CDPs, DMPs, Platforms… I think there’s one thing for sure, the world of ‘markitechture’ can be a complex place to navigate through! We only need to see the Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic to track the exponentially growing number of technologies available year on year.
So it’s no surprise that many organisations may not know which technology best aligns to their desired business outcomes, what each platform is designed to achieve, or even more basic than that, which martech solutions are out there in the first place.
In fact, if you’re considering a CDP solution investment, it’s fairly common that one or maybe all of the below scenarios are running through your mind:
- I’ve heard the buzz. I need to understand what a CDP is, whether I need one, and what the use cases are.
- I believe my business needs a CDP and I know the possible use cases. How should I approach CDP solution selection, and ensure I’ve got a plan to derive value from it?
- I have a CDP but I would like to know how to optimise it (or even replace it). How do we expand the business use cases and prove the ROI from the investment? My team also needs additional skills and to learn best practices to drive CDP performance to enhance the customer experience.
- My CDP is great, however, there are certain areas where the functionality needs enhancement. I’m not sure the integration between the CDP and my existing martech ecosystem is working in the most efficient way possible.
It can be difficult to know where to begin. When you consider that your existing martech ecosystem, business goals, and team skill set all impact the best martech investment choices for your business uniquely – it’s clear to see why many marketers seek the advice of professional services partners to expedite the speed to ROI of your investment.
CDP or DMP?
To clarify a common, initial platform question – how do CDPs differ from DMPs?
- A CDP, or customer data platform, helps to collect, and unify an organisation’s first-party customer data (PII based, cookie IDs, device IDs, etc.) into a single data ecosystem. A CDP allows you to build audience segments and provides a real-time activation layer for your advertising across channels.
- A DMP, or data management platform, focuses on the management of anonymous data sets, and to create and manage audiences to enable audience segmentation, analysis, and optimisation.
As you can see, there is some crossover between the two. There are also many other technologies that can be combined with a CDP and a DMP, that can further optimise a marketing ecosystem to improve results; typical areas include enhanced identity resolution services, first-party data hygiene, and enrichment services.
Understanding CDP Use Cases
So what situations and use cases is a CDP a good fit for?
CDP’s offer benefits across multiple instances.
- Enable marketers to manage customer views, and create universal consumer views by resolving identity across channels.
- Connect with other marketing applications and tech to collect and integrate data across offline and online channels.
- Create segments for real-time marketing applications.
- Expose data to other systems – including customer analytics and customer engagement platforms.
- Enable real-time personalisation to drive great personalised experiences.
- Allow real-time decisioning so your customers get the best experience at every touch point.
Overall, this means that CDP platforms offer great features and functionality. These benefits help to achieve an integrated, centralised data platform – making it an attractive choice for marketers looking for an omnichannel solution to address their key requirements.
However, as the scope of CDP capability can vary between vendors, there can be some areas where functionality could still be improved or will require support from other technologies (such as Identity management, or first-party data hygiene services and enrichment). An organisation may also need (or have) more than one CDP connected within an ecosystem in order to realise maximum value.
Because of this, and because data marketers need a wide range of varying capabilities and technologies to achieve their goals, it’s common to seek the advice of a professional services expert who can clarify how best to select the right technologies, use them, and integrate them into a wider marketing business process.
Does a CDP Fit Your Needs?
If it sounds like a CDP might fit your use case requirements – hold fire! It’s important to run through a few evaluation considerations first, to identify if a CDP is the right fit for your organisation.
When considering a vendor experience, flexibility, scalability, and scope of integration are all core considerations. Yet the decision is complex! So when evaluating a CDP:
- Step back from the hype. Are you sure a CDP is the right solution for your requirement, or are you following the crowd? Conduct a careful assessment of your organisation’s needs and desired business outcomes. You’ll need them to identify which solutions will help you meet them.
- Assess your in-house skill sets. Do you have the right internal skill required to integrate, optimise, and derive value from a new martech investment? Is your team organised in the right way to make this happen?
- Consider your existing marketing technology. What does your current martech ecosystem look like? Can it seamlessly integrated with your CDP of choice? Should you be looking to integrate or replacing? Now might be the time to upgrade or turn off any legacy tech you have hanging around.
- Can your CDP provide a complete, high-quality single customer view? Does the CDP meet the necessary capabilities such as data quality, identity resolution, and identity management? Or will you need additional technologies to achieve the results you’re after? It’s true what they say, you get out what you put in. How can you give people the best experiences if your customer profiles aren’t being managed in the right way in the first place?
- Identify what data your CDP can manage. CDPs commonly manage known customer data, including PII (personally identifiable information). Yet it’s important to consider what other data a prospective CDP can handle, in line with your objectives.
For example: can the CDP manage customer data from all the systems you have? Does it adhere to data governance rules and privacy-compliant processes to ensure personal data is being used correctly?
For example: do you have to comply with strict regulations such as FCRA, HIPAA, PCI, CCPA, GDPR, or need to manage sensitive or special category personal data (such as ethnic origin, health, sexual orientation, religious, or political affiliation data), or limit how the personal data is moved across national/regional borders? These are all important considerations to take into account.
- Do you have a data strategy in place? A considered data strategy is crucial to support the optimal use and implementation of your CDP. A data strategy will ensure you derive true value. At its most basic are you collecting the right data to be able to do make meaningful decisions to drive value? If you are unclear on this, partnering with an experienced service provider can provide clarity on specific insight and recommendations to support your business objectives.
- Consider analytics and measurement use cases. Do you require a solution to support omnichannel analytics, real-time decisioning, etc.? Like all technologies out there, some CDPs are stronger in certain areas than others. Make sure you take a good look at the strengths and weaknesses of each platform and choose one that maps to your key business requirements.
Due to the vast scope of solutions, features, and capabilities available in the CDP market, partnering with a professional services expert can help you to identify the best fit against your specific business requirements and identify a roadmap for improvement and ROI.
Ensure Organisational Buy-In and Drive Success
As with any martech investment, having a clear roadmap to success is a strong approach to ensure initial buy-in, team collaboration as a solution is rolled out, and ongoing results.
Often this roadmap can come from the advice of an experienced professional services partner. With a heritage in building custom data solutions for years, Acxiom recognises that the CDP landscape is complex and so is uniquely able to inform, advise, and provide recommendations to clients as they navigate through the complex martech landscape.
Prioritising that CDP roadmap to success, Acxiom follows a professional services framework, ‘The 5 E’s’, designed to help clients select, implement, and get value at speed from any given CDPs.
The 5 E’s:
- Evaluate – Validating the current and required capabilities from an audience, investment, technology, people, and skills perspective.
- Experience – Ensuring the solution meets all business requirements for delivering the client’s goals.
- Enable – Designing the right end-to-end solution to meet business objectives in prioritised phases.
- Engage – Developing the required marketing communications strategy and processes based on the power of the technology platform.
- Embed – Supporting internal teams to realise the full potential of the new platform.
The result? Marketers working with Acxiom on these 5 E’s can be confident of choosing the right CDP for the right use cases to ensure a successful CDP implementation, integration, and ongoing optimisation that delivers.