Tackling digital disruption with a customer data platform

October 14, 2016 | By

The esteemed analyst, author, and all around brilliant mind, James McQuivey, has been writing about digital disruption for years and recently presented some of his latest customer research at the NASSCOM MarTech Confluence 2016 event. One of the points he’s been emphasizing to marketers is the importance of building a digital bridge between the brand and customers. He has countless examples of companies who were born digital disruptors – Netflix, Airbnb, Uber – and those that are embracing digital to overhaul traditional business models – Tesla, Disney, Whirlpool. In all these cases, the digital relationship formed between consumer and brand revolutionizes multiple dimensions of the company – not least of which is consumer insights. In the case of the Whirlpool example, for instance, the company previously had no visibility into how their products were actually used, but by adding sensors and a mobile app, Whirlpool both gained rich consumer insight and constructed a direct relationship with their consumers. Win-win.

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The dozens of case studies James has uncovered across virtually every industry are all profound and inspirational. Particularly for the companies looking to evolve (rather than those born into disruption), the massive scale of some of these transformations can seem both overwhelming and impossible. But for marketers, you can take an incremental approach that also revolutionizes marketing with the logical starting place for any relationship: getting to know the person (or people) with whom you want to connect.

For many marketers, this remains a considerable challenge. Most have pockets of data about their prospective and existing consumers that live in their ESP, CRM, DMP, and a bunch of other three-letter acronyms that constitute their marketing technology stacks. Investing in some digital innovation project is a priority way down the list for the vast majority of marketers but that doesn’t mean that it’s out of reach.

Enter the customer data platform, a nascent but proven and powerful marketing technology that is designed to enable marketers to identify, understand, and interact with any individual engaging with the brand across channels. If you have a digital touchpoint – website, mobile app, etc. – you can begin to build the digital relationship that is required to achieve competitive advantage today. It is not enough to simply have the touchpoint and run traditional web analytics on it or set up marketing automation flows; rather, you need the kind of rich data about an individual’s needs and intent in context so that every interaction builds on the previous ones.

Hallmarks of these digital relationships include:

1) providing utility to the consumer

2) creating additional value on top of your product or service that the digital connection provides

3) progressively learning more about the individual consumer

A customer data platform gives you the knowledge to then discern what utility needs to be delivered, what value you’re providing, and knowledge over time. Win-win-win.

Embracing digital disruption can and should start with marketing: give yourself the consumer insights you need to make that happen.

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