Single Customer View Vs. Customer Data Platform

1st Jun 2017

The abundance of data available about customers and their behaviours is now so massive, there is a growing pressure on marketers to master the skills needed to collect, manipulate and analyse that data to improve campaigns. At the same time, however, marketers cannot effectively adopt these skills without the necessary tools in place to effectively review, segment and analyse the data available to them.

Throughout the marketing industry, many companies have spent years perfecting the tools to sculpt the most effective, targeted and elegant campaign solutions, and with this comes many technical acronyms that can easily leave marketers feeling confused. One of the most recent confusions in this space is the difference between a Single Customer View (shortened to SCV) and the Customer Data Platform (known as the CDP). 

To take a step back and check out the basics, the main purpose of a CDP is to collect all available customer data and combine it in a single place ready for analysis. At this point many marketers might be thinking, ‘isn’t that exactly was an SCV does?’, but there are some key differences between the two...

Defining the Customer Data Platform

The primary feature of a CDP is to maintain a persistent, unified marketing database to provide an instant view of a customer, from numerous different data sources and captures. The CDP goes much further than an SCV, creating a unique ‘golden profile’ for an individual, by collecting data on both ‘known’ and ‘unknown’ customers, mapping behaviours and pooling the two types of customer.

A CDP often acts as the central hub, by ingesting all the data sources into one place and then structuring and cleaning the data to then integrate with other marketing automation and data visualization tools. However, some also provide segmentation, data analysis and marketing automation functionality. The CDP should champion data cleansing and data matching, seeking to offer marketers with a much more holistic view of their customers. Importantly, it is also a marketer managed and owned tool, taking back the responsibility of customer data from the IT department or third party data agency.

Marketers often express a feeling of overwhelming burden of having to collect and analyse customer data. Recent research suggests that marketers are feeling confident about their abilities to analyse complex customer data. However, with the sheer volume of information available, over half believe that they are spending too much time analysing and preparing data on a daily basis. This is where a CDP underpins the process and takes away the ever-growing need to prepare data for campaigns – something that is responsible for many campaigns being sent later than scheduled.

It’s in the name – Single Customer ‘View’ not ‘database’

We understand if you’re thinking ‘doesn’t this unified view count as a single view of a customer?’ Well, the difference is that an SCV is a view of your data and a process that data goes, through rather than a physical database.

An SCV is the end result of matching, cleansing and de-duplicating data, to create a more accurate view of both the customer and the marketer’s specific data sets. More importantly, that single view of the customer might be different for marketing than it is for sales or for customer service teams and so on. Each may require different information and a different view on a different platform. Ultimately, one CDP could therefore provide many different SCVs for different purposes.

Still feeling confused? Fundamentally, investing in a CDP actually creates your Single Customer View. In 2017, marketers must grasp that a SCV is the end result of a process that data must go through rather than acting as a separate database. Which means a CDP has the capacity to create multiple single customer views from one aggregated and reliable database, rather than working independently from multiple siloed databases.

These are only two of many marketing acronyms, but two that are increasingly important to grasp in the new data-driven marketing landscape. Marketers shouldn’t need to waste their time with data cleansing and preparation; they just need a clear explanation of the jargon they are facing and the tools that will support them.

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By carolineno
29th Dec 2017 15:54

Great piece of content! Indeed, creating an insightful single customer view is a complex process. We try to tackle it in this blog post: I hope you'll find it interesting.

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