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How to implement a Customer Data Platform (CDP)

Plan for a successful CDP rollout, and maximize the ROI of your investment as part of your digital transformation


Understanding customer data platforms

You’ve made the decision to add a Customer Data Platform (CDP) to the foundation of your martech stack because you want to capture, unify, and activate omnichannel customer data. Now, it’s time to plan for a successful implementation, so that you’ll maximize the ROI of your investment in this digital transformation. We’ll provide insights into the key decisions you’ll need to make to become an exceptionally customer-focused and data-driven organization.

As digital touchpoints for marketing, commerce, and support proliferate, customer data has become inevitably fragmented. Information ends up sprinkled across so many different channels and trapped in organizational silos. CDPs make sense of the chaos by merging customer data into a set of unique profiles that every business function can share.

In building the business case for your CDP, we share how a CDP begins by collecting and cleaning up all the available data in an organization, whether it’s from first-, second-, or third-party sources. Once the facts have been rationalized into one complete profile for each customer, a smart CDP can activate your data and recommend the next-best action to take in just about any business situation.

Chapter 2

Which kind of CDP do you need?

CDP technology has advanced at a fast pace in recent years, and you want to make sure to choose one that will meet the needs of your data teams, as well as business decision-makers across the company. Leading solutions provide intuitive ways to get data into and out of the system. The solution should allow you to upload a data plan that gets applied to vast stores of customer data and then download reports in whatever formats each department requires.

A Smart Hub CDP goes even further, consisting of three specific parts: The “CDP” part owns your customer profiles, resolves identity conflicts, and groups similar customers into segments or target audiences. The “smart” part of a Smart Hub CDP manages decisioning by providing predictive insights about your customers. And the “hub” part helps you orchestrate campaigns and content in ways that are highly personalized to drive audience engagement.

Chapter 3

Common CDP use cases

One of the key steps in your Smart Hub CDP implementation plan will be understanding the range of use cases the CDP can support and seeing which ones align best to current business needs. Here are a few of the most common CDP use cases that are proven to drive meaningful results:

  • Privacy: Find out which customers have given their consent to receive marketing messages, so you only reach out to those who’ve opted in.
  • Support: Improve customer service efforts with a clear understanding of each customer’s history with your brand and all the relevant details of the present situation.
  • Customer Lifetime Value: Accurately calculate and predict CLV in key segments, so you can prioritize the most valuable audiences.
  • Personalized experiences at scale: Win hearts and minds by delivering the best content in the moment, seamlessly across devices and channels.
  • Business intelligence: Gather customer insights to guide future product development decisions.

Chapter 4

CDP implementation phases

As with any strategic initiative, the decision to integrate a CDP requires thoughtful planning. Consider these five phases to get the most out of your solution:

  1. Assess your readiness: Most CDP implementations start with a focus on stakeholders and objectives. Assembling the right team is critical to a successful rollout of your CDP program. First, seek representation from different functions of the business and take the time to assess the current capabilities and future needs, from both technical and business perspectives. Next, work with your stakeholders to set realistic objectives that are tied directly to your customer data goals. Finally, take a close look at your operational readiness in terms of personnel and resources. Are there any dependencies that need to be addressed before you move to the next phase?
  2. Define a value creation model: In this phase, you’re going to select a use case to prioritize and map the existing customer journey for that use case, noting all the relevant touchpoints that will provide source data into the CDP. You’ll also decide how to measure success – whether by key conversions, operational efficiency gains, or some other combination of metrics. You may decide to tackle more than one use case right out of the gate, but try to identify at least one less complex opportunity to increase the likelihood of an early win that builds momentum for the project.
  3. Activate the CDP: At this point, it’s time to connect the CDP to each data source and begin the work of collecting specific data points, reconciling duplicates (known as identity resolution), and unifying customer profiles. The technical team also will need to integrate the new CDP layer with all the business systems that support your customer experience channels, including CRM, support, email, and social media infrastructure.
  4. Deliver the personalized omnichannel experience: Now you can begin to apply your new customer profiles in the design and execution of personalized messages. You’ll want to define key audience segments and experiment with different tactics to see what works. Plan on going through many iterations of testing and refining your initial campaigns to get the results you seek.
  5. Pave the way for broader adoption: As you evaluate and share progress from the first use case(s) in your CDP program, decide what you want to adjust as you add the next scenario. It’s important in this phase to think about onboarding more internal users. Take the time to offer plenty of training and support, so that each department can leverage the new CDP capabilities.


Business benefits of a CDP solution

What can you expect from a well-planned CDP implementation? Within a few months, most companies start to see reduced costs and increased revenue through a combination of improvements. For example, you may notice these types of changes:

  • More accurate customer profiles help eliminate guesswork and gaps in your understanding of a customer’s need.
  • Precise customer segmentation gives you new ways to understand the audience.
  • Real-time decisioning increases conversion rates and drives campaign performance.
  • A consistent customer experience builds loyalty.
  • More efficient data science and marketing operations accelerate time-to-value of your digital transformation initiative.

For a real-world CDP implementation success story, read how Emirates integrated customer surveys and personalization with Sitecore CDP to improve the customer experience for travelers around the world.

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