Customer Data, Industry Trends

Demystifying Marketing Data Solutions

Customer Data, Industry Trends | August 12, 2019

“We already have a data solution that stores and manages our customer data. We don’t need anything else!”

But is that truly the case? Do you have a marketing data solution that tracks all of your customers’ personally identifiable information, using machine learning to associate each customer ID with the unique way they purchase or transact at every touchpoint? Or a tool that allows you to analyze this data and create personalized, targeted campaigns for each segment, in real time?

Traditional marketing data solutions lack true customer data support

Today’s most “mainstream” marketing data solutions – the ones marketers are likely most familiar with or even using – fall short in offering these capabilities. And while they’re often positioned as customer data tools, the reality is that they only offer limited (if any) capabilities in that area.

Confused? You’re not alone if you are. Let’s clear things up with a look at what these traditional marketing data solutions do and why they fall short of being a full-fledged customer data platform (CDP).

Say you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system, which is a customer database primarily designed to help sales manage interactions and relationships with customers. A CRM cannot integrate multiple data sources, can’t reconcile multiple profiles of a single person, device or visitor, and may even exacerbate data duplication issues. (And a side note: remember that just because you have a platform with the Salesforce name attached to it doesn’t mean that you have automatically have a CRM.)

Or you may have a data management platform (DMP), which houses audience data for targeting digital campaigns across third party ad networks. But this is incredibly different than a CDP given its narrow use case.

Or you may have a data warehouse, which is simply a custom-built repository for structured and filtered data. However, it can be difficult for marketing teams to report on the data and/or make it actionable for campaigns.

Or you may have marketing automation software, which is designed to automate repetitive tasks and organize marketing efforts to multiple online channels. Marketing automation software only allows for basic segmentation, only collects and stores data from digital sources. However, unlike a CDP, it has limited ability to cleanse, refine, append and transform data.

At the end of the day, none of the aforementioned marketing data solutions offer the value and benefits that a CDP provides, including:

  • Holistic data storage
  • Real-time analysis
  • Omnichannel management

What sets CDPs apart from other marketing data solutions

In a 2019 Advertiser Perceptions survey, about half of respondents named CRM tools like Salesforce and Oracle when asked which CDP tools they were using. But in fact, these CRM and DMP tools are not customer data platforms, and this signals that there’s very real confusion about what a CDP truly is. Let’s try and set the record straight.

A CDP does nearly all of the things traditional marketing data solutions do (no really, it’s true), and actually takes things a step further by allowing you to store and analyze your customer data from a single location. This means that any user can quickly and accurately run reports to uncover the valuable insights their customer data holds, without having to leave the CDP or involve IT or data analysis teams.

Just because your current marketing data solution(s) dabbles in certain aspects of customer data doesn’t mean that it’s a CDP. A true, full-fledged CDP provides centralized, easy access to all possible customer information – demographic data, behavioral data, transactional data, and more – and provides users with a 360-degree view of their customers to drive actionable intelligence and personalized, omnichannel campaigns.

By relying on pseudo-solutions not designed to prioritize customer data, marketers are directly impacting the overall effectiveness of their campaigns. CDPs make customer data management and analysis simple, and ensure that marketers are making informed, data-driven decisions.

For further information on how a CDP stands up to traditional marketing data solutions, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Customer Database Solutions.

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