If the heart of the Marketing Cloud is a Customer Data Platform (CDP), the heart of a CDP is the data. And when it comes to customer engagement projects, the data in question is customer data, in all its forms:
- Simple or elaborate.
- Narrative or predictive.
- Demographic or behavioral.
Data enables knowledge. Getting to know customers more deeply – by linking information with the context in which it is given – allows brands to implement personalized and effective marketing strategies, both in terms of customer relations and business… and much, much more.
Data collection & profile unification
Here is the second article in the series dedicated to CDP, in which we take a look at the first aspect that characterizes a customer data platform solution: The creation of a single profile for each contact… one which integrates all the information about individual customers in a single point, and then makes it available in real-time to all the company systems that require it.
Data collection & profile unification can be summarized in three fundamental features:
- Simple and quick data collection from multiple independent sources.
- The organization of data in the optimum way, and according to the needs of marketeers.
- The management of anonymous – navigation – events for a limited period.
Once the unique profile is created – a 360° customer profile – we must then add two other essential factors: Updates and enrichment, and the availability to activate as part of planned automations. We will see them in action in the following sections.
The integration of data sources
The way in which data is collected, organized and integrated has changed, for reasons of efficiency, time and cost.
We are moving:
- From an ad hoc integration of each data source and application, with profiles and events spread throughout the ecosystem, to:
- A real-time integration through APIs and plug-ins into a single profile.
Let’s try, for example, to put ourselves in the shoes of a company that needs to build automated journeys, where the path that each contact will take depends on their characteristics, behavior and actions, or lack of them… or on the activities that the brand will undertake.
Let’s imagine this brand has more than one system that manages customer data, and everyone involved works by caring only for their own areas of interest. Invoicing, dispatch and shipment, e-commerce, transactions in-store… not to mention, for example, personal data and consents, call center activities, newsletters and various forms, marketing communication campaigns and so on.
We can immediately see that each of these systems uses and stores valuable customer information. Details that are essential to the success of journeys. Only constant and continuous sharing with other systems allows a complete knowledge of all data.
And sometimes, even sharing is not enough. Technology is needed that is capable of managing:
- The sharing of data distributed in separate, apparently independent silos.
- This huge amount of data, organizing it to result in a single identity for each customer.
Once a key for matching individual customers has been identified, the multiple profiles of a single contact that are present in various systems – as if they were different people – are brought together in a single point, then enriched and reused in real-time, by the systems themselves.
Let’s follow the steps by going back to the three features of Data Collection & Profile Unification.
Organize the data
Decide the data format, its structure and aggregation.
- We identify the properties that make up a customer’s profile.
- We draw up the list of enabled events to assign to the customer.
- We customize the rules and priorities with which to aggregate multiple profiles, to bring them back to a single integrated one.
- We define the logical containers with which to organize the data.
- We enable data sources to write and/or read data.
Collect the data
Decide the most appropriate way to collect data, depending on the systems that have to interface with each other. We can leverage:
- A rich set of APIs to collect demographic data and events, from every type of application and/or technology.
- Client ad hoc developments, thanks to a range of SDKs covering the most common programming languages for servers, mobile environments and the web.
- Third party focused plug-ins to facilitate integration and reduce costs.
Reconcile the data
In addition to managing data associated with recognized customers, we also save anonymous events while waiting the customer to be recognized. We then associate them with the correct profile through a process called automatic reconciliation, when the customer identifies themselves through, for example, registering or signing in.
The benefits of automatic integration
Any action performed by a contact generates data. Every interaction they have with brands, translates into a growing and distributed mosaic of information. The Marketing Cloud allows you to transform all that data into knowledge, thanks to:
- A single customer view with profiles updated in real-time.
- Data available in one place that is immediately actionable.
- Reduced data processing time and increased speed in retrieving information.
- Reduced integration and management costs.
- Reconciliation of anonymous events at a later stage.
- Compliance with legislation such as GDPR.
Resulting in personalized customer engagement activities with a significant and very positive business impact.
Contact us to discover the combination of a Customer Data Platform and Professional Services that are capable of supporting you throughout the adoption process. Offer your company the opportunity to have something extra and very special!