The customer experience is top of mind for most brands these days, and marketers continue to turn towards technology to leverage customer data to drive their marketing campaigns. That’s why research by Forbes found that 78% of organizations have, or are developing, a customer data platform (CDP).

For most brands, it’s not easy to unify the data from all of their disparate systems to form a complete customer profile, but the right CDP could be the solution. Choosing a CDP is often a time-consuming and costly endeavor. That’s why we’ve asked customer analytics experts what to watch out for when choosing a CDP. 

You Can't Get a Complete Customer Profile?

First, suggested Kimaya Chaudhary, Product Marketing Manager, San José, C.A.-based Adobe Audience Manager, “it’s important to watch out for CDPs that cannot build a complete customer profile.” If a CDP cannot store data with granular governance controls, brands will be left with a fragmented and incomplete understanding of their customers, which fails to effectively improve the customer experience.

“Without a complete picture of their customers,” added Ben Jackson, GM of Walldorf, Germany-based SAP Customer Data Cloud, “brands have no way of effectively personalizing experiences.”

He believes a good CDP can help brands build long-lasting customer relationships based on profiles that contain data from every data source available, including transactional, behavioral, experiential, and more. The inability for a CDP to create a true 360-degree view of customers is a huge red flag to watch out for.

The CDP Can't Bring in Data in Real-Time

Second warned Chaudhary, “watch out for CDPs that are not able to bring in data in real-time.” She explained that many CDPs fail to enable relevant customer experiences because of data latency, batch data ingestion, or lagging system integrations. An effective CDP solution should provide real-time insights not just from the internal data it stores, but also from integrated third-party systems.

Jackson agreed that the inability to turn data into real-time insight is another red flag. “A successful CDP solution should provide a deep understanding and insight into your customers,” he explained, “to provide a data foundation for relevant, personalized engagements whenever the customer interacts with your brand.” And in today’s world — where data is constantly being generated and decays quickly — marketers need customer insights in real-time.

Integrations Are Difficult

“CDP’s need to capture any and all data, and connect to any and all touchpoints,” stated John Nash, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at Wellesley Hills, M.A.-based Redpoint Global. With pre-built integrations, companies can save substantial money and effort when pulling from various data sources into the CDP. Having IT build these integrations from scratch, however, is often cost-prohibitive and leads to too much friction when implementing a CDP solution.

Learning Opportunities

“When data integration isn’t done right,” agreed Jackson, “it can lead to increased frustrations and negative views of a company.” If brands can’t seamlessly receive input from one touchpoint and reflect this across channels, the customer experience will suffer. “When done correctly,” he continued, “you can break down these silos, remove redundancies and ensure the most accurate data all in one place.” Integrations, therefore, are an integral part of building a real-time, 360-degree customer profile that enables a seamless customer experience.

Security and Privacy Measures Are Not up to Par

“All customer related data has a purpose, whether that comes in the form of consent or an implicit data purpose,” stated Jackson. That means the CDP should understand how, when, and where customer data can be used. “This helps to ensure your organization is operating within the applicable data privacy regulation,” he explained, “and bolsters transparency with customers about your data collection and processing.”

Nash agreed that privacy and security are critical when it comes to customer data. “Without the best security,” Nash said, “you will be unable to integrate all of your customer data in one place, the entire purpose of a CDP.” Data is invaluable for most brands, and the CDP should have robust security measures in place to keep it safe.

The CDP Can't Handle Complex Customer Journeys

“Many CDPs have pivoted from other solutions and are not purpose-built,” stated Chaudhary. And oftentimes, that means these CDPs can’t handle the more critical customer experience use-cases that are unique to a business because they lack certain features. “Buyers need to look for a CDP that can handle large and complex customer journeys,” Chaudhary suggested, “while managing trillions of customer data points, profiles, and segments.” That’s why a purpose-built CDP is better positioned to handle advanced uses.

“It is easy for a CDP to support easy journeys,” Nash agreed, “but marketers are looking to support complex journeys that actually give them a competitive edge.” Without the ability of a CDP to adapt for the future, brands will start to fall behind. “Think through the most complicated consumer journeys that you have a goal to create over the next 1 to 3 years,” Nash recommended, “and make sure the CDP supports those journeys today.”