Creating an ideal customer profile is no longer just a pipe dream for marketers.
Sure, marketing cloud suites have long promised the “complete” profile of every prospect, buyer, and subscriber for brands since the dawn of — well — marketing cloud suites.
(And we know all too well how those promises have turned out over the past decade.)
But today, that integrated, exhaustive customer profile is (finally and actually) a reality for digital marketing professionals — with the right marketing technology in place, that is.
It’s clear that complete customer profiles in a centralized system can facilitate far more effective marketing for all brands. In short, these 360-degree views of contacts lead to:
- More intelligent sales strategies thanks to easily accessible, detailed customer insights
- More efficient customer success teams to appease, inform, and assist their audiences
- More refined buyer personas informed by demographic and behavioral data sources
- More effective and targeted data activation across channels, including emails and ads
Having said that, it’s clear there are many barriers to implementing the ideal martech to realize this unified customer profile that can streamline all of these business activities.
Creating the ideal customer profile still a top challenge for many businesses today
From over-reliance on dated technologies to a lack of a modern martech infrastructure, there are numerous challenges for brands that want to build an advanced customer profile.
Let’s break down the biggest impediments that prevent many companies from realizing the ideal customer profile and how these businesses can ultimately implement this all-in-one view for their marketing teams that syncs across their martech stacks.
Uncertainty about altering complex database infrastructure
Whether you have one of the aforementioned marketing cloud suites or a mix of legacy tools from various vendors, it can be difficult (see: labor-intensive) to figure out where to begin with your database audit and determine which systems to keep and which to replace.
Some of these solutions may offer relatively extensive customer profiles. When this is the case, it often leads to questions (and general reluctance) internally within an organization regarding the merits of ‘starting over’ with a new core database.
Lack of marketing personnel to own and operate database
As Scott Brinker noted at MarTech East 2019, without knowledgeable and capable folks within one’s marketing department (not on the IT or data science teams) to take the reins of your martech stack, none of your individual databases will help grow vital metrics — or give you the comprehensive customer profile your team needs to thrive.
Marketing unable to build business case for better martech
In a perfect world, everyday marketers could simply tell their CMOs they want a new widget, and it would magically appear before them. (Spoiler alert: We don’t live in that world.)
In fact, convincing marketing leaders to invest in tried-and-tested martech — even ones that offer the ideal customer profile, like a customer data platform (CDP) — requires a well-laid-out business case. that takes substantial energy and ideation to construct.
Hesitance from CMO to ‘disrupt’ existing database setup
Even if you make a compelling case for a new solution, your CMO may be unwilling to make wholesale, or even partial, changes to your present marketing database foundation.
In short, these CMOs are change-averse (and short-sighted). Oftentimes, these executives will say they don’t want to spend time or resources onboarding and learning new systems or note they think they can leverage existing tools to create a unified customer profile.
(Which, ironically, is even more costly and laborious than simply getting more advanced martech like a CDP, which dynamically creates and updates customer profiles in real time.)
Leadership unconvinced of need for database investment
Even if everyone within the organization understands the need for a centralized database to achieve the ideal customer profile, executives still may not want to invest in one.
They may believe it won’t improve the marketing ROI. Or maybe they want to stick with the status quo to see if the current databases can somehow work better in unison to provide some sort of patchwork, 360-degree view of existing and potential customers.
(Narrator: “The status quo will not lead to a true, 360-degree customer view.”)
Brand simply unaware of better databases on the market
And sometimes, ignorance (of all things) is the root cause for poor database infrastructures and, in turn, the lack of persistent, meticulous, always-accurate customer profiles.
In other words, digital marketers, CMOs, and business leaders might just not know about emerging, more efficient technologies that can streamline operational efficiency, reduce wasted spend, enhance customer retention, and aid myriad other marketing metrics.
Unifying all first-party customer data an integral step in building complete profiles
Even if these obstacles aren’t preventing you and your company from achieving a dynamic, single customer view of your website visitors, top leads, and customer base, Gartner stated in its data management guide there’s another all-too-common problem facing businesses today: the need for more orchestrated database and profile merging:
“Before trying to achieve a 360-degree view of customers, organizations must aim to implement profile orchestration between CRM applications that maintain local copies of customer profiles.”
You may not need to get rid of many (or even most) of your legacy database technologies.
But if those solutions don’t connect into a single source of truth where all personally identifiable information (PII) for every contact merge into persistent profiles, you’ll never realize the ideal customer profile and, therefore, continue to spend time (and lots of it) trying to link customer identities across systems.
That’s why innumerable enterprise brands worldwide and across sectors and niches continue to onboard customer data platforms for their marketing organizations.
The CDP has become the quintessential database technology that actually lives up to its promises. In short, it gives companies a legitimate single customer view and, in turn, greater operational efficiency for all departments — particularly marketing.
Just take a look at the standard customer profile offered in BlueConic:
No data point necessary for your comprehensive marketing view is left out.
Known and unknown users, contacts who’ve opted in and out of messaging, first-time and repeat shoppers — the customer profile for everyone in your database ecosystem is synced and updated in real time when connected to your other marketing technologies.
This allows the day-to-day marketers behind the proverbial wheel of their BlueConic tenants always see a perfectly precise picture of all their prospects and customers.
All crucial info — their demographic details, segments they’re in, products or services they’ve viewed or bought, their behavioral scores — is stored in this single customer view: a now-vital resource for the modern marketer and a major competitive differentiator.
Having said all that, it’s important to remember: Your unified customer profile within a customer data platform takes the small-data approach, not a big-data approach.
Put another way: A CDP builds a single customer view that enables marketers to build a customer experience strategy that doesn’t incorporate every last detail about contacts.
Some data sets just aren’t applicable for the requisite lifecycle orchestration marketing professionals such as yourself need to implement and achieve your promotional objectives.
In fact, carefully considering the data points you do need in an ideal customer profile can help focus your efforts: streamlining data initiatives and optimizing your overall strategy.
As long as you have a concerted customer data management process in place that solely incorporates the pertinent data that can actually enhance the value of your marketing activities (e.g., more applicable product recommendations based on the most recent buyer activity), you’re truly making the most of your customer profiles.
Using a CDP for intricate customer profile analysis and more efficient activation
Your CRM software, email service provider, adtech tools — they’re not leaving the overwhelming majority of companies’ martech stacks anytime soon. Nor should they.
What many brands are doing with these technologies, however, is syncing the first-party customer data stored in them with their CDP of choice and using the platform as the nucleus of their lifecycle orchestration efforts and customer profile analysis.
The two activities go hand in hand for marketers today — and contribute to a more successful front-end CX for their target customers and greater ROI for their brands.
- Customer profile analysis: Routine deep-dives into contacts’ behaviors (e.g., frequency of overall site visits, momentum with pageviews for particular products or services) stored in your CDP can guide your overarching promotional strategy for them.
- Lifecycle orchestration: You can then use the insights gleaned from these customer profile assessments to deliver better-informed individualized offers on your site, via email, or in targeted advertising across channels (notably, Google and Facebook).
Rinse and repeat, and you’ve got the formula for modern marketing success.
Countless new lead, buyer, and subscriber insights will emerge daily (by the minute, even) within your customer data platform and, therefore, your customers’ profiles.
With this constant stream of up-to-date details for your contacts — and all in a single user interface (an important distinction from other martech that fails to provide this critical feature) — you have the means to significantly optimize every facet of your marketing, better engage your customer base, and, ultimately, realize your desired ROI.
Download our special eBook to learn how you can best leverage your ideal customer profile and develop a modern customer engagement strategy for your business.