Evaluating potential CDP vendors can be an exhausting, yet necessary exercise for businesses that are aiming to disrupt the status quo and improve operational efficiencies. In recent years, business needs have quickly evolved in part due to the global pandemic, staffing shortages, and shifting of customer expectations.
As business needs have evolved, so have the questions that companies need to ask during their CDP evaluation. In a recent webinar, two of our pre-sales engineers, Alex Sarson and William Quinones, shared five of the major RFP trends they’ve seen unfolding over the past year. Their deep insights and tips for a successful CDP evaluation have been summarized here for your benefit. If you would like to view the on-demand webinar, you can download it here.
Here’s what Alex and William uncovered while combing through hundreds of RFPs from the past year.
Trend #1: Use cases drive better results
Many prospective customers come to us with a list of requirements, a specific set of KPIs, or a list of connections they want to incorporate into their CDP. While it is good to account for those items, it represents just a fraction of what needs to be considered when evaluating potential CDP vendors. Don’t make the mistake of trying to take what you’re already doing and make it fit into a CDP model. Instead, ask what the CDP can do for you. To do this, you must start with use cases.
Customers who start with relevant uses cases have a much smoother experience with CDP implementation. By prioritizing business goals and objectives early on, they see better results sooner, and achieve faster time to value. A good partner will help you figure all of this out during the evaluation process. The more information you can give potential vendors, the more they can understand your use cases and better determine how the solution will help you.
You can get started by outlining specific lifecycles and outcomes you’re hoping to achieve. List any customer experiences you would like to change as well as any specific segments the organization wants to see. Next, explain what you are going to do with those segments – will they be reached via ad server, social media platforms, or email? The right vendor will develop a solution to address your specific business needs.
Trend #2: More brands are looking to marry their 1st and 3rd party data
The impending death of third-party cookies has driven many businesses to invest in a CDP to help increase the value of their first-party data. First-party data is essential to the future of marketing as it helps businesses connect with existing customers and target audiences through highly personalized experiences.
Alex and William have noticed an uptick in the number of customers who wish to bring together their first- and third-party data to have a more complete, 360-degree view of the consumer. While there is no issue with this, it’s important to note that in the age of GDPR and many other burgeoning laws around data privacy, there is growing uncertainty around third-party data – the future of which is perilous.
When evaluating CDP vendors, you can get a sense of how forward-thinking they are, in terms of privacy, by asking questions about how they manage to keep up with ever-changing data privacy laws and what they do to ensure any third-party data that is collected for use is compliant with those laws. There is a silo of third-party data that many marketers are understandably nervous about losing. If this is a concern you share, be sure to identify which vendors can help bridge the gap through CDP implementation by connecting with some of those third-party data sources.
Trend #3: Named vs. unnamed connections
Connections allow businesses to unify and activate data across their entire martech ecosystem. As mentioned previously, many customers come to us with a long list of connections, often insisting we have named connections in place prior to launching their CDP. While there are some connections that need to be named to achieve maximum value, the vast majority can be done just as effectively through the use of universal connections.
Universal connections offer the ease and efficiency that comes with performing an action you’ve done many times before. Despite some misconceptions, universal connections are just as secure as named connections, and are highly effective at getting the right data into the platform, quickly. Instead of looking for a vendor that can check off a long list of required named connections, try focusing instead on how flexible and “pluggable” their platform is.
The RFP phase isn’t where you want to get bogged down in the details. The only connections you should dig into at this phase are those that are especially important or involve the exchange of a high volume of data. As you go through the RFP process, you will find that what matters most is determining what you want to achieve and how to tie that to a specific use case.
Trend #4: Journey orchestration & personalization
Traditionally, marketers have developed linear, multi-stage customer lifecycle journeys which are designed to dictate each step of the journey toward purchase. A major disadvantage of this approach is that we can’t really control the succession of steps each customer will take or the order in which they will reach each touchpoint. We instead aim to meet the customer where they are, helping to guide them through the process versus dictating every step of their journey.
BlueConic customers utilize ourlifecycle orchestration capabilities to organize, coordinate, and visualize touchpoints across multiple channels. This puts the customer in the driver seat, who we then guide and sign-post through the various touchpoints, ensuring we can reach them whether they go forward or backward in their journey. Personalization can also be incorporated into those touchpoints, ensuring the consumer receives the right message at the right time, improving results exponentially.
Trend #5: AI and machine learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are now very hot topics in just about every industry. According to Deloitte, “94% of business leaders surveyed agree that AI is critical to their success over the next five years.” In their 2022 State of Marketing and Sales AI Report, The Marketing AI Institute found that 40% of marketers surveyed reported an increase in revenue growth and improved performance due to the use of AI in their marketing campaigns. If you haven’t already utilized AI and ML in your marketing efforts, now is the time.
The benefits of utilizing AI and ML with your CDP are virtually unlimited. You will gain valuable insights into audience segments, the customer journey, and buying habits which can better inform personalized messaging. Improving the customer experience will improve campaign performance and ultimately, increase revenue.
BlueConic customer, Roularta, implemented our AI lookalike modeling to power a new product offering. Their impressive results included a 6x increase in their automotive target audience and boosted revenue. To learn more, download the Roularta case study.
Tips for choosing a CDP vendor
Choosing a CDP vendor can be an arduous task but there are some things you can keep in mind to ensure a smoother experience and better outcomes:
Help vendors understand your business as early as you can
Clearly define your goals and objectives with prospective vendors
Don’t just come with a list of KPIs or connections
Spend time outlining key use cases
Communicate the problems are you trying to solve
A good partner will educate and guide you as well as learn from you at the same time
If you are unsure of where to start, or want to make sure you’re being thorough in your CDP vendor evaluation process, download the BlueConic RFP Template for CDP. The template includes sample goals, questions based on experience with customers, and criteria for you to build your own.