What does watching a flatscreen TV, using a smartphone and cloud marketing technology have in common? All three have been given names that are becoming increasingly obsolete.
Of these three examples, the term ‘flat’ or ‘smart’ or ‘cloud’ has been used as a way to highlight how sophisticated, cutting edge and superior they are to ‘curved’, ‘dumb’ or ‘on premise’ alternatives. The trouble is, all televisions have flat screens now (at least, not convex like a CRT screen), all phones are smart and almost every marketing vendor is in the cloud. These terms, arguably, are no longer a differentiator and have become largely irrelevant as a USP.
So let's dig into the hazy, fluffy world of 'Marketing Clouds'...Now, before we go too much further, it is important to point out that the BlueVenn Customer Data Platform quite neatly fits the description of what the industry would call ‘Marketing Cloud’ technology. According to ClickZ’s What the Hell is a Marketing Cloud, Anyway? report, such technology is defined as:
“An integrated suite of marketing tools which are available to marketers as web-based services offered by a software vendor.”
BlueVenn also ticks all the boxes as far as what the report claims most marketers opt for when looking for cloud software, namely:
- ‘Reduced complexity’
- A ‘single data source'
- Integrated suite of marketing tools'
- ‘Better customer experience’
- A ‘unified user interface'
- ‘Better visibility of ROI’
- ‘Improved ROI'
So, if BlueVenn is a textbook example of a Marketing Cloud solution, why do we choose not to align ourselves with other web-based marketing vendors? The trouble is, ‘cloud’ is an (appropriately) woolly word.
Like their real-life, cumulus counterpart, Marketing Clouds can also have many formations and perceived very differently by those on the ground.
Microsoft Marketing Cloud, for example, is distinctly different to the Adobe Marketing Cloud and the IBM Marketing Cloud. CRM solutions like the SalesForce Marketing Cloud are even more different still. Stuffing all these products together under the umbrella of ‘cloud’ seems like little more than an arbitrary grouping.
In fact, according to the aforementioned ClickZ report, 12% of the respondents don’t even know what a Marketing Cloud is. Others didn’t even realise some of the products they were using could actually be considered one.
Rather than meaningless cloud branding, should marketers be focusing their attentions elsewhere? While integrated systems, automated processes and being able to make smarter use of your data are undoubtedly desirable features, has something integral been overlooked?
In a report titled Marketing Technology 2017: Putting Customer Data at the Center, eMarketer found that the issue marketers are facing now is not that the tools they use are inadequate, it is making more strategic use of this technology.
As a marketing cloud solution is often a combination of several different components (commonly built into a suite of tools through acquisition), this creates a ‘mix and match’ view of customers. Their interwoven nature can mean less than perfect communication between internal and external sources, creating a ‘collected’ database rather than a ‘persistently unified’ one. After all, many systems containing customer data were not designed to talk to others!
Instead, the answer needs to be marketing tools built with data at their core.
Functionality has its place, but most marketing suites leave the actual data to someone else, both in the creation and the management.
The BlueVenn Customer Data Platform (CDP), on the other hand, can be a cloud solution but stands out because marketers make the database. They choose which external data sources are to be combined, which are then cleansed, deduplicated, unified and enhanced by the Single Customer View process, making the database both fit for marketing purpose and built in such a way that marketing automation and execution tools can readily connect to it.
Essentially, while a CDP (and the data) is like a LEGO baseboard to which you attach your marketing tool blocks, a traditional Marketing Cloud is more like tools fastened to a database with duct tape.
So, it’s time to forget the cloud and start focusing on what really counts: customer data.
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