Why Do Marketers Need a Customer Data Platform (CDP)?


Why Do Marketers Need a Customer Data Platform (CDP)?

Harsh Walia

With an explosion of customer data being generated from a growing number of channels and devices, it is essential for marketers to collect this data and be able to uncover actionable insights from the collected data, at speed and scale. Existing systems such as Data Warehouses, Data Lakes, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Data Management Platforms (DMPs), Marketing Automation Platforms, among others, are able to collect data from disparate sources. However, these data systems are unable to centralize and organize a single view of customer data for the marketer. And with this data fragmented and siloed across organizations, marketers won’t be ready to engage with their customers quickly and meaningfully.

Marketers generally have to depend on their tech teams (data scientists, data analysts, IT teams, etc.) to aggregate customer data from siloed data systems, channels and disparate sources in order to build a single view of the customer. This process can often take hours, days or even weeks. But once a repository of these identified customers is built, they still have to work with and depend on their tech teams to:

  • Segment customers into custom audience lists to drive personalized content.
  • Understand the channel preferences and response rates/types of customers in order to determine frequency and suppression rules for any future interaction.
  • Perform customer journey analytics to extract insights and measurements.
  • Perform lookalike modeling in order to identify similar audiences that they can engage with.

But marketers can’t afford to wait hours, days or weeks to respond appropriately to a customer. Today, marketers are expected to stay connected and engaged with their customers in real time and are expected to deliver relevant content to a customer at the right time and on the right channels.

In order to do this, marketers need real-time access to the signals generated from their customers. A Customer Data Platform (CDP) enables this access.

A CDP is a platform that is configured to meet the needs of a marketer. This platform makes it easy for the marketers to access a single, comprehensive view of a customer in real time. This platform also makes it easy for the marketers to unify data, decision and delivery systems to stay engaged with their customers, in real time and across the full marketing life-cycle:

  1. Acquisition
  2. Engagement
  3. Conversion
  4. Retention

44% of organizations surveyed by Forbes Insights report that a CDP is helping drive customer loyalty and ROI in their organization.

For a marketing team, a CDP can enable the following sample use cases:

  • As an organization, we need the ability to produce automated lists of known individuals with real-time data for real-time execution, and eliminate batch processing.
  • As a marketer, I want to be able to understand the customers that abandoned cart, so that I can figure out the best way to remind them of the items they left in the cart.
  • As a marketer, I would like to track customer journeys across various touch points so that my interaction with the customer does not have a negative effect on behavior.
  • As a channel marketer, I would like the ability to update my targeted lists just prior to channel execution in order to remove customers who have recently taken the action I’m communicating with them about.
  • As a marketer, I want to be able to create customer insights and provide those back to my product teams, so that the product teams can use that to inform product development efforts.

According to The Relevancy Group, 62% of companies that leverage a CDP use it to enable individualized personalization in email, 55% for advertising and 53% for real-time targeting.

CDPs also allow marketers to stay ready and compliant with existing and emerging regulations such as:

  • HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability)
  • HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health)
  • European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)
  • CASL (Canada Anti-Spam Legislation)
  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

The CDP industry has seen steady growth over the years; the CDP Institute cites over 96 vendors that offer a CDP.  

Per a recently published Forrester report, customer data and customer understanding are becoming critical parts of the next generation of enterprise marketing technology. Because with customers increasingly adopting a growing list of new channels and devices, marketers can’t afford to become disconnected. It’s critical that the marketers adopt platforms that can help them organize and centralize all data being generated from their customers so that they’re ready to engage when the customer is.

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