What do well-known enterprise brands Amazon, Uber, and Netflix have in common?
Most notably, they’re large-scale organizations that have forever reset expectations around customer experience by putting the customer at the center of everything they do.
Now, we think of shopping, transportation, and streaming in an entirely new way.
They’ve also made it clear businesses that win today are the ones that “own” customer relationships and deliver individualized experiences in all customer lifecycle stages.
But, as many leading enterprise brands can attest, owning the relationship with one’s customer base has become harder than ever. The primary reasons are well-known ones:
Customer journeys become increasingly fragmented
Data silos grow deeper across their organizations
Consumer data privacy laws continue to get steeper
These game-changing dynamics have made it clear transitioning to a first-party data focus (and eliminating dependence on third-party data) has become a strategic imperative.
Collecting data directly from prospects and customers enables enterprise brands (more specifically, enterprise marketing professionals) to recognize individuals across channels and provide valuable, bespoke experiences that set their companies apart from competitors.
Accessing unified, actionable first-party customer data is significantly more difficult for enterprises, though, when they’re forced to utilize antiquated systems and processes.
The considerable cost of inaccessible first-party data for enterprise brands
Marketers have spoken: First-party data is the premier resource to drive their strategies today. But too few of these professionals have been able to compile or leverage data collected directly from their own channels:
Four in 10 U.S. marketers are tapping into 40% or less of their brands’ first-party data potential. — 2019 Advertiser Perceptions “The Data-Confident Marketer” report
Only 47% of marketers have a unified view of customer data, indicating disconnected data is painting an incomplete picture. — 2019 Salesforce “State of Marketing” report
38% of enterprise marketers said reliance on legacy martech was a big issue for them today. — 2020 Forrester “Great CX Cuts Cost and Drives Business Results” report
Switching from legacy tech (e.g., data warehouses, master data management solutions) and processes (e.g., static, outbound campaigns) isn’t merely an ideal avenue for large-scale organizations to modernize their strategies today.
It’s also an essential one if they want to take control of their first-party data, keep their metrics moving in the right direction, and provide differentiating experiences that benefit both the customer and the business in every customer lifecycle stage.
Thankfully, the growing importance of first-party data isn’t lost on enterprise brands: A recent Sizmek report found 85% of U.S. marketers and 75% Western European marketers said increasing their first-party data usage was a high priority.
Yet three common barriers prevent many brands from getting direct, real-time access to the data they need to deliver mutually beneficial experiences across channels that foster loyalty and lasting value among customers:
Insufficient data activation technologies: Data that resides in activation technologies (e.g., email systems, campaign management platforms, journey orchestration tools, etc.) lacks a complete, dynamic view of individual customers in real time and leads to “watered-down” marketing programs and a poor CX for customers.
Dependence on internal IT or analytics teams or external agencies: Many enterprise brands depend heavily on their IT, analytics teams, or agencies to query data and make it available to marketing for analysis, segmentation, and activation — a process that usually takes days or weeks and, when done by agencies, often comes at a hefty price.
The need to work with data science: Once data is (finally) handed off to marketers, they often need to work with data science to develop modeling outputs based on data sets and predictive models to score and segment individuals in their tech ecosystem.
Failing to address these issues properly comes at a considerable cost. Recent studies found that just 30% of marketing executives consider their relationship with IT productive, while spending on marketing agencies still accounts for nearly a quarter (22%) of total marketing budgets.
What’s more, these issues can lead to inefficiencies across the business and lost revenue to competitors that have better customer data management processes and technologies in place to optimize their strategies.
The marketing clouds’ collective false claim of being ‘all-in-one’ solutions
Addressing the aforementioned issues is how modern enterprise brands eventually develop customer-centric cultures and level the playing field with big-name players in their industries.
But how these brands go about resolving these issues varies widely today. For instance, many enterprise companies still invest in cloud suites as their ‘all-in-one’ marketing hubs.
On the surface, the marketing cloud suite’s appeal to enterprises is fairly evident: It’s a connected collection of tools that share customer data with one another and enable personalization, audience analysis, and other core promotional activities.
But, as we’ve discussed, the drawbacks of marketing cloud suites are numerous.
For starters, there’s the marketing cloud providers’ collective (and ongoing) false claim they provide a true, exhaustive single customer view for marketing organizations.
The marketing clouds usually only sync with other systems in their suite offerings. That means there are customer data sets that live entirely outside a given suite.
By that logic, marketing cloud vendors simply can’t offer a complete, ‘360-degree’ view of every contact in enterprise brands’ entire database ecosystems.
What’s more, the clouds are only intended to aid marketers’ outbound campaigns.
Now, though, the ideal ‘targeted’ marketing approach — a far more efficient one that requires considerably less heavy lifting than ongoing campaigns — is lifecycle orchestration.
Responsive, real-time, cross-channel personalization and individualization to target customers — specific contacts and broad segments — through a lifecycle marketing strategy: That’s the data-driven approach implemented by top-tier enterprise brands today.
But success with these techniques (and the customer lifecycle marketing approach as a whole) is held back for businesses that rely on the marketing cloud suites.
(Particularly when they’re locked into long-term contracts that limit their ability to onboard more fruitful enterprise tech that enables far greater agility and flexibility.)
A best-of-breed tech approach now essential for enterprise brands
As Gartner Sr. Director Analyst Benjamin Bloom explained in his best-of-breed-stack-vs.-cloud-suite comparison, the latter tech has too many flaws to merit consideration today:
“Despite the promise of scale and centralized engineering know-how, many users find that the ‘Marketing Cloud’ they purchased still contains substantial gaps, whether a lack of interoperable applications or data models, inconsistent user experiences, feature gaps or incomprehensible solution pricing.”
What large-scale companies need to truly enable their marketing organizations (i.e., enable first-party data liberation) is a custom-tailored tech stack that accounts for their unique data management and activation needs and marketing use cases.
Specifically, they need a best-of-breed tech stack built around a single source of truth database that provides a comprehensive and persistent customer view with the ability for day-to-day marketers’ to easily and efficiently act on that data. In other words, they need:
A central, real-time activation hub that leverages all data across systems and sources means more effective personalized and one-to-one marketing and, in turn, a better CX.
A stack entirely owned and operated by marketing eliminates the need for manual list-pulls from an outside agency and shortens data science-to-marketing handoff time.
Advanced tech with AI functionality that enables marketers to deploy machine learning models without the need for constant assistance from the data science team.
And all are capabilities a customer data platform (CDP) can offer them.
Why enterprise brands need a customer data platform to thrive today
Many tech tools come and go. But one system that will remain a central pillar of many enterprises’ best-of-breed stacks for the foreseeable future is the CDP — specifically, the pure-play, built-for-purpose CDP — which has become a vital solution for big businesses.
And there are two primary reasons why:
The CDP offers greater utility for the whole marketing team, adaptability with these marketing organizations’ overarching tech ecosystems, efficiency with marketers’ core data-driven activities (analysis, segmentation, modeling, and activation), and the flexibility to respond to inevitable changes to the business over time.
Other solutions — from marketing cloud suites and master data management software to data lakes and warehouses — have failed to live up to expectations, particularly as it pertains to providing a single customer view and solving for enterprises’ most pressing data issues.
“The CDP is hugely important in a brand’s stack, especially for those businesses that are working to put the customer at the center of their marketing programs and data infrastructure,” BlueConic COO Cory Munchbach explained to CMSWire recently.
Delivering messaging that speaks to customer needs, driving online and offline sales, improving advertising ROI, and bolstering customer engagement: According to Advertiser Perceptions research, that’s what marketers aim to achieve with the CDP today.
But those are far from the only pros of using a pure-play CDP to guide their marketing.
Pure-play CDPs like BlueConic offer unique capabilities that enable enterprises to quickly and confidently activate their first-party data to improve marketing effectiveness, drive a wide range of activation use cases, and ensure quick time to value from the tech.
With the CDP industry continuing to grow exponentially, it’s clear the tech is what big brands need to resolve their internal data woes, differentiate their marketing from competitors, adjust to changing consumer behaviors, and own the customer relationship.
Learn why many enterprises are investing in BlueConic. Schedule a demo today to discover how our pure-play CDP can help you liberate your first-party data.