In the current era of information and technology, data is a major part of the economy. As such, companies and brands are continually looking for new and better ways to utilize the data that is available to them. However, going about tracking consumer data isn’t always easy. Organizations typically rely on a whole suite of technologies working together in order to track the various consumer data points that are most important. The issue here is that the data can often be split, isolated, or siloed. Therefore, no-one in marketing, advertising, or sales has a comprehensive view of the consumer. Even worse, because everyone is working with a fragmented view of the consumer, the consumer experience delivered can feel clunky and disjointed.
A customer data platform, or CDP, is a solution that many companies are looking to replace older data-tracking methods like 3rd party cookies. This is part of a larger trend to embrace something known as a first-party data approach. No matter which CDP you or your organization is looking to implement, there are a few key components that every CDP should include.
Unified Customer ID
The unified customer ID is likely the most popular and widely discussed aspect of a CDP. The purpose of a CDP is to consolidate consumer-profiles in order to present a single, but comprehensive, view of consumers. This is extremely important because in most modern organizations the technology stack is built in such a way that consumer data lives in and comes from a variety of different places. This is an immediate challenge for any data team, marketing team, or advertising and sales team that relies on consumer data in their day-to-day operations.
Data can come from a third party source like a cookie, or a Pixel, it can come from a first-party source, which is data collected directly by the company, or it could come from what’s known as a zero party source, or in other words data that is provided by the consumer directly and proactively. Weaving these different data pools together is where CDPs have gained a lot of traction in the way modern organizations centralize and view their data.
An important aspect to note about the unified customer ID is that a sophisticated CDP should be able to deduplicate any data that’s being condensed. This is vital because without it, there would be multiple consumer profiles created all for the same individual.
The unified customer ID is one of the main reasons that many organizations are investing in CDPs.
Customer Segmentation and Audience Building
A major part of the marketing strategies popular today is creating unique, personalized and individualized communications with a consumer. The way in which this is accomplished is through a combination of customer segmentation, audience building, and the comprehensive consumer profiles available through a CDP.
Once the CDP has produced a list of unified customer IDs, these comprehensive data-profiles can be used to build unique customer segments and audiences. This is vital in creating messaging that is effective and impactful with the intended audience. Organizations can get extremely granular with this and construct a target audience of a single-person. This is the goal for a lot of companies that are looking to provide an extremely individualized consumer experience.
Analysis and Recommendations
Many CDPs differ in what they offer and what area of service they emphasize most. However, most come with some capabilities in both analysis and recommendation post audience-build.
In other words, after the consumer profiles are analyzed and audiences are built, CDPs can provide recommendations on follow-up actions, next-best campaign-offers, and other data driven based recommendations to continue engaging with a consumer.
Activation may or may not be a big part of the CDP. This depends on the service provider you choose, as the variance in activation is likely the largest between CDP services. Many CDPs focus more on the audience segmentation and analysis than they do triggering any follow up actions.
In this case, it’s important to pair CDP technology with other technology that can handle the responsibility of assigning and completing follow-up actions based on the analysis from the CDP. All-in-all, though, many organizations are continuing to turn toward CDP as a solution for unifying their data between various platforms and to build comprehensive consumer profiles.
Consumer data is extremely valuable, and it can be extremely powerful. However, utilizing consumer data to its fullest potential takes proper data analysis, compiling, and reporting. When building a technology stack, incorporating a CDP into the stack is essential in developing a full and complete picture of the individuals that make up your consumer base.
Understanding the customer is one of the main principles in best-practice marketing today. By gaining insight into the consumer and their buying habits, and understanding what drives them, organizations can better connect with their audience on a personal level.