Customer Data Platforms: Are They Worth the Hype?

Email Marketing

Every year, there’s a dozen or so new terms added to the list of buzzwords, only to fade away in the wake of newer and shinier tech. But there’s one that’s continued to have explosive growth in...

CRM, ROI, CPC, SEO. Marketers love their acronyms almost as much as they love conversions. Every year, there’s a dozen or so new terms added to the list of buzzwords, only to fade away in the wake of newer and shinier tech. But there’s one that’s continued to have explosive growth in the past few years: CDPs, or Customer Data Platforms.

What is a Customer Data Platform?

Customer Data Platforms are essentially organization hubs for all your customer data. They gather data from a variety of touchpoints — social media, email, blog, website, or web forms, for example — to analyze your customer base and create personalized customer profiles. CDPs then allow you to use that data to better segment your marketing efforts and meet your customers’ needs. The best part? All of this information is collected in real time, so you can act fast to improve your customer relationships.

At Digioh, we get excited about emerging marketing technologies as much as you do. But while some new tools add a crucial piece to the marketing stack, others are unnecessary or redundant. Where do CDPs lie? That’s for you to decide for your organization. Read on to find out whether CDPs are worth the hype.

Pros and Cons of CDPs

So far, CDPs are sounding pretty good, right? They’re a powerful tool for anyone who wants to make their customer data actionable, not just mere information. Among the many benefits of CDPs, here are some of the top reasons they’ve gained traction:

  • CDPs unify many disparate data sets into a single, centralized view.
  • CDPs segment customers (or audience) by behavior.
  • CDPs provide the data you need to create personalized content to increase engagement.
  • CDPs provide data to improve targeting in paid traffic campaigns.

Many CDPs have also evolved to include their own ESP, cutting existing tech out of the picture. This is just the first step in CDP software’s goal to own the entire marketing stack.

But are CDPs really all they’re cracked up to be? Here are some of the cons of CDPs:

  • It’s a new vendor with additional costs.
  • It’s a new tool for your team to learn.
  • CDPs are redundant with tools you’re already using (ie. ESP).
  • It can take months to build up enough data for CDPs to be useful.
  • Identity resolution with CDPs isn’t as effective as they imply, leaving you with a high percentage of unknown users.
  • Some CDPs claim to have machine learning capabilities. This is simply not true … for now, at least. For machine learning to be effective, each algorithm needs to be trained to specific goals based on the specific characteristics of the data. It cannot be applied effectively to general data.

So, once you get your CDP up and running, you’ll get a holistic view of your audience which will help you make smart, strategic decisions. But as with any data tool, it’s not just about using it, period — it’s about how you use it.

The Alternative to CDPs: Create Your Own with Google Analytics and Digioh

Fortunately, there’s always another way to reach your marketing goals, without having to overhaul your existing tools and strategies. In the case of CDPs, you can recreate the same data-aggregating power by integrating Digioh with your free Google Analytics account. Here are the benefits of using this approach instead of opting for CDPs:

  • You can still use whichever ESP you already have (and are happy with), so there’s no need to install or learn additional (and costly) database technology.
  • You have access to historical Google Analytics data (which could be years’ worth of data!), and you don’t need to wait months to accumulate the information you need.
  • With Google Analytics, you can create powerful, custom segments based on your website visitors’ behavior.
  • You can leverage Digioh’s pop-ups and forms to display personalized messages and offers to your website visitors based on their segments. For example, if a user previously looked at products in a certain category and they return to your site, you can show them a personalized “10% off” voucher for products in that category:

target based on behavioral data
Use Digioh's Google Analytics Integration to target on-site based on behavioral data in Google Analytics
  • When you use Digioh to link your ESP to Google Analytics, you can share your Google Analytics segments (for example, people interested in “Toys”) with your ESP via Digioh. This will help you segment your email marketing campaigns to deliver relevant content to your subscribers and customers:
share beavioral data with your email marketing provider
Use Digioh's Google Analytics Integration to pass behavioral data to your ESP to trigger relevant offers
  • Google Analytics segments can be used in your Google Adwords campaigns. This means that someone in the “Toys” segment will see toy-related ads and receive toy-related emails:
Target behavioral ads across the Google Ads network
Use Digioh's Google Analytics Integration to fine tune and target ads across the Google Ad Network
  • You can resolve the identity of website visitors simply by using their email address. For each subscriber, Digioh can create a unique ID which will be tacked on to any URLs you send in marketing emails. When someone clicks on a link in an email newsletter, their unique ID is appended to the URL. Each click functions as a “sign-in” that establishes and reconciles visitor identity, regardless of which device they’re using. Once a user clicks on their unique link, Digioh then connects their data to Google Analytics and creates a consolidated user profile. From then on, whenever they return to your site, their identity is automatically verified.

Now for the downsides of using Google Analytics and Digioh as an alternative for CDPs:

  • You can’t directly action your segments (ie. send an email) within Google Analytics itself. (But you’ll still have your existing tools for that!)
  • You can currently only export your segments within the Google Network, but you can share your segments with other advertising platforms (such as Facebook) indirectly. If you share your GA segments with your ESP, you can then export segmented subscribers from your ESP and use them to create custom ad audiences for Facebook.

Do you need a CDP?

Every organization has its own marketing needs, so how you choose to keep track of (and action) your customer data is up to you. While CDPs can streamline the process by gathering data all in one place, it’s not always necessary to adopt the latest software when your existing tools can get the job done just as well. Want to learn more about how Digioh can give you everything you need to create personalized marketing campaigns? Contact us today.

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