The Beginner’s Guide to Customer Data Platforms

It won’t surprise marketers to hear that data-driven marketing is here to stay. Rapidly evolving technology has driven expectations for digital experiences higher for over a decade. But transforming disparate data points into meaningful insights can be difficult. Don’t rely on data that’s siloed, outdated, or single-channel. Connecting engagement data from multiple sources using customer data platforms (CDPs) creates a persistent unified view of your customer – and empowers your team to deliver better user experiences. Not sure where to get started with CDPs? Unsure about the difference between a CDP, DMP, and CRM? We’re here to help.

What Is a CDP?

Customer data platforms can help unify your data in one centralized, accessible system. By bringing in customer data from multiple sources and channels, a CDP develops a single view of the customer, readily available for marketers, customer service, sales, and other stakeholders.

How does a CDP work?

  • Data collection: CDPs aggregate customer data from a number of tools (CMS, CRM, analytics, POS, advertising, social media, payment processors, customer service desks, etc.) into a central repository.
  • Data processing and consolidation: The CDP then stitches together that data to create unified profiles of your customers.
  • Data activation: Activate those profiles to deliver personalized, contextual customer experiences across channels.

What’s the difference between a CDP and a CRM?

CDPs collect multi-channel behavioral data from digital channels like email, ads, apps, and your website to create a unified customer profile. Data is usually gathered automatically and compiled in one central repository. CDPs aren’t usually used by salespeople; they’re designed for non-customer facing roles (like data analysts, marketers, etc). Conversely, CRMs track relationships and interactions for current and potential customers. CRMs are best for contact management, sales processes, customer service and internal workflows. While some data can be gathered automatically, other data (like notes from meetings with customers) has to be manually tracked.

What’s the difference between a DMP and a CDP?

At first, data management platforms (DMP) and customer data platforms might sound similar. But there are a handful of key differences between the two to consider before implementation. While both DMPs and CDPs gather customer data automatically from interactions online, DMPs are anonymized, third-party data that is typically used for advertising purposes, while CDPs hold first-party, personally identifiable data. DMPs are therefore useful for identifying larger target segments for new customer acquisition, while CDPs identify known individuals to personalize experiences and drive engagement across multiple channels.

What are some customer data platform providers?

With so many CDP platforms on the market, it’s important to understand the types of CDPs that will not only create the 360-degree view of your customer, but also look at CDP technology that will activate those personalized experiences and campaigns. Luckily, many CDP platforms integrate seamlessly with your existing technology stack to create a single customer view.

  • Salesforce Customer 360 Audiences: Salesforce’s CDP solution integrates seamlessly into its other cloud solution offerings, making it easier to align sales, marketing, and customer service teams.
  • Adobe Real-Time CDP: With a focus on data activation, Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform unites internal and external data to deliver actionable data insights and accelerate experience delivery time.
  • Bloomreach Exponea: Bloomreach’s recent acquisition in CDP and marketing automation provider Exponea aims to unite their commerce expertise with deep marketing data insights.

Does My Business Need a CDP?

If your business is struggling to de-silo customer data, empower data-informed personalization, increase engagement with your target segments, or prove marketing ROI, a customer data platform might be right for you. With the right data governance and change management best practices, CDPs make it easier to understand your KPI performance and make data-driven decisions in pursuit of business goals. If you’re not sure whether you need a CDP, download the Data-Driven Revolution white paper to learn more about how customer data platforms are transforming digital marketing.

How to Turn Customer Data into Meaningful Insights

Once you’ve collected actionable customer data across all marketing channels, prioritize these three areas of insight application to make an impact on your KPIs.

  • Segmentation and Targeting: Effective segmentation drives engagement with your current and prospective customers. Don’t take our word for it: First Midwest Bank saw 41% open rate and 9% click through rate on email programs with effective segmentation and targeting practices. Tailor your message using data insights (product interests, previous purchases, recent interactions across channels) to deliver relevant, targeted messaging at the right time.
  • Website Optimization and Personalization: Once you’ve identified target audiences and segments, outline content relevant to their specific needs. Further personalizing elements like calls-to-action, suggested content, or location-specific recommendations can increase click throughs and decrease bounce rate. However, optimization and personalization aren’t one-off efforts; constant shifts in customer expectations – reflected by data gathered in your CDP – will require businesses to remain agile to adapt and succeed. Businesses that can effectively optimize and personalize their sites can see dramatic results – like JLL, who saw 365% increase in home page click through or 40% decrease in bounce rate.
  • Lead Generation: Effective data-driven marketing can increase lead gen by up to 100%. To help your pipeline teams engage prospects more effectively, prioritize your leads based off of CDP-gathered data. Identify which data or activities indicate a prospect is ready to make a purchase, then hand them off to your CRM or sales teams with relevant context for more effective outreach.

I’m ready for a CDP. Now what?

Ready to implement a CDP, but not sure how to select a platform? Need help with change management, data governance, digital transformation or marketing automation? Let’s chat. Our experts are here to help guide you through the process.

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