How to build customer profiles using a CDP

Customer data experts break down the key ingredients that go into a CDP.

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Implementing a customer data platform (CDP) can be complicated for an organization of any size. It’s important to keep the key ingredients of the process top-of-mind at each point in the process.

At the center of the CDP is the data, so there are issues of data quality and data sources to be dealt with. But in the bigger picture, the organization also has to consider who is using the CDP and why.

MarTech recently gathered a number of experts to discuss the most important ingredients in the CDP building and implementation process.

Dig deeper: Prepare for CDP implementation using a template for use cases

Two important ingredients for CDPs

“I like to think of it as a sandwich, where the customer data lives in the middle of that sandwich, but you can’t have the filling without the outside pieces [holding it together],” said Gavin Estey, technical director, Appnovation. “You’re just going to have a mess on your hands.”

“The two ‘pieces of bread’ are the ingestion and data processing [on one end] and the activation [on the other end],” he added.

These two pieces correspond to the two main questions around building a customer profile. First, how is the data going into the profile? Second, what will be done with the data to make it actionable and useful?

“If you have the best customer database in the world and you can’t do anything with it that’s really valuable to your business, it’s not helping you,” said Estey.

Understanding who will use the CDP

Another key factor is understanding the team that will be using it. For marketers to get the most out of CDO, it should be implemented with these purposes in mind.

“The marketing-driven approach is more focused on activation,” said Brian Mitterko, lead consultant, CDPs, Bounteous. “What does the customer journey look like? How are we activating this data and how are we orchestrating? How are we reporting on results?”

Beginning with a clear understanding of what you need the CDP to accomplish for the organization is just as important as the question of should you build or buy [a CDP].”

Don’t forget about your customers

When an organization is deciding on a new technology to implement, they can’t help but think about larger economic challenges. In times of recession, or at the height of the pandemic in 2020, companies should embrace their most loyal customers.

Maintaining a focus on loyal customers is also important in adopting and implementing a CDP.

“What programs can I invest in that will make my most loyal customers stick with me through these turbulent times?” asks Alex Dal Canto, senior director of product marketing, Acquia. “What is going to help me maintain the share of wallet within that customer base, and ultimately build strong advocates to help us come out of this uncertainty even stronger when everyone turns the page onto the next growth phase?”

He added, “A CDP is really core to understanding who those most loyal customers are and how you can best engage them and understand their needs in the moment.”

“Customer needs are just as important as the needs of the organization implementing the CDP,” he added. “Keep them both in mind as key ingredients when building and implementing a CDP for your team.”

You can view the rest of the discussion, “How to decide to build or buy: A customer data checklist,” here.

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About the author

Chris Wood
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country's first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on "innovation theater" at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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