Last Thursday, Cory Munchbach, our Director of Product Marketing hosted a webinar about marketers’ decade-long quest for unified customer data. She talked about the role of the nascent but fast-growing category of customer data platforms (CDPs) in this effort, a category that includes solutions like BlueConic. It got its name specifically due to how these solutions are built to connect disparate data silos.
If you missed the webinar, I recommend you watch the full recording but in the meantime, check out this summary.
A single view of the customer: A decade in
Imagine if you will that it is 2004 and Gartner just codified the idea of the single view of the customer. It’s exciting because it comes with the promise of:
- Delivering cost reduction by providing a platform for consolidation (for example, the number of call centers) and standardization of processes
- Delivering cost reduction by fixing data-quality issues that create a need for manual reconciliations and lead to wasted sales and marketing expenditure
- Gaining an improved ability to handle risk exposure across product and functional silos
- Gaining potentially large revenue and profitability upside in terms of improved customer cross-selling and retention
- Delivering a better, more-consistent and more-valued customer experience
These are all very compelling reasons any marketer would want to achieve this single view and number five was particularly prescient.
But turns out, getting there is much harder than anyone thought. Why?
Here we are in 2015 and our holy grail seems even harder to come by. So what got in the way? Well for one, customer expectations haven’t been standing still: mail-merging someone’s first name in an email doesn’t cut it anymore for consumers. Second, we’ve added quite a few systems to our marketing stack, each generating new data. Overall there are five overarching issues that we can attribute to the integration challenges:
- Organizational: Marketing departments are poorly structured to successfully collaborate and share across channels and functions. According to an Experian study, only 43% of global digital marketers said their organization was “expert” at data integration.
- Strategic: Many companies lack a cohesive strategy that would lend itself to the creation of a single approach to and therefore view of customer data. And as a study by McKinsey pointed out, the strategy is even more important than the ability to collect or analyze data.
- Procedural: Procedural gaps are a direct output of the lack of strategy and in particular governance of that data in a way that would lend itself to a productive management of a centralized data solution.
- Legal: There are massive legal issues involved with customer data. It seems like every day there’s a Target or a Home Depot going on the major defense about the protection of consumer data. A Forrester study titled “Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer” observed that companies who are customer obsessed – putting their resources and efforts into engagement with customers – invest and prioritize security and risk more than companies who are less customer focused.
- Technical: One study recently found that 40% of marketers have 10+ tech vendors in their stacks. Each of these technologies is likely dealing – directly or indirectly – with customer data in order to function. Which means there are at least that many “views” of the customer – all saying slightly different things.
The Customer Data Platform (CDP) To The Rescue!
As customer data is dispersed over your ESP, e-commerce platform, tag management application, DMP and CRM system, marketers struggle with these different pools of customer data. Further, the idea of a single customer view demands a federated approach. That’s where the CDP comes in.
David Raab first coined the term in 2013 and defines a CDP as: A marketer-controlled system that supports external marketing execution based on persistent, cross-channel customer data. And Scott Brinker incorporated the CDP in his marketing technology landscape.
What makes a CDP different
So what can a CDP do that other marketing applications haven’t been able to accomplish? Well, it’s built from the ground up for just this purpose: unifying individual data into a single profile that can be used by all of your existing marketing applications and thereby allowing you to drive better outcomes across the board.
What’s in it for me? Cory wrote a blog post about three BlueConic customers she discusses in the webinar and the benefits they’re getting – check that out.