According to the latest State of Marketing report, unifying data sources is top priority for ANZ marketers, and the Customer Data Platform (CDP) is a powerful way to get you there. Salesforce’s Robert Colborne delves into the rise of CDP and its role in the marketer’s tech stack. 

 

Never before has so much customer data been available to marketers. At the same time, never before has there been such a vast array of options through which the marketer can work with that data. This is a great yet often overwhelming position, as we can now stack our marketing technology in exhilarating ways, but knowing exactly how to do it in a fashion that benefits both the business and the customer isn’t always straight forward. 

In this climate, perhaps the most daunting question is how to unify various disconnected data sources and do so clearly and comprehensively. This is the top priority for ANZ marketers yet is also the second biggest challenge they face. And considering that those marketers plan to use 20% more data sources on average throughout 2022 than they did in 2020, it’s no wonder that this challenge is only growing more, well… challenging. 

While marketers continue to manage data through customer relationship management systems (CRMs) and data management platforms (DMPs), it is the CDP, otherwise known as the Customer Data Platform, that is allowing a new kind of data unification. Unlike DMPs that focus on managing anonymous customer data, CDPs are about the individual customer profile. In fact, CDPs are powerful, highly customisable pieces of technology that when properly utilised, can get you closer to both your organisational goals and the individual customer than ever before.

Yet it’s impossible to dig further into why the CDP is on the rise or the role it now plays in the marketing tech stack, without first talking about just how much customer expectations have been shifting over recent years.

It’s not only marketers that have both eyes on data. Customers are now more aware about the importance and value of their data and more wary about how it’s being captured and used. Which is why trust is so top-of-mind for the modern consumer. 

Why, when customer data has been the focal point for many years, is trust now more of a factor? The answer lies partly with the changes that tech giants such as Google and Apple have introduced to protect privacy and consent. To make matters more complicated, the third-party cookie continues to crumble and privacy regulations continue to tighten up all over the world. In other words, consumers are now hypersensitive to who is (and isn’t) on their side. 

Today, brands that are reaping the rewards are those that leave no stone unturned in ensuring customer privacy and honoured consent, whilst offering the deepest levels of personalisation. Consumers now want to know exactly what’s happening with their data from the jump, yet also want to be known and seen intimately.

Brands now want to be as transparent as possible as they get increased access to first-party data, which allows for greater personalisation and comes with the promise of business growth. But how can brands make sense of new ways of collecting data and nurture such open, mutually beneficial relationships with the consumer? Enter the CDP.

How can a customer data platform help connect all these dots?

Let’s first broadly define what a CDP does. Most organisations have siloed systems that while helpful in and of themselves, present the marketer with a rather fragmented view of the individual customer. A CDP allows you to bring together the customer data from those various systems and unify the fragmented data into rich, actionable and accurate customer profiles. 

This gives the marketer a lot more profile data to work with, a benefit that should not be undervalued. Marketers can be kept waiting for their technology teams to provide customer data across other departments. So, not only does a CDP democratise data access, it means a smoother and more expedient time to campaign. 

But unifying data alone isn’t going to get anyone a promotion. Having access to deeper and richer customer profiles is great, but it’s all about what you do with that access. By leveraging the customer data at your fingertips, CDP can drive powerful, actionable insights that in turn, inform customer engagement and personalisation strategies. This is possible thanks to a number of tech innovations including machine learning, data visualisation and predictive analytics.

An example of effectively using these possibilities is to increase the value of a loyalty programme through insights on customer behaviours and responses. So, a CDP allows you to zoom out even further and identify target audiences from similar individual customer profiles.

So, I should get my hands on a customer data platform, right?

In most cases, I’d just give an umbrella ‘yes’, but it really does depend on the strength of your implementation strategy. You can’t just grab the product and connect a few data sources and expect the tech to do the work for you. Your organisation needs to ask a long list of questions with the end point in mind, including but not limited to: what is my north star? What are my organisational goals in x and y amount of time? Is my technology strategy aligned with my business strategy? Once you figure out what you want to achieve, you can then work your way backwards and use tactics that will satisfy that end point.

Just as important as working towards your end goal is gaining a firm grasp on your starting point. The more you understand the current state of your organisation, the clearer your CDP requirements will become, and the more you’ll be able to flag existing data, process, technology or personnel gaps.

So, yes, you should get your hands on a CDP, as long as you’ve covered all your bases. You’ve set your priorities and defined your success metrics. You’ve taken a magnifying glass to both your starting blocks and the people and processes that will take you to your endpoints. Once you’ve covered all your bases, you’ll be on your way to new levels of ROI, while also heading in the right direction for further growth in the future.

As I’ve said before, the more you put into a CDP, the more you get out of it, which also means the more you learn about its many capabilities, the more you’ll be able to achieve. 

To learn more about the latest trends and challenges marketers are facing, read the latest State of Marketing report.