The need to separate hype from reality was highlighted by Missouri U.S. Congressman Willard Vandiver in 1899 when he said “…Frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.”
This is still true today, particularly for enterprises actively exploring customer data platforms (CDPs) to center their martech stack and deliver a differentiated customer experience. According to the latest semi-annual report from the Customer Data Platform Institute, enterprises have a wide variety of options to consider when they’re ready to begin a rigorous selection process. Through the first half of 2019, the industry added 19 new vendors and was on pace to eclipse $1 billion in revenue through the calendar year. A range of choices in the market is complicated by findings that fragmentation is rising due in large part to next-generation CDPs being increasingly specialized by industry, region, technology, or client size.
What Will a CDP Do for You?
What this means for the active CDP buyer is a need to identify business value before selecting a solution that will best drive that value. Buyers can rank CDPs based on their ability to drive key use cases and corresponding metrics such as revenue growth, cost reduction, or customer acquisition, as well as functionality pertaining to analytics, engagement, offline capabilities, and other capabilities.
Gartner broadly defines a CDP as a marketing system “that unifies a company’s customer data from marketing and other channels to enable customer modeling, and optimize the timing and targeting of messages and offers.”
The CDP Institute bestows a “RealCDP” distinction on 44 CDP vendors, Redpoint included, that meet five qualifications:
- Ingests data from all sources
- Retains full detail of all ingested data
- Stores the ingested data as long as the user wants
- Converts the data into unified customer profiles
- Makes the profiles available to all external systems
For marketers who want to create differentiated customer experiences and innovative journeys, the most important criteria are whether the selected CDP will support their particular use cases. If all an organization wants to do is a traditional list-based, outbound campaign using basic transactional data, then real-time functionality may not be a priority. Conversely, a requirement for a millisecond response time across all channels that is based on a real-time, underlying customer record will weed out a host of CDP vendors that do not check the “real-time interaction” box. Fortunately, the CDP Institute publishes a CDP vendor comparison for easy reference. The comparison guide breaks down CDP features and functionality for 33 vendors, analyzing 27 distinct capabilities across 10 categories. (Redpoint is the only one to receive a checkmark for each of the 27 capabilities.)
When you attempt to match the various customer experiences that marketers want to create with the right CDP functionality, the sheer number of variables and decision points can be overwhelming. When it comes to buying a CDP, that is why an increasing number of buyers insist on proof of concepts (POC), demos, and other proof points as key parts of the evaluation phase.
Results of the TrustRadius 2020 B2B Buying Disconnect Report indicate that an increasing number of buyers prioritize proof over sources such as analyst rankings or vendor claims in the selection process. While the report relates to all tech buying, its findings are still illustrative for the narrower CDP market.
In the fourth annual report, buyers rate product demos as “highly influential” in the selection process and rank them first overall as far as effectiveness toward moving a buyer toward a final decision. On a trustworthiness scale from 1-4, a buyer’s own experience with a product ranked first (3.88), with a free trial second (3.68), followed by referral (3.62), and demos (3.34). Further down on the list, analysts ranked sixth with 3.24. For a similar scale that rated influence, a buyer’s own experience was still first (3.83), trial second (3.60), demos fourth (3.34) and analysts falling to seventh (3.03).
Asked what was important to the buyer in a demo, No. 1 was that it “answered our questions” (68 percent). Also rating high was that the demo showed the product “based on our own use case/requirements” (49 percent) that it let the vendor “drive” the demo (46 percent) and that it used real data (37 percent).
Findings also show that the trend toward more of a “hands-on” experience with a product is likely to solidify. With three of five tech buyers falling into the millennial generation, the report estimates their influence and decision-making power will grow, with the demographic also more likely to rely on trials, demos and reviews than they are analysts or vendor reps.
“Proof” is in the Pudding
One final note of interest about the TrustRadius report is that buyers said that comparing products is the most difficult part of the tech-buying journey.
This is certainly true of the decision process when evaluating CDPs, especially because the stakes are so high. Today’s always-on, connected consumer demands a hyper-personalized customer experience across all channels, and expects a brand to know them as the same person across all devices, both online and offline. With 37 percent of consumers claiming that they will stop doing business with a brand that fails to offer personalization, according to the Harris Poll sponsored by Redpoint, it is vital that buyers put a CDP through its paces before purchase to make sure that a solution delivers as promised in terms of being able to provide a differentiated customer experience that drives revenue.
If the CDP comparison guide put Redpoint on your radar as the only vendor that satisfies all 27 capabilities, we welcome you to extend the evaluation with a demo where you can use your own data, drive the experience, and see how the Redpoint Customer Data Platform delivers a personalized customer experience based on your organization’s own use cases. We will also gladly help set up a proof of concept project as another strong way to test out specific functionality according to specific business needs.
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