This post is sponsored by Merkle Singapore.
Customers today interact with multiple touch-points before making a purchase. Consider your own buying experience. Do you research a product on the brand’s website, browse search engines or social media accounts for reviews, visit the physical store to view the actual product and then hunt for discounts on eCommerce stores before finally making the purchase? This process for each customer can take place randomly, and not necessarily in sequential order.
Each time you interact with the brand is a chance for its marketing team to extract valuable information about you through these various touch-points. So how can companies and brands learn about their users and consumers in a privacy-safe and compliant way? This is where the customer data platform (CDP) comes into play.
The importance of a customer data platform in the cookie-less world
A customer data platform is a software platform that collects real-time users’ data from various touch-points and interactions. It then aggregates and organises the data to present a coherent view for analysis by unifying the data from multiple sources. Thus, instead of managing multiple data sources across various platforms that provide information in a disparate manner, CDPs allow brands to analyse data through a single, coherent, complete view of their customers.
Other marketing technology (martech) can then utilise the data in the CDP for marketing, customer engagement, customer experience management, and customer service, among others. In this instance, the CDP acts as an intermediary by gathering data from various sources, cleaning and organising it before sending it to multiple destinations.
CDPs have gained prominence recently as most browsers are moving away from third-party cookies. Third-party cookies are tracking codes set up by external domains other than the websites that users visit. While in the past, brands could understand their users through information derived from third-party cookies, the focus on privacy in recent times has prompted most browsers to cease tracking by third-party cookies.
Now, it is more important than ever for brands to understand their first-party data, which contains information about their users that they collect directly from their websites, mobile apps and other owned channels.
Instead of depending on third-party cookies to understand their customers’ behaviour, brands want to own this data by collecting it directly.
The CDP enables brands to collect and organise data from users of their channels, such as websites, mobile apps, advertising channels and anywhere else where users may have interacted with their businesses. A CDP can capture behavioural data such as how often users interact with the website, the time they spend browsing, and transactional data, which is captured whenever a user makes a purchase or does an action that qualifies as a conversion.
Engaging customers through a customer engagement platform
Now that we have all the data across various channels unified into a single view, implementing a customer engagement platform (CEP) allows brands to understand the data and activate these insights. A CEP acts as a command centre to help brands activate, track, analyse, optimise, and maintain customer interactions.
The CEP segments customers based on preferences and behaviours so that brands can deliver personalised experiences. The CEP can also inform brands of the most appropriate communication channel to reach their customers.
An action or inaction by the consumer will automatically prompt the next event. For example, if the customer has signed up through email, but indicated text as the preferred communication channel, the next time the brand reaches out to the customer, it can be via SMS or WhatsApp.
The CEP allows brands to communicate with their customers across multiple channels seamlessly and effectively, thus removing the need for brands to manage each channel separately.
In this day and age, building real and meaningful engagement with customers is paramount to a brand’s competitive advantage, and the CEP will serve this purpose.
Do you need a CDP or CEP?
In truth, you need both the CDP and CEP because they serve different needs and purposes. A CDP pulls data from different sources and tools into a single source of marketing truth for everyone in the company to access. It then organises the data and sends it to another platform, such as a CEP, so the CEP can utilise the data points to inform brands on how to segment their customers and engage with them effectively through the most appropriate channels. The CEP will then feed this data back to the CDP to close the feedback loop to facilitate machine learning and auto-optimisation.
For effective marketing to happen, brands will need both the CDP and CEP to work in tandem – a CDP to first unify data from various sources, and a CEP to engage with customers.
The appropriate martech stack is essential for delivering personalised customer experiences, but it is also vital for brands to remember that martech is only a piece of the puzzle. A solid data foundation that underpins the martech and the appropriate processes and talent are essential to transformation.
Reach out to Merkle Singapore for a consultation and bespoke CDP and CEP review, implementation and adoption training: [email protected].
This post is sponsored by Merkle Singapore, which was recently named the Overall Agency of the Year and MarTech Agency of the Year at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s Agency of the Year Awards 2022.