5 functions your customer data platform needs to enable better customer experiences

Deploying a customer data platform (CDP) helps you build unified customer profiles — but if there are latencies in how profiles are built, refreshed, and activated, those lag times can damage your customer experience (CX). What’s worse, if you’re offering experiences based on outdated preferences or revoked permissions, your hard work at understanding and personalizing to customers’ interests may end up alienating them.

According to the Customer Data Platform Institute, CDPs are becoming an essential tool for marketers seeking to address those challenges, but not all CDPs are able to deliver the promise of great customer experiences.

Future-proof your data management by choosing a robust CDP

The CDP purchasing process is an investment in time and resources that can be stressful and time-consuming for organizations that are unprepared. However, when you know what to look for, evaluating the available options becomes easier.

"We've had a number of customers come to us after another CDP didn't work out. For many, the first system that was chosen was unable to deliver on the promises their team was sold. For others, they quickly outgrew the basic use cases that were possible with the CDP they purchased."

– Matt Skinner, Group Manager, Product Marketing, Adobe Real-Time CDP and Adobe Audience Manager

To find a CDP that’ll help you deliver the experiences your customers expect, you need to be asking the right questions of the vendors you evaluate. Here are the top five capabilities your chosen CDP should support.

1. Omnichannel unification

You need a system that can unify data across channels, departments, and technologies. While any CDP should collate data into unified profiles, not all systems are suited for both B2C and B2B data. Also, some CDPs can’t integrate with platforms within and beyond marketing functions.

Checklist for omnichannel unifications:

2. Real-time updates

Your personalization is only as current as your slowest link in the chain of data ingestion, audience creation, and activation workflows. Small delays and lags will add up, and latencies mean you aren’t personalizing the CX to the customer’s current interests. For example, if you choose a CDP that only runs segmentation once each day, you run the risk of delivering experiences based on what your customer was browsing yesterday, without considering their engagements that have taken place since. We’ve all been retargeted with an advertisement for a product we have already bought — in addition to this being a frustrating customer experience, it also represents wasted budget for the advertiser.

Checklist for real-time updating:

With increased awareness of how data is being used and regional regulations emerging across the globe, it has never been more important for brands to market responsibly and honor consumer preferences.

It’s essential to comply with governance and consent requirements. Most CDPs do support opt-out requests, but not all systems offer the tools you need to unify data governance. That can leave you trying to manage customer preferences and data permissions across multiple siloes.

“Data is a valuable asset. Solid governance should be built in to protect that asset, the organization, and the end user.”

– Matt Skinner, Group Manager, Product Marketing, Adobe Real-Time CDP and Adobe Audience Manager

Some CDPs skirt the issue by claiming governance should happen before data is ingested, so be sure you know how your intended CDP supports data governance, or you can end up having to find an add-on solution for that vital function.

Checklist for governance and consent:

A critical function of any CDP is to make customer data available to downstream systems for experience delivery. However, there are important considerations around the extent and actionability of the data that can be used to personalize customer experiences.

4. Flexible integrations for experience delivery

Offering customers consistent experiences is part of building brand loyalty. To deliver those consistent experiences, your CDP must send complete profile-level data (customer attributes, events, and segments) to your activation systems. Some CDPs offer integrations that only forward event-level data — without audience qualification — which means downstream systems conduct audience qualification. This introduces latencies and leads to inconsistent audience definition, making it more difficult for your brand to deliver consistent experiences, time after time.

Checklist for integrations:

5. Future-proofing

As a continuously growing organization, use cases and lines of business will mature over time. Be prepared with a robust CDP that offers extensibility and the ability to scale, helping to maximize value across multiple teams, departments, and business units.

Many large organizations operate business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) lines of business. Check that any CDP under consideration is designed for marketing to both B2C and B2B customers, to avoid duplicative systems and make life easier for marketing and IT teams.

The system should also share backend architecture with the complementary applications involved in powering great customer experiences. This will streamline workflows and make it easier to align between teams and business units.

A CDP is an important strategic purchase for your organization, and it should be one that you don’t outgrow as your business matures.

Checklist for future-proofing:

“The digital landscape is changing faster than ever. Your CDP should be designed to adapt at that same pace, so you can continue to respond to customers in real-time.”

– Matt Skinner, Group Manager, Product Marketing, Adobe Real-Time CDP and Adobe Audience Manager

Get the complete package

While CDP options abound, many don’t offer all the essentials you need to create exceptional experiences for your customers: omnichannel unification, real-time updates, productized governance and consent, flexible integrations for experience delivery, and future-proofing. Picking the right CDP allows your organization to maximize ROI while reducing work for your teams.

With Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform, marketers can seamlessly integrate their CDP with Adobe Experience Cloud applications, departmental applications, and third-party systems. This creates a comprehensive tech stack with the advantage of real-time data processing and activation. For example, a restaurant chain might notice that a frequent customer has flown across the country. By updating in real-time, the restaurant could send a welcome message and suggest a few tasty regional specialties available at their local establishment — before the customer has even picked up their luggage.

Adobe Real-Time CDP supports both B2C and B2B profiles for unified, actionable data on all aspects of your business. Learn more about Adobe Real-Time CDP.

Looking for more details? Use the Adobe CDP Checklist to help you choose the best CDP option.