written by
Yves Delongie

What to expect from a Customer Data Platform?

Customer Data Platform 3 min read

Successful companies understand their business is all about [offering value to] their customers. And the more and better they understand their customers, the better their businesses thrive! With a deeper understanding of their customers through a customer data platform, they are able to create hyper-personalized marketing campaigns and to interact with their customers at the most crucial moments in the customer journey. If not having these insights, they are pretty much left to depending on general customer processes, often merely based on rough assumptions and guesswork.

Why a Customer Data Platform? Won’t a CRM simply do?

Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) —unlike typical CRMs— do much more than just holding customer data or adding “action” events to represent a customer journey. They combine data from multiple sources to create a unified 360-degrees holistic view of your customers. These customer properties, enriched with typical contextual and behavioural elements, can then be used in a nearly endless number of ways to reach customers in more meaningful ways and on more meaningful moments.

Companies with multiple digital assets —typically a blog, a website, a web- and mobile app— know that unifying such data across these assets can be a struggle. Easily and automatically unifying that data is just one reason a company might use a CDP. (Or de-unifying user data if a user starts using a device, previously used by another user!)

Customer Data Platforms aren’t only for the marketing team; they can help every department that uses customer data. Your sales team, engineering team, product management department, financial operations, and others will also benefit from your CDP for four reasons:

  • One single source of (data) truth: Different tools can alter data in their own way. Re-syncing customer data through a CDP helps keeping data consistent across all systems.
  • Better data flow organisation: Since knowing which data is generated in which sequence of the flow, you know when to expect which data to be collected and when passing it through to your ecosystem.
  • Better insights: When your customer data is organised, it’s more usable. More usable data is the foundation for better insightful analytics.
  • Better privacy compliance: With organised data, it’s easier to report on the data you hold from your customers, and delete it in all your systems if asked for.

How Customer Data Platforms work

Collection and unification

The first step in setting up a Customer Data Platform is to collect data from web- and mobile sources. For website and apps, it is as easy as inserting a tracking snippet or calling front-end javascript functions that will trigger events (with data) to be send to the CDP. Another way of sending events and data is through back-end API end-point calls. Wrapped into appropriate SDKs, this is also the way a CDP collects data from mobile or desktop apps.

Both ways require a common knowledge on how to identify customers, which can be an internal ID or an email.

Once collecting identified customer data from different source, the CDP will automatically record any event and data into a customer journey —a timeline— so it can be reproduced at any later time. This includes combining data from different sources, different devices, different browsers and even different offline triggers. (E.g. someone buys physically at the store, leaving his/her email address).

Enrichment

Now you’ve assembled customer journeys and data —also called properties— you can now start analysing how the customer behaves in regards to the all other previous customers. Is he triggering the same events someone previously did, ending up signing up? Who is that other person who traversed a most similar journey? What public datasets have Twitter and LinkedIn to share about that person? Can we predict which properties will hold which values based on the customer journey?

These questions will eventually result in filling in contextual and behavioural additional data/properties.

Sharing

The properties a CDP now holds about a customer can now be shared across an ecosystem of apps, typically owned by marketing, sales, customer success, finance and other customer-centric departments. They will use that data to adopt better customer processes resulting in more sales, less churn, thus better retention, but also even better communication between the departments themselves. E.g. Think about the fact that a customer won’t pay his/her invoices, resulting in sales/CS calls asking the customer to pay before getting any further support!

The best way to start trying what a CDP can mean to your organisation, is to sign up for a free trial through below link.