Customer data platforms and how to choose the best one for your team
There are so many ways to learn about your customer. You can study in-app behavior, assess the sentiment of their social media comments, pay attention to the promotions they respond to, listen to their customer support calls, and more.
But combining this data can be difficult for business intelligence and IT teams. And without this precious, multi-layered data, it’s nearly impossible for marketing teams to personalize their campaigns to the level audiences expect.
Fortunately, customer data platforms can help. A customer data platform (CDP) is a central repository for audience insights that empowers organizations to create more personalized and engaging customer experiences.
Although CRMs, DMPs, and other familiar tools also gather customer data, they don’t paint a holistic, 360-degree picture of the customer like a CDP does. In fact, many CDPs ingest DMP and CRM data to further enrich the information they’re already receiving from other channels.
Selecting a CDP can be daunting. With so many options available, it’s difficult to determine which platform will suit your needs best.
This post will outline how to choose a customer data platform in six steps.
- Identify stakeholders
- Outline your use cases
- Identify which tools you need
- Set priorities
- Compare vendors
- Make your selection
How to choose a customer data platform (CDP)
The key to making a confident decision about your CDP is to use a structured evaluation process.
1. Identify stakeholders
Like any big project, the first step in choosing a CDP is determining who must be involved in the decision-making process. Customary stakeholders are part of marketing, sales, and customer success teams. Additionally, team members who will use your CDP on a daily basis, manage those working in your CDP, or analyze reports that come from your CDP should also have an opportunity to be involved. Getting their input early can improve adoption later on.
2. Outline your use cases
Writing down a list of your needs can help you narrow your CDP vendors to fit exactly what you’re looking for. Here are a few common use cases to get you started.
- Get a 360-degree customer view. One of the many perks of using a CDP is its ability to centralize your data in one location. Being able to examine customer data at a holistic level and drill down into the details can reveal insights you may not have uncovered through disjointed reports. Plus, you can immediately put that data to use in marketing campaigns, customer success procedures, and sales conversations.
- Create personalized experiences. Audiences want highly curated marketing and sales experiences. CDPs allow you to interact with buyers at every stage of the journey through tailored content and personalized communications. The best CDPs offer actionable, real-time insights for B2C and B2B organizations.
- Improve multichannel or omnichannel marketing. There are many ways to engage with customers ー ads, email marketing, in-app notifications, and more. With a CDP, you can communicate with customers across multiple channels and track their responses, streamlining a consistent experience wherever they find you.
- Consolidate analytics. Digging through analytics on several channels or platforms takes time. CDPs collect and store online and offline data from different sources to equip you with better analytics.
- Manage data. Privacy and security are a top priority for every company. GDPR and CCPA-compliant CDPs can help companies adhere to current and future data privacy regulations.
3. Identify which tools you need
At this point, you’ll need to assess your tech stack. On the front end, your CDP should be able to connect to relevant customer data sources like CRMs, business intelligence (BI) tools, or data warehouses.
On the back end, your CDP should be able to integrate with downstream systems so you can personalize your messaging, sales, and customer support delivery. Look for integrations with advertising platforms, customer success or live chat tools, or customer engagement tools.
Read through CDP vendors’ API docs or ask sales engineers to clarify which APIs are already built and which ones you may need to develop yourself. Significant integration builds tax resources upfront and opens the door to constant update requests in the future. Ideally, the CDP you choose should integrate with the tools you already use.
It’s especially important to talk with your stakeholders at this stage. They may bring up other possible connections to your CDP or other preferred features you hadn’t considered. Add any new requirements to your list.
4. Set priorities
No single CDP will check every box, so it’s critical to prioritize the features you need most. For instance, meeting GDPR- and CCPA-compliance standards might be more crucial to your business than having a built-in API for a more obscure platform your team uses. Or maybe outstanding customer service or a network of excellent implementation partners are non-negotiables for your team.
Categorize your requirements as must-haves, nice-to-haves, and nonessentials. It can be challenging to make those calls but consider the relative value each requirement would bring in the future. CDP vendors’ pricing pages can serve as good inspiration. If anything on the page jumps out as a mission-critical feature, put it in the must-have section.
5. Compare vendors
Now it’s time to transform your priorities and requirements into an evaluation matrix. Start by creating a table with requirements as rows and vendors as columns. Next, establish a scoring system 一 it can be as simple as a rating from one to five.
Ask your stakeholders to rate each CDP’s ability to meet your requirements as your team reads reviews, peruses CDP comparison pages, and attends demos. When you tally up the scores, the CDPs that meet your highest priority requirements 一 and some of your nice-to-haves 一 should come out on top.
6. Make your selection
When your vendor matrix is filled out, schedule a discussion with your stakeholders. Review the vendors that best meet your requirements, listen to people’s feedback, and revisit CDP vendors to get specific questions answered if needed. You can also talk to finance about your budget and find out whether you need to make a stronger business case.
Ask IT about the feasibility of implementing a CDP in-house. If you’re not prepared to do that, ask CDP vendors whether they have a services team or work with preferred partners. Carefully examine case studies to substantiate those projects’ successes.
Going through this six-step process may seem lengthy, but making a final decision will be much more straightforward for you and your team when you’re armed with the appropriate information.
Transform your customer experience with a real-time CDP
Companies need CDPs for a variety of reasons — from greater personalization, to enhanced data analytics, to better data management. Pinpointing those reasons, determining which are most important, and mapping requirements to available options will help you find the right CDP for your business faster.
Adobe’s Real-Time CDP can help you turn data into loyal customers. It allows you to build enriched, privacy-ready consumer and account profiles that automatically update as more data is collected. And with hundreds of prebuilt connections, you can go from setup to data distribution in a matter of hours. Real-Time CDP is also equipped with a preset governance framework, ensuring privacy and compliance.
Check out this platform overview or take an interactive tour to learn more about how Adobe Real-Time CDP can revolutionize your go-to-market motion.