Platform your LTA isn’t cutting it but you can’t switch to MTA or MMM because your CRM isn’t a CDP so can’t deliver you an SCV – sort it out PDQ!

Even amongst the ‘Three-Letter-Acronym’ besotted English-speaking (texting) world, the data-driven marketing industry stands head-and-shoulders above the rest in our overuse of the TLA. Excluding non-industry people from our clique with undefined acronyms is a geek’s way (my way) to appear more educated and maybe a bit more mysterious.

Not very bloody helpful though, is it?

And it doesn’t work either, it’s just a bit much…

I’ve wanted to write about Customer Data Platforms (CDPs, inevitably) for weeks, but the tsunami of three-letter acronyms that immediately came to mind made even me come out all blotchy. That said, Customer Data Platforms can be a canny investment if you want to get the most out of your marketing pounds, especially at a time when us consumers are spending more on mortgage interest than we are on luxury items (like a pint in the pub).

So I’m going to do a basic introduction to Customer Data Platforms and I promise to keep it long-hand; no more TLAs. I’ll explain what Customer Data Platforms are, what they allow you to do, and why you need one in your life.

First off, what is a Customer Data Platform? It’s a database. A platform that includes all your customers, prospects, and people you’ve engaged with plus any information you have about any of them. It is different from your Customer Relationship Management platform because it contains more. It links together the transactional data that sits in the Customer Relationship Management platform with data from all the various siloes in your business as well as additional data from things like website tracking. Usually, your Customer Data Platform will take in all this data in real-time and stitch it all together using actual magic. With all your data about everyone you know all in one place, you now have a Single Customer View.

What’s great about a Single Customer View is that you get to see all the interactions you have had with a customer in the period before they buy. A Customer Relationship Management Platform will hold a record of the last interaction you had with a customer. The last interaction, typically credited with closing the sale, is usually self-reported (“Where did you hear about us”) and often wrong or misleading (“Oh I can’t remember but I did do a Google Search so I’ll just select that…”). This so-called Last Touch Attribution is a technique for helping to make sure that marketing spend is being distributed efficiently. “25% of my new customers came in from Google so Google must really be working.” Well maybe.

The Single Customer View in your new Customer Data Platform will confirm that the just-mentioned visitor did come from Search (it was Bing, actually) and they had clicked on a paid link. It also records that they received a direct mail pack from you a few days before that.

This is a (very short) version of what your Customer Data Platform will do for you. It will help you see the full range of interactions that happen between your business and your customers. It will help you identify which of those interactions most often introduce a product or service to your customers, which ones help them make their decision to buy, and which ones finally close the sale. This can help you make sure you use the right marketing activations to progress a customer closer to making a purchase based on where they are in the buying process. And you can automate it. You can set your Customer Data Platform up to conduct Best Next Actions based upon certain triggers. For example, you could automate following up your direct mail packs with emails. An email is way cheaper than leaving your potential customer to click on a paid search link.

And just like that you know you need one in your life. In this example, you can see that it was the Direct Mail Piece that encouraged your prospect to purchase, and not the link being at the top of the Bing (or Google) list. The paid link probably helped to make sure you didn’t lose the customer at the last hurdle though. Better information on which to base your decision on how to share out your marketing spend. This is known as Multi-Touch Attribution and is how you achieve more sales for the same or less marketing spend. You have now also realised that there is a better (cheaper) way to close the sale than waiting for a paid-for-click. Your Boss and your FD will love you forever. And that really is that.

A word on Direct Mail. Most Customer Data Platforms are very digital. Few easily integrate addressed campaigns such as Direct Mail, Door Drop or Partially Addressed Mail. For many organisations, particularly retailers and charities, this leaves a black hole in their Single Customer View. The result is an imperfect understanding of the customer journey and leads to an inefficient distribution of marketing spend. If you want to know more about a Customer Data Platform which was built with Direct Mail as hardwired into the system as digital marketing is, call me. Or DM me. Sorry; only two letters though…