Creating an ideal customer profile is no longer just a pipe dream for enterprise marketers.
Sure, the marketing clouds have long promised the “complete” profile of every customer type and prospect for brands since the dawn of — well — marketing cloud suites.
(And we know all too well how those promises have turned out over the past decade.)
But today, the ability to create a customer profile that actually entails all data for all contacts in one, single user interface is (finally and actually) a reality for marketers.
With the right technology in place, that is.
It’s evident that complete customer profiles in a centralized system can facilitate far more effective marketing for all brands: from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies.
In short, the single view of every single customer in your tech ecosystem leads to:
More intelligent sales team strategies thanks to accessible, detailed customer insights
More efficient customer success teams to appease, inform, and assist their audiences
More refined buyer personas informed by demographic and behavioral data sources
More effective, targeted data activation (and not just in one-off marketing campaigns)
More timely go-to-marketing strategies that lead to an increase in customer conversions
Having said that, it’s clear there are many barriers to implementing the ideal tech to realize this unified customer profile that can streamline all of these business activities and help you better understand your customers’ buying process and journeys.
Creating an ideal customer profile still a top challenge for many businesses today
From over-reliance on dated technologies to a lack of a modern tech infrastructure, there are numerous challenges for brands that want to build an advanced customer profile.
Let’s break down the biggest pain points that prevent many types of companies from creating the ideal customer profile — impediments that can ultimately help you define your ideal customer and build exhaustive profiles for all contacts in your database ecosystem.
Uncertainty about altering complex database infrastructure
Whether you have one of the aforementioned cloud suites or a mix of legacy tools from various vendors, it can be difficult (see: time- and labor-intensive) to figure out where to begin with your database audit and determine which systems to keep and replace.
Some of these solutions may offer relatively extensive customer profiles. When this is the case, it often leads to questions (and general reluctance) internally within an organization regarding the merits of ‘starting over’ with a new core database.
Lack of marketing personnel to own and operate database
As Scott Brinker noted at MarTech East 2019, without knowledgeable and capable folks within one’s marketing department (not on the IT or data science teams) to take the reins of your tech stack, none of your individual databases will help grow vital metrics.
Or give you the comprehensive customer profile your team needs to thrive.
Marketing unable to build business case for better tech
In a perfect world, everyday marketers could simply tell their CMOs they want a new widget, and it would magically appear before them. (Spoiler alert: We don’t live in that world.)
In fact, convincing marketing leaders to invest in tried-and-tested tech — even ones that offer the ideal customer profile, like a customer data platform (CDP) — requires a well-laid-out business case. that takes substantial energy and ideation to construct.
Hesitance from CMO to ‘disrupt’ existing database setup
Even if you make a compelling case for a new solution, your CMO may be unwilling to make wholesale, or even partial, changes to your present marketing database foundation.
In short, these CMOs are change-averse (and short-sighted). Oftentimes, these executives will say they don’t want to spend time or resources onboarding and learning new systems or note they think they can leverage existing tools to create a unified customer profile.
(Which, ironically, is even more costly and laborious than simply getting more advanced tech like a CDP, which dynamically creates and updates customer profiles in real time.)
Leadership unconvinced of need for database investment
Even if everyone within the organization understands the need for a centralized database to create the ideal customer profile, executives still may not want to invest in one.
They may believe it won’t improve the marketing ROI. Or maybe they want to stick with the status quo to see if the current databases can somehow work better in unison to provide some sort of patchwork, 360-degree view of existing and potential customers.
Brand simply unaware of better databases on the market
And sometimes, ignorance (of all things) is the root cause for poor database infrastructures and, in turn, the lack of persistent, meticulous, always-accurate customer profiles.
In other words, digital marketers, CMOs, and business leaders might just not know about emerging, more efficient technologies that can streamline operational efficiency, reduce wasted spend, enhance customer retention, and aid myriad other marketing metrics.
Unifying all first-party customer data an integral step in building complete profiles
Even if these obstacles don’t prevent your company from achieving a dynamic, single customer view, Gartner noted there’s another all-too-common problem facing businesses today: the need for more orchestrated database and profile merging.
“Before trying to achieve a 360-degree view of customers, organizations must aim to implement profile orchestration between CRM applications that maintain local copies of customer profiles,” Gartner analysts stated in their data management guide.
You may not need to get rid of all (or even most) of your legacy databases.
But if those solutions don’t connect with a single source of truth in which all customer data merges into persistent profiles, you’ll never realize the ideal customer profile and continue to spend lots of time trying to link customer identities across systems.
That’s why enterprise brands continue to onboard CDPs for their marketing organizations as well as other growth-focused teams (e.g., analytics, customer experience):
A CDP gives companies a legitimate, real-time single customer view and, in turn, greater operational efficiency for all business technology users — including marketers.
Consider the persistent customer profile offered in BlueConic: No data point regarding individuals in your technology ecosystem is left out of these profiles.
Known and unknown users, contacts who’ve opted in and out of messaging, first-time and repeat shoppers: The customer profile for everyone in your database is synced and updated in real time in our CDP.
This provides the day-to-day marketers and other users who own the BlueConic tenants for their companies a precise picture of all their prospects and customers.
All that said, it’s important to remember: Your unified customer profile within a customer data platform takes the small-data approach, not a big-data approach.
A CDP builds a single customer view that enables marketers to build a customer experience strategy that doesn’t incorporate every last detail about customers.
Some data sets just aren’t applicable for the requisite lifecycle orchestration marketing professionals need to implement and achieve their promotional objectives.
In fact, carefully considering the data you do need in an ideal customer profile can help focus your efforts: streamlining data initiatives and optimizing your overall strategy.
Take customer feedback, for instance. That may prove extremely beneficial for customer service. But it may not have a direct impact on your day-to-day orchestration efforts.
As long as you have a concerted customer data management process in place that ensures only the most pertinent data is incorporated in customer profiles, you can execute your engagement efforts in an efficient and effective manner.
Using a CDP for intricate customer profile analysis and more efficient activation
Many companies today sync their first-party customer data stored in each tech tool in their stack with their CDP of choice and use the platform as the nucleus of their lifecycle orchestration efforts and customer profile analysis.
The two activities go hand in hand for marketers today — and contribute to a more successful front-end CX for their target customers and greater ROI for their businesses:
Customer profile analysis: Routine deep-dives into customers’ behaviors (e.g., frequency and momentum of site visits) can guide your overarching engagement strategy.
Lifecycle orchestration: You can then use the insights gleaned from these customer profile assessments to deliver better-informed messaging and experiences on your website, via email, and/or in targeted advertising across channels.
Rinse and repeat, and you’ve got the formula for modern marketing success.
With this constant stream of up-to-date details for your contacts — and all in a single UI — you have the means to significantly optimize every facet of your marketing, better engage your customer base, and, ultimately, realize your desired ROI.