There are probably two things you have heard about non-stop for the past few years. The first one is the benefits of remote working and flexible hours on the morale and dedication of your employees. The second one is the importance of building a seamless customer experience for your prospects based on a meaningful customer journey. Since we are not an HR company, we are not going to get into much detail on the first topic (nevertheless, we can say that we vouch for it personally, and therefore we do offer our workers the possibility to work remotely). Instead, today we will talk about an essential tool that will help your organisation to obtain the best possible structured data with which to provide a top-notch customer experience via an engaging journey: a Customer Data Platform.

Why all the fuss about Customer Data Platforms (CDPs)?

As we mentioned above, on the past few years the customer journey and customer experience have become the central point around which all marketing and sales efforts have revolved. Corporations must demonstrate that they care about their customers, that they understand them and their needs, and that they can anticipate what those will be.

 

In order to become those omniscient entities capable of providing exceptional experiences, corporations rely on data. Big data. Tremendously huge amounts of data. Seriously, we are talking about absolutely massive figures here. And this absolutely massive amounts of data come from a not much smaller amount of sources. Oh, boy.

 

Just think about it: every channel, every touchpoint, every interaction that a customer has with an organization leaves a trace of data behind. Emails, phone calls, ads clicks, newsletters, subscriptions or sign-outs, e-commerce sites, blogs and social media interactions…Not to mention the IoT devices. Everything generates data. And everything is siloed.

 

That data is extremely valuable to the business. Crucial. And yet, no matter how huge the amount of data, if it is fragmented and siloed, it won’t be of much use. Do you start to see the problem here? Customer Data Platforms, or CDPs for short, have been developed to solve that tiny huge problem by providing data integration from a multitude of sources.

What exactly are Customer Data Platforms?

In order to not getting too technical, we can use the CPD Institute definition for Customer Data Platforms. The CDP Institute defines itself as a vendor-neutral organisation dedicated to helping marketers manage customer data, and states that CDP is “a packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.”

 

 

 

There are three important elements in that definition: the fact that they are ready packaged software which can be configured to the needs of each customer, saving money and time; the fact that they create a persistent and unified database, storing all the customer’s information in one place to track their behaviour over time; and the fact that they are accessible to other systems, to maximise the synergies.

 

 

 

In short, CDPs can help us create holistic customer profiles on a simpler and personalised manner, supporting real-time management and segmentation, while integrating that data with other systems for further actionability.

 

 

CDPs are now generally available and while there have been a couple of iterations from its beginnings to what it is now, currently most software providers have a general road map of what’s in store for them.  

 

 

We cannot forget that Customer Data Platforms are geared towards marketing and sales use cases. They were not conceived for the data scientist but for marketing and sales users. They bring a democratization of data by making it so simple that anyone could figure out how to navigate and make the most out of it.

customer data platforms structure
Source: https://www.emailvendorselection.com/customer-data-platform-cdp-evolution-marketing-automation/

How are Customer Data Platforms different form CRM?

Now your are probably thinking CDPs sound alright but, why should you mind about them if you already have a CRM implementation for gathering customer data? Well, there are a few fundamental differences between CDPs and CRM systems:

 

  • While CDP and CRM systems both collect valuable data for your organization, CDP collects data of all interactions, and CRM only shows data of know customers or prospects.

 

  • While CDP and CRM systems both track customer activities, CDP follows and analyses the lifetime of customer behavior and journey, and CRM only follows the sales funnel.

 

  • While CDP and CRM systems both collect online customer data, CDP can also collect offline data, and CRM mostly collects offline data which has been entered manually to the system.

 

  • While CDP and CRM systems both enable data management, CDP is capable of handling several data streams coming form different sources with a slim chance of replicated or lost data, and CRM handles individually-entered data which can be corrupted more easily due to mishandling.

 

So, in a nutshell, while CDPs automatically create unified customer profiles that are constantly updated with data gathered from a multitude of online and off-line channels, maintaining the quality of data to the maximum level, CRM systems are only able to track an individual customer interaction with a corporation online or via tedious integration of offline actions, resulting on data that can be fragmented or corrupted.

How are Customer Data Platforms different from Data Management Platforms?

Currently, there’s a bit of an overlap between what you can do today with different types of software solutions such as data management platforms for example Power BI, Oracle BluKai, Adobe Audience Manager, or Google BigQuery), CDPs (like Customer Insights, Exponea, Optimove, or Oktopost) and CRM systems. However, data management platforms (DMPs) can be and actually are used for different sources of data, not only customer’s data. 

 

On the other hand, CDPs are all about understanding the customer more deeply, knowing what’s going on during their lifetime journey and trying to provide a seamless experience by the use of built-in logic to help you match datasets and draw conclusions.  

 

Other differences between CDPs and DMPs are:

 

  • While both CDPs and DMPs store customer information, CDP stores both anonymous and known customers, and DMP collects only anonymous data.
 
  • While both CDPs and DMPs influence marketing, CDP affects all kinds of marketing, and DMP focuses on advertisement retargeting and audience reach.
 
  • While CDPs and DMPs both collect personal data, CDP collects strongly identifiable first-party data straight from the source (name, email, phone number), and DMP collects anonymous third-party data identifiers (cookies, device, location, IP address).
 
  • While CDPs and DMPs both keep the data, CDP keeps the data for the long run with the goal to obtain deeply detail customer profiles and deliver meaningful interactions, and DMP keeps the data for a short period of time with the goal of retargeting ads and researching audiences.
customer data platform versus data management platform
Source: https://www.element61.be/en/resource/difference-between-cdp-and-dmp

How to choose the best Customer Data Platform for your business?

Ok. So at this point you might be fairly convinced that you can obtain enormous benefits from implementing a Customer Data Platform solution to your business software. However, you might have some doubts about how to choose the best possible solution for you. Luckily, again the CDP Institute has some recommendations on what to ask from your Customer Data Platform provider:

 

 

  1. Unifies the data by ingesting data from all sources, to subsequently standardise the data.
     
  2. Retains full detail of all ingested data, providing the ability to enrich customer profiles with first and third-party data.
     
  3. Stores the ingested data as long as the user wants, giving the chance to derive insights from it and take action based on such insights.
     
  4. Converts the data into unified customer profiles which can be adapted and extended to be used throughout the organisation at different times and for different needs.
     
  5. Makes the profiles available to all external systems, creating a shared knowledge ecosystem for additional customisations and trust building.
     

On top of that, HubSpot lists some reliable Customer Data Platform providers that you can check if you are seriously considering making the jump:

 

The CDP Institute lists a CDP Service Provider Directory  which includes corporations and CDP Institute partners providing CDP-related “consulting, implementation, agency service, data, and technology.”

 
– G2 Crowd offers an unbiased review page that ranks the  Best Customer Data Platform (CDP) Software. On their page it’s possible to apply different filters to the results such as organizational size, popularity, G2 score or customer ratings.
 
– Capterra provides a ranking of the Best Customer Data Platform Software. Like all the other Capterra software comparison pages, it is possible to filter the results or compare the functionalities of up to 4 different platforms.
 

It is very important to be careful when choosing your platform. Nowadays, with organisations increasingly striving to provide seamless customer experience and personalisation at every stage of the customer journey, the demand for Customer Data Platforms is increasing. Some unscrupulous software providers are trying to get onboard this new trend, whether they have the necessary capabilities or not. Therefore, despite they refer to their product as CDPs, they don’t always include the capabilities that qualify their product as a true Customer Data Platform. Instead, they offer analytics or engagement based solutions which lack the rich data unification, accessibility, and synthesis that defines a true CDP.

 

In Supervise, we are building customer 360 profiles with CDPs and with SuperCards we can offer an easy way to show those profiles in your preferred software solutions, like Teams, whenever needed. Get in touch to learn more about how to maximise the efficiency of your Customer Data Platform with SuperCards, and let us know in the comments whether you think your company needs one or not.

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