Readily available access to good customer data has always been important to marketers. Having a data-backed picture of who your ideal audience is, and the best way to reach them, is the cornerstone of any effective campaign. In today’s privacy first environment, one solution to accessing and unifying customer data — while remaining compliant with regulations — is a Customer Data Platform, or CDP.
CDPs are a privacy-friendly and ethical tool that can help a company to establish detailed, real-time, user profiles based on first-party data gathered from multiple sources across the organisation. To avoid information silos, CDPs incorporate campaign management tools and data harmonisation to provide key performance measurement metrics and ROI.
But not all CDP solutions and vendors are created equal, and you need to know what questions to ask to understand if a CDP will solve your challenges or present an extra one — what should you expect during implementation? How can you measure ROI and when will it be realised? What can you do to avoid difficulties?
Integration, integration, integration
For any new software or hardware being introduced to a business, integration is a key consideration. If a CDP doesn’t integrate seamlessly into existing processes, or it isn’t flexible enough to keep up with future changes, this could result in time lost — and time lost is money lost. A CDP can be transformative for a business, but must coexist with the infrastructure and ecosystem already in place; it will also need to work several years from now in order to prove truly effective. If it can’t keep up, it has the potential to become yet another silo across your business — compounding the issue it was intended to solve.
In terms of workflow integration, a CDP needs to go further than simply providing insights to be effective, if it only does this, it leaves marketing teams with a lot of work still to do. They’re stuck with time consuming tasks such as moving between the CDP and execution and reporting platforms, building and exporting lists and importing them into execution channels for manual testing and reporting. Getting a CDP off the ground originally required a large amount of time and resourcing from developers and analysts during the setup phase to ensure full integration and effective implementation. The new breed of low/no-code CDP solutions are reducing this initial outlay by giving marketers the tools, including dashboards and analytics suites, to drive the setup and implementation stages.
If a CDP is meant to reduce time loss and minimise complexity, these extra steps certainly aren’t achieving either; look for a CDP that can provide customisation and personalisation to improve the user experience of your teams.
CDP vs ROI
For many marketing channels or platforms, proving ROI comes easily, as most include metrics to demonstrate their effectiveness vs cost. For a CDP, this can get quite complex.
CDPs provide insights that can be translated into personalised campaigns across a whole host of channels, including email, social, and digital. Each of these channels has relevant metrics to benchmark effectiveness against, such as click rates, impressions, ROAS, and each gives a clear picture of how customers are responding to the specific approach.
But how can you sort through the performance of these channels and metrics to understand how much impact the CDP has had, and its value? Getting a clear picture of a CDP’s value-add can only be achieved by in-depth use of test and control analysis. While this will give an accurate picture of the ROI a CDP delivers, it can often take considerable time, effort, and resources — all things the CDP is being implemented to save on. By working with a vendor to manage this process for you, and provide the CDP’s success metrics, your teams can concentrate on their core work.
Test and learn
Off the shelf CDPs can be fantastic tools, but they don’t fit every business need. Understanding the right match for your business as quickly as possible is crucial to minimising lost time and reducing cost.
Think of the CDP as a new team member joining the business — you need to figure out what their limitations and skills might be. This is the test and learn phase, and modern CDPs with low-code deployment enable very quick testing and learning. Paying to own a CDP long term without knowing if it will be the right fit for your business is risky, and a trial period could make all the difference in finding out if a CDP will help you save time and simplify your customer data onboarding. Some vendors offer a ‘try before you buy’ trial period, 30 days for example, and it could save you — and the business — from long term challenges.
Through testing, you will learn how a CDP can prove its ROI, and whether it’s the best fit for you. It’s important to work with the right CDP partner to support the testing phase so that you can be confident you’ll avoid the potential pitfalls of implementation.
Achieving ROI and successful implementation can be a long term aspiration, rather than a short term goal, but time is a key ingredient in maximising CDP success. Working with a partner who understands this, and supports you on the journey, can help to remove the complexity for your teams, allowing them to focus on what they do best – giving you the best chance of maximising your CDP success.