From RFP to Revenue Growth: A Fortune 1000 Company’s First Year with a CDP
No business can afford to make data slip ups. But in a highly emotional-driven industry like deathcare, the stakes are even higher.
Fortune 1000 company Service Corporation International (SCI), the largest player in the space serving more than 700,000 families per year, turned to a customer data platform (CDP) to get it right. SCI’s Director of Marketing Intelligence, Elizabeth Wright took to the main stage at CDP World 2023 to share SCI’s journey evaluating, implementing, and realizing value from a CDP.
“I’m living proof (no pun intended) that there’s so much that can happen in your first year of working with a CDP.” – Elizabeth Wright, Director of Marketing Intelligence, Service Corporation International
Identifying the Need for a CDP
Expanding through acquisitions of mom-and-pop funeral businesses meant two things for SCI: the company is able to serve the unique needs and preferences of families across a larger geographic footprint and it inherited data from those businesses to inform that differentiation.
In an ideal world, those two things perfectly embody the marketing team’s north star of using data to enable better human connection. The reality was that not all of the data from those disparate sources was reliable, leaving the team susceptible to data gaps that could potentially result in irreparable damage to customer relationships. Just imagine, you recently lost a loved one and a direct mail piece arrives at your home addressed to them, from the funeral home that handled the services. There’s no coming back from that.
With determination that such data failures would not be tolerated at SCI, the team sought a customer data platform (CDP) to reduce friction along the customer journey while creating more personalized digital experiences to better serve families.
“Data and technology are not center stage. We are backstage helping make things just a little bit easier for our employees and for our customers,” says Elizabeth.
CDP Must-haves Shopping List
Selecting a CDP is not as simple as grabbing a carton of milk off the shelf. For SCI, the selection process started with:
- Business goals: Creating better customer experiences and driving revenue growth
- Technical requirements: Seamless integration with its martech stack (Salesforce CRM and Microsoft SQL Server for database management)
With those items ticked off the list, they still had cast a very wide net. To narrow down the options, Elizabeth and the team identified additional must-have capabilities:
- Completely customizable to unique market environment SCI operates in
- Flexible enough for a team of 3 marketers to manage millions of customer profiles
Next came the RFP to directly compare platform capabilities followed by the POC stage to kick the tires on the finalists.
In terms of what the CDP marketplace has to offer, there were hundreds of vendors but only one true solution: Treasure Data.
SCI selected Treasure Data as its CDP following a comprehensive evaluation process, including RFPs and POCs, across dozens of software providers
SCI began their implementation of Treasure Data in August 2022 and within six months, deployed their first CDP use case. How’s that for time to value!
Reflecting on how they effectively onboarded the CDP in their business, Elizabeth shared that it was crucial to have data experts in-house. Since the platform is completely configurable to any business, having individuals who are familiar with how your organization’s data is structured allows you to get exactly what you want out of the tool.
The Treasure Data professional services team was also an invaluable partner. Their approach utilizes a proven methodology that leverages the flexibility of the platform’s infrastructure with experience onboarding customers. Even in the most complex implementations, the team ensures a strong scalable CDP foundation and successful product adoption.
Treasure Data worked with SCI’s team to set up the CDP to accomplish SCI’s marketing goals and map out the highest-impact use cases in its first year and beyond. For example, creating an in-platform A/B testing solution to run experiments and ensure they’re comparing apples to apples.
Key Use Cases Drive Efficiency, Growth, and ROI in the First Year
What was once a business managed almost entirely through face-to-face interactions has dramatically changed to meet customers where they are. To support that digital transformation, SCI has an expansive website that reaches more than 200 million visitors a year and allows each of their customers to tell their life stories, celebrate loved ones, and get educated on planning options.
All of those website touchpoints add up to a massive amount of customer data and presents an opportunity to go beyond content personalization and create custom experiences.
SCI’s Year 1 CDP Roadmap took them through multiple web personalization use cases, intelligent sales routing, A/B testing, and beyond
Website personalization: Up to 43% higher conversions
Among the first CDP use cases deployed was website personalization. Every visitor to SCI’s Dignity Memorial website gets a Treasure Data ID and tracking cookie, and is automatically sorted into one of five groups. This allows the SCI marketing team to turn on personalization at any time for any one of those groups, and maintain a control group.
One way this works in practice is with cemetery personalization. SCI offers a range of final resting options including cemetery, cremation, veteran burials, and more. A visitor to the Dignity Memorial website who has indicated cemetery preference is then served cemetery messaging and images. Viewers of this personalized content are 25-43% more likely to convert on website interest forms, compared to the control group. Check out this video to see it in action:
Website personalization can also be used as an educational tool. When pre-planning a celebration of life, the options are near endless. There’s a catering menu, music selection, rituals and readings, and much more to consider. So Dignity Memorial website visitors who indicate an interest in celebration of life planning are then presented with educational content to walk them through those options. This educated audience is generating 2x more contacts from form fills than comparable visitors who don’t receive personalized content.
Intelligent lead routing: 4,000 salespeople across 100 markets
With marketing effectiveness improving, SCI also recognized an opportunity to extend the CDP’s value to support sales in a more intelligent way.
Generating a greater quantity of leads required SCI to refine its lead routing processes. Treasure Data and Salesforce have a bidirectional sync. Initially, that integration was used to inform a lead’s likelihood to convert score based on website engagement. Then SCI took it up a notch.
Custom routing models were set up in Treasure Data to facilitate moving leads to the right person in Salesforce, based on interests and needs. If someone has indicated an interest in celebration of life services on the website, the SCI team configured their CDP to coordinate directly with that lead to schedule a digital appointment. The assigned sales counselor or funeral director is then free to show up to the appointment and focus on helping people instead of chasing down leads.
And with a far-flung national footprint and leadership in individual markets having unique requirements for their sales operations processes, automating lead routing can be quite the feat if you don’t have the right tool in place.
As Elizabeth puts it, “So if you can imagine trying to do Salesforce development for a hundred different markets and 4,000 different sales counselors, it’s absolutely impossible. We tried.
But with the CDP, suddenly this becomes more plausible.”
By using Treasure Data to outperform and enhance Salesforce processes, SCI managed the larger influx of leads generated by its web personalization efforts more efficiently.
What the Future Holds
Looking beyond the first year, there’s so much more for the SCI team to accomplish with the power of their CDP. Shortlisted use cases include escaped shopper surveys and overcoming objections, omni-channel testing across platforms and advanced analytics and scoring.
As far as what the future holds for SCI and their CDP journey, Elizabeth concludes: “We’re continuing to grow, evolve, and learn. We’re stepping into taking the CDP out of marketing and into the operations space, into the sales space. And trust me, word has gotten out at SCI about the CDP. And we’ve got a ton of people raising their hands saying, ‘Hey, I think this might also work for me.’”
For more great CDP success stories like SCI’s and insights from industry experts, join us at CDP World 2024.