CDPs, DMPs, Platforms… I think there’s one thing for sure in life at the moment, the world of ‘markitechture’ can be a complex place to navigate through! We only need to see the latest edition of the Marketing Technology LUMAscape 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 though your mind:
- I’ve heard the buzz. I need to understand what a CDP is, whether I need one, and likely use cases.
- I believe my business needs a CDP and I know possible use cases. But how should I approach solution selection, and ensure I’ve got a plan to drive value from it?
- I have a CDP, but would like to know how to optimise it (or even replace it), expand use cases on it and ultimately draw more value from the investment. My team needs additional skills and needs to learn more best practises to drive CDP performance.
- My CDP is great, but there are certain areas where I think the functionality needs a little enhancement, and i’m not sure the integration between the CDP and my existing martech ecosystems is really working the best way it could be.
It can be difficult to know where to begin. And when you consider that your existing martech ecosystem, business goals and team skill sets all impact the best martech investment choices for your business uniquely – it’s clear to see why many marketers seek the advice of expert professional services partners to expedite the speed to value of your investment.
CDP or DMP?
To clarify a common, initial platform question – how do CDPs differ from DMPs?
- At a top level, a CDP, or customer data platform, helps to collect, and unify, an organisation’s 1st 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 direct and digital advertising and other 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 here between the two – and there are 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, 1st 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. They:
- Enable marketers to manage customer views, and create universal consumer views, by resolving identity across channels.
- Connect with other marketing applications and technologies to collect and integrate data across offline and digital systems.
- 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 in the moment decisions to be made so that your customers are getting the best services from you at every touch point with your brand.
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 1st 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 for the features they have.
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 requirement – hold fire – it’s important to run through a few evaluation considerations first, to identify if a CDP is a potential fit for your organisation.
When considering a vendor, experience, flexibility, scalability and scope of integration in the enterprise 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 buzz? 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 inhouse skill sets. Do you have the right internal skill sets to integrate, optimise and drive value from any new martech investment? Are you organised in the right way?
- Consider your existing marketing technology. What does your current martech ecosystem look like – and can it integrate seamlessly with your choice of CDP? Should you be looking to integrate or replacing? Now might be the time to upgrade or switch off any legacy tech you have hanging around.
- Can your CDP choice provide a complete, high-quality single customer view? Does the CDP meet capabilities such as data quality and standardisation, identity resolution and identity management? Or will you need other additional technologies to achieve results? I think this is key, 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 source systems you need? Does it adhere to data governance rules and privacy-compliant processes to ensure personal data is used correctly? For example; do you have requirement to comply with strict regulations such as FCRA, HIPAA, PCI, CCPA or GDPR, 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?
- Do you have a data strategy in place? A considered data strategy is crucial to support optimal use and implementation of your CDP, and will ensure you drive true value (at it’s 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, many CDPs are stronger in certain areas than others – so make sure you take a good look at the strengths of each platform and choose one that maps to your key business requirements.
Again, because of 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 requirement – and identify a roadmap for improvement and value return.
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 (with the CDP Institute tracking c.100 CDPs alone) – and so is uniquely able to inform, advise, and make 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 given CDPs.
- 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.