What’s New in Data-Driven Marketing, August 2019

Hot off the presses! Blueshift has been in the news quite a bit in the past week. So, rather than sending you running across the internet, we’ve elected to round up our latest and greatest features. This week, Blueshift’s CEO and Co-Founder, Vijay Chittoor has passed his extensive knowledge of the martech world onto readers at Forbes, Martech Advisor, and now the Blueshift blog. So, let’s let Vijay dive into the world of CDPs, CDIs, and making the most of your customer data.

Forbes, Data Activation: The Biggest Overlooked Gap In Marketing Today

The past decade has seen an explosion of the amount of data consumers leave behind, and the number of platforms on offer to act on this data. The key to utilizing this data? Having a holistic, unified view of this data, and using this data to inform marketing decisions. But this leaves a gap in process, and a need for what we at Blueshift call “data activation”.

Research shows that 54% of marketers use less than 50% of data. Before marketers can activate data for the purposes of execution, they’ll need total access to this data in a usable state. It’s no longer enough to have a system for collecting and unifying customer data or resources to model and analyze that data. Marketers need a way to leverage their data to guide campaigns in real-time and make daily micro decisions about how to optimally engage their customers. That system hinges on operationalizing data “activation” across all campaigns and channels. What is data activation exactly? Find out on Forbes.

Martech Advisor, How the CDP Categories Tackle Marketing Challenges

No recent marketing technology has grown faster than CDPs. Now, the quickly evolving market is breaking into two distinct categories—Customer Data Infrastructure (CDI) and Customer Data Activation Platform (CDAP). What is the impact of this on marketers? More effective solutions across customer experience use cases.

For clarity’s sake, vendors and buyers alike are ready to differentiate the two off-shoots of the CDP. Each platform solves a part of the greater puzzle, but both are needed for a complete stack. The goal is to invest into two platforms that work in tandem to understand the vast amounts of data customers are leaving behind, and act upon to provide enriching customer experiences. The short story? The CDI will unify siloed data and pipe it across your martech stack. CDAPs fill the gap between having data and using it to deliver experiences. Discover the full capabilities of each platform, and why they’re a must-have for the 21st-century martech stack over at Martech Advisor.

Want to hear more from Vijay? Follow his LinkedIn, Twitter, and Author pages on Forbes and Martech Advisor for insights, news, and more.


The Exponential Growth of Customer Data Platforms in 2019

Customer Data Platforms. CDP. Get used to that acronym, it’s here to stay. The newcomer platform has had a lot of hype, but it’s now proving its worth. The CDP industry has grown by 19 vendors, and raised $317 million in the first half of 2019 alone. And by the end of 2019? The industry is projected to be worth $1 billion.

The CDP Institute, headed by David Raab, cites that growth into Europe, APAC, and other new markets has played a huge role in the rapid expansion of the martech platform. 15 of the world’s 19 newest CDP offerings are from outside of the U.S. according to CDPI’s half-yearly report. Overall funding of CDPs grew by $680 million, there have been several acquisitions, and big cloud players have announced their CDP iterations. 

Is it a “real” CDP?

While many of these new offerings might wear the name of “Customer Data Platforms”, it’s important to distinguish true CDPs from other platforms. The CDPI has defined 3 critical elements that make up every true CDP:

  1. “packaged software”: the CDP is a prebuilt system that is configured to meet the needs of each client. To set up and maintain the CDP, you will have to exhaust some technical resources. But it does not require the level of technical skill of a typical data warehouse project.
  2. “creates a persistent, unified customer database”: the CDP creates a comprehensive view of each customer by capturing data from multiple systems, linking information related to the same customer, and storing the information to track behavior over time. The CDP contains personal identifiers used to target marketing messages and track individual-level marketing results.
  3. “accessible to other systems”: data stored in the CDP can be used by other systems for analysis and to manage customer interactions.

So, what does this mean for marketers and their tech stacks? Most notably, marketers will have to sift through a very saturated market. It’s up to teams entering the evaluation process to have a solid plan going in, and to remain critical throughout the process. Also, you’re still left with a large list of solutions after weeding out platforms that can’t meet all requirements. 

Going beyond the CDP

And, even with countless solutions to choose from, most still don’t resolve the issue of utilizing customer data for 1:1 experiences. This period of exponential growth has brought the CDP’s value into the spotlight, but also highlighted its shortcomings. While data becomes organized, there’s no way for marketers to implement this data seamlessly into their data to data messaging. 

Enter: the Customer Data Activation Platform. In addition to doing the job of a CDP, the CDAP provides predictive intelligence scores and recommendations via customizable AI, and provides cross-channel decision making and journey orchestration. The result: An intuitive, agile system that uses the breadth of your customer data. The system makes in the moment decisioning to drive revenue, engagement, and loyalty.

Want to see it in action? Connect with our team to see a demo today. Or, dive deeper into the CDAP for yourself.


Do You Make These Common Personalization Mistakes?

1:1 personalization is the new gold standard for marketers, but it can be difficult to achieve. Well-executed personalization requires a curated tech stack, solid data, and the dream team to pull it off. While on the journey to flawless customer-centric messaging, you may experience a few hiccups. These blips, while somewhat embarrassing, are red flags for larger problems at hand. What are the most common personalization mistakes, and what do they mean for your business?

You offer up “relevant” recommendations to customers… but they’ve already purchased that

One part of executing great personalized messaging is establishing relevance to each customer. You’ve successfully pinpointed items that customer x will love, but there’s a catch. They’ve already purchased! Not only can this be irritating to customer x, it passes up the opportunity to suggest add-ons or new products. Legacy or basic systems can have trouble, or simply can’t ingest, both product, customer, and transactional data into one unified view. This leads to a disconnect with your marketing automation, and lost chances to retarget.

Hey %%first name%%, you’ll love $$product_xyz$$!

The quintessential personalization mistake is the missing data blunder. It’s the most obvious and inauthentic feeling mistake that can be presented to your customers. When considering the CX side of things, missing data is their biggest pet peeve. The underlying problem is a lack of identity resolution. Marketers need systems that can ID customers across the multiple channels they use to build a complete customer profile.

Wait, why did anyone think I should get that ad?

We’ve all experienced a segmentation slip up. While age, gender, and location can be helpful at determining interests of consumers, it’s not fool-proof. Behavioral data, as opposed to demographic data, is more likely to predict what customers really want. To tap into the wealth of behavioral data your customers are already leaving behind, you need a system that can record, ingest, and rationalize data to a unified customer ID. From their, you can segment customers based on demonstrated interests, rather than what they “should” like given their demographic.

So, have you made any of these common personalization mistakes? If you have, you’re most definitely not alone. When brilliant marketers are backed with subpar tech, their vision falls short. Discover how data activation can help you achieve true 1:1 personalization, what you need to now to start your activation journey, how to build your ideal martech stack. Done researching and want to talk to a real person? Connect with our team for a demo of our Customer Data Activation Platform.

The Data Activation Survival Guide

This past year has been the year of the CDP. The market grew by a whopping 71% in the first half of 2019 alone. 78% of companies have, or are looking into buying Customer Data Platforms. The hype of CDPs has allowed marketers to unify their siloed data — but that’s only a part of the puzzle. While businesses have unified data, it’s not immediately apparent how to execute data activation.

C-suite expectations are also high. 93% of executives expect that using more customer data in their campaigns will greatly impact their ability to be competitive. More customer data than ever before is being collected, but other major issues in data infrastructure are preventing the data from being utilized fully. Over one-fourth of business have no connectivity between channels. This leads to a fragmented customer experience that inhibits growth. For forward thinking marketers willing to invest in tech, this presents a unique opportunity. 

To activate data in order to facilitate these experiences, you need a solution that can capture, model, and manage raw data from any source, and out to any source. What’s activation you ask? Leaders in the CDP space use “activation” as a catch all for describing the process by which customer experiences are informed by the fullness of customer data. This means every customer interaction across every channel is guided by a holistic, real-time view of customers. 31% of marketers still face access to this data as a major roadblock towards the overall goal of a responsive, automated, customer relationship.

It’s time to rethink how you’ve structured your tech stack around the CDP to drive revenue and deliver a seamless, 1:1 data-powered experience. Here are the steps to get started:

Step 1: Infrastructure

A big theme of the building-out-your-martech-stack trend has been “unify by any means necessary”, and infrastructure has been largely neglected. That process must start with a rock-solid solution that can ingest and route customer data from any source effectively. CDIs unify siloed data and pipe it across your marketech stack. They normalize raw data to get it in reliable form before routing that data to different systems. However, while CDIs can connect disparate data from all customer interactions regardless of schema, they don’t provide marketers with a means to actually do anything further with that data.

Step 2: Operationalize

Within larger martech stacks, there’s often a piece missing. Data is primed and we know how we want to use this data for marketing, but we lack the tech to act on the data. The key component to a well-oiled martech stack designed for unique customer experiences is an activation piece. This tech models and analyzes your data at a 1:1 level, extracts intelligence, and uses this knowledge to make customer engagement decisions that guide marketing actions across channels. Without it, raw data with little meaningful insights drive your communications, which leads to a myriad of marketing slip ups.

Step 3: Deliver

With data activation operationalized, customer data can be utilized to inform 1:1 messaging across every channel.The intelligence derived during activation will push tailored marketing to the right channel, at the right time in such a way that optimizes for engagement and conversion. APIs work on the backend to seamless deliver these messages, and provide feedback to be used for further decisioning. For marketers, this means budgets don’t have to be wasted on batch and blast campaigns. Instead, this agile tech stack optimizes communication on an individual level to drive revenue. Forrester has attributed a 20% increase in revenue from this level of cross-channel consistency, in Blueshift’s platform specifically. 

Want to kickstart your data activation journey? Connect with our team, we’re excited to help.

6 Questions You Should Always Ask Before Buying a CDP

Customer Data Platforms are today’s water-cooler chat topic of choice. Many thought leaders have been quick to sing the platform’s praises, making professionals eager to implement the solution in their own organizations. This leaves decision makers with the difficult task of selecting the ideal vendor. Luckily, we’re here to help. Our own Chief Growth Officer, Josh Francia, evaluated 30 vendors during his CDP search. According to him, here are the five big questions you should ask before buying a CDP:

  1. What key goals do we have in mind for this platform switch?

    It’s important to go into your evaluation with both high level and detailed goals in mind. This makes the process as smooth as possible. Also, this gives vendors a chance to offer custom solutions and provide demos that can communicate real value. When it comes time to make a selection, it makes the comparison process that much easier as well. Check out our CDP Buyer’s Guide for more ideas and helpful directions.

  2. What major pain points should the solution alleviate? 

    A good CDP will feel like a marriage of your marketing and data science teams. The platform should eliminate common roadblocks like lag times from getting data and insight from technical teams to your marketers, incomplete or siloed customer data, and lag when offering real-time personalization. Ultimately, your pain points will be unique, and you’ll need a solution that is tailored to your goals.

  3. Are the customer data profiles the CDP would create customizable to your needs?

    To get the most accurate and up-to-date view of your customer possible, choose a partner that can ingest data from any source needed. Then, rationalize that data and present it in a format that meets your business needs and provides relevant intelligence.

  4. What’s the company’s AI ethos?

    It’s very common for AI-enabled software companies to be protective over what makes them tick, but the blackbox approach does a tremendous disservice to customers. Seek out vendors who offer white-box AI, so you know exactly how conclusions are reached within the platform, and can make any customizations needed to fit your business requirements.

  5. Does the system have enough storage for all your product and catalog data, in addition to your customer data?

    While most CDPs can handle lots of customer data, not all can properly ingest and understand other forms of data, such as catalog or product data. It’s important to make that distinction early on in the buying cycle to weed out offerings that can’t keep up with your needs.

  6. Can the platform offer the speed you need?

    Is personalization real-time, or just “close” to real time? Increasingly, offering in the moment messaging as a response to actions is the way to win hearts and win business. It’s important to test thoroughly and get proper references to be sure your CDP can ingest and output data to channels in true real time. Not just “quickly”.

Whether bringing on a CDP is a far off project, or in the plans for your upcoming quarters, the value of lining up what is of value to you in question format as soon as possible is beyond helpful to your search. If you’d like to learn more about Blueshift’s Customer Data Activation Platform, and what makes our offering different, check out our CDAP guide. Curious to see our platform in action? Reach out to our team to see our demo.