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Customer Data Platform: Leveling the Playing Field to Better Connect with Consumers

By Amit Jain, CEO and Founder, Bridg

Amit Jain, CEO and Founder, Bridg

Depending on how you look at it, the job of a marketer has gotten much easier, or much more difficult with the advent of technology, and the mining and organizational tools that come with it. On one hand, we’ve never had such vast amounts of data available to us. On the other, we struggle to access it, digest it and make it work to our advantage.

In fact, 91 percent of marketers say data collection is a top priority, but a dismal 13 percent say their data collection abilities are “excellent” according to the DemandGen 2017 Marketing Measurement and Attribution Survey. If we can’t even access it, let alone use it, we have a big problem.

Behemoths like Amazon were born online and have the staff and budget to make digital marketing work for them. However, much smaller brick and mortar businesses – many retailers and restaurants like those we work with at Bridg – are challenged to uncover powerful data that is imperative to generating meaningful, personalized and timely engagement with customers.

A critical factor in the ability of a company to deliver a personalized experience is the effectiveness with which it manages customer data. While today’s technology driven lifestyles leave marketers awash with data, there are substantial barriers to turning that data into actionable knowledge about customers. 

Precious information is fragmented across multiple databases, driven by systems that don’t play well together. More often than not, marketing tool kits are a cobbled together patchwork of applications owned by other departments within the organization and outside entities.

As consumers become increasingly connected across multiple devices and platforms, savvy marketers have more opportunities than ever to engage customers. But along with those opportunities come challenges. Customers today expect consistent engagement and an excellent experience throughout the entire customer journey. With customer experience projected to overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator by 2020, according to a recent Frost & Sullivan study, brands that get their engagement formula right will continue to gain momentum and prosper at the expense of their less well-equipped peers. 

Enter the Customer Data Platform (CDP), a marketing system laser focused on developing a unified customer view and maximizing the value that marketers get from their investment in data and technology. Unlike adjacent, similar-appearing solutions, CDPs are distinguished by their exclusive alignment with the needs of the marketing department. CDPs are owned and managed by marketing and built from the ground up to support campaigns that not only meet the expectations of today’s digital consumer, but impact the bottom line.

The pre-CDP landscape is populated with siloed, fragmented solutions. One tool can be used to manage email marketing campaigns, and another to manage social media, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to manage contacts and customer history, customer account data and purchasing histories owned outside the marketing department, third-party databases and targeted ad brokers.

Not only are these distinct point solutions clearly disconnected in terms of ownership and function, there is no interoperability among the solutions and no direct way to unify the data. There is no inherent function to take information gleaned from a customer’s responsiveness to an email campaign and directly tie that to their stored purchasing history in a transparent, nimble, actionable way.CDPs attack these deficiencies head-on, by sitting on top of disparate data sources and taking the time and pain out of cleansing customer data and preparing it for use.

CDPs operate and help marketers do their jobs in three specific ways:

1. Data Collection: At the heart of any CDP is the ability to ingest first-party data from multiple sources. The data collection process must be real-time, or as near to real-time as practical. A CDP must have the ability to parse through and collect identifiers such as email addresses and device IDs.

2. Profile Unification: A CDP must have the ability to recognize individual customers as they interact across multiple channels and consolidate data gathered into a single profile for that customer.

3. Segmentation: A CDP must have features that assist with developing target customer segments. Beyond these core data-centric capabilities, CDPs offer a wide variety of features to add value to data. Many CDPs have capabilities that extend to campaign management and campaign analytics, including return-on-investment analysis. A CDP can also give you the information you need to optimize your campaign, delivering the right message to the right person at the right time.

Further, CDPs can be immensely helpful to optimize the effort to bring customers back through the door, whether that means enticing a new customer to make a second visit, encouraging a loyal customer to make the trip, or pulling a lapsed customer back from the abyss.

Put CDPs to work for you with:

• Loyalty programs: Increasing personalization of loyalty program communications magnifies their already potent impact. CDPs can increase the effectiveness of the program for existing members while at the same time helping to grow the program through timely, targeted outreach that improves opt-in rates.

• Online and mobile sales:Implementing an online and mobile strategy can be a challenging endeavor that requires new campaign strategies and new approaches to engagement. A CDP can help ease the expansion into new spaces, enabling you to leverage your existing profile data and bring in new data sources as well.

• Coupons and discount codes:These are great for stimulating sales and building customer satisfaction, but they can also chip away at your bottom line. A CDP can help you optimize your coupon strategy to make sure you are delivering the right coupon at the right time to maximize sales without leaving money on the table.

CDPs can be a great equalizer for smaller and middle market retail and restaurant groups trying to compete with the large multi-national digital native behemoths. With the technology mining and organization capabilities CDPs present, no longer will marketers be at a disadvantage clamoring to connect with consumers in the same way large digital players like Amazon do.

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