Webinar Notes: Seven Strategies for Lasting Success with a Customer Data Platform

September 26, 2018

AdobeStock_145611764When you think of exceptional customer service, you rarely think of modern-day retail. 

Instead, it might conjure images of a bazaar 100 years ago where a customer would walk up to vendor, discuss their needs, and purchase a product one-on-one with the owner. With the abundance of data and technology in our current retail state, emulating this human connection and exceptional customer experience should be obtainable. Instead, data and technology silos have made personalization even more difficult to obtain, as customer interactions with your brand are spread across different channels that aren't connected.

Customer experiences can't be siloed; you need a complete 360 view of your customer if you want to deliver true 1:1 marketing. This means bringing all customer touch points, both online and offline, into one platform like a customer data platform. For example, when lululemon transitioned to a CDP, they saw amazing results such as increased attendance to local events by 25%, and a 10-15% increase in baseline revenue from digital marketing campaigns.

Three Barriers to Data Unification Success

  1. Data Complexity - With the use of CRMs, DMPs, MDMs etc. data is not organized. If your brand's data is being stored across multiple marketing platforms that anonymize the data, it makes it impossible to gain a single customer view. 
  2. Technology - It seems like there is a new MarTech company popping up every single day. Brands have to wade through these companies to figure out what the big players can solve, and where they need the smaller, more agile companies to help out.
  3. Ways of Working - This is probably the most underestimated barrier to having a customer-centric strategy. Brands tend to start with the technology and data to try and become customer centric, and they overlook the internal team alignment that is needed first. 

So... You Want to Be Customer Centric

A lot of companies think they know who their customer is. However, unless you are appending your transactional and contextual data to your customer profile, you don't have a true single customer view. AgilOne customer, lululemon, had this problem a few years ago when their digital presence really started to take off. They struggled to identify if a customer in store had browsed or purchased products online, and their customer experience began to suffer. To compound the issue, they then launched a mobile app, further siloing their customer's interactions.

Many brands can relate to this issue. The more touch points your customer have with your brand, the more difficult is is to get a true understanding of who your customers are and how they want to be interacted with. For example, if you customer purchased a product and returned it in store, and you can't connect this POS data to the customer profile, you might send them an email promoting the same product they were unhappy with. Scenarios like this happen all the time, and it is one of the quickest ways to turn customers off to your brand. 

So what can you do? You can embark on a large data project, which could take years to execute and even longer to prove ROI. Or, you could implement a customer data platform solution to start bringing in all that data into one single platform, which can then drive your downstream engagement. This doesn't just mean your digital marketing; having a 360 customer profile and true customer insights can drive everything from overall strategy to merchandising and loyalty programs.

Establish Goals Early

Every brand is different, so before starting your customer data platform project, it is extremely important to determine what is most important to your brand. Determine what channels your customer interact with the most, and what channels you want to improve. This will drive your company's use cases, which are the foundation to a successful CDP launch and proving ROI early on.

When lululemon realized they needed a customer data platform, they internally established which use cases were most important to their success before they began evaluating vendors. For them, their email was the most important channel for customer communication. Once they had AgilOne up and running, they focused all their attention on improving email personalization. After they saw success on this use case, they shifted their focus to SMS and push notifications for the mobile app. By determining these use cases early on, they were able to prove value to management right away, allowing them to shift more money into their marketing strategy and execution.

When it comes to determining use cases, we typically see the following four come up most often, so these are a great place for your brand to start:

  1. Outbound Marketing - Predictive segmentation based on value, behavior, and attributes while delivering 1:1 content on every marketing message. These use cases usually involve email, SMS, and direct mail. Some examples of use cases we have gotten include event driven actions such as post purchase follow up or customer engagement to boost LTV such as churn prevention based on specific criteria.
  2. Digital Advertising - Create acquisition focused audience based targeting using 1st party customer data for DMPs, retargeting, and ad networks. Examples for this include recent purchasing customers from paid ads and hyper targeting specific audiences across multiple channels.
  3. Customer Experience - Personalize customer interactions and offers on the website, CRM, and all customer facing systems in -real time, such as clienteling, call center, and website personalization. Brands that focus on this use case typically want to improve human interaction touch points, such as personalizing customer service calls and improving in-store experiences.
  4. Analytics and APIs - Calculate and predict key marketing metrics; attribution, clusters, and likelihood to buy. Direct query access, UI, and APIs. This use cases focuses on helping marketers understand and act on their data, as well as reporting, without the need for a data scientist request.

Strategies for Success

  • Focus internally first. Make sure your organization is aligned before embarking on a CDP project.
  • Start with the end in mind. Map out your use cases that will deliver value for your specific business model and customer base.
  • Build on a strong foundation. Identity resolution, configurability, scalability, and connectivity are important foundations that you can grow with.
  • Step up to success. Phased approach to use cases build momentum and aligns cost with benefit.
  • View from a customer lens. Think about all interaction points mapping out not only marketing and sales, but also customer experience and interaction.
  • Give to get. Maximizing lifetime value is about value exchange beneficial to both customer and the brand.

Results of a Large Apparel Retailer CDP Initiative in the First Year

After lululemon implemented AgilOne, they began to see incredible results. This includes:

  • Learning that customers who are engaged across every single point of their journey have a 10x higher annual spend
  • Increased site visits by up to 50% when implementing the logic and intelligence from the AgilOne customer data platform
  • Increased attendance to local events by 25%
  • A 10-15% increase in baseline revenue from digital marketing campaigns.

To listen to the full webinar with Abhishek Dalmia and Omer Artun, click the button below.


If you are interested in learning more about how a customer data platform can give your brand similar results as above, feel free to reach out to us anytime. We would love to set up a short demo and conversation to learn more about your business' needs.