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The Secret Weapon of Cohesive Marketing Automation

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Learn how to get started working with a CDP.  Talk to an Expert

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Customer using POS system to complete a purchase

We’ve reached the point where a brand’s ability to create digital experiences is the primary driver that sets them apart from the competition. In order to power new digital experiences, enterprises need insight, not just data. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have been the most important part of the ‘back-of-house’ operations of the customer journey for a long time, but have their limits. A good CRM is an indispensable piece of technology to catalog the historical context of a customer’s relationship with your organization’s brand. It’s the power plant for campaigns and loyalty, but it’s not enough. 


The current state of digital commerce is outpacing the ways in which we market to consumers. 

It used to be enough to gather demographic data. Then we started to bolster that data with additional metrics, like purchase histories and support calls. Next we created personas, which were useful, but the future of marketing and customer engagement is going well beyond these efforts. 

With new customer interfaces popping up at a rapid pace and the expectation of customers to meet them where they are, the CRM is no longer sufficient for customer journey planning. Interactions like commerce and support are no longer coupled exclusively with a web interface. New interfaces demand new tools and new marketing paradigms. That’s where a Customer Data Platform (CDP) comes in.


The CRM conundrum in 21st century marketing 

Businesses collect a lot of data about their customers. In many cases, it’s more information than they can properly manage. Some enterprises collect so much data that they don’t even know how much data they have, let alone how to apply it within a marketing context. This way of operating—in silos—threatens the success of every company’s data strategy. 

The traditional solution to this problem was a CRM system. In an ideal world, the CRM collects information about customers, their purchase patterns, and other demographic and psychographic notes. This information is then structured and formatted for easy application to campaigns. But more and more businesses are realizing a huge portion of the customer experience lies outside this structured data. It’s found in unstructured formats, such as support calls, online reviews, and social media interactions. These valuable moments currently have no place in a CRM, and are difficult to apply with current models, meaning important insights are missed.  

In 21st century marketing automation, companies must use data in real-time and observe behaviour, not just customer touchpoints. Following customers through modern journeys means analyzing unstructured data to supplement pre-defined metrics. Consumer behaviour has become more complex than ever before and traditional persona-driven approaches are quickly becoming outdated. This is exacerbated further when following customer data across a variety of commerce contexts— it’s clear that current data structures cannot capture what motivates buyers in one context versus another.

Businesses relying solely on their CRM for customer data have a huge gap in the customer journey, especially businesses that rely on third-party marketplaces to extend their purchase funnel. It’s one thing to know about customers at designated touchpoints like sale fulfillment, but what are they doing when they aren’t purchasing? Without a way of automating that data at scale, it’s very difficult to surface key insights about customer behaviour.


Single-point solutions don’t add lasting value  

When businesses see pain points in the customer journey, but lack the context a CDP can provide, a common reaction is to build another touchpoint - a single-point solution. While these solutions can add value, they are often limited in scope and can become increasingly cumbersome for IT teams to integrate. Most importantly, they rely on best guesses, not data-driven insights, and frequently miss out on solving the real problems customers face.  New sales channels don’t always mean more revenue In a traditional customer journey, adding channels is an attempt to increase awareness, thereby increasing sales. But even though adding channels can be an excellent way to increase awareness, stalled sales could be a symptom of something deeper, like a poor support experience driving away customers — something not currently captured in a CRM. 

Search issues aren’t always about customer curiosity 
Search isn’t that simple. In many cases, underperforming search traffic is a result of issues with content strategy, content governance, and disparate data silos. 

Adding payment types won’t always decrease abandoned carts  
There are many tools a business can use to determine which payment types are best for their organization: surveys, user interviews, and market data can all work. But even though those are technically data-informed insights, it’s difficult to expect a sales lift simply by adding a new payment method. A better place to start—and a better use of data-informed insights—is in identifying friction points in purchase flows. But to be truly effective, businesses need to understand that a customer’s journey isn’t necessarily linear, and every granular interaction must be optimized. 

Loyalty programs may not bring repeat customers  
Loyalty programs are a great way to extend the relationship with customers. There are many off-the-shelf solutions to help in this category. But when even the best loyalty programs fail to retain customers, it’s critical for businesses to look within to determine what data they are using to solicit loyalty from their customers, and whether it is a complete picture or not. 


Don't replace a CRM, augment it.

When organizations embark on a CDP project, they are placing an insight engine on top of the CRM and other data sources in the organization. Since CDPs are API-first by nature, they are a versatile addition to customer data management and can communicate with every data silo in the organization. 

CDPs help connect disparate customer behaviour with the information already available in the CRM. The result is actionable insight so the brand can deliver a more meaningful experience to the customer. Customers, in turn, are more likely to return when their experience with the brand was better than with a competitor’s.

What's next?

Choosing a CDP and building the integration is no small task. In most cases, you’ll need to work with a trusted systems integrator who not only understands customer data but also works from a flexible reference architecture foundation. If you have questions, the Myplanet team would be happy to chat.

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Starting the CRM / CDP process begins with planning a headless architecture, which leverages API integrations to connect all relevant data. A headless architecture model is far more flexible from a technical infrastructure perspective, meaning it empowers organizations to use leading technologies for each component, as opposed to being forced to use monolithic or “all-in-one” platforms that may not actually fit the organization’s needs. 

Monolithic technology infrastructure used to make adapting to changing customer needs daunting. Enterprise organizations would be forced to wait for annual updates, preventing them from competing 1:1 with upstarts who could be more agile, with lighter, newer, more simple tech stacks. Headless architecture makes meeting customers in their domains much less complicated, reducing time to market significantly. 

Keeping up with customer expectations can be difficult, but many brands identify it as a key differentiator. Customers want a positive experience, not just a transactional relationship and many new technologies are emerging to address latent pains in the customer journey. 

When you understand your customers’ needs better, you give them more reasons to stay. The experiences you provide them with will create a sticky bond, driving better share of wallet and customer retention. The data that you can access with a CDP, paired with an effective CRM, will create the difference between a transactional customer relationship, and a relationship with more meaning and understanding.

Why a CRM is no longer enough to power Marketing Automation

Digital commerce is changing how customers connect with brands. Marketers need to keep up. 

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Key Takeaways

  • CRMs capture a narrow scope of the whole customer experience, but miss out on elements of the customer journey like content engagement, support conversations, and more.
  • While CRM systems are powerful tools, they are no longer sufficient to create high quality, customer-journey mapped marketing automation campaigns.
  • A Customer Data Platform (CDP) augments your CRM by sitting on top of all the data sources in the organization, aggregating and analyzing customer data to produce actionable insights. 
  • Modular digital experience platforms accelerate ease of management, time to value, and future-proof investments by introducing agility and extensibility into your digital experience stack. 

Key Takeaways

  • Seamless tailored experiences start with a consolidated view of the customer across all brand touch-points. 
  • Brands need to provide the appropriate level of automation and orchestration to assist customers along their journeys. 
  • CRMs capture a narrow scope of the whole customer experience, but miss out on elements of the customer journey like content engagement, support conversations, and more. 
  • CRMs capture a narrow scope of the whole customer experience, but miss out on elements of the customer journey like content engagement, support conversations, and more.
  • While CRM systems are powerful tools, they are no longer sufficient to create high quality, customer-journey mapped marketing automation campaigns.
  • A Customer Data Platform (CDP) augments your CRM by sitting on top of all the data sources in the organization, aggregating and analyzing customer data to produce actionable insights. 
  • Modular digital experience platforms accelerate ease of management, time to value, and future-proof investments by introducing agility and extensibility into your digital experience stack. 

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