Customer data platforms (CDPs) had a huge year in 2018 as the rise in technology allowed for better data-driven marketing and digital marketing strategies. The industry is set to continue growing rapidly with estimates currently placing it at over $3.2 billion by 2023.i The meteoric rise is not without cause; CDPs gained massive popularity due to their ability to create data-driven marketing material that is proven to be highly successful.
CDPs offer an advantage over data management platforms in that they focus on first-party (known and anonymous) users and customers to build richer, more personal relationships that are centered around that user's past preferences and current interactions with the organization.ii Aside from this, CDPs offer several other features that have contributed to its rise in 2018:iii
- First-party data. Historically, digital data was collected using anonymous cookies, which resulted in anonymous profiles. While it helped marketers create the broad strokes of their marketing campaigns in a way that would appeal to the most people, this method is outdated. Today, marketing is defined by the ability to customize assets to meet individual behaviors and needs on a micro level. CDPs can handle delivery of anonymized data for digital advertising where privacy is required, but they can also provide specific insights based upon individuals' past behaviors. This first-party data is the most valuable kind of information for marketers because it's collected directly from customers and is specific to that organization.iv
- Persistent customer base. Through their ongoing collection of data, CDPs create a rich customer profile that is based upon their past actions and interactions. Ultimately, the result is a comprehensive customer view that allows for a far deeper understanding of their motivations and how to create an appeal that is effective.
- High connectivity. CDPs are designed to be connected and integrated into a host of other marketing tools and platforms, which makes data collection much easier. It also makes it easier to send out customized marketing materials to individuals based upon their profile. When connected with other platforms, the functionality of CDPs is enhanced, making them strong tools for content optimization, predictive modeling, and personalized marketing.v
Similar to 2018, continued high growth for the CDP industry is predicted for 2019, likely marked by several key trends as the technology continues to evolve.
GDPR and privacy laws
It's no secret that GDPR has already had a tremendous impact on the industry, reaching far beyond the EU, and the coming years will likely see greater regulations regarding data privacy in the US. The state of California has already passed a consumer-friendly data privacy law and there are rumblings regarding the possibility of a federal law.vi While no one knows for certain what a finalized federal law could mean, a focus on data privacy and related concerns will definitely be in the spotlight over the next several years.
Greater emphasis on first-party data
First-party data is incredibly valuable, but it often relies on the accuracy of the data collected. In 2019, there will be an emphasis on ensuring that the data is high-quality. Instead of collecting more data, marketers will be looking for better data.vii This means filling in all of the gaps and creating a full 360-degree customer profile.
With the increased capacity to create more comprehensive customer profiles, it also becomes possible to extrapolate the data, demographics and characteristics of existing customers to identify who is likely to become a customer. Matching these traits and characteristics in order to identify new audiences is the next step in the evolution of data-driven marketing and CDPs are making this easier than ever before.
Advances in AI and ML capabilities
Look-a-like modeling, along with predictive analytics, relies heavily on artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. The advancements in these technologies and algorithms continue to bring greater levels of personalization and deeper relationships with customers. They will continue to increase the efficacy of personalized marketing material while also helping companies better allocate resources in ways that maximizes profitability.
Greater omnichannel content delivery
In addition to personalization, many forward-thinking brands are looking for new channels to reach their customer base, including interacting with virtual assistants such as Amazon's Alexa.viii This new way of reaching customers currently represents a frontier in marketing, but as natural language processing capabilities continue to increase, it will likely become the norm.
Predictive analytics is the key advantage that CDPs have over other data platforms. In addition to the 360-degree data available about customers, predictive analytics drills down deeper to gain customer insights about what is likely to happen. These predictions are based on historical data, past user behaviors and interactions with content. This can even include live data allowing for a real-time response to users who are currently interacting with content.
CDPs have become established as an incredibly valuable resource for marketing and building or strengthening customer relationships. As their capabilities continue to evolve, they will prove to be an even greater resource. Given their meteoric growth across different domains, these are just a few of the trends that those in digital marketing will want to keep an eye out for in 2019 and the years to come.