Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) can be incredibly valuable to B2B organizations, but there’s a catch – they must be implemented at the right time. If you jump the gun and try to adopt one before you’re ready, you’re going to spend a lot of time and money on something that ultimately won’t yield the benefits you expect. So, how do you know when the time is right to invest in a CDP? Here are four signs.
You’ve built an underlying data architecture that sets you up for success.
The most dangerous misconception around CDPs is the same misconception that folks have had with other software systems: that the tech itself will solve your problems. If you think you can implement a CDP and sit back as it magically centralizes your data, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. There’s work to be done before you ever start researching and interviewing vendors, and it starts with your data architecture.
For example, have you built an architecture for segmentation based marketing analytics? If so, you’ll have real, usable marketing intelligence and the ability to visualize what’s happening with your efforts. Starting with a smaller project like this is not only more attainable than jumping ahead to a CDP, but it also helps you get buy-in from your team. You can position it as a proof of concept to your IT team, who will naturally be more willing to get on board. This will also give you a chance to get your marketing and sales data structure in line with where it needs to be for a CDP, so that when you do get a solution, you’re ready to start using it.
You know how to manage data independently of the systems you use.
Another fallacy with CDPs is they become the new system of truth. Marketers largely believe in order to be effective, you need to integrate all your marketing tools together. But here’s the reality: most of these systems weren’t designed to be integrated and trying to shoehorn them together isn’t the answer.
Instead, you need to learn how to manage your data independently of your systems. Then, you can extract and redeploy the most relevant data points from each one and use the tools you have as they’re intended. This is a significant mindset shift for most B2B leaders, but it’s an important one to master before you invest in a CDP.
You know the specific capabilities you need in a CDP.
Once you have the proper underlying data architecture and data management practices in place, you’re ready to start evaluating CDP vendors. But, again, preparation is your friend. Rather than waiting for vendors to run down their list of features and benefits, come to each conversation with a list of your own.
At a baseline, all platforms you consider should meet the minimum criteria that the CDP Institute outlines for what qualifies as a CDP. This includes the capabilities to:
- Ingest all types of data, including structured, semi-structured, and unstructured
- Retain all details of ingested data
- Store the ingested data as long as the user wants and regulatory constraints permit
- Assemble the data into unified customer profiles, giving complete access to all data associated with each individual
- Expose the data to any external system via APIs, queries, or file exports
- React in real time to newly ingested data (e.g., events such as a dropped shopping cart) and to requests for an individual’s profile (e.g. to share with a website personalization tool).
Beyond this, make sure to ask these 10 questions in order to refine your search to the top providers.
You have a plan to operationalize your CDP data.
Gathering and making sense of customer data is one thing, but the real power in a CDP is the way in which it allows users to take that data and make it actionable. Before you invest in this tech, make sure you understand how the entire process works from end to end – how the data is ingested into the platform, the steps it goes through within the platform (e.g. data hygiene, normalization and enrichment), how it’s transformed into production data, how it’s stitched together to create identities and how it can be used from there.
You should have a clear plan in place for how the relevant data will be distributed to the right teams, and used in marketing, sales and other efforts. If you don’t have this nailed down, it’s still too early to shop around for this platform.
If you’re eager to achieve the more effective marketing, higher customer value and lower costs that come from a CDP, ensure you’ve checked all these boxes first. Only then will you have the foundation in place to find the right solution, implement it properly and use it to its fullest potential.
Are you ready for a CDP? Take this quiz!