A customer data platform (CDP for short) is a collection of software that creates and combines data from multiple sources and unified them into a single, centralized customer database. This database combines all of the data to create a strutted, single customer profile that’s then made available to other marketing systems. Marketing systems use these data points to gain greater customer insight and help to narrow in on a segmented audience for targeted business goals and campaigns across various marketing and sales channels. All of this leads to better performance and less work.
Customer data platforms are used by marketing companies both big and small. They’re used in multiple business departments as well across analytics, engineering, marketing, support, and sales all as a way to unify data into a single source location that can help these companies and departments get access to customer information easier and quicker. You wouldn’t want to target the wrong demographic for your company, that’s a waste of effort on both your and your audience's time. With a proper customer data platform, this work is unified and simplified.
But choosing the best customer data platform can be difficult. You want to choose the one that’s not only the best for you, as an individual, but for your company. It needs to be one that is easily accessible, understood, and contains all of the important customer data that you need to optimize your company.
There are four main types of customer data platforms.
Data integration and ingestion
This type of customer data platform is a way to bring together customer data from all of the different channels and systems and integrate them into a single integrated location. The various types of formats and types are placed in a unified base for analytics to take over.
Identify and unify
After all of the customer data is integrated into a single location and ingested so that analytics can take over, it’s important to create a customer profile and help to create an identity. It pulls a customer's record of all channels and touchpoints and strengthens the idea of who that customer is and what they are likely to do next.
Analytics and intelligence
CDPs create a single customer view that allows you to see how each individual customer behaves. This insight gives way to channel usage, purchase history, and all essential knowledge to how they behave. You can quickly observe what data affects them and predict, based on this view, how they will behave in the future. It will easily identify what might work and what won’t work to properly engage them. From here you can create numerous customer segments and identify your brand's ideal customer persona through the use of numerous marketing campaigns. Thanks to analytics and intelligence, you no longer are moving blindly when creating a campaign or engagement. You can almost feel or see your customer, using collectible and individualized data points.
Activation is a key process once all of the customer data is gathered, analyzed, and put into motion. Data is useless until it is put into an engagement or marketing plan and a cross-channel activation does that. Here you can take the data you’ve collected and create a customer journey through engagement channels that each individual customer will follow. With each step they allow the customer, through the customer data you’ve collected and put forth, is more likely to turn passive browsing into actions such as a read, purchase, or whatever the business and marketing goal is.
Now that you know the types, another, perhaps more important question comes up: how do you choose the best customer data platform for you?
Ask your stakeholders
No single individual can decide the best CDP for their company. That’s why it’s always best to evaluate the company goals, who the ideal customer is, and what will help bridge these two together. Consult with your sales team and customer engagement team, or really any internal team that aids in a customer buying journey. Get their input. What do they think will work best? What do they feel is missing?
Define the tools you need
There are multiple tools that go into a customer's journey—live chats, email platforms, websites, social media channels, etc. Once you can identify the specific tools you need, from business intelligence tools and advertising tools to bigger data warehouses and Google Analytics, you can get a firmer grip on the type of CDP you and your company will need to be successful.
Compare the customer data platforms
Once you’ve narrowed in on your business needs and how to acquire your customers it’s time to shop. You wouldn’t buy a sneaker without comparing them to other brands, so think the same way with your customer data platforms. Shop around. Compare the integrations, prices, and industry strengths. There’s a reason there are numerous CDPs out there, and you want to pick the best one for you.
Customer data platforms are essential for business growth and customer acquisition. When it comes time to choose the best one for you learn the types and ask the key questions. From here, shop around and you’ll eventually find the CDP that will suit you best.