Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Customer Data Platform

In a guest post with B&T, Damian Williams, our CTO at n3 Hub, says data is the key for any modern marketer and that makes choosing the right customer data platform (CDP) all the more important. Here’s his tips…

Of all the resources needed by an organisation’s marketing team, the most important is access to accurate customer data.

By combining transactional data with personal and behavioural data, it is possible to create a holistic view of each customer. This, in turn, allows marketing and communications to be personalised which will strengthen relationships and lead to an increase in spend.

To collate and manage these streams of data, increasing numbers of organisations are deploying Customer Data Platforms (CDPs). These platforms are designed to add value by combining multiple streams of data and providing marketing teams with valuable insights and capabilities.

CDP categories

Like many other types of digital tools, CDPs come in a range of different guises. Some are part of a broader software stack while others are dedicated platforms designed specifically to deliver CDP functionality. The categories include:

  • Marketing clouds: These tend to have been developed by a fully integrated technology stack company, such as Salesforce, Adobe, or Oracle. They work well for organisations that have already invested in a particular ecosystem and now want to add CDP capabilities. For this reason, the CDP capability tends to come in the form of a component that is ‘bolted on’ to an existing stack.
  • Smart hub CDPs: These variants will suit marketing teams that are looking for an easy-to-use interface as they don’t have deep technical skills. Their capabilities tend to focus mostly on marketing and have only a limited ability to be integrated with other tools.
  • Data integration CDPs: Platforms in this category will suit marketers who have a lot of experience in development and the building of data models as they allow teams to do a lot more work with underlying data. These CDPs will not be as intuitive to use as those in the marketing cloud category, but they offer considerably more flexibility ‘under the hood’. Some may require an additional visualisation tool to be added to be most effective.
  • Dedicated independent CDPs: These have been designed from the ground up to operate as a CDP. Most are able to be integrated with many other components and manage data from a wide variety of sources. These CDPs can also be used successfully in both online and offline environments. 

Selecting the right CDP

When an organisation decides to select and deploy a CDP, there are a range of factors that need to be considered. This is a vital first step if maximum value is going to be achieved from the investment.

One key factor is the organisation’s existing software stack and how readily it can be connected to the various types of CDPs. The objective is to improve overall functionality without creating significantly more complexity that then needs to be managed.

A second factor for consideration is an organisation’s growth rate. If this is strong and customer numbers are rising quickly, a CDP will be required that can readily scale to meet additional demands. This is likely to see the organisation opt for a dedicated CDP platform.

The organisation’s data environment is another point for consideration. It’s important to determine how many sources of data will be used and in what form it will be collected for analysis. If sources are numerous and differ in format, a data integration CDP could be the best choice.

If budgets allow it, a marketing cloud can be a good option for many organisations. This strategy will also make sense for those that have already embraced one of the full stack offerings from vendors such as Oracle or Salesforce.

If, on the other hand, an organisation has a complex data environment as well as a suite of tools from multiple vendors, a dedicated CDP is likely to be the best fit. This will be able to link with the tools and ensure data can be used in the most effective way.

A dedicated CDP will also allow valuable first-party data to be stored within an existing security perimeter rather than on a cloud-based SaaS platform. This is important as more attention is being given to data privacy and the management of personally identifiable information.

It’s important to remember that data now underpins virtually every aspect of customer interactions with a business. By taking the time to carefully select the most appropriate CDP, an organisation can ensure it is well placed to deliver high levels of service both now and in the future.

Get in touch today to see how n3 Hub can deliver results to your marketing team.