The bar for personalization has been set high by the likes of Amazon, Uber, and Netflix. These companies have built-in data systems that understand their customer’s journey across various touch points, bring in contextual data from other sources, and use cutting-edge measurement systems, predictive analytics and machine learning to offer relevant suggestions. But from what I see in the industry, most companies weren’t so lucky to be optimized for personalization from the ground up. Like many other companies we encounter, you have to build it, and yes, it does require serious work (no pain no gain :)).
That’s where the Customer Data Platform (CDP) comes in. A CDP offers companies with customer data housed in disparate systems the ability to get a 360-degree view of their customers. Connecting this information all this information allows you truly understand the customer journey across your touch points, making you more likely to deliver the right offer at the right time, serve up the right information or the right upsell, thereby increasing sales and engagement levels. A CDP can answer questions like:
- Do you have a mechanism to stitch/unify visitor data from multiple interfaces (multiple sites, mobile apps, etc.)
- What prompts a customer service call, and what can you do to reduce call center costs?
- When in the sales process are customers most likely to chat on your site?
- Are your retargeting segments as specific as they could be, and are these segments built on both digital and physical user touch points?
- How can we create a personalized recommendation engine?
- Could in-store reps be more effective at upselling based on key customer triggers?
First things first, let’s get some definitions behind us.
What is a CDP?
A customer data platform brings all your customer data into one place, making it accessible to marketers for enhanced segmentation, which can help you provide more personalization, improve the customer experience and potentially increase sales. The Customer Data Platform Institute, founded in 2016, offers this definition for a CDP:
“A Customer Data Platform is a marketer-managed system that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.”
As a marketer-managed system, it’s not a CRM, which is typically managed by IT. By linking digital data from mobile and web analytics, chat, text, call center, e-commerce systems, and physical data from direct mail, call center, etc., your CDP will allow you to get a “single customer view” of actual behavior across all customer touch points.
As a first-party data system, it’s not a Data Management Platform (DMP), which is typically leveraged when collection and management of third party data is desired. However, data from a CDP can be linked with data from a DMP to create more targeted advertising, such as enhanced lookalike profiles.
A CDP can benefit a wide array of businesses, whether your company seeks to increase product sales, or engagement with games or media. It can help you optimize activity across all your customer channels and integrate this knowledge with third-party data sources in a DMP, as shown in the diagram below.
While there are currently an impressive number of CDP vendors, we’ll cover two that we encounter most often with our clients.
Tealium AudienceStream is a component of its Universal Data Hub (UDH). UDH includes EventStream, AudienceStream, and DataAccess. AudienceStream collects, manages and enriches data with powerful attributes from each customer touch point, providing unified customer profiles and enabling dynamic audience management with real-time actions for more relevant offer delivery. If you’re already using Tealium IQ for tag management, AudienceStream is a logical step for implementing a CDP.
A standalone customer data platform company founded in 2011, Treasure Data offers customers the ability to consolidate customer data into a single, actionable enterprise customer data platform that creates relevant, contextual buyer experiences. The platform makes it easy to integrate data through a variety of methods such as bulk, streaming, and SDKs for mobile and web.
Key Considerations For Implementing a CDP
Getting all your customer data under one umbrella is no easy feat. As with most technology investments, in addition to the platform, it will require, people and process (yes, the 3Ps!). Here are some steps to think about as you begin a CDP evaluation and implementation project. Ensure you have an owner for this evaluation, either an internal team member or an agency partner (that knows what they’re doing :)).
Map your customer journey across data sources
How many customer touchpoints does your company have? Map out typical customer journeys and their representative data sources. This will get you thinking about the questions you can ask of a unified data platform for your business.
Look for low-hanging fruit
Take a look at the pain points in your customer journey. These could be things like:
- abandoned shopping carts
- low conversion from ad targeting
- high call center costs
What could you find out by enriching your data by linking two or more data systems together that aren’t linked currently? Creating a “Proof of Concept” scenario will help you see some immediate benefits from the ability to drill down on possible solutions.
Create new audiences
Combining all your customer data into one view will give you a more refined idea of possible customer segments. What new customer profiles can you create, and what events can trigger new actions (such as offer delivery)?
Data Governance, Data Security and GDPR
User trust is a key concern for brands in the age of data breaches and increased regulations, including GDPR. Companies need to keep in mind that opt-in/out controls must be implemented for each point of consumer contact, including website, emails, and retargeting, as well as phone calls and information collected at events. The segmentation capabilities of a CDP allow you to create audiences by locations affected by GDPR, and deploy messaging and actions specific to regulatory requirements (check out our post on how Tealium iQ Consent Manager helps you meet GDPR compliance).
Get a team on board
Make sure there’s a way to coordinate ideas and turn them into action. Remember, data is only as useful as the actions you can take from it. Once you’ve got a few small wins from the low-hanging fruit, you’ll be able to implement more complex projects.
Enjoy the adventure
Here at E-Nor, we’re continually fascinated with the capabilities of new technologies and the benefits they bring to marketers. It’s part of the fun of doing business in the digital age. The promise of personalization is giving more customers what they want when they want it. While trial and error is part of the process of implementing a CDP, when you end up with improved KPIs, your efforts to improve personalization become a win-win for both you and your customers.
About the Author
President & Co-Founder
“Work Hard. Play Hard.” This personal motto sums it up for Feras. When he’s not consulting and spearheading E-Nor’s growth, you’ll find Feras speaking at a conference, writing an article, or learning a new tool or helpful tip. Outside of work (yes, Feras eventually learned to unplug), he enjoys volunteering, listening to audiobooks, skiing, training in Aikido, in which he earned a 3rd degree black belt, and spending quality time with his wife and three children. Feras received a Master of Engineering Management from the University of South Florida and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Tulsa University.