the way companies understand their customers.  Businesses can now ingest customer data from multiple sources, integrate and unify it, and deliver insights on customer behavior, recommendations, and predictions about what customers will do next. Some CDPs will even enrich existing customer data with third-party information such as demographic, household, technographic, and psychographic data. And some even have the capability to act as email service providers as well as incorporate other activation channels.

With all the excitement around CDPs, the landscape has become noisy and is only growing noisier. Smaller niche players are going up against behemoths such as Adobe and Salesforce who have both just gotten on board and announced their own plans to build CDPs. The state of today’s CDP landscape can certainly confuse any CDP buyer.

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Getting a handle on the types of CDPs available however has recently become easier since The CDP Institute launched the RealCDP program which measures systems against five capabilities – including their ability to:

  • ingest data from any source
  • capture full detail of ingested data
  • store ingested data indefinitely (subject to privacy constraints)
  • create unified profiles of identified individuals
  • share data with any system that needs it

Having these capabilities defined helps companies better understand what to look for in a CDP. Once pulling the trigger on a CDP purchase, that is where the actual “fun” begins. Implementing a CDP can be challenging but here are a few tips on paving the way for a smooth CDP rollout.

Crawl, Walk and Run

Implementing a CDP is a big job that requires multiple points of coordination and collaboration with different stakeholders cutting across different business units, along with plenty of preparation and planning.

Ideally, the chosen CDP vendor should bring their expertise and established best practices to the table to help guide the customer through the process as it can be a bit overwhelming, particularly when multiple data sources are being integrated, and those sources have always lived in silos, or with different owners and business units involved. One idea to make things simpler is to adopt a “crawl, walk, run” mentality. That may mean only integrating the most important data sources initially, such as the CRM and Marketing automation systems, while planning data enrichment and mobile integration for a later phase of the project.

Define the most important use cases in Customer Data Platform

This step is all about prioritization. One of the main benefits of CDPs is how versatile they are for multiple marketing applications, covering a plethora of customer data use cases. With this type of flexibility, a CDP can handle dozens of use cases from ID management and personalized push notification triggers, to churn predictions and lifetime value calculations.

To make the most of a CDP investment, it comes down to tackling the most important use cases first. This will, of course, differ from business to business, but if data unification and cleansing is the most pressing need, it’s best to start there and work down in order of prioritization.

With the initial data integration, testing, and alignment of resources that need to be done during the implementation phase, it can be very difficult to tackle too many competing CDP related projects at once, so focusing on the most crucial use cases to the business will pave the way for some early wins, making it easier to adopt wider usage.

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Internal Collaboration

While marketing and sales will derive the most benefit from a Customer Data Platform and will be the two groups who manage and run it on a daily basis, they will be reliant on other internal teams during implementation and for ongoing support.

For example, businesses will need IT support to implement tagging schemes in the CDP and facilitate the transference of customer data.  Since the CDP is now a core component of the martech stack, integrations with other systems such as CRM, ERP or Marketing automation will also need to be made. It will be important to gain support from other cross-functional leaders to ensure all this happens smoothly, and developing good cross-team alignment will be critical to keeping the CDP implementation on track.

Businesses that have invested in a CDP have taken the first step towards a deeper understanding of their customers and treating them in a more personalized manner. To ensure this journey toward customer centricity moves forward as smoothly and efficiently as possible, companies that embrace a crawl/walk/run pace, prioritize their CDP use cases, and make sure they have lined up internal support, are on their way toward making this a reality.

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