All too often, it is a fragmented marketing stack that prevents companies from engaging their connected customer in the moment of need. Part of the problem is that each point solution in the marketing stack has its own data model and stores data in slightly different formats. Because of these differences in data modeling and structuring across the stack, point solutions such as CRMs and social media can’t easily share information. Moreover, each point solution collects data at a different pace – social media tools traffic in streaming data, while CRMs tend to be updated in batches, further compounding the fragmented marketing stack problem.
What brands need is a solution that can collect all types and cadences of data and unify it into a central location. This desire is what led to the development of customer data platforms (CDPs). CDPs are designed to unify batch and streaming customer data into a centralized portal that provides an always-on, always processing unified customer profile available at low latency throughout the enterprise. While the concept behind a CDP is not new, the power that the tool offers can be transformative.
Why You Need a Customer Data Platform
Building a unified customer profile has long been a goal of practically every brand. This objective has taken on new importance in the age of the connected customer, where brands must respond to consumer interactions in the moment of need. Database technologies like data warehouses or data marts have attempted this for decades, but these systems only accept structured data on a pre-defined cadence, and are ill-suited for capturing the social media interactions and other unstructured information that has started to proliferate.
Although Hadoop data lakes conquer the problem of storing unstructured data, they also fall short of providing the capability necessary for marketing to the connected customer. Data lakes are good as storage for all forms and cadences of data, but they do not provide insight into customer behavior or preferences – marketers still need to export data and model it to determine that information.
A customer data platform accomplishes all of this. CDPs ingest data from all sources, at all cadences, with any structure or lack thereof, and unify it into a single view of the customer. This single customer view is essential, providing insight into consumer interactions with the brand, each customer’s preferred engagement touchpoint, and other information that enables marketers and other business users to build relationships and provide contextually relevant messaging.
Customer Data Platforms and the Marketing Stack
Customer data platforms are a foundational component of reaching the omnichannel consumer. Because they accept data from all sources and unify it into a centralized profile for each customer, CDPs function best as a base layer for other marketing technologies. The flexibility of a CDP in accepting different data types means marketers gain a centralized point of access to customer data, which speeds up the creation of new models and enables brands to engage the connected consumer more efficiently.
With a customer data platform, customer engagement professionals can see consumer preferences and behaviors at a glance without needing to access multiple tools or request data from central IT. The IT team would still directly manage the data itself, but the use of a CDP means that end users have greater access to data when they most need it. This access to customer data and the ability to craft data models on demand based on the most up-to-date information is vital for engaging the connected customer.
Customer data platforms are a foundational component of the modern marketing technology architecture. They provide an always-on, always processing unified customer profile full of behavior, preference, and interaction data that empowers marketers and other lines of business users with the ability to meet the connected consumer in the right channel at the right time with the right message. Brands that accomplish this effectively will enjoy the fruits of their labor in higher revenue and improved customer retention, as well as the ability to be responsive as new channels arise.