Gathering customer data has never been more critical—and while today we have more tools than ever, there are still some challenges ahead.
From social media and web analytics to email and mobile apps, marketing teams must keep track of all the touchpoints customers interact with. Then all that data needs to be stored in one place while ensuring everyone in the company can access it and then use it to inform business decisions and drive growth. And that's just scratching the surface!
💡 The scale of data
By 2025, it’s estimated that 463 exabytes of data will be created each day globally – that’s the equivalent of 212,765,957 DVDs per day!
Understanding the Customer Data Platform.
A Customer Data Platform (CDP) is a digital platform that helps companies collect, unify, segment, personalize and activate customer data across multiple channels. It’s an essential tool that marketing, sales, and product teams use to understand their customers and deliver better experiences.
They have become a must-have for any marketer using big data to deliver smarter marketing.
💡 The customer data platform (CDP) market is expected to grow
Over $1.8 billion in venture capital has been invested in CDPs over the past two years alone, proving that CDPs are here to stay. Now may be the perfect time to invest in one.
You sense their impact across the industry, from large-scale brands, to emerging startups trying to dig a niche in the market: CDPs are helping marketers make sense of all the customer data they have access to.
The main advantages of a CDP
Before we get into the details, let’s see the big-picture and why CDPs have become so necessary: they take the strain off marketing teams responsible for managing customer data from scratch.
Manual data management is highly detrimental to productivity and increases the probability of introducing human mistakes into your databases.
💡 It's such a prevalent problem that it ranked #1 in a 2021 Adverity survey about marketing challenges, cited by 41% of the survey respondents.
CDPs solve the problem of manual data management by being one integrated tool to get started on a journey towards making data-driven decisions.
Knowing this, let’s dive into 5 specific ways CDPs help CMOs make better decisions and develop better strategies overall.
1. Monitoring social and tech trends within their customer base
One of the main functions of a CMO is monitoring the social and tech environment to get a better understanding of the brand’s place in the market and how they can adjust to better fit into it.
💡 CDPs, especially those with artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, allow CMOs to process massive amounts of data to identify trends, spot patterns, and offer options moving forward.
With this knowledge, they can provide actionable campaign suggestions based on patterns such as the traits valuable customers have in common and determining how close customers are to buying or looking for alternatives in other brands based on the available data.
CDPs give you a holistic view of your entire database. For any one individual customer, you can see every marketing campaign related to them, across every department.
This “eye in the sky” also makes it easier for marketers to see how the team is interacting with customers on an individual level, as well as collaborate across departments in ways that were impossible until recently.
“Meeting your customers where they are is step one. Equipping your team to learn from those customer interactions — across the entire journey — is where the magic happens. If a product tweak causes confusion or frustration, you need to know about it — fast.”- Katherine Calvert - Khoros CMO .
Key Takeaway: As a whole, CDPs provide the means to understand the trends and patterns that drive your customer base and provide options for using this data to improve CX and keep them satisfied.
2. Allows the CMO to contribute to relevant data governance policies
Data governance policies determine how the brand will manage the availability, usability, integrity, and security of the data within the enterprise systems. To this end, certain CDPs come with quality assurance and data governance features that will help you protect your data and use it efficiently.
Some of the functions CDPs can provide for CMOs trying to plan out consistent data governance strategies are:
- Define and enable data usage policies.
- Apply labels to data according to the usage policies that are relevant to it.
- Configure specific marketing actions for external destinations, like ad platforms, CRMs, analytics, and marketing automation platforms.
- Deploy policies to enforce data usage compliance and receive notifications for violations.
- Comply with GDPR and other data privacy regulations.
Key Takeaway: Multiple CDPs provide free trials that allow you to understand how they work and what features they provide. Experimenting with them to determine which one offers the best functionality for your data governance needs is key to finding the right platform for each brand.
3. Paint a complete picture of the customer journey.
Coordinating the modern customer journey is particularly challenging because of the many touchpoints spread across more channels than ever. CDPs help marketing specialists paint a complete picture of the customer journey by bringing together behavioral, transactional, and identity data.
“Customer journey maps help you move beyond surface-level assumptions about your customers and toward the heart of what drives their purchase behaviors.” Tom Treanor, CMO,Treasure Data.
Once the customer’s roadmap is determined, you can analyze customer interactions throughout the entire journey and deliver the appropriate messaging through the channels the customer prefers.
Key Takeaway: You can quickly develop a deep understanding of your customers beyond the basic demographic information, helping you understand how each of your customers behaves across channels to create highly personalized experiences for each of them.
4. Provides a wealth of data to communicate with partners, management, investors, and employees.
Above all, CDPs are coherent data managers that provide aggregated information for digestion and deep analysis. This wealth of data proves invaluable when communicating strategies to employees, investors, partners, and other executives.
Key Takeaway: Whether providing essential insights into your customer base or communicating strategies with investors and employees, CDPs will allow you to back up your claims and justify the implementation of specific policies.
5. A single source of truth for all teams
In IT-related fields, a "single source of truth" is the practice of aggregating the data from many systems within an organization to a single location.
CDPs act as the single source of truth since they are made to aggregate data from multiple sources.
In general, there are many benefits to single sources of truth:
- No duplicate data entries or version control issues
- Timely data values at the right moment
- Less time spent validating records
- No more data silos
- Improved communication and productivity in the entire organization
💡 But how do these benefits translate to marketing data, exactly? A CDP lets you capture customer data when using your brand’s products or services. Regardless of the department, they contact (sales, support, etc.) or the channel they use, a CDP will add all of this data into a unified profile.
Key Takeaway: Once the CDP is in place, every department can access this data with their own tools and develop contextual strategies fueled by high-quality data.
CMOs need to take advantage of as many tools as the current market demands, and CDPs have emerged as one of the most important ones to help you take control of all customer data and make the most out of it.
As the amount of data collected continues to grow and more businesses adopt complex tech solutions such as automation and AI implementations, the importance of CDPs will continue to grow.
It would be wise of CMOs to progressively gain the necessary skills to understand how they work and learn how to use the insights they provide to develop more innovative, efficient marketing strategies.
No matter how you look at it, CDPs have become an essential piece in the marketer toolkit, one that will shape how strategies are created and implemented on a global scale.
This article is part of a series on CDPs and their benefits to your brand and marketing. If you are interested in learning more about them, check out the rest of the series:
- Customer Data Platforms: Your go-to solution to customer data challenges
- Making the most out of marketing data: benefits, challenges, and how to solve them
- How CDPs help you deploy better marketing campaigns