In 2016, consumer data platforms (CDPs) appeared on the Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising in the “innovation trigger” section. Two years later, CDPs have sailed to the “peak of inflated expectations” as marketers regularly evaluate and implement CDP solutions.
CDPs help marketers address stringent customer expectations in an always-changing world. According to a Forbes Insights survey of marketers about customer data strategies, 65% of respondents noted their customer bases were changing “in terms of their expectations and the ways in which they engage with us [the marketers].” To address these expectations, 57% of surveyed marketers were seeking “better-quality and more-targeted interactions” from the customer data initiatives. CDPs are sometimes, but not always, the answer.
The World Has Changed, and So Has Marketing
With the rise of ecommerce and social media, customer journeys and how marketers create engagement and intent has evolved. Earned media allows for almost infinite impressions at no or low cost. Meanwhile, the buyer journey has moved online and now rarely goes in a straight line. Each touchpoint of every consumer’s path delivers data to marketers.
Always innovating, marketers have invented even more ways of collecting data. According to a Forbes survey on customer data strategies, 73% of respondents receive data automatically from product usage, 68% have added gamification elements to encourage data sharing and 51% are exchanging free products or services for consumer data.
But Consumer Profiles Are Always Changing
But when it comes to virtual life, consumers are more connected than ever. By 2020, it’s projected that each person in the world will own an average of 6.6 devices creating data with every keystroke. But only one-third of marketers believe they have a single view of aggregated customer data, while slightly more than half believe their data is too “scattered or siloed” to maximize its use.
Many Marketers Seeking Actionable Data Are Turning to CDPs
Consumer data platforms (CDPs) unify consumer data across martech systems and marketing channels to help marketers resolve identities, analyze and segment audiences and create powerful, one-to-one engagements. Sometimes considered an evolved data warehouse, CDPs are marketer managed and make the customer database accessible to all other marketing systems, allowing marketing and sales initiatives to be driven by data.
Though CDPs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, in general CDPs have the following capabilities:
- Data Integration: Connecting and unifying disparate data sets.
- Identity Resolution: Mapping disparate consumer data into a single user file.
- Online Event Tracking: Connecting web activity, campaign engagement, IoT interaction, app usage and every other event with individual consumer profiles.
- Data Stitching and Aggregation: Processing and aggregation of raw data to make it actionable.
- Reporting and Analytics: Including overview and drill-down data.
- Real-Time, Secure Access: Data is continuously freshened and available for marketer use in real time.
CDPs can typically ingest and unify first-party transactional and order data, behavioral web and mobile data, profile data, product data, CRM data, call center data, product usage data, sales data, social media engagement data, marketing campaign data and more. Marketers with CDPs in place often benefit from increased consumer visibility, faster decision making, improved customer loyalty and increased opportunities for campaign measurement.
With Hype Comes Confusion
CDPs are specifically designed and implemented for marketing use. A long list of related technologies, including those listed below, may have features that intersect with CDPs. These overlaps can lead to confusion regarding the need, value, use and ownership of CDPs.
- CRM: Customer relationship management systems, or CRMs, are designed to support sales and service teams with customer and prospective customer engagement. CRMs store historical and general customer data, but they are not generally designed to digest significant volumes of data.
- DMP: Data management platforms, or DMPs, collect anonymous web data, like cookies and serve targeted ads using this data.
- Data Warehouse: Usually implemented by IT, data warehouses store immense quantities of data, but the accessibility and actionability is rarely what it needs to be for marketing use.
- LMS: Lead management systems, or LMSs, help marketers manage lead generation campaigns. Features can include vendor and source management, lead hygiene, lead capture and delivery, data housing and more.
Marketing Technology Needs to Be Aligned with Marketing Objectives
Martech trends come and go. From blockchain to attribution to CDPs, the key to successfully implementing a marketing technology stack is understanding your unique marketing needs and team capabilities. Not every brand should implement a wearables strategy. Artificial intelligence is too advanced for some marketers. Many brands will not achieve identity resolution this year. And that’s okay.
Marketing requires evolution, and every brand’s path is different. Like all marketing technology, CDPs must be evaluated for their usefulness before being adopted.
Get Your Free MarTech Stack Audit Today
It’s not easy to evaluate the ever-changing martech market and know what’s right for your brand. Let the team at Digital Media Solutions (DMS) help. We know people only triumph when they have absolute confidence in their foundational technology, and we can help ensure you know what technology works best for your marketing needs. Contact DMS today to request your free martech stack audit.
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