10 Things Every CMO Should Know About Customer Data Platforms

By Paula Tompkins on February 29, 2016
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The lack of quality data is behind many of the top 5 worries that CMOs say keep them up at night. The ability to integrate data into a relevant, personal experience has historically been problematic. One of a CMO’s biggest challenges is accessing the customer information housed in the data silos created and owned by other parts of the organization.

CMOs need to scale and personalize customer experiences, and they need real-time, transactional, historical, demographic and other important data to do it. Real-time data is more valuable because information about a consumer gathered before the person takes action (i.e. intent data) enables you to influence customer behavior. Data gathered after the consumer acts is useful, but it does not generate the same level of revenue.

Customer data is where the money is

Companies that focus on customer data gain richer insights. As a result, they do a better job of achieving the business objectives that CMOs profess to lose sleep over — new customer acquisition, highly qualified leads and retention. The findings shared in Aberdeen’s November 2015 study, Aligning Content to the Buyer’s Journey, say marketers with buyer-aligned (customer lifecycle) content earn twice as much revenue.

One of the keys to creating a robust customer lifecycle management program is the ability to integrate marketing technologies with customer relationship management systems, content management systems, email service providers and marketing automation platforms.

The modern data warehouse

A simple yet sophisticated solution that will help CMOs sleep better is a customer data platform (CDP), a modern version of a customer data warehouse. The CDP works as a data bridge between the data and the people silos, integrating the marketing ecosystem.

Unlike the traditional data warehouse, the CDP gives marketers access and control of first-, second- and third-party data and allows them to feed the data into targeting technologies such as a personal microsite, email or SMS text messaging. A CDP makes data accessible to anyone who needs it — consumers, marketers, call centers, customer service and sales.

If you are looking for a solution that will integrate your marketing ecosystem and support your customer lifecycle management program, here are the top 10 things you should know about a CDP solution.

A customer data platform:

  1. Collects comprehensive demographic, psychographic, transactional and behavioral data about the target audience from any source system.
  2. Identifies individual customers using a name, a postal address, an account number or other similar information. The system continuously updates and links data from different sources and stores all the data as a unified customer profile.
  3. Provides real-time data feeds and batch updates.
  4. Processes different types of data, such as order processing, account information, payment history and purchase history, in different formats, including text, database records and social interactions.
  5. Feeds the data directly into the marketer’s toolbox (email systems, marketing automation, Web content management, print, direct mail, call centers, etc.).
  6. Possesses the ability to broadcast via multiple channels, such as Web, email, mobile and tablet.
  7. Costs less, as most are Software as a Service (SaaS) products. Plus there is no need for capital-intensive IT infrastructure costs. CDPs also allow solutions to be implemented within months.
  8. Makes future proofing easier. Because CDPs are cloud based, it is relatively simple to remove a marketing tool that is not performing well and replace it with a better option.
  9. Requires that your data be scrubbed. Data quality will still be an issue. There is no such thing as a “standard” integration. Even within the same company, you may find different formats.
  10. Uses business rules and enables predictive model scoring or treatment recommendations based on relevant attributes.

Bridging the gap between the business and the customer with a customer data platform allows a business to launch, learn and adjust as the landscape shifts. This is important because the landscape is changing faster than ever.

David Raab, a marketing technology analyst, feels that CDPs are a huge opportunity for CMOs. He jokingly described the potential of CDPs as being akin to a candy-colored fairyland where unicorns dance with butterflies on rainbows made of gumdrops. Sounds like sweet dreams to me.


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