By the CDP Institute’s RealCDP definition, a true Customer Data Platform must be able to ingest data from any source, capture the full detail of that data and retain it indefinitely (subject to privacy constraints), create a unified profile of an identified individual (that is, a Single Customer View or SCV), and share that profile with any system that needs it. This sounds like a marketer’s dream – but doesn’t guarantee that marketers will be able to access and leverage that data to gain insights, enrich the customer profile, and meet regulatory obligations. For that, an added user interface is needed.
A user interface is a digital bridge that connects marketers with their customer data and allows them to interact with and manipulate it. They may wish to do so:
- To load and manage the data, without having to rely on IT or a third party to do it
- To get answers to unlimited queries, fast and without breaking the bank
- To comply with current and future data protection regulations
- To put customers in control of their own experience
Here’s how a user interface can help them to do that.
Load and manage data
Not all marketers are technical, but loading data can be and can sometimes require knowledge of coding and SQL that many marketers just don’t have. That means the Marketing Team must hand over to IT, the vendor or either an MSP or data agency, not only to load their data on first purchase but maintain their SCV over time. After all, customers change things about themselves frequently – their address, their family size, their name if they get married, their phone number – and their relationship with a brand also progresses as they search for new items, make purchases and leave feedback. This means that constant work is required to maintain the database, which will take up a lot of IT’s time or a good portion of the marketing budget to pay for managed services.
A user interface puts Marketing in control of the SCV by allowing them to connect to other platforms and systems, to pick and choose what data to extract, without having to write any code themselves. They will therefore save time and money by performing tasks they would otherwise have to entreat others to do. Not only that, but the marketer is able to choose the data processing and matching rules used to cleanse, merge, de-duplicate and enhance their data, so they can be sure that it is reliable and includes the information that they need to understand their customers.
Fast answers to queries
It’s not every CDP that can give you omnichannel marketing capabilities alongside data management functionalities, but the better vendors on the market will offer both. That means that, as well as managing the data, marketers will be able to analyse it and use the resulting insights to segment their audience for marketing campaigns and build predictive models for things like lifetime value, ensuring the bulk of their budget will be invested in engaging the customers likely to spend most, rather than using a ‘spray and pray’ strategy and to try and secure a purchase.
This processing can be done without a user interface, but not quickly or cheaply. If the Marketing Team wants to query the data, this will mean uploading it from the CDP, transferring it into a spreadsheet, performing the necessary calculations to get answers, then transferring those answers back into the CDP to power campaigns. Or, if they prefer to avoid this labor, taking up IT’s time or paying an external party richly to do the analysis and segmentation for them. Plus, IT will have other jobs and the third party contractor other clients. Since this is not such an urgent priority for them as it is to Marketing, it is likely to take a week or more to receive answers to queries or processed data.
With a drag-and-drop user interface, though, huge quantities of data can be extracted from the SCV in seconds and visualized in graphs, charts and models to help marketers to make the very best campaign decisions they can. They will also be able to drill down into precise audiences based on data segments like specific demographic, lifestyle or attitudinal characteristics, as well as cluster customers for targeting with campaigns, offers and brand loyalty rewards. All of this can, once again, be done by the Marketing Team themselves, making the process cheaper and allowing marketers to gain fast insights to enable quicker campaign kick-off.
Ease of compliance
Let’s face it, the penalties that the European GDPR and the CCPA inflict upon companies that suffer a breach are stiff. The prospect of losing 4% of your company’s global annual turnover, or being sued by each of your customers, is frightening. Nor are breaches all companies have to worry about; there’s also a requirement to demonstrate a concerted effort to safeguard customer data by the GDPR, and to be able to produce a record of information held on an individual (and delete it on request) by both regulations.
The trouble is, companies hold so much data nowadays. It can flood in from social media sites, wearable technology, tracking links, or your website, perhaps even via a real-time feed. Different teams within the company, moreover, may hold different data on every customer, and rounding it up manually can be a nightmare and take far longer than the allowed 30 days. Any CDP will play a huge part in taking the headache out of compliance, as its very reason for existing is to store every bit of data on a customer in one place, keeping a precise, time-stamped record of every change that record goes through.
This is all well and good, but again, there’s the problem of access. Even with the data drawn together, extracting it in time to meet deadline will be a laborious or very expensive process. A user interface will make everything much simpler. It will allow marketers to see instantly what the SCV contains, then take action to either print or transfer it on receipt of a subject access request (SAR), or delete it altogether. Not only that, it can help make a breach far less likely, as a marketer will be able to selectively conceal parts of a record when sharing data with third parties, ensuring that sensitive, person information never leaves the company’s system.
A better customer experience
It matters what customers think of your brand, since word of mouth is a powerful thing and customers are not only less keen to buy from brands they feel don’t protect their data, but will tell their friends not to buy from them. The thing is, a bad reputation isn’t just earned by allowing a breach, but by getting your targeting wrong or ignoring customer preferences when it comes to communications. Perhaps they always buy red shoes for their child, but you keep sending emails with discounts for blue ones. Or, they have clearly stated that they’d rather not receive communications by email, but emails keep arriving. Then again, maybe emails are fine with them – but not when they receive the same one at each of three different email addresses.
A CDP can be a huge help in ensuring that you understand your customers well enough to please them. A Single Customer View will ensure you know their preferences, both in terms of product and communications, and will make those preferences plain for every department to see. The SCV will also ensure that duplicates and errors will be erased, so that customers won’t be missed from campaigns that might interest them or targeted many times by mistake.
A user interface will take your efforts at engagement further by putting the customer in control of their experience. It gives marketers the option to create a secure web form and place any data field into it, allowing each customer to select their product and communications preferences, not to mention unsubscribe if they wish to. That means they can choose which products they’d like to hear about, how often, and by which channel. It will also give them the option to amend the information held. Marketers are always striving to send the right communications to the right people at the right time – so why not let the customers aid your efforts?
How important is marketing control?
Customer Data Platforms are designed to be managed by the Marketing Team. The business case presented to justify the investment usually states that a CDP will reduce the time, cost and risk of marketing projects and give marketers more control over customer data, so that they can run more effective campaigns. However, without a user interface, marketers will find that they require IT or third party assistance to leverage the data held, so the time and cost required to run campaigns, maintain the CDP and meet compliance obligations will rise.
That’s why we at BlueVenn feel a user interface is a crucial part of any CDP, since it allows marketers live up to their business case of taking control of customer data, without needing technical knowledge or extensive training to do so. Be sure to consider, when choosing the right vendor to match your needs, whether a user interface is important to your team too.
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- Use predictive analytics to make real-time decisions that positively affect the customer journey
- Improve targeting of campaigns using customer segmentation and RFV analysis
- Use real-time personalization to better engage customers
- Integrate online and offline channels into the BlueVenn Customer Data Platform to create a true Single Customer View