What to Look for When Choosing a CDP

When choosing a CDP, you’re looking to solve one of the biggest challenges facing organizations today. You need a single, 360 degree view of a customer to effectively tailor marketing campaigns, sales strategies, and customer experiences. But, with customer data flowing in from multiple sources, stored in different systems, and touched by so many users, how do you integrate all that valuable information into a cohesive customer profile?

Why Choosing a CDP Might Be in Your Future

Enter the latest iteration of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs). CDPs address the core issue data-driven businesses struggle with daily: disconnected data. For many companies, demographic, transactional, firmographic, behavioral, and other types of data exist across different technologies. Often, this data is also collected and managed in different ways across the organization. With so many sources and users of data, it can be difficult, if not impossible, for marketers, customer success teams, and sales reps to provide personalized, consistent customer experiences. And the issue is further compounded when customer engagement needs to take place across multiple channels and consumer devices.

This is where CDPs are making their mark. CDPs are designed to revolutionize the way companies unify fragmented data, efficiently consolidating it into a single source of interconnected information. Gaining a single view of otherwise disparate information makes achieving data-rich profiles, advanced segmentation, and integrated customer engagement at scale possible. One of the most valuable outcomes is the way marketers can then use this unified data to create truly personalized marketing communications. In an age where delivering great customer experiences is a key competitive advantage, this is good news. And with research from McKinsey showing companies deliver five to eight times the ROI on marketing spend and boost sales by 10 percent or more when they leverage data-driven personalization, this is great news!

“Marketers don’t need more data, they just need the right data. Profits depend on getting it right.” – Vance Reavie, CEO and Founder, Junction AI, writing in Forbes

How CDPs Work: Employing AI and Algorithms for Integrated Customer Experiences

So, what can you expect from the new breed of CDPs? First, they will be far more intuitive. CDPs can analyze data in ways and speeds humans are simply incapable of doing on their own. Second, by employing AI and algorithms, they will quickly unite all the data protocols, marketing tools, and APIs necessary to deliver a laser-focused customer profile. Third, they will be great predictors of behavior.

Generally speaking, CDPs function by learning about a customer’s habits and past behavior, and then using that data to forecast their future actions. The platforms can then deliver assessments such as “Very likely to convert” or “Customer is likely to purchase this item.” Machine learning comes into play as the platform “learns” more about a customer at each customer touchpoint without the need to define and redefine behavior and predictive insights.

Companies Behind the Next Generation of CDPs

With a high market need for such capabilities and great potential for results, it’s no wonder companies are competing heavily in the CDP space.

Eric Stahl, SVP Product Marketing at Salesforce, introduces new CDP

Eric Stahl, SVP Product Marketing at Salesforce, introduces next generation of Customer 360 at Salesforce Connections.

Large marketing cloud providers like Adobe and Salesforce seem to be marketing their next-gen CDPs in almost race-like fashion. For example, on June 17, Adobe shared details about its CDP, Adobe Experience Platform. They call it “the first purpose-built customer experience management platform” with features that include “real-time customer profiles, continuous intelligence, open and extensible architecture, and more.” The very next day, Salesforce formally unveiled the latest iteration of its CDP, Customer 360, with plans to pilot the new version and its expanded capabilities in early fall 2019. Salesforce describes it as a “natural extension” of its current identity layer, which helps companies connect customer data across Salesforce and third-party applications into a single customer ID.

Some companies, such as Zylotech, focus on the B2B market share with a CDP designed specifically for B2B companies. Others, like Lemnisk, offer CDPs to support specific verticals (in Lemnisk’s case, it’s financial services). And elements like the number of out-of-the-box integrations offered, and the ability to quickly marry online and offline customer segmentation in a visually appealing interface also come into play (we see you, QuickPivot!).

With so many options and companies fighting for your business in the CDP space, it can be hard to choose a platform. To help, the following are five key capabilities and considerations your CDP should address.

What to Look for When Choosing a CDP    

  • Data science and machine learning to deliver predictive insights – This means the platform should be able to analyze customer behaviors, predict responses, and deliver that data in a seamlessly integrated picture of what the customer looks like. Who is interacting with your brand and how often? Based on past behavior, how likely are they to continue to interact with you? What are they likely to be interested in purchasing? “CDP is designed to help you learn from your customer behaviors: from anonymous to known to loyal. Make sure they have web and mobile SDKs to collect event data and support identity-based (email, user names, etc.) and cookie-based (browser cookies, IDFA, etc.) tracking,” suggests Arm Treasure Data.
  • Machine learning to match content with individual interest – A CDP should identify interests specific to the individual customer and track how their behavior evolves and shifts. For examples, does your customer frequently download the white papers you offer, read your blogs, or visit your help documents? Have they shown a continued interest in a particular topic, which makes it more likely they will be interested in your latest report on the same topic?
  • Accessibility and compatibility for taking action as needed – Make sure the CDP can work with the tools in your martech stack (sales automation, CRM, email marketing provider, etc.) that you need it to work with. For example, know how the CDP will connect data for seamless execution of campaigns. Will the tools you employ be able to automatically trigger a personalized email or display a specific piece of content to the user on your website immediately? Is the data delivered and actionable in real-time?
  • Flexibility and ease of use – Like all new disruptive technologies, CDPs are only as effective as they are user-friendly. Does the CDP make it easy for teams to run the custom reports they need? Is the interface intuitive? Does the platform’s capabilities match the skill levels of those who will use it?
  • Fit for your company – Sure, reputation of the vendor is a consideration. So are costs. But how well does the platform fit with your needs? Consider your use cases/goals for the CDP (how much personalization you need, whether you have sufficient content for content matching to be important, speed at which your company operates, etc.). What is the vendor’s experience in your industry? Is implementation easy and do they walk you through it? Do they support the channels you work in? What is pre-built into their system that will make your life easier? Does one vendor meet more of your needs than another?

To learn more about CDPs, the companies that offer them, and the capabilities they offer, check out the blog from the Customer Data Platform Institute.

Clean Data Should Always Be Top of Mind

While it’s always nice to be on the cutting-edge of marketing technologies and a unified view of a customer is highly valuable, you still need to be working with clean data from the start to maximize your investment. No matter what platform you use to manage and maintain customer data, the old adage “garbage in, garbage out” still applies. Be sure your customer data is cleaned, verified, and deduplicated regularly to ensure maximum accuracy and usability. Contact Validity to see how we can help.

Main image courtesy of Makyzz, designed by FreePik.com 

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