I think we agree: Start where you are. But where is that, exactly?

August 14, 2017 | By

A few weeks back, we started to lay the groundwork for the argument that every marketer can benefit from a customer data platform. We said the key to implement a CDP is to follow the advice of Arthur Ashe to start where you are, use what you have, and do what you can. But we also realize this may come across as the equivalent of directions from the 1992 episode of Saturday Night Live called “What’s The Best Way.” Allow me to copy from the transcript:

Announcer: From Boston Mass, right off the Mass Turnpike, it’s What’s The Best Way – All right, here’s your host, Stanley Sperrow –

Stanley Sperrow: Hello, welcome to What’s the Best Way, the only game show by New Englanders, for New Englanders. Ok folks, ready to play?

Contestants: Aya, aya.

Stanley Sperrow: Some weather we’re having.

Contestants: Oh yeah, oh yeah, Nor’easter.

Stanley Sperrow: Ok, 1st question. How do you get from Providence Rhode Island, to Worchester Mass?

(Tony buzzes in)

Tony Vallencourt: Ok, whatcha gotta do is get on 95 north, follow that to 495, then ya take that for about an hour. Then you’re gonna see signs for the Mass Pike. Ok get into the far (fah) left lane, then take the Mass Pike west and you’ll see this WICKED huge Radio Shack. That’s where ya get off, and you’re in Worchester, you’re right there pal.

In short: ridiculously unhelpful. And also just ridiculous.

As a marketer, even if you’re conceptually or philosophically bought in on the vision of unifying data into a single customer view that is actionable, marketer-managed, and real-time, your journey to get to that destination will be wildly different based on where you currently are. We did some research to understand what the different starting points are and the variables that impact where you start. By studying dozens of companies, we identified four areas that meaningfully affect your ability to get value out of a customer data platform: Budget, data processes, existing technology, and resources. By applying this to that same pool of companies, three profiles emerge that also include appetite for these initiatives: Experimenters, Accelerators, and Visionaries.

We’ll dig into each of these a lot more in coming posts but here’s how we think about a CDP for each of these groups of companies:

Experimenters: Building a 360º view is a total pipe dream right now for any number of reasons – time, resources, expertise, corporate inertia, you name it. We don’t think that means you should miss out on the benefits of better unified, more actionable data. That’s where a CDP can help.

Accelerators: You’re moving toward this integrated data model and all its associated processes, employees, and budget – or at least building out a business case to do so. A CDP eases that transition, by helping you prove the benefits of unified, actionable data and accelerating you toward your goals.

Visionaries: Typically better resourced in this area than your Experimenter or Accelerator peers, you’re not necessarily going to want your CDP to do this end-to-end analysis, but rather to provide the data to a system like Microsoft Azure to then ship off to your analytics teams. Let a CDP supply the richest input of behavioral data in real-time to your databases for richer analysis.

Two questions:

  1. Would you like to be able to collect data, segment it, and activate it all in one place easily?
  2. Will it take longer than six months to build your ideal, fully integrated marketing technology stack?

If the answer to both of those questions is yes, then you need a CDP; we’ll help you start where you are to use what you have and do what you can.

“Expectations is the place you must always go to before you get to where you’re going.”

-The Phantom Tollbooth

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