Avoid This One Mistake in Constructing an RFP for a Customer Data Platform

Authored by Brian Ivanovick

Marketers in charge of establishing a single view of their customers face a daunting task. They’re bombarded by vendors in an unregulated CDP marketplace including tried-and-true offerings and chameleon imposters. Making an accurate choice when constructing your CDP RFP is not easy!

Thankfully, the root cause of failed CDP deployments is something within marketers’ control. In fact, the number one reason is not the selection of an ineffective vendor, but rather the absence of solid initial use cases.

This is where we can help.

ActionIQ successfully assists marketers in learning the specific outcomes a CDP can produce (along with the ones other technologies are needed to fulfill), contributing to the success of our 100% referenceable client base.

Do you know what the biggest pitfall is that we’ve learned over the years?

If you want to ensure an optimal vendor selection, do not base your RFP on CDP features. Doing so will only guarantee that you know which features each vendor offers.

Instead, if you want to be assured a vendor actually delivers on your marketing objectives, focus on them. Your objectives. First and foremost. Don’t wait until later.

Think about it this way: Will your ultimate recommendation of a vendor be measured by whether their CDP delivers a set of features, or will your recommendation be measured by how well the chosen CDP fulfills your use cases? The latter!

If you’re still not convinced, here are two other reasons for constructing your CDP RFP based on use cases:

  1. Eventually, you’ll be asking vendors to conduct demos, emphasizing that they illustrate their adeptness at fulfilling various use cases. If so much of your evaluation is centered on these demos, then why not acquire this information beforehand and double-up your assessment of their abilities? This way you’re not seeing and learning things for the first time when the vendor comes onsite, ultimately leading to a higher quality decision.
  2. A final reason to focus on use cases is to gauge the commitment of your vendor. If you care about your vendor’s ability to partner, then use this as an opportunity to assess how much effort vendors put into their responses. Do they ask clarifying questions about your use cases, cover ancillary best practices like measurement, testing, reporting, and automation, or do they simply write a basic response and stop there. After all, your sales experience often reflects the culture of the vendor you’ll be partnering with.

Bottom Line: Increase your selection accuracy by structuring your RFP around use cases.

Want an example of how it’s done best?

A client of ours defied the old practice of asking two billion, feature-specific RFP questions and decided to ask us these types of questions instead:

  • “How would you help us achieve operational efficiency in our campaign operations?”
  • “How would you help us increase the efficiency of our paid digital advertising?”
  • “How would you help us recommend the right products, content, or offers to customers across marketing, CX, and commerce channels?”
  • “How would you help us identify at-risk customers and increase customer loyalty?”

For each question, the client asked us to frame our responses by describing the end-to-end features, infrastructure, security, and services that come together to create an optimal outcome.

It was beautiful.

And better yet, it created a win-win result.

From our end, while it forced us to write a bit of a lengthy response, we were grateful in knowing what the organization’s true objectives were, meaning we could illustrate our comprehensive approach towards creating successful outcomes. 

Equally, the customer won because they learned which vendor could optimally fulfill their objectives. They didn’t have to thumb through fifty pages of feature-only responses and determine which features would ultimately propel or squash their objectives. Guess work = gone.

To get you moving in the right direction, here are some recommended next steps: 

  1. Learn the common 20-25 use cases of a CDP (plus what the most critical features are to enable them). You’ll walk away with a custom list of use cases — prioritized for your brand — to anchor your business case and RFP.
  2. Narrow your list of potential vendors to 3-4 qualified providers using our complimentary RFI template. Quickly eliminate vendors not satisfying any fundamental features of a CDP.
  3. Craft your RFP around your use cases, including ones that are beyond your current maturity to help future-proof your vendor selection. Supplement it with questions that gauge security, privacy, and overall company background. 
  4. Require vendors to be honest and annotate when they would need new features to be built (or when they would need custom services to be involved) in order to solve your use cases. A vendor that says they can do it all is probably lying.
  5. Send your RFP to the 3-4 vendors.

ActionIQ Can Help – Contact Us Now to Get Started!



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