Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are rapidly becoming the preferred marketing-focused databases that provide a true unified 360-degree view of your customers.
In essence, a Customer Data Platform (CDP) brings in data from multiple sources, cleans it, and combines it into a single location which is accessible in real-time for applications (such as eCommerce platforms) and marketing automation systems to leverage.
Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are designed to achieve a true 360 degree view of your customer. Any source of data you have about your customers should be accessible inside the Customer Data Platform.
Examples of data sources include Google Tag Manager, PC and console games, Enterprise Resource Planners (ERP), mobile apps, Internet-of-thing (IoT) Sensors, Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM), eCommerce platforms, SQL databases and Facebook Ads Insights among many others.
Customer Data Platforms typically enable you to truly understand your customer data by interrogating them with self-service BI tools such as Microsoft’s Power BI, QlikView and Tableu, and your preferred marketing automation system.
Customer Data Platforms are ‘unified’, in that their sole purpose is to link data from multiple systems with customer identifiers to create a unified customer view.
CDPs are persistent, as they store customer data permanently. They don’t need to go back and continuously read data from source systems, or replicate the data into multiple customer facing systems.
This persistence enables marketers to leverage and analyse a full set of customer data in a single place, meaning they can deliver more impactful marketing campaigns through accessing a much richer set of customer data.
Unlike enterprise data warehouses, which are typically built, managed and used by corporate IT departments, Customer Data Platforms are intended for use by marketing teams.
Because of their narrower scope and specific aim to assist marketers, software vendors are able to design them for a small set of use-cases, meaning they are simpler and easier to manage.
Furthermore, many CDPs are cloud-based and thus don’t come with the overhead that traditional enterprise data warehouses require, simplifying an otherwise significant effort to ingest, transform, store and present data to the applications that need it.
Customer Data Platforms aren’t intended to purely act as a data store – rather, they’re designed for other systems to integrate with and leverage.
Examples include eCommerce web sites, which can leverage information in the Customer Data Platform to dynamically present products relevant to a specific visitor, and marketing automation systems, which are able to draw down on a much deeper source of information to deliver better outcomes.
To present information to these other applications in near-real time, a high-throughput, performance-optimised database is required – and that’s what CDPs can offer.
Consumer-focused businesses such as retailers often have large amounts of customer-relevant data inside core systems such as their Enterprise Resource Planners (ERPs), in-store Internet-of-things (IoT) Sensors and eCommerce web sites that they wish to aggregate to gain a 360-degree view of their customers.
Leveraging Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRM) to hold such a large amount of data – particularly machine-generated data such as web site cookies/tags, and mobile app usage statistics, plus of course entire transaction histories – is tempting, but impractical. The relatively slow performance from CRMs means they are unable to deliver the throughput required to support live systems such as web sites that offer visitor personalisation functions, and storing such large amounts of data in these applications is typically cost prohibitive too.
Instead, Customer Data Platforms are designed to treat systems such as ERPs, CRMs, eCommerce sites and mobile apps as data sources. Each system individually provides a specific lens on a customer, and only when all this data is combined are marketers able to truly execute initiatives with a complete view of their customers.