Customer Data Platform Vendor Checklist: 8 Key Points of Comparison
The explosion of customer data has created many opportunities to adapt your business to meet the needs of your customers. Innovators such as Amazon, Uber and Netflix are delivering a superior customer experience — and driving considerable profits — based on tracking, analyzing and activating massive amounts of data.
The gap between companies who have achieved a data-driven, customer-centric business and those who have not is widening. One key to closing that gap is unifying the data from disparate silos in a way that is relevant, timely and actionable. An enterprise customer data platform (CDP) can do this for you, bringing all your data together for a single, actionable view of your customer.
A CDP is a hub designed to ingest all customer data from sources related to marketing activities. Generally owned by marketing, it makes customer data actionable by ensuring it is constantly cleaned, unified, matched and linked together in a way that is easily consumed by other parts of the marketing stack. This includes reporting, analytics and modeling, and message orchestration across inbound and outbound channels and media.
Evaluating customer data platform vendors can be confusing. This blog post is intended to help you compare customer data platform vendors in order to find the best one for your business. Here are 8 key points of comparison:
Data ingestion, storage and enrichment
Beyond the customer profile, look for what types of data the system can store, such as CRM data, IoT data, transaction data or unstructured data, such as website traffic or customer reviews. Consider the structure of the data (schema-less is easier to integrate) and the various data sources. Are they all first-party sources or can the system scan the web for publicly available information to help identify good prospects? The more data sources you integrate, the easier you can build a more complete profile of the customer.
How difficult is it to add new sources or overwrite outdated data?
How does the system identify duplicate sets of data relating to the same customer? Methodologies vary, from “fuzzy matching” of identical name and address strings to storing multiple identifiers attached to a known individual. Some platforms may also tap into external reference data, such as public directories.
How does the system help marketers activate their campaigns? Some CDPs execute marketing campaigns directly, typically by sending emails or other notifications. But they mostly support external platforms by delivering data, scores, or decisions to be activated externally. This sometimes occurs via APIs, or through direct queries from external systems, or by sending file extracts. It’s also worth investigating which external systems are already integrated with a CDP and what functions those connectors support.
Reporting and analytics
Does the system generate convenient dashboards? What kinds of statistical models do the various systems apply to customer data? Do they leverage machine learning for predictive outcomes and advanced analysis? Models may predict response to an offer, recommend specific content or segment customers. Systems vary widely in the types of models they build, the amount of manual effort required to build them, whether the systems provide their own tools for model-building, and in the reporting they offer to explain model results.
Security and compliance
It may be wise to verify that the CDP has security credentials and governance practices to meet enterprise compliance. Each party in the chain of personal information must themselves comply with GDPR data lineage and tracking requirements. That compliance information must be provided as preference sets and stored with appropriate metadata to know the exact characteristics of each choice. For example, ensure customer data is encrypted at rest and in transit.
How many of your partner integrations will be provided out-of-the box from your customer data platform vendors? How many will handle customizations? These details will have ramifications for your IT department (it’s always easier to connect data sources out of the box).
How is the system built? Marketers may not want to delve into all the details, but some technical knowledge can help identify likely strengths and weaknesses of a particular system. Is the customer data platform sold as a vendor-operated service or is it installed on-premise? What is involved in installing and running the system, and how long does it take?
It goes without saying that price can be a key differentiator between vendors. How expensive is the system? What is the overall cost and payment structure? Is there a set-up fee? Is price based on multiple users, data volume, transactions or number of customers?
The Power of the Enterprise CDP
An enterprise CDP brings all your data together for a single, actionable view of your customer. It empowers you to gain valuable insights in order to better know your customers, engage in meaningful ways along the entire customer journey and measure your success. To learn more, read our Top 10 Must-Haves for an Enterprise Customer Data Platform.