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The Introduction to Customer Data Platform You Must Read

Nathan Cenovski
Nov 8, 2018
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What is a CDP?

A Customer Data Platform (CDP) is a unified database that sophisticated marketers use to track data from multiple sources to create a single customer profile; by using data from CRM, e-mail interactions, social media, website browsing activity, form submissions, geo-location and nearly any other conceivable source. This allows a company that employs a CDP to create a unique, personalized experience for clients across the sales and marketing life cycle. The benefits of being able to segment data is increased conversion rates as well as an opportunity to review the success and failure of campaigns.

Customer Data Platform

This is very powerful stuff for modern marketers in today’s digital multi-channel world. A prospect can see an ad on Facebook, navigate to the company’s Facebook page, then make a Google search, sign up for an email newsletter and begin following the company on Twitter. All the while the CDP will compile vital data from all of these interactions across these platforms and give the prospect a unified experience that customizes itself based on his or her interests.

What is the difference between a CDP and DMP?

A Data Management Platform (DMP) differs from a CDP in the primary sense that data housed in the DMPs is anonymous; primarily cookie based and meant to be shared between 3rd party entities. DMPs are meant to be used in exchanges for things like targeted programmatic advertising. 3rd party exchanged data is meant to exclude personally identifiable information (PII) in order to protect privacy of the individual while their data is exchanged amongst sites for advertising purposes. This is all to adhere to the industry standard practices laid down by the International Advertising Bureau (IAB) as well as relevant regulations where applicable.

A CDP is meant to keep the data in house and communicate to clients and prospects using data they have provided to your company in the past as well as info gathered from other sources. The data is not meant to be sold off to other entities and as such, privacy is respected while tracking individuals using PII like email, name, phone number, IP address…etc.

How can a CDP increase sales?

CDP in sales

If you are able to integrate every interaction you ever have with a client into one database, you have many avenues to affect the bottom line. For one, you can customize messaging based on the prospects needs, interests, values and desires. You can also factor in timeliness so you aren’t wasting both time and marketing dollars trying to sell something to a person when your window has already closed. Further, this type of info gives you great insight into how to assign dollars on an attribution basis. You can definitely say, this campaign played a role in closing this client instead of just saying, we generated X clicks. One of the great, and often discussed, challenges of today’s marketers is the constant battle for attention and the increasing number of touch points needed to convert today’s savvy and cynical public that is constantly bombarded with marketing messaging from a plethora of companies.

If you can tell what worked in the past in general, what worked for this prospect in particular, what motivates them, what they engage with online and off and have all of that at your fingertips in a format that is automated and easily segmented, you have a level of knowledge that has been unthinkable up until this point. Customized messages increase conversion rates, knowing what campaigns move the needle helps you know where to spend dollars. The greatest indicator of future success is past performance and bosses hate the answer “I don’t know”…these are maxims that any marketer can agree with. To the degree that a CDP can help you provide the solutions to the problems these maxims highlight, you will become more valued and effective, and who doesn’t want that?

What to look for in a CDP?

The first thing we need to look for is something that tracks interactions automatically, once integrated with your various platforms or via its own native platforms; otherwise you are adding in another job and doing little more than a CRM. We also need a tool that is able to identify prospects with some reliable level of accuracy across your platforms and bring all that data together. You would be remiss if you left out the offline CRM data, that is valuable and in the end that is where money is exchanged for goods and services in the vast universe outside of E-Commerce.

So, it’s great to have all of this information and if you are the accomplished analytical type who can export this to excel, create wonderful pivot tables, analyze the data to pick out relevant insights and then import it into your various systems to optimize and customize campaigns and messaging that is amazing and you are a marketing analytics god! For the rest of us mortals, it will be important to have the ability to segment by this data and send automated customized messages based on all of this.

You want to be able to open your CDP and tell it, for example, you want to see all the customers who have bought in the past 6 months, viewed your page on electronics in the last 4 weeks, had a phone call with a rep in the past year and also live in Omaha Nebraska and send an email letting them know that you will have a booth at the Omaha consumer electronics show next month and they should stop by, or put a targeted programmatic ad in that zip code about how your local store will be having a flash sale this weekend or to tweet out to them that you miss them and want to let them know you have the newest iPhone in stock with targeted hashtags.

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