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Martech Mastery: CDP 101

James Meyers

Product Strategy Director

Welcome to episode 1 of Martech Mastery — a new video series from ActionIQ’s Head of Martech Strategy James Meyers. As a former analyst for one of the world’s most respected technology research and advisory firms, James wants to help you make great technology decisions and look like an expert in the process.

Today’s episode of Martech Mastery is about the basics of customer data platforms (CDP). Watch the video above to learn:

What is a CDP?

As James points out in the above video, CDPs are designed to help business teams resolve the bottlenecks and technical challenges that prevent them from becoming self-serving and customer-centric by:

  • Unifying all customer data
  • Providing an easy-to-use interface for managing data
  • Segmenting audiences
  • Generating predictive insights
  • Orchestrating seamless experiences across all marketing, services and sales channels

To do all this, a CDP must have four capabilities. These include the ability to:

  1. Create a 360-degree customer view
  2. Display customer analytics
  3. Orchestrate customer experiences
  4. Enable non-technical users with a business-friendly user interface

What Makes a CDP Different From Other Technologies?

You may be wondering what separates CDPs from other technologies, such as data lakes, enterprise data warehouses (EDW) or customer relationship management (CRM) tools. The answer lies in what they’re designed to do — and who they’re designed for.

Because data lakes and EDWs are built for IT and analytics professionals instead of everyday business users, they don’t have the business-friendly user interface necessary to democratize customer data and empower your marketing, customer service and sales teams to self-service.

Meanwhile, since CRM tools are built for sales teams with specific objectives in mind, they’re unable to store the full breadth of your customer data.

Additionally, neither data lakes, EDWs or CRM tools can:

  • Deduplicate customer profiles to ensure you have a master profile for each customer
  • Support real-time use cases such as automated triggers and profile lookups
  • Orchestrate multi-step customer journeys

With that being said, it’s highly recommended that enterprise companies have a data lake or EDW to assist with storing non-customer data — such as product, vendor, store and financial information — to serve as the source of truth for all your data. CDPs may store some of this data to support customer experiences, but they’re not intended to be your enterprise-wide analytics platform.

How Does the CDP Interact With the Rest of My Technology Stack?

CDPs interact with your other technologies — including data lakes, EDWs and CRM tools — in ways intended to improve the performance of your marketing technology stack, connect the dots between your different customer data sources and eliminate time-consuming manual processes.

For instance, your CDP can export customer and interaction history from your EDW and use it to help your business teams personalize customer engagement across different channels as part of a marketing campaign.

The easiest way to understand it is by imagining your CDP as the central hub of your customer experience strategy, with your best-of-breed technologies — such as website personalization, email delivery and business intelligence tools — acting as spokes around it. Each spoke only collects a subset of the signals your customers are sharing with them. A CDP — acting as the foundation of your CX hub — informs those tools with your customers’ full historical profiles, affinities, predictive insights and more to make them better.

Stay tuned for episode 2 of Martech Mastery, when James will dive into the benefits of CDPs and the risks of forgoing this technology.

Learn More

Download our 2021 CDP Market Guide to learn more about different types of CDPs or contact one of our experts to see how ActionIQ can help you become a martech master.

Written By

Product Strategy Director

James Meyers is a Product Strategy Director, coming to ActionIQ from a leading research firm where he studied and advised organizations on customer data platforms (CDPs) and customer analytics. James has unique expertise in data management solutions, having built and operationalized a homemade CDP at Lowe’s Home Improvement in addition to implementing an MDM solution there as a data engineer.

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