There are days when I realise that I have been in the marketing and MarTech space quite a long time. Recently I was having a late lunch with a very good industry friend, discussing the changes we had seen in the market over the last couple of decades. It was sometime around the third glass of wine that we moved on to the role of data in our careers and clients that we worked with. We talked about “Data Driven Marketing”, “Data Marts”, “Data Warehousing”, “Data Lakes”, “integrations”, “point solutions v hub-spoke platforms” and DMPs. We even talked about CRM before it was a defined technology and more recently Customer Data Platforms or CDP’s as you may know them.
Throughout our conversation, we kept coming back to the same basic premise;
The role of data is unchanged for marketing in 25 years. It does exactly the same job and fulfils exactly the same need.
NOTHING has changed…
…and yet EVERYTHING has changed.
As marketers we have always used data to direct and influence our decision making, whether this is driving cross-sell or upsell strategies or building retention and acquisition journeys.
In the early to mid-90’s, most organisations had limited consumer information. We knew their contact details, purchase details and if we were lucky some engagement data through our call centres or direct mail channels. We used that data to guide our decisions around which of the three or four mail shots we would send. We would tag marketing messages into our service calls and conversations.
I was lucky enough to work with some great clients and technologists back then, that understood that bringing this data together, meant their direct and data marketers could make more complete decisions. We built marketing data marts and presentation layers that gave people access to as much data and information as we could.
However, a marketers life felt a little simpler then, we had a few channels and a few sources of customer data. Data was often only available at the end of the day and consumers were used to a different level of engagement. Personalisation was often limited to “Dear Andy,” in the letter, but not much more.
As the 1990’s progressed through to today, the emergence of digital and mobile channels introduced a multitude of new data points and a speed by which our customers engaged with us. We are able to look at how someone interacts with our website, browsing behaviours and online cart abandonment. We have apps that service our customers, whilst also acting as a comparatively low-cost contact channel. We now know if someone opened AND read our (e)mail, or simply deleted it – and we know that in near real-time.
We often find that the same customer engages with us in different ways, through different channels and often with different credentials – this was much easier to handle in the past when you had two points of contact – a landline number and an address. Today, the consumer expects us to be aware that the Andy Addison, firstname.lastname@example.org and @AndyAddison are the same person. They expect us to know that they have placed an order online five minutes ago, when speaking to a call centre now.
This, however, doesn’t change the fundamental premise that marketing data continues to fulfil the same role it always has: to provide marketers with a complete view of their customers and prospects using the data that is available.
CDP’s are the next evolution in the mechanism to present useable and meaningful information to marketers, bringing together a wealth of tools, technologies and processes to manage data consolidation, identity matching, data transformation and presentation. It does all of this (and more) in the relative blink of an eye.
The job of a CDP ensures we have the complete view of our customer, on a timely basis, that enables us to manage our customer experience in a way that they expect.
So if you’re an old(-school) marketer, like me, and someone starts talking about needing a CDP, don’t worry, you got this – it’s a Marketing Data Mart…
…and a rocket booster.
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