The Search for Customer 360

With as much data marketers have been collecting, getting to Customer 360 continues to be a challenge. But the promise of what the data can provide for analytics and designing the customer experience (CX), is much too tantalizing to let slip by.

Fortunately enterprises and their partner agencies are already collecting much of the data needed. Unfortunately the data is oftentimes siloed in separate systems and across organizations and departments; which means the data cannot be gathered in a timely, let alone real-time, manner to inform the larger marketing strategy.

Incredibly business are still in the early stages of customer data analytics. According to a recent Forbes survey, it still takes marketing departments at least a week to collect and analyze data about marketing campaigns. Far too long for digital campaigns to adequately adjust to consumer’s experience.

Part of the issue is the lack of tool and solutions in place to accelerate CX development. More than half of the marketing executives polled reported having a variety of tools and technologies tracking data, but it with little coordination between said tools and business lines. Only 20% of executives felt they had a robust set of tools and technology to support customer data-driven campaigns and decisions.

Out from this clear gap in the market, a new generation of system is emerging in the form of the customer data platform, or CDP. Designed to bring all customer data into a single environment to provide a well integrated view of the customer. About 80% of the marketing executives polled in the Forbes survey indicated they were actively using or developing a customer data platform. Data is just too valuable of an asset in an enterprise to allow remaining siloed.

Understanding This New Type Of Platform

Customer data platforms might sound similar to the traditional CRM systems, but whereas CRMs were designed to manage and analyze a single customer channel, the CDP bring data across multiple channels into a single platform. A CDP elevates the analysis and intelligence to a whole new level, attaching customer data directly to marketing and sales activities.

They also provide marketing teams with a unified, self-service access to customer data in real-time. No longer waiting for data to be pulled and reviewed, marketing departments can access and take action much faster. CDPs also open the door to greater personalization and better customer service delivery, by bringing together all of the interactions from sources like call centers, connected devices, product usage, sales data, mobile apps, lifecycle trends, websites, social media and email.

As marketing technology consultant Fred Maurer recently put it: a CDP “can help forward-thinking marketers organize their data, enhance their audience segmentation and campaign planning, increase content engagement, streamline cross-channel marketing orchestration, and optimize analytics efforts. Strategy and cohesive technology solutions are vital to long-term success. With the right strategy and CDP solution, marketers can transform omnichannel complexity and uncertainty into competitive advantages and measurable results.”

Where Customer Data Platforms Make A Difference

Customers are more demanding than ever before; expecting companies to communicate with the preferred methods. CDPs hold the promise for enterprises seeking to meet those high-quality engagements with customers; among other enhancements for marketing teams. A few of the benefits include:

  • Improved competitiveness. A clear majority of executives polled in the Forbes survey, 93%, expect deploying analysis of customer data in campaigns will create a noticeable impact on their ability to meet competitive and disruptive challenges.
  • Customer loyalty. If companies can better anticipate and understand customer needs, the more likely those customers will become repeat customers.
  • Better relationships with vendors. With better information, enterprises’ ecosystems will be able to perform better than ever. Vendors and partners will be able to provide better quality and more targeted interaction for the enterprise, helping reduce strain and inefficiency for marketing departments.
  • Opportunities for measurement. There’s a well-known saying in business, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” Because CDPs bring everything into one place, marketing departments will be able to measure more than ever before, and more accurately than was ever possible.

Where Customer Data Platforms Will Take Business In The Future

Customer data platforms will be foundational for any successful, digital savvy marketing organization, with not only a total 360-degree understanding of their customer relations, but essential for active engagement with customers across channels of their choice.

Not all CDP’s are the same, so it’s important to understand your current data sources and look forward to anticipate future data sources, in order to evaluate the options. They need to be able to scale, provide security, and ingest increasing varieties of data, including edge data which is becoming a larger component of data sets. Whereas marketing departments only collected data from customer actions, increasingly intelligence collected from sensors is enabling enterprises to piece together customer intent from connected devices. Companies will need processing power more than ever before to manage the unprecedented scale of incoming data, to find and act on relevant customer journeys.