Why I vote for customer data platforms

November 8, 2016 | By

For years already, we’ve been being hammered with data on how critical “personalization” and “right-time messaging” is. We’ve also been hammered with reports that marketers are failing in this area. One key reason so many marketers are failing on personalization is because they can’t find a place to start.

Find a place to start

Despite the fact that many marketers have been misled to believe personalization must be top-down initiative, the fact is that it must be both top-down and bottom-up. What I mean by this is that a key component of the top-down strategic plan must include “do something now and learn from it” (bottom-up). It seems logical to personalize from the top down to properly organize for measurement and maximum impact, but I am flat out against the notion that you can’t simply get started. You will never have a static personalization strategy, so why can’t it be fluid while you’re getting started?

Analysis paralysis can put an end to the best ambition before it even begins. The initial strategy could be to:

1) start somewhere nowidentify low hanging fruit and where the lowest barriers to entry are

2) organize for measurement – why are you doing this, what do you expect to happen, how will you measure results?

3) implement a framework for ongoing learning and institutional memory about process, technology, and team composition

The information gleaned from #3 is going to end up as feedback loops back into the strategy. Within months of getting started, new tools, people, and processes will emerge that wouldn’t have been considered when defining the strategy. Trying to anticipate all of these in advance is a fool’s errand. Perhaps the best strategy consists of guidelines that allow teams to be adaptable/flexible enough to find and seize opportunities that exist and learn from them (seems very compatible with agile marketing).

So many marketers have been inundated with technologies and haven’t caught up to the point where the still very new category of customer data platforms (CDPs) are a known useful component of the marketing technology ecosystem. CDPs should provide an accessible approach to using your data for real-time personalization across channels, and enable marketers to do exactly that — on their own — within days or weeks.

3 places you could start with customer-based personalization this month

There are dozens of personalization use cases for your data, segmentation, and analytics work. Here are three ways to quickly get started – and see value – with a customer data platform:

1. Interest-driven lead generation messaging
Newsletter signup and resource access are typical examples of lead generation opportunities that most sites today employ. The messaging/CTA for such a valuable lead generation mechanisms are often hidden and/or uninspired. And, there are new opportunities to capture in-context leads that are completely missed.

What to do: Speak to the user about why they specifically would be interested in your newsletter based on their actual browsing behaviors. Interject at the right time to capture an email address and allow yourself to start having a cross-channel conversation with an individual.

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A lead generation form where there previously was none

2. Intent-driven campaign consistency
You drive users to your site via any number of acquisition/nurture campaigns, often with custom landing pages. When the user navigates away from these landing pages, what do they see? Is there any reminder or reference to the offer or intent that originally brought them to the site? Probably not.

What to do: Add a notification bar to the top or bottom of the site, a small toaster reminder, or an in-line message that carries a CTA related to the original offer for some period of time. CDPs will allow you to do this across sessions, across sites, and even across devices so that you remind a visitor why they recently became engaged with you. Help them achieve their objective more quickly and you’ll improve the user experience and conversion rates all at once.

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A configuration view from BlueConic – toasters can make great reminders

3. Targeted microsurveys for engaged users
Your customer data platform can yield great information about your most engaged users and customers, enabling you to deliver the very best user experience. The key with progressive profiling is to ask questions at the right time with as little friction as possible. Capturing good voice-of-customer data is not as simple as aiming a survey at everyone, or frequent visitors, or users who spend a long time on-site. To achieve decent response rates, messaging really has to speak to the user about what is important to them, and about what they are doing right that minute.

What to do: Ask a single question with simple response options. The question might pertain barriers for this customer to respond to a recent promotion, or to the next-best milestone based on where the customer sits within the customer journey. Point users in the right direction immediately based on their response, and use the information in future communications as well.

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Engage with your email recipients post-click and stay relevant with follow ups

While these are good examples of the power of customer data platforms, often there is lower hanging fruit. Simple interactions based on time/date, geography, and technology are proven to drive better outcomes. There’s also plenty of room for interactions designed specifically to target users with relevant promotions or best next steps to take towards the next milestone in their customer journey.

It is, and has been, the right time to learn and grow in this area.

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