Customer data platforms (CDP) took a big step forward last year, with marketers and tech vendors partnering to create databases more quickly and efficiently than had been previously possible. Experts see this trend continuing in the year ahead, with focused customer data from CDP solutions driving programs across the board.
From a B2B angle, CDPs match a client’s existing customer data with a larger database of potential target companies and employees and return lead scores and more focused info on potential targets, depending on what attributes the client is looking for. The key is that by leveraging customer data platforms, marketers don’t need to worry about creating that huge database in-house.
“These are tools that make it easier for marketers to build customer and marketing databases, and traditionally, that’s been the thing that’s hardest to do,” says Raab Associates principal David Raab, author of the Customer Experience Matrix blog.
“We’re seeing a number of solutions that give marketers control of [database creation]. That doesn’t mean that suddenly they’re tech experts, but as opposed to relying on your IT department to hire someone to do it, you can now hire a service to do it for you and relatively efficiently,” Raab says.
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There is a growing pool of customer data platform and marketing middleware tech solutions on the market, and that growth trend is expected to continue in 2014. These middleware options allow marketers’ existing client information and databases to plug into a larger data pool, pulling relevant data out and helping marketers take better advantage of that information. That larger data pool can be built with info from public sources, website profiles, social networks and proprietary sources, and the results that marketers get back can vary, as well, from detailed profiles to more simple lead scores.
“I think the middleware and customer data platforms are going to get a lot of attention in 2014. The pace at which changes are happening there and the way in which new entrants are coming in—it’s going to be a really hot category this year,” says Scott Brinker, cofounder and CTO at ion interactive and creator of the Chief Marketing Technologist Blog.
Keep in mind that it’s critical to communicate clearly with in-house IT departments to make sure CDP solutions will work in tandem with existing databases and info, and results hinge on identifying what customer data points are most important.
“It all comes back to customer data being more accessible and better organized. Until you get that database built and structured, every project is a big project,” Raab says.