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Understanding The ABC of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs)

Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) have been a game changer in delivering new levels of insight into consumer behavior. But with such a range of information on CDPs, it can be hard to sift through the useful and the not so useful. So, let’s cut straight to the point.

What do CDPs actually do? 

CDPs, in a nutshell, are built to serve three main purposes.

Firstly, they collect and unify all of a company’s customer data across its touchpoints — think website activity, emails, apps and social media, and even legacy systems, like CRMs, which keep data in their own silos — into one platform. This creates a unified 360 profile and single source of truth. 

Secondly, they manage this customer data in compliance with data privacy regulations, essentially controlling data consent, how it is used and who can see what in the company. And then, finally, they make this data actionable. By having data merged into a single profile for each customer, these profiles are then structured into audience segments based on behavior. They can then be used by platforms across the company.

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But the arrival of second generation CDPs (and continued advancements) are bringing real-time upgrades and benefits.

So, here we remodel and break down these purposes to offer the ABC of CDPs:

The A: Accessibility 

Whatever the sector, having easy-to-access data from a central location has become a vital tool. Yet the majority of systems employed by marketers, such as email or customer relationship management, operate independently. Crucially, this means that data is not shared across these platforms and marketers are left with only a few pieces of the jigsaw.  

If you can only access data for a specific group or touchpoint, for example, then you can strategize well for that area, but you are missing out on a much wider picture. Likewise, if you can only access data on general consumer trends, you are missing out on individual detail needed for personalization.

What if you could access both examples and more in one database? 

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A CDP acts as a link between fragmented sources and becomes a single source of truth. The platform is accessible across marketing’s various departments, such as sales, loyalty, customer service and social media. Through the CDP, it is possible to acquire consumer data from each touchpoint, merge this data and then unify it into digestible customer profiles. By doing this, it becomes a hub of data for both micro trends from specific touchpoints and macro trends across several touchpoints. 

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But of course not everything can be seen by everyone; accessibility needs to be joined with compliant protocols. The CDP can be set up in line with company and data privacy regulations to ensure that only those who are allowed to view certain pieces of data are allowed to do so, safeguarding any sensitive and personal information. This is ‘compliant accessibility’.  

The B: Behavior 

The impending end of third-party cookies has sparked a new focus on different forms of data, and most notably, on zero-party data.

Zero-party data comes straight from the horse’s mouth. Making the most of devices such as surveys, pop-ups and preference centers, brands are able to hear first-hand what types of information the customer wishes to receive. This enables marketers to deliver a far more personalized and emotionally resonant customer experience. 

Then there is first-party data. While zero-party data is voluntarily shared by customers, first-party data is able to track website, apps and social media activity, showing valuable metrics such as what products customers are looking at and for how long. Powered by AI, these CDPs can collect, manage and use all of this zero and first-party data together to create customer profiles, allowing brands to understand consumer behavior on an individual and audience level. 

And it doesn’t stop there. Through AI, CDPs allow you to react in real-time to customers using your website. Taking advantage of real-time personalization and AI, for instance, you can remind customers of their ‘watched products’ and offer AI recommendations for similar items as they browse your website. 

Finally, with all this knowledge, AI is able to predict the optimum next best move that is most likely to land with a customer, increase engagement and forecast chances of conversion or churn as a result. The more you are able to deliver a personalized 1-to-1 experience for the customer, the more you can build trust and loyalty. 

The C: Connectivity 

For both A and B to work to their full effect, they need C. Connectivity takes into account the overall omnichannel experience, linking touchpoints, departments and products with customers. There is, firstly, the connectivity of customer touchpoints. Customers interact with brands through their website, emails, social media and in store. And then, secondly, as previously mentioned, there is connectivity between departments, such as sales, marketing and customer service.

This connectivity is made possible through application programming interfaces (APIs), which essentially allow information and data to be shared between different devices and apps. Using APIs, brands can connect all of their apps and platforms with each other seamlessly and process this customer data into a CDP. 

If departments can access data from other areas of the business, then new insights may emerge that had previously been missed. Rather than treating departments individually with their own goals and targets, a CDP helps you to create a more collaborative strategy, seeing a wider picture of how departments can complement each other. With this approach, customers can then enjoy a connected experience with all the various touchpoints they interact with. It’s a process that benefits both parties. 

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It’s easy as ABC 

The more Accessibility you have to data, the better you can understand the overall customer experience. And, to create a truly personal experience, you need to acquire a deep understanding of customers’ Behavior, enabling you to plan for, react to and predict trends. Finally, this all comes together through Connectivity, joining up the experience for both marketers and customers to strengthen the relationship and deliver new levels of customer intimacy. 

With a CDP, marketing really can be as easy as ABC. 

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