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.


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.

Why CDPs, ESPs, and Marketing Automation Fail on Their Own

Just like any effective team, your martech stack can’t be a one-man show. Can you imagine resting the entire operation of a marketing department on one employee’s shoulders? The ensuing chaos wouldn’t be pretty. Likewise, it’s unrealistic for marketing technology buyers to assume there’s one platform that can solve all your challenges. CDPs, ESPs, and marketing automation tools have proven they can’t run a standalone show and grow your business successfully. 

Simple ESPs can’t handle the heat

Our Chief Growth Officer, Josh Francia, learned the hard way that ESPs can’t cope with high volumes and expanding use cases. During his time at an online travel giant, Josh’s team ended up breaking three ESPs. Ultimately, this was because the marketing team was piping in more data than ESPs on the market were built for. Unfortunately, these traditional systems couldn’t keep pace and broke. Imagine the revenue impact this had. Consumers are generating more data than ever before. Therefore, playing a game of musical chairs with ESP providers isn’t a viable solution. 

Automated, but not intelligent  

Piggy-backing off of single channel solutions like ESPs, marketing automation promises to streamline a marketer’s day to day by mapping out the customer journey and executing upon that plan, hands-off. But if your marketing automation platform is being fed siloed data, how is it supposed to execute a true cross channel journey? Additionally, basic automation systems also require that data scientists pull lists for marketers, which becomes a time drag, and often offers little to no intelligence feedback. So, marketers have an easier job of scheduling messaging but have no control over customer data, list building, and intelligent predictions

My data is finally in one place… now what?

The last solution that has been promoted as a bandaid for data-powered marketing is the Customer Data Platform. This platform promises to unify siloed data systems into one unified customer view, eliminating the need for additional engineering support and resources. But, no immediate actions can be taken without the aid of other platforms. Traditional CDPs, fundamentally, cannot stand alone. CDPs need additional marketing automation to function. 

CDPs, ESPs, and marketing automation may fail on their own. But a well constructed stack that uses a combination of these three platforms will transform your business. A solid foundation is laid by the CDP, AI-powered marketing automation gives it action, and finally, a channel app delivers that action. 

Our Customer Data Activation Platform is bridging the gap to seamlessly execute all three of these components. Want to see it in action? Contact our team.

3 Tips to Avoid #Personalization #Fail Part 3

1:1 personalization isn’t just a lofty goal brands are considering attempting in the next few years. It’s here now, and consumers are starting to expect it as standard for their user experience. The biggest roadblock for marketers trying to deliver on those expectations? Sub-par tech inhibiting their customer-centric campaigns, which leads to comms that miss the mark. Check out some of the best #personalization #fail tweets of the last month:

1. Bring your data storage into the 21st century with NoSQL

NoSQL databases can better understand multiple data sources as compared outdated, sql databases. Conversely, traditional data storage makes it difficult for disparate data sources, such as your customer profile database and catalog database, to be understood holistically which leads to embarrassing fumbles like the one above. NoSQL databases can rationalize your siloed data in real time, which enables marketers to autonomously deliver relevant and accurate messaging to high-value customers.

2. Use AI that can target your biggest fans, not just Jane Doe

Don’t waste money going after shoppers who don’t want or need your products. Instead, utilize AI to forecast your most high-value customers and target these folks with personalized messaging that will keep them coming back for more. 

3. Soulmates, not twins

Use up-to-date insights and browsing patterns to influence personalized product recommendations, instead of vague selections based off of demographic insights. You never know who’s browsing! Seek out a comprehensive marketing platform that has the power to analyze website data in real time. So, families using one device, or just complex users, can get suggestions that impress and convert.

Ready to see how Blueshift helps customers avoid these common pitfalls? Connect with us today, or check out a few more tips on avoiding personalization failures here and here