Why should marketers care about a Customer Data Platform?

The effective use of tools and technologies is still one of the biggest challenges marketers face and not least when it comes to the efficient use of data.

We live in a world where companies have access to large amounts of customer data that they can use to understand their customers better and personalise their experience across channels. We are familiar with websites personalised based on our behaviour and past purchases, email content that mirrors our preferences or automated messages triggered when we leave products in the shopping cart.

All this and much more is possible today, but doing it can often be challenging. According to the Salesforce State of Marketing report, the effective use of tools and technologies is still one of the biggest challenges marketers face today and, based on my experience, not least when it comes to the efficient use of data.

Often marketers have limited access to data needed for building of target segments or the data is located in different places which makes it difficult to use and activate it. Quality of data can also be poor, including not up to date data or duplicate profiles, which easily leads to poor decisions in segmentation and personalisation or even to GDPR risks.

There is an increasing need for a solution for business users like marketers that provides one single source of truth for customer data and an easy way to use it. I’m now talking about the Customer Data Platform or CDP. 

What is a CDP?

CDP, or Customer Data Platform provides the missing piece for marketers, which makes it more efficient to collect, combine, enrich and activate the data coming from several different sources. Instead of targeting similar campaign content for large customer segments, marketers should look at the channel preferences, past behavior and purchases or other relevant data that helps in optimising the campaign content and channel for each targeted individual.

Comprehensive customer understanding is built by analyzing different types of data, including demographic, behavioural, transactional, analytical and interaction-based data. Still, too often in marketing automation, decisions are based only on limited data like demographical data (region, areas of interest etc.) or transactional data like products or services purchased. Aspects like engagement and behaviour on digital channels or calculated insights like customer lifetime value are not taken into account. As mentioned earlier, this does not happen because marketers would not like to use the data but because it is not possible or is too difficult to use it.

The need to store data in one common place is not something new, and there have long been systems like data lakes or data warehouses that have been built to serve that core purpose. These systems are normally backend systems, not designed for business users like marketers, but they are used by IT or data scientists.

Marketing automation system’s core purpose and strength lies in customer engagement and automated delivery of personalised content. However, marketing automation systems do not provide a perfect solution for unifying and harmonising the data from several different sources. That’s the core purpose of Customer Data Platform.

Salesforce Data Cloud for Marketing

Salesforce introduced its first version of the Customer Data Platform already in 2020 with the former name Customer 360 Audiences, renamed the product later to Marketing Cloud Customer Data Platform and in the beginning of 2023 it got its current name, Data Cloud for Marketing.

Its value can be summarised in few core areas:

  • Unification and harmonisation of data from different sources inside and outside of the Salesforce ecosystem. Availability of out of the box connectors for example to several Salesforce Clouds, Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage and Web and Mobile Apps make the integration work more straightforward.
  • Provision of calculated and deeper customer insights like customer lifetime value or lead score, which help in creating more optimised target audiences.
  • Segmentation of comprehensive customer data for business users like marketers with a logical drag-and-drop user interface
  • Activation of data for example in Marketing Cloud email and mobile channels or advertising networks via Appexchange 3rd party apps
  • Organisational efficiency by providing one single source of truth and a place for segmentation inside the organisation

Data Cloud for Marketing makes it easier and more efficient to direct marketing activities to the right type of audiences.

In Dreamforce 2022, Salesforce announced its next-generation real-time data platform called Genie. But what is the Genie and how is it related to Data Cloud for Marketing?

In short, Genie enables the use of data across Salesforce Customer 360 products not only Marketing Cloud thus it goes beyond marketing use cases. Genie can ingest and store data in real time and combine that with data stored in Salesforce. Genie also enables zero-data copy architecture, which means that data can be read from the data source without bringing it or copying it into the platform. Obviously, this speeds up the usage of data. 

How to start with Data Cloud for Marketing?

Data is a vital asset for marketers, and solutions like the Salesforce Data Cloud for Marketing can provide remarkable business benefits when used properly.

Like investment in any technology, the Data Cloud for Marketing needs to be backed by concrete business drivers and value. With all its capabilities to use data smarter and more efficiently, Data Cloud for Marketing has high potential to:

  • increase revenue and decrease marketing costs through better targeting
  • improve customer satisfaction by providing more relevant content to the right audiences
  • Increase end customers’ average purchase value and frequency
  • generate efficiencies and time savings in standard marketing activities like segmentation or target group optimisation. 

I recommend you get familiar with the platform and its basic capabilities as well as build a business case around the better and smarter use of data. We at Fluido are helping companies daily to get the value out of their marketing automation investments and are to help you forward with this work.

Milla Hallanoro

Marketing Automation Practice Lead

Milla has over ten years of experience in marketing management both from B2B and B2C sectors. Her expertise is built around marketing automation, digital marketing and marketing leadership, one of her strengths being comprehensive understanding of the role of marketing as a part of the overall business. Milla is greatly inspired by the endless possibilities digitalization continues to bring for businesses and for the way they do marketing.

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