The Future of Customer Data Platforms

The Future of Customer Data Platforms | The Sterling Woods Group

Customer Data Platforms have grown and evolved at a tremendous rate over the past few years. Marketers, in turn, have changed the way they learn about customers. CDPs are empowering them to provide the best, most personalized service.

This leads us to wonder: What does the future of CDPs hold? Today, I’ll look into the CDP crystal ball and discuss what I foretell for marketers and this tool.

Continued CDP Adoption

CDPs have been expanding at a breakneck pace. According to one of Gartner’s recent reports, over 80 vendors now call themselves Customer Data Platforms—twice as many as at the same time last year. And according to the Customer Data Platform Institute, the industry’s revenues are on track to hit $1 billion in 2019 (up from $640 million in 2018).

All of this indicates a rapid adoption of CDP technology happening in industries everywhere. If you’re not at least considering what a CDP could do for you and your business, you might find yourself left in the dust a few years from now.

Early adopters of a technology can get ahead of the curve in discovering new and useful applications of the tool. The CDP providers are also learning as they go. This means companies that get in on the ground floor will have direct input into how the technology evolves. They’ll provide real-world insight, and can give suggestions that will in turn shape the tech to best suit their needs.

As your CDP provider continues to grow, you’ll be one of their oldest, most-valued customers. They’ll turn to you for advice in developing and beta-testing new add-ons. This, in turn, puts you in a position to be the first to try the latest technology and to use that advantage to outpace your competition.

Fully Empowered Marketing Teams

Part of the brilliance of a CDP is that it puts the marketing team in the driver’s seat. In today’s digital world, data is a marketer’s greatest asset. A CDP provides your marketing team with full visibility and instant access to all of your customer data. When they can access all this information seamlessly, the team is fully empowered to make the best marketing decisions possible.

Not only that, but some CDPs are able to handle tech and analytics themselves. That then frees up time on your IT and analytics teams to focus on other projects.

A recent survey of data scientists revealed that nearly 60 percent of their time is spent cleaning up and organizing data. You can reallocate this duty to a CDP. Then, you free up more than half of a data analyst’s day to work on other projects that can better benefit your business.

The End of the Silo Era

If you haven’t yet adopted a CDP, it’s likely that your data is suffering from being siloed. The web developers have access to the data on your website. The social media team tracks impressions and shares on your social platforms. The customer service team watches over the email and chat log for questions or complaints. But without a CDP in place, it’s incredibly difficult and time-consuming to bring all of this information under one roof.

Fortunately, CDPs will allow us to bid adieu to the era of silos. With even the most basic of CDPs at your disposal, you can bring all the data you have on each customer together in one place.

The benefit of doing this is obvious. When you have a holistic picture of how your customer is interacting with your brand, you can provide the most personalized, carefully-crafted messaging. This makes them feel like they’re really special to you and well cared-for by your company. This not only leads to higher conversion rates, but also helps to nurture them into long-term, loyal customers.

CDPs in the Marketing Cloud

Some marketers are already starting to make this move, but the future of CDPs will likely involve bringing the entire tech stack together in the cloud, all huddled around a CDP. This allows you to house all data coming from the CDP alongside all of your third-party systems. You have thereby enabled your team to apply CDP data seamlessly.

Your team will be able to tackle segmented email campaigns, customized landing pages on your website, targeted offers on social media, and push notifications on your company’s latest offerings that will drive customers up the product pyramid. Having the information and the means to do something with it all in one place will empower your team to make quick, effective marketing decisions.

Specialized CDPs

Because CDP technology is emerging, it’s still fairly generalized and can be used by marketers in any field. As the technology continues to grow, I anticipate that specialized, niche CDP systems will emerge that cater to specific industries.

An online publisher’s needs are unique. They face different challenges than a e-commerce business or a brick-and-mortar store with an online presence. You need a CDP that will give you insight into the effectiveness of your results-driven content push, so you can focus on creating more content that’s providing insight and real-world solutions for your customers.

You need a CDP that will help you understand the behavior of casual visitors to your site. That way, you can make moves that will encourage them to create an account and close the subscription gap.

You need a CDP that helps you hone in on the kind of content that you should offer for free and the kind of content that’s best hidden behind a paywall.

With current CDPs, it’s possible to make inferences about these issues that can tighten up your subscription model strategy. However, as more CDPs emerge on the market, there will likely be some geared specifically towards businesses that run on a subscription model. That will allow publishing marketers to make even more informed, calculated decisions about their approach to converting and keeping customers.

This is just the beginning for CDPs. I’m really excited to see where this technology takes us in the coming years. There will be new applications that I can’t even imagine right now. The possibilities for marketing teams are truly endless, and I can’t wait to see the great things we achieve with the help of CDPs.

About the Author

Rob Ristagno, Founder and CEO of Sterling Woods, previously served as a senior executive at several digital media and e-commerce businesses, including as COO of America’s Test Kitchen. He started his career as a consultant at McKinsey. Ristagno holds degrees from the Harvard Business School and Dartmouth College and has taught at both Harvard and Boston College.

Rob is the author of A Member is Worth a Thousand Visitors: A Proven Method for Making More Money Online. He regularly speaks at key media conferences, including at Niche Media events, Specialized Information Publishers Association meetings, and the Business Information and Media Summit.