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PHOTO: Quincena Musical

Because businesses collect vast volumes of customer data, it’s easy to assume that marketers have everything they need to understand what makes customers tick. So why is it that so many marketing departments still resort to mass campaigns aimed at no particular demographic?

The reason is the same as it has been for years: Businesses have masses of data, but it isn’t often at their fingertips for use, and it isn’t necessarily easy to understand when it is readily available. Today’s marketers might be more comfortable using data in their campaigns than ever, but that doesn’t mean they are all proficient data scientists.

Adding to the problem is the fact that data is frequently strewn across all corners of their organizations, held in a range of disparate systems and information silos, in a wide variety of data formats. This inaccessibility prevents marketers from understanding customers and their behaviors, and it hampers their ability to target consumers with relevant campaigns.

If marketers want to create personalized experiences and campaigns, and if they want to build campaigns that make effective use of the information they collect, they need a foundation of accurate customer data to fuel their decision-making.

This is why, of all the different data management tools available, the customer data platform (CDP) has emerged as one of the most desirable solutions for marketers looking to adopt more focused, data-driven strategies.

Yes, I admit the term “customer data platform” carries some hype and confusion. However, while similar-sounding systems claim to do much the same thing (data warehouses, tag management, master data management, data management platforms — take your pick!), only customer data platforms offer the combination of data collection, profile unification and first-party data activation. Importantly, CDPs are one of the few tools that prioritize marketers’ access to, and management of, customer data.

Related Article: What's the Difference Between Customer Data Platforms and Data Management Platforms?

Developing Insight to Take Action

Chief among those aforementioned features is a CDP’s ability to merge, cleanse and deduplicate online and offline customer data to create a unified view. Because data unified like that can include behavioral and transactional data, it helps marketers better understand the needs and actions of their customers.

Deeper, more informed insights lead to the ability to build accurate customer segments for the creation of highly targeted marketing campaigns. Plus, reliable, accurate data aids the building and use of predictive models, helping marketers calculate what their customers may want in the future by analyzing their shopping habits.

Related Article: Keep Your Eyes on CDP's: They'll Be Worth $1B by 2019

Building Efficient, Effective Marketing Campaigns

I could tell you more about the data management and analytics side of CDPs. However, I feel it’s important here to explain how a CDP, particularly one that includes multichannel campaign management and customer journey orchestration (not all of them do), can make your marketing more efficient and deliver better results.

CDPs can help you do the following:

  • Instantly access information: CDPs are designed for marketing teams, not IT departments. They provide rapid access to usable customer data, meaning you do not have to endure the long process of requesting customer data from your IT department or waiting for third parties to process the requests you make in which you ask questions of your data.
  • Send the right messages to the right people: Clean and accurate data helps you create more personalized communications. For example, if you want to send a promotion to 21-to-30-year-old men in Boston who are interested in mountain biking, a CDP will give you the correct data, segmented and cleansed, to build a targeted campaign with a message that is more likely to resonate with people in the target audience.
  • Build cross-channel campaigns more easily: Unifying your customer data into a single source of reference makes it more feasible to create powerful cross-channel campaigns. Accurate, consistent records make developing consistent experiences across multiple channels and touchpoints throughout the customer journey possible.
  • Make efficient use of your marketing budget: Access to up-to-date, carefully segmented data decreases the likelihood that you will send email messages, direct-mail materials and other types of promotional material to the wrong people or to the wrong addresses. This means that you are not wasting money trying to contact people who don’t want your marketing communications or won’t even receive them.
  • Identify cross-sell and upsell opportunities: Better analysis and deeper insights mean you have a better knowledge of what your customers purchased in the past. This means you are more likely to calculate their propensity to buy other items and identify relevant cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

When you understand your customers, you learn how to market your products and services to them. A CDP combines all the data you need to generate highly personalized customer journeys and tailored customer experiences. In turn, this ensures that your customers enjoy an outstanding shopping experience that is unique to them — and that will have a knock-on effect in the form of an increase in customer loyalty to your brand.

Effective campaigns are one of the many reasons why marketers are exploring CDPs to learn how they can boost customer engagement and, ultimately, the bottom line.