Using customer data platforms for personalisation

16th Mar 2018

Perhaps one of the trickiest and time-consuming tasks for marketing is to create bespoke offers or content to customers and personalise a marketing campaign to every individual.

With hundreds or thousands of customers, you can rely on some manual data work to consolidate data from different systems, databases and platforms. You can join it together, using whatever common denominator you have, and then use the master consolidated data to merge personalised, dynamic content, images and offers to each individual. It’s a drag, which thousands of marketers are experiencing every week, but a necessary pain for better personalisation and the creation of more relevant, engaging communications.

However, what if you’re dealing with millions of customer records and thousands of products, with millions of upsell combinations?

This could be across many geographies and languages, across multiple systems which each holding pieces of potentially relevant data.  The thought of consolidating, matching and transforming that data to execute an effective personalisation strategy will grind the marketing team to a halt.

That is unless there is an efficient, automated solution to handle the data crunching.

Up steps the Customer Data Platform as the solution that will benefit your personalisation strategy and eradicate your data pains! The CDP Institute found, in one of its member surveys, that the number one reason for a CDP investment by marketing is personalisation. As it's such a difficult, costly and time-consuming essential task for every marketing department, this is unsurprising.

Here are three ways a Customer Data Platform can benefit personalisation:

  1. Unified data

The CDP automatically unifies and de-duplicates all the data from source systems into a single ‘golden record’ for every customer. This includes a complete memory of every transaction, event, interaction, like, view or conversation they have with you and your brand. The ability to access any or all of this data, and feed it into your marketing execution systems, enables you to tailor a marketing message or campaign making best use of the data.

  1. Normalisation

The automated processes of a Customer Data Platform removes the need for marketers, IT or analysts to manually prepare and clean the data. Most importantly, it normalises the data to make it marketing-ready.

Normalisation is a process of transforming the data from source systems into something that makes sense to both the marketer and the customer. For example, one legacy POS system may reference a ‘Black Cocktail Dress’ as a product code of MX576. Another fulfilment system could reference it as something entirely different.

Feeding marketers with lists of purchased items, which have meaningless product codes, doesn’t help the marketer to personalise an upsell message or recommend products on a website. However, normalising the data – transforming the data, from all systems, into the ‘Black Cocktail Dress’ – ensures the content and offers can be personalised effectively.

3. Merging Offline and Online Data

Personalisation platforms, on their own, tend to work by adding scripts to websites that track user web behaviour and email interactions, using that behavioural data to personalise an online experience.

However, some Customer Data Platforms operate by blending and unifying offline and online data into a multi-channel Single Customer View (an SCV). This SCV can be used to take online personalisation one step further, enabling the marketer to use a history of offline interactions and transactions to increase the relevancy of the offer, message or content.

Yet CDPs can also work in reverse – enabling brands to use the online data to personalise the offline experience. For example, it enables marketers to quickly understand the customer, based on their online history, making recommendations of improve the customer experience. Data can be fed to apps, in-store mobile devices and tablets, CRM systems, call centres, or even fulfilment houses, to drop in a personalised thank you note or offer with every order.

The many benefits of a Customer Data Platform go way beyond personalisation. But a successful personalisation strategy can have profound impacts on the customer experience and bottom line revenues. Therefore, it’s one of the top reasons that marketers across the world are focused on implementing a Customer Data Platform right now.

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