A CMO's Guide To CDPs: Achieving A Unified Customer Experience

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The latest post from our "A CMO's Guide to CDPs" series shares how to make your marketing organization more data-driven and customer-first.

Throughout the “A CMO’s Guide to CDPs” blog series, we’ve addressed questions marketers may have about selecting a customer data platform (CDP) and deriving the most benefit from the technology. In the last instalment of the series, we will wrap up with our recommendations for how to advance your marketing organization to be more data-driven and customer-first.

As has been stressed, a change in marketing is more than just a change in technology. A successful move to a unified customer experience takes strong cultural realignments. Here, we offer recommendations for providing more customer-centred marketing, regardless of current data-driven marketing maturity: 



This field borrows heavily from the agile software development framework, which was popularized by the 2001 Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Agile software development emphasizes collaboration between cross-functional teams and continuous product improvement and iteration. This is to be contrasted with traditional, so-called waterfall software development, where software is built and delivered in discrete stages of the lifecycle with little iteration. 

While agile can be used in any implementation or project, adopting a CDP is especially suited to the practice. As mentioned previously, it’s best to operate cross-functionally across IT, marketing and analytics to deliver a unified customer experience. And while a CDP is designed to integrate any type of customer data, agile practices suggest starting small and iterating. It’s constantly iterative. 

The key here is not to try to boil the ocean. Even if you start with only a few data sources, there’s still a lot of value in your CDP. You can then add data sources as you grow and evolve the program. You might think of it as a “crawl-walk-run” approach. You can use agile methods to iterate and constantly improve on delivering a unified customer experience through your processes and tools.



Customer-first marketing must necessarily be data-driven marketing. Individuals across the organization must be comfortable collecting, analysing and reporting on data to drive customer experiences. But many may be wary of these tasks: a 2020 report from consultancy Accenture and software company Qlik found that only 21% of employees report feeling confident in their data literacy skills. Establishing formalized analytics training programs and communities of practice for all roles and levels serves to promote and institutionalize data literacy in an organization. With this shared knowledge basis, cross-functional teams are better able to use data together to deliver superior customer experiences. This article in McKinsey Quarterly illustrates examples of organizations who have benefited from establishing an “analytics academy” to help educate and prepare individuals across the workforce for AI-infused marketing analytics and personalization.



As organizations advance their data-driven marketing maturity, they tend to move from monolithic, single-channel campaigns to micro-targeted, omnichannel ones. In the same spirit of agile development, leaders must be comfortable with releasing minimally viable marketing offerings into production and iterating over time given resources and needs. At the same time, a faster learning rate means a faster failure rate, so culturally the organization should be comfortable with these advantages and disadvantages of business experimentation. 



When it comes to marketing campaigns, experimentation can only work with rapid and frequent feedback from customers. This feedback can be both quantitative and qualitative, in the form of customer satisfaction, product surveys, and more. User testing tools can also validate and gather early data on new features. Regardless of the instruments used, customer-first organizations must make it easy for customers to get in touch. This means making it easy to find resources such as a contact page, frequently asked questions or a telephone number to call. Many organizations have begun to use chat or chatbot features to lower the barrier and cost of providing quick customer communication touchpoints.



As in the use of chatbots, being customer-centric doesn’t necessarily mean providing human interaction at every touchpoint. Artificial intelligence can be used as a frictionless medium to handle common customer service procedures or gather information about a case before passing it to a human representative. Customer experience consultancy Servion predicts that by 2025, three quarters of customer service interactions will be driven by AI-powered tools like chatbots and voice command. 



When an organization adopts a CDP, its marketing metrics should emphasize long-term retention over one-time conversions. This approach can be followed by any organization looking to put the customer experience first. It’s well known that retaining a customer is less expensive and more beneficial than landing a new one. Consider how you can align your marketing strategies and metrics around that truism. 

Creating a strong customer experience is critical for strengthening an organization’s bottom line. And this requires a customer-centric, data-driven approach. For the complete guide to adopting a CDP and centering your organization on a foundation of data, download the e-book, “A Chief Marketing Officer’s Guide to CDPs.”