While customer data platforms (CDPs) continue to gain popularity across many industries, companies still have uncertainty about what a CDP implementation can and can’t do. It’s important to understand that a CDP is far more than just a database. It offers an unmatched ability to build and activate customer profiles across multiple channels so you can enrich every part of the customer journey, at each interaction with your brand.

To begin, let’s review how a customer data platform should be used:

A CDP Should Be Used As:

  • A single platform that centralizes data from your MarTech stack
  • A tool to track customer behavior, transactions, demographics and personal identifiers to build a complete customer profile
  • A two-way data aggregator – it can ingest data from systems and send data to systems
  • The main decision maker in a MarTech stack – it’s the central hub of applying intelligent activation to all data
  • A tool for helping marketing platforms identify data-loss through data deduplication

A CDP Should Not Be Used As:

  • A storage place for all your data—that is the role of a data lake or data warehouse
  • A replacement for marketing automation or CRM platforms
  • A set-and-forget platform
  • An ETL tool (extract, transform, load)

Once a CDP is implemented, the best way to get started is by mapping out the crawl, walk, and run phases that are derived from a specific marketing goal in order to reach a certain customer base or audience.

Segment Users Into Audiences In The Crawl Phase

The crawl phase occurs as the first step in your Customer Data Platform implementation strategy. In this phase, we develop use cases that will segment the various users into audiences based on their behavior. For example, in building a cart-abandoner audience, we start by collecting data that matches the criteria specified for cart abandoners. It is important to note what is considered a cart abandoner can vary from business-to-business. One business can decide to only keep cart abandoners for a specified amount of time after their last visit while another business may decide to keep cart abandoners in the list until they make a purchase.

Decide How To Activate On Audiences In The Walk Phase

The walk phase is where we decide how to activate upon the audiences we built, such as the cart abandoners in the above example. The cart abandoner data gathered in the Crawl Phase will now allow us to build campaigns to target these customers and encourage purchase completion. In order for platforms such as Facebook, Google Ads, Email and more, to activate on the information, we will need to create connectors from the CDP to each of the applicable platforms that will capture the cart abandoner’s attention. Each platform should consist of at least 2 connectors, one for adding them to the audience and one for removing them from the audience. This is crucial in ensuring parity between the CDP and downstream activation platforms. We will need to remove those who made a purchase or have been in the abandon cart audience for too long (i.e. audience suppression). We don’t want to continue to advertise to them if they achieved the desired action or likely won’t take action. This allows us to stay relevant to those we are targeting and ensure the content for those that abandoned their cart is relevant based on what is in their cart.

A/B Test In The Run Phase

The run phase is the final step of Customer Data Platform implementation where more advanced customization can be introduced. In the cart-abandoner scenario, we may now introduce personalization and/or A/B testing. This allows us to build content that’s dynamic and related directly to the particular customer, their behavior, and their interests. A/B testing will allow us to display two different messages with an enticing offer based on historical data from the CDP, such as when they previously took action on past coupon redemptions. We can learn which offer is most appealing based on the engagement and then offer it to other cart abandoners. We can also utilize contextual data relevant to their visitor history, such as products viewed and/or new products added to their cart and encourage them to make a purchase based on their latest interest.

Launch Your Campaign and Measure It’s Performance

Customer Data Platform Implementations allow you to monitor campaigns in near real-time so you can act quickly, taking learnings from the results and apply them to the campaign. Once the implementation has been completed, the job is not over, it is just the beginning. The next step is to evaluate the data you now have on your customers and continue to develop new use cases to align with their behavior. This will allow you to make tweaks to achieve the marketing goal or you can adjust expectations.

Customer Data Platform Implementation Is A Very Powerful Strategy

This example illustrates how powerful a CDP can be. It’s important to note, it is not a tool that should be used to pull in every piece of data, but rather ingest only necessary data needed to utilize marketing technology to fulfill campaign goals. Start with identifying what your campaign goal is, outline the data you need to inform that goal, and manipulate the data coming in so you can have realistic expectations of customer behavior to achieve your goals and ultimately a successful campaign.