Investing in a Customer Data Platform: A Guide

CDP|6 Minute Read

Investing in a Customer Data Platform: A Guide

What is a customer data platform? Is a CDP basically like a CRM or DMP? Does it basically do the same thing? What differentiates it from other marketing solutions”

At one point, these were questions you had about CDPs. By now, though, you’ve done your research, and you know it’s essential for your marketing program and business at large.

You’ve seen countless CDP success stories for brands in all kinds of industries — like publishing, retail, and travel — and know the platform can help your company as well.

All in all, you’re excited about the prospect of being able to use a customer data platform to deliver relevant, highly personalized and individualized customer experiences.

Now, you just have to get buy-in from senior leadership.

To build a business case for a premier CDP, you’ll need an action plan — one that includes specific use cases for your organization, some hard data, and ample social proof.

How to get buy-in for customer data platform investment from leadership

With that in mind, here’s how you can develop a persuasive pitch to your organization’s principals on why your organization — and marketing team — needs a CDP.

Setting the stage with CDP context

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy to convince your team about the value of a customer data platform. Simply sharing the CDP definition won’t do the trick.

(In fact, there isn’t even an agreed-upon definition of a CDP in the market.)

While some CDP features exist in other marketing technology, like automation software, the value of the solution comes from the productization of those features.

In a confusing martech landscape, it’s important to level set your organization. So, start with the basics about the customer data platform.

Consider the primary questions about customer data platforms you had when you initially researched them. These are likely the same ones your management team will ask:

  • Who owns the CDP day-to-day and is involved in implementation and maintenance?
  • Why are CDPs being incorporated into the martech stacks of both B2C and B2B brands?
  • How is a CDP different from our current martech? How does it fit into our existing stack?

Knowing these are the first questions management will ask, you can prepare accordingly:

  • Who: “One of the benefits of the CDP is it liberates first-party data for marketing. While IT and analytics have to set it up and connect specific data sources, ultimately, marketing owns the CDP. In fact, it’s built to be marketing-owned and -operated.”
  • Why: “All kinds of brands can benefit from a customer data platform. It merges data from all martech and organizes it into customer profiles. This makes it much easier to activate data in targeted messaging across all marketing channels.”
  • How: “A CDP increases our martech’s value by unifying data into a single source of truth, helping marketers like me use it for more effective, personalized lifecycle marketing. It can also increase operational efficiencies by putting crucial data in the hands of marketers. Overall, it can help us improve our most important metrics.”

Your answers, of course, can and should be modified.

For instance, when answering the “how,” share specific metrics a customer data platform can help improve for your business. This could be increasing ad clicks through better targeting, turning one-time buyers into repeat customers, or something else entirely. It depends on your company’s goals.

Also, keep in mind executives are bound to have more questions beyond these. The more context you provide right off the bat in your CDP business case, the more likely leadership will want to learn more.

first-party data

Covering the CDP’s core capabilities

After laying the groundwork for your CDP business case, share the specific capabilities you desire in a CDP and determine which customer data platform companies offer them.

Spell out what distinguishes CDPs from other martech — and even one platform from another — to determine which is right for your organization. You might want to look into how the underlying architecture of your CDP, for instance, will impact future use cases.

In its market guide for CDPs, Gartner says it provides a marketer-friendly, web-based interface that enables data collection, profile unification, segmentation, and activation.

That’s spot on. However, CDPs may differentiate in the types of data they can ingest, the speed in which it operates, how segments are updated, and other features and functionality.

For example, BlueConic offers the ability to:

  • Collect data about leads and customers from various sources, including online and offline channels, adtech solutions, email service providers, and CRMs.
  • Reconcile individuals’ profiles in real time following each new customer engagement: app log-ins, return website visits, cart additions or abandonments, et cetera.
  • Create segments based on individual-level data that update as customers’ behaviors change, then streams those segments to activation channels.

Ultimately, you need to outline all capabilities your eventual customer data platform must have according to the use cases you’ll want to implement.

Assuming you get buy-in, include those particular use cases and needs in your CDP RFP.

customer data platform

Relaying the business impact and ROI

At the end of the day, your CEO, CMO, CTO, and any other “C_O” responsible for approving vendor relationships wants to know one thing about prospective martech:

“How will this impact our bottom line?”

If your leadership is going to invest in the best customer data platform for your business, they need to know it’s going to have a sizable impact on revenue (and, ideally, right away).

This is where you need to go into Don Draper-mode and bring the pitch home. How do you do that, exactly? By noting the impact of a CDP on you, your team, and the entire company.

As our Customer Data Platform Business Case eBook points out:

  • “A CDP implementation has to potential to give huge gains across the organization, not just in improving KPIs but in gained operational efficiencies.”

The keyword there is “operational efficiencies.”

Explain how the ideal customer data platform can save you — and countless colleagues and departments — time (putting data in the hands of marketers), money (the opportunity to eliminate redundant martech and get more value from current martech), and energy (a single source of truth for better analytics), your odds of leadership approval skyrocket.

The data-driven case for better customer data management — and a CDP

Persuading leadership a customer data platform is not only an essential element of your martech stack, but also beneficial for the brand as a whole, may take time.

The key, just like with a CDP, is in the data.

Corporate won’t spend a dime on customer data technology like a CDP if they don’t have substantial proof of its efficacy. They need numbers to prove it’s a worthwhile investment.

Prove customer data platforms have generated considerable ROI for other brands similar to yours to convince your executive team it can do the same for your business.

Learn how you can build a business case for a CDP to your leadership team by downloading our eBook for day-to-day marketing professionals.

customer data platform

See what BlueConic can do for you.

Whether you’re looking for operational efficiencies or improved marketing effectiveness through data activation, our customer data platform can help.