Do You Need an Out-of-the-Box or Custom CDP

By: Sean Cummings

February 4, 2021

Do You Need an Out-of-the-Box or Custom CDP

Out-of-the-Box or Custom CDP: Which One Fits Your Business?

Customer data platforms: building a custom one vs. buying a vendor solution. Learn about the advantages and obstacles of both implementation approaches.

Customer relations, customer journey, customer tracking … Shouldn’t there be a way to bring these ingredients together for a blockbuster marketing attack?

What Is Customer Data Platform (CDP)?

CDP solutions have settled in the analytics market just recently. Their architectures are quite diverse, and it’s mainly their purpose that unites them under that umbrella definition.

From a technical point of view, CDPs are data lakes, data pipelines, and business intelligence tools at the same time, but tailored solely for marketing purposes. In their core functionality, CDPs are customer data hubs that feed marketing channels with discovered insights.

CDP software, or more often, a CDP cloud solution, works with both first-party and third-party data. It can consume web, app, and event tracking data and contact and past campaigns data from your CRM, as well as marketing data that you buy from an external provider.

Why Do You Need a CDP?

Once the data is ingested, the CDP provides analytical insights to use for further customer segmentation. Depending on the vendor, CDPs can also assist in tag management and website personalization. They can handle bigger data volumes than other marketing technology solutions.

Moreover, their USP feature is identity resolution: de-anonymization of the customer data.

Although most of the CDPs don’t have functionality for sending out newsletters or booking online ads; they do provide a ground for marketing outreach. For instance, a CDP can build a single customer view, which is an ultimate dossier on a client that specifies their buying behavior and past touching points with your brand.

Out-of-the-Box vs. Custom Solutions

There are quite a few CDP vendors competing heavily. Consequently, one may think that a custom CDP is a must. This isn’t completely untrue.

In fact, like with any other software, you have to balance between expected business value, available resources, and possible risks. Companies with dedicated developer teams choose to build custom platforms. Indeed, their stakeholders have to lose one or two years while they create these platforms from scratch.

As a reward, custom CPDs provide advanced integrations that won’t miss any precious drop of customer data. Quite often, matching offline and online visits means lots of trouble for a generic CDP solution.

If you need results quickly, don’t hesitate to get an out-of-the-box CDP. For instance, you feel that the market turned favorable for your business. Then you’d better start digging into your customers’ profiles immediately with a ready CDP solution.

A Nice Alternative

“You cannot have both!” is not the case here. You can use a hybrid approach to introducing a CDP. It’s possible to buy an off-the-shelf solution and keep only the core features, like data pipelines, identity match, and intuitive user interface for marketers. Customizing the rest with your in-house developers may turn affordable.

If not, and you have to hire more people, consider buying a few niche CDP solutions. it can get messy, can’t it?

Thus, before you commit to any solution, create a thorough plan for CDP implementation and set your priorities.

How to Plan a CDP Implementation

Any good IT project starts with a few workshops you hold with your most important stakeholders. During these rounds, you should gather prerequisites and expectations for the future CDP—incoming data you have and what kind of output data your marketing channels need.

After that, you can begin by evaluating the integration. Answers to the following questions will shape the future project direction:

  • Which data do we bring into the CDP?
  • How much data cleaning do we need?
  • How do we map the data?

The technical concept must reflect your business goals and enhance existing workflows, but remain realistic. If existing out-of-the-box CDPs barely match with it, you need a custom one.

The planning stage predestines your project to success or failure. A competent implementation partner, such as Laminar, foresees possible challenges and helps you stay on the right track to roll out a revenue-generating CDP solution.

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