In a consumer-driven world, CDPs are essential
As brands try to keep up with shifting consumer behaviors, are customer data platforms becoming the MVP of martech stacks?
“Understanding the online behaviors of customers has always been really important,” said Dan Brewster, SVP of marketing and digital commerce for Planet Blue, “But, in light of recent events, it’s become even more important to us.”
Planet Blue specializes in women’s apparel and fashion. The company sells via e-commerce, direct-to-consumer and in its 13 stores in major U.S. markets.
“Omnichannel customers are going to be more profitable,” said Brewster, “So we’ve always had a goal of migrating customers into multiple channels.”
During Discover MarTech, Brewster shared how Planet Blue uses its customer data platform to deliver personalized experiences for shoppers across various channels while, at the same time, optimizing its marketing budget. (Watch his presentation here: “Building an Omnichannel Customer View,”)
Targeting high-profit customers
Planet Blue relies on BlueConic’s CDP to help it build an ecosystem that revolves around customer data. By doing this, the retail company is able to focus on higher frequency customers and bigger cart sizes, as well as bringing back lapsed customers with the exact right message based on segmentation achieved via the CDP.
“Every experience and engagement that the customer has with us is as personalized as possible,” said Brewster — a tactic that Planet Blue is able to implement because of its CDP’s data and personalization capabilities.
Because the company has limited budgets and resources, Brewster knows trying to reach every single customer is not a viable — or profitable — strategy. The CDP allows the company to suppress targeting customers who aren’t likely to convert, which makes for smarter retargeting efforts and reduced ad waste.
“You don’t want to spend a lot of extra money on the bottom 30% or 40% of your customer base. Those are the customers who are probably only going to try your product once,” said Brewster. His team takes in a combination of data points from its CDP to look at customer lifecycles and identify their best customers.
“The way we grow is by getting repeat purchases from our customers — increasing the frequency and value of those purchases is done through creating this holistic omnichannel experience,” said Brewster, “If I can get in front of that customer, not only in their neighborhood, but also on their phone and desktop in a really holistic way, then that voice that we have resonates further and can be easily amplified through referrals.”
Planet Blue’s CDP not only helps segment profitable customers, it has eliminated the need for Brewster’s team to manually clean its data.
“We have about two million records and it’s really unscalable to be able to clean that data on a regular basis with transactions occurring thousands of times a day,” said Brewster, “BlueConic has automated that transformation and made it very easy to get real-time insights from our customers.”
Consumers are in control
John Nash, the chief marketing and strategy officer for CDP Redpoint, says marketers have moved from a product-centric to customer-centric model — a transition that has forced brands to compete on the strength of their customer experience.
“Brands are looking at really understanding the intent of the consumer from the start,” said Nash during his Discover MarTech webinar on creating real-time, personalized customer experiences. According to Nash, such understanding of consumer behavior can only be attained through a deep analysis of customer data.
Figuring out the customer journey, from intent to purchase and re-engagement, is a key benefit to CDPs. Now that we operate in a world where the consumer is in control, delivering an exceptional customer experience can only happen if we are able to identify the critical moments across the customer journey, and meet the customer at every crucial moment.
“This has become a consumer-driven world and the experiences are increasingly consumer driven,” said Nash, “The brands aren’t in charge any longer. So we have to understand and match each consumer’s cadence across their journey — and ultimately deliver messages and offers that are highly relevant to them and hyper-personalized to their individual experiences.”
Nash referenced a consumer survey conducted by the Harris Poll that found 73% of consumers believe brands are failing to meet their expectations around personalized omnichannel experiences.
“That’s a pretty significant gap,” said Nash. But, he noted, marketers now have the data and technology available to scale millions of individual interactions in real-time moments, creating hyper-personalized experiences across the customer journey.
“This is helping marketers move from not only broad segments to segments of one, but really moving the elements of their journey dynamically — moving from linear journeys to dynamic journeys that are multi-event, highly personalized in the moment of interaction,” said Nash, “They’re real-time, event driven. They’re not only transactional, but they’re really across the whole customer lifecycle. And, they’re omnichannel.”
Nash says his company has seen clients that implement customer-centric CDP strategies, looking at individual behavior, usage, and sentiment, experience upwards of a 20% lift in response rates.
Connecting customer data practices to business outcomes
After conducting comprehensive interviews with companies across a number of industries — including food and beverage, mobile applications, automobiles and travel businesses — that have implemented CDPs, Forrester found that customer data best practices led to improved conversion rates, larger sales transactions, improved customer retention and lower advertising and marketing operations costs. Admittedly, the research was commissioned by the CDP provider Arm Treasure Data, but the findings are hard to shrug off.
“In today’s organization, data is probably the single most important differentiator for companies to win or lose in the market,” said Tamar Shor, Arm Treasure Data’s director of product strategy. Shor and Forrester Principal Consultant Sean Owens teamed up for a Discover MarTech presentation covering the Total Economic Impact report Forrester Research conducted on Arm Treasure Data’s CDP offering.
Forrester said the companies it interviewed for the report had access to customer data before implementing a CDP, but no way to connect the dots in terms of getting a holistic view of the customer journey. They couldn’t identify specific customer preferences or see signals that may lead to a customer loss — there was no single source for a “golden” customer record.
After implementing a CDP, the companies saw gains across the board, according to Owens. The travel company was able to highlight specific hotel features and amenities that might be of interest to specific groups — such as a yoga studio or close distance to public transit. The automobile company was able to target ad spend to the most effective channels and time slots.
“They were able to specifically target important audiences, such as those that completed the test drive and saw conversion rates as high as 5% in these groups,” said Owen about the automobile company interviewed by Forrester.
Again, these are findings based on a report commissioned by a CDP, but the data backs up similar outcomes Brewster reported from his experience.
“It’s ultimately about trying to create a relationship with a customer from your e-commerce business in a similar way you would with your in-store customer — trying to replicate that in-store experience online,” said Brewster, “And it’s difficult to do, but it certainly moves a lot farther along based on having that data available.”