Last month, Gartner Research introduced a new industry category into its latest “hype cycle” for digital marketing: the customer data platform (CDP), coined in 2013.
“A customer data platform (CDP) is an integrated customer database managed by marketers that unifies a company’s customer data from marketing, sales and service channels to enable customer modeling and drive customer experience,” according to Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising, 2016, which was released on July 15.
According to Gartner, “the customer data platform addresses an acute need for modern marketers, who, tasked with revenue accountability and customer experience, are ever in search of that elusive complete view of the customer, beyond the acquisition stage…A bridge between the traditional marketing database or post-sales CRM system and multichannel campaign management execution engines, the customer data platform arose from the need for a solution that could be controlled and deployed by marketers to unify customer identity in a privacy-compliant way, manage first-party data and connect execution across multiple point solutions.”
Ensighten is a prime example of a customer data platform, which is anchored by its industry leading enterprise tag management system (TMS), with additional products for omni-channel data collection, mobile app deployments, privacy and security, and profile creation and management. Ensighten is currently serving many of the world’s largest brands through this platform, including six of the Top 10 most valuable brands, according to Forbes.
Here is our take on what a Customer Data Pl should do for you:
- Be the single source of truth for fueling your revenue streams – A CDP should be a force multiplier in enabling and optimizing existing marketing and advertising efforts around personalization, recommendations, attribution, targeting, re-targeting, media-mix modeling, advertising efficiencies, customer service and many other business functions.
- Provide a holistic view of your customer journey – Customers begin their journey across multiple touch points, digital and traditional. A CDP should contain a data layer that is anchored by intelligence that is first party to a brand. Brand specific first-party intelligence should be collected from onsite, offsite and offline journeys and used to create actionable customer profiles and segments to enhance the customer journey.
- Ability to collect and own every digital and non-digital activity of your customer – Your CDP should be driven by first-party data intelligence and have the ability to stitch customer interactions across devices (e.g. a phone or wearable), platforms (e.g. desktop and mobile) and channels (e.g. paid, owned and earned). You should own your data and not have to rent it back in order to drive your business. An external DMP or DSP will not provide data that is first party to a brand.
- Fuel real-time decision making – The customer journey is constantly evolving and customers make split second decisions. Your CDP should provide near real-time data collection and dissemination of that intelligence to fuel your next marketing campaign, optimize your conversion funnel, re-appropriate ad buys, feed into your call center work flow, and fuel many other decisions and capabilities.
- Enable turnkey integration capability with other marketing and advertising technologies – A CDP should enable your business to ‘speak’ with your customers regardless of where that customer might be in the customer journey lifecycle at any moment in time. The ability to integrate with technologies such as advertising solutions, email providers, mobile platforms, video delivery engines and other marketing solutions is critical. First-party data collection capabilities enable standards for such integrations.
- Deliver enterprise privacy solutions, including identifying and preventing data leakage – A customer’s journey produces a lot of information that is collected digitally and non-digitally, housed in a CDP. Valuable data about your customer can leak from your web property through a variety of ways. A CDP should be armed with enterprise-level privacy capabilities to monitor and curtail dissemination of customer data, and enable product teams to automate opt-in and opt-out choices for customers.
- Be vendor agnostic – Owning your data using a first-party data collection engine enables you to control your destiny. A CDP should be designed to be vendor agnostic especially since the marketplace introduces new products and services that are in sync with the ever-changing customer journey. Data standards created by using a first-party data collection engine and housed in the data layer enables a CDP to be vendor agnostic.
- Offer detailed enterprise workflow, providing access and permissions based on role – A CDP is your single source of truth and intelligence within the CDP will be sought after by various functions with an organization. A data layer that ingests omni-channel, multi-platform and IoT data requires a robust, visual, user friendly work flow tool that should be used by a technical marketer. Organizational access and permissions should be managed through the same tool.
- Enable raw and/or aggregated data visualization and extraction – For a robust CDP to be leveraged regularly to influence business decisions, both in marketing and across the organization, it should contain either its own visualization capability and/or the ability to plug into any third-party visualization tool. Extraction and ingestion capabilities through APIs, SFTPs and user interfaces are ways to enable internal customers to use information to influence business decisions.
- Scale and flexibility of data space to fluctuate with your business – The ability for a CDP to grow with the customer journey is critical. The growth in Internet of Things (IoT) devices alone promises a tsunami of new interaction data. One of the most efficient and effective ways to scale is to host your data in the cloud. Cloud services enable your business to focus on driving revenue and ROI while allowing other experts to manage storage services, extraction and ingestion processes (ETLs).
The recognition and market acceleration of the CDP represents not a replacement, but an important expansion of the role of a tag management system. A TMS is a necessary foundation of the modern day CDP because of its ability to collect, manage, act and own first-party data from a variety of sources. In addition, deep integration with a larger marketing eco-system are key components of enabling personalized, real time and revenue-influencing customer journeys.
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