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  • Writer's pictureGenevieve Braine

Brands have access to heaps of data, yet it’s incredibly siloed – is a CDP the answer?

by Genevieve Braine, Client Partner at TPA Digital

Customer data has always been important to brands, it’s how they identify their customers and the ways they interact with their brand. Brands can mine powerful insights from this data such as understanding purchase behaviour, site interactions, demographics etc, to create clear customer profiles. Customer data is as important as it’s always been, but unifying the view of the customer has become more important, as consumers interact with more touchpoints (and internal databases!) than ever before. When you couple this with the deprecation of the cookie, 1st party data needs to be maximised further, to find different ways to address the customer whilst collaborating with media partners and ID solutions in new ways.

The tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, Google etc, haven’t become successful by mistake, they are using their customer data to improve decision making across every single element of their business with scale, agility, and speed. Ensuring that customer data is at the heart of everything they do from targeting, to feedback on the customer journey, to using their account as a way to login to other brands. What these tech giants have that many other brands don’t is that they ‘grew up’ in the world of data meaning that their tech and platforms were built with data unity in mind, compared to older brands which are often running siloed legacy pieces of tech across the business.

Brands need to improve how they are using their customer data, only 23% of companies have a ‘very effective’ working relationship between their CIO and CMO, suggesting that there is a disconnect between the marketing and data teams. These are some of the teams that should be working closely in today’s world to improve areas such as mining data, insights, and improving the customer experience. Considering these C-suite directors will likely have objectives that are related, with MarTech and a single customer view expected to encompass both of their objectives in different capacities, it’s concerning there is such a disconnect between the two. Achieving data unity will have endless benefits; being able to efficiently understand customers purchase behaviour and lifetime values which will filter into targeting and modelling capabilities for marketing.

Customer Data Platforms (CDP) have evolved to help unify data from a wide range of sources to provide a unified view of the customer across devices and platforms, making the data available to the other systems. CDPs are being widely considered by many brands, so before you embark on the journey to onboard one, what do you need to identify and understand first?

Do you understand the business objectives and how a CDP might align with these?

Firstly, it’s important to understand the businesses objectives and KPIs in order to build the use cases to identify which CDP is best. For example, is it to reduce the amount of team time spent creating new audience segments to pass data, or to be more robust with your marketing consent across channels? Each platform is slightly different in its strengths and weaknesses, so understanding what your business needs and use cases are, will help identify the CDP that is best for you. Alongside those use cases, it’s worth defining what success will look like so you can understand if the onboarding and product has been successful or not.

Is your business ready to embrace a data-centric culture?

CDPs are more than for the marketing team and CRM systems, they require the whole business to shift to a data-centric culture. Being able to leverage data to gain insights, measure performance and make decisions, embedding data into every aspect of the business is important. This includes and isn’t limited to; IT, Legal, Website, Marketing and CRM teams to identify the areas that need to be adapted and how data can feed into the CDP . All areas of the business would need to understand the impact of bringing a CDP to the business and what it means to them.

Do you know what skills are needed for a CDP and what is available in the market?

Leading on from the point above around people and the skills needed to run a CDP. A CDP is powerful, but it is nothing without the teams needed to power and use them. If the skills are difficult to recruit for, understanding what level of service a CDP vendor can provide you will be good to identify up-front as some may only provide self-serve models.

Do you know all the data that your business has?

You need to understand as a business, fundamentally, what data you hold and what systems hold which pieces of information. Where is the first-party data stored? Is third-party data mixed in with this? What is the workflow of the data between systems? Being able to understand and answer all these questions will help identify what you need from a CDP and how it can support the data and workflows you have as a business.

Are you aware of all the platforms/teams that need to integrate with a CDP?

Once you have understood the use cases and the teams it will work with, you need to understand which systems will integrate through the CDP. This allows you to normalise and control data across the many platforms and make it available for insights, media, personalisation etc. Bear in mind this doesn’t always need to be to target customers, given the consent and compliance of data needed in the EU with GDPR, this will also provide a unified suppression list of customers that have opted-out across several platforms.

Does the business have the budget for a CDP?

CDPs are a considerable investment in cost and time. Making sure you have fully understood the scope of the project, the teams that need to be involved and how it will impact the business will pay dividends in the long run.

Although there is lots of change and growth in this area, brands who take the time to join up and understand their customer data will reap the rewards in the future, through more loyal and profitable customers. Being more efficient with targeting as you can identify customers correctly is just one of the small but massive wins.

Like any transformation, the transition is a never-ending process of experimentation, discovery, and continual learning. Businesses must find a balance between imposing change and driving change, accepting that results are not instant. Bringing the people along on such a change is always vital to a successful implementation, so embedding experienced change managers to lead the way is key.

We work with many of our clients running processes to truly identify their use cases and requirements to make sure they select the solution that is best suited to their business and technology stack.

If you’re unsure about CDPs still, there is always support available to move into this new era of identity in digital advertising. Contact us.

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