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Does Your eCommerce Site Need a Customer Data Platform?

February 12, 2023
Who should your marketing strategies target? When should you engage them, and how? Every business inherently knows it must engage its customers—especially for eCommerce growth. It’s essential to driving initial conversions, future orders, and higher lifetime customer values. But knowing you need to do something isn’t quite the same as understanding the specifics of the “who,” “when,” and “how” for your target audience—or audiences. For this invaluable and actionable insight, eCommerce operators can turn to customer data platforms (CDPs)—like Adobe’s Real-Time Customer Data Platform (RTCDP)—that help guide marketing engagement strategies and personalized customer experiences.

What is a Customer Data Platform (CDP)?

Customer data platforms are a type of customer experience and marketing-focused enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution that aggregates and organizes your data from various sources into customer profiles.

Crucially, CDPs don’t require manual effort to maintain. Instead, the data is collected based on people’s interactions with your marketing engagements and website.

The customer profile data that a CDP aggregates should include:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Social Media Profiles
  • eCommerce Site Account Information
  • Job
  • Lifestyle
  • Personality
  • Hobbies

Bringing all of this data together without a CDP is a beyond-complex task for marketers. But the complexity has nothing to do with data being unavailable. In fact, it’s the opposite: immense quantities of information that must be sifted through and sorted make the task arduous.

CDPs manage the sifting and sorting automatically to organize it all into something tied to a specific person’s profile that’s digestible, actionable, and centrally located.

Challenges of Siloed Marketing Data

Today, marketers rely on numerous sources of data and tools in their jobs—a dozen on average, and more than 30 isn’t unheard of. While each software tool might provide significant utility, they could be leveraged to achieve so much more when connected instead of remaining siloed and separate. Integration is the key to getting the most out of your big, diverse data sets.

Cloud platforms, software-as-a-service (SaaS), and API integrations have helped transfer and share this data more than ever, but there are still challenges to contend with:

  • Do the disparate platforms, solutions, and tools use compatible data schemas and readily mapped fields?
  • Can they reconcile multiple data sets for the same person or account?
  • Do they perform analytics?
  • Can you take action on the insights provided by customer experience data?

Having the data spread out among various implementations isn’t enough. Per a Forrester study (sponsored by Adobe), 89% of survey respondents stated that “turning data into insights” and “delivering personalized content” remain their most critical challenges.

DotcomWeavers will advise on, implement, and integrate your ERP platforms and eCommerce ecosystem to ensure consistent data is synchronized throughout—and in real-time—but one of those platforms still needs to provide the right functionality if you’re seeking CDP capabilities.

CDPs vs. CRMs—Are CDPs and CRMs Different?

Most businesses are familiar with customer relationship management (CRM), either as a business process for recording and overseeing their sales interactions with customers or through a dedicated solution like Epicor or Salesforce. At first introduction, CDP and CRM solutions may seem more than synonymous—enough so that you might ask, “Do I need a customer data platform?”

However, they aren’t the same. They’re complementary but distinct ERP solutions that eCommerce and other businesses utilize side-by-side.

CRM systems log and analyze your customers’ interactions with your sales and support staff (e.g., scheduled calls, submitting support tickets or warranty claims). A robust CRM will allow any sales or support staff to quickly get up to speed on or revisit who a current or prospective customer is, their needs, and their orders.

In contrast, CDP systems log and analyze all customer interactions when they engage your company and marketing efforts across all channels. While eCommerce CDP systems can also be used by sales staff, they’re primarily for helping marketers and business leaders strategize customer engagement and experiences.

The interactions logged by a CDP solution should include data such as:

  • Campaign clickthrough rates and conversions, with more granular data for engagements such as:
  • The channel they discovered you on or reached your eCommerce site from
  • Dates and times that achieve more success
  • Page dwell times and the actions they take on on your website
  • Marketing-relevant order details (e.g., specific style preferences for retail clothing)

Combining engagement information with a person’s profile enables eCommerce operators to develop and launch personalized customer experiences that drive omnichannel sales.

Three Levels of CDP Functionality

According to the peer-to-peer software review site G2, CDP solutions can be divided into three categories based on their capabilities:

  1. Data Aggregation and Organization – These solutions focus exclusively on centralizing and sorting your customer data. As a result, they require integration with other marketing and ERP solutions to analyze and take action on the information.
  2. Data Analytics – Some CDPs will not only aggregate and organize your customer data into individual profiles but also provide analytics you can leverage to better understand your customers and the success of the experiences you create for them. Aside from marketers, this information can be provided to business leaders and strategists along with sales personnel to help inform their planning and activities.
  3. Engagement – Like data analytics CDPs, those that provide marketing engagement functionality also perform aggregation, organization, and analytics. Engagement-level CDPs, like Adobe RTCDP, provide the full range of capabilities in one solution. Their most significant advantage is that existing and updated customer data can be used to trigger marketing and campaign automations in real-time.

All eCommerce operators should note that a CDP’s level of functionality doesn’t necessarily indicate its quality. For example, a data aggregator and organizer may perform optimally and be used because other ERP and marketing platforms have already been implemented, making engagement-level functionality redundant.

Choosing the right CDP all depends on your existing eCommerce ecosystem—or future plans—and platform interoperability.

If you’re currently evaluating CDP solutions, DotcomWeavers can help advise which would be the best for your current and future systems, as well as perform the integration services to have them running optimally—even for custom-developed connections.

Data Protection—An Important CDP Consideration

With all of the customer data being aggregated and organized, eCommerce retailers must keep in mind the growing number of consumer protection regulations being enacted.

Only three states currently have active consumer data protection laws on their books—California, Virginia, and Colorado. Still, many others are actively discussing similar consumer safeguards. Beyond the US, the European Union’s strict General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) applies to businesses collecting data on citizens of EU member states.

Crucially, your eCommerce site’s physical address does not affect how these laws and regulations apply to you. However, if your customer is a resident of a state with active and enforceable consumer data protection—or is a citizen of an EU member state—you must adhere to the stipulations. Operating online, eCommerce is particularly vulnerable to circumstances where violations occur, even if they’re inadvertent.

Generally, these laws require consumer consent. They also require thorough explanations of the following to be prominently displayed and written in easily understood language:

  • What data will be collected
  • How it will be used
  • Whether consumer data will be sold to third parties
  • How to opt-out

You will likely need to create or configure an additional tag within your CDP, designating customers who live in these states.

Note that DotcomWeavers can easily help you display this information on your site and build or configure elements opt-in and consent functionality. Still, legal and cybersecurity professionals should be consulted on your site’s specific consumer data protection wording.

Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform (RTCDP)

If you’re a Commerce / Magento merchant who leverages Adobe’s extensive eCommerce and marketing suite, particularly Marketo Engage, you should consider implementing their sophisticated Real-Time Customer Data Platform (RTCDP)—sometimes called Adobe CDP.

RTCDP is an app built on the Adobe Experience Platform (AEP) and provides engagement-level aggregation, organization, analytics, and marketing automation for B2C, B2B, and hybrid eCommerce operators.

The Adobe Customer Data Platform provides eCommerce operators with a few key advantages:

  • Real-time Aggregation and Insight – RTCDP collects, organizes, and analyzes customer data in real-time to provide you and your marketing team with minute-accurate insights. Strategies are no longer built around weeks-old data that may now be irrelevant.
  • Real-time Automation Triggers – To further expand upon real-time data collection and analysis, RTCDP will continually make updates to that data to automatically trigger personalized marketing campaigns and deliver optimal customer experiences. For example:
  • When logging into their store accounts on your eCommerce site, customers will land on a personalized homepage with product selections specific to their past purchases and preferences.
  • An abandoned cart containing different items from the customer’s usual purchases (e.g., different sizings, clothes for another gender) can trigger a marketing automation focused around gift-giving and offer a discount code.
  • XDM Schema for Seamless Import/Export – RTCDP utilizes the Adobe’s XDM data schema, which has been built for maximum interoperability and seamless mapping with common ERP platforms. The B2B version of RTCDP includes additional XDM classes, field groups, and relationship types.
  • Unified Customer Profiles – Aggregating your customer data into single profiles prevents duplicate and lost information, especially when customers have multiple accounts or browse your site without logging in. Furthermore, because RTCDP tracks primary identifiers, your team won’t have to worry about a buyer who’s left for a new company, invalidating the strategies you’ve developed. B2B identify resolution offers:
  • People records combining their B2C- and B2B-specific data for a better understanding of optimal personalization and preferences
  • Account hierarchies structured with multiple levels
  • Real-time processing
  • Audience Segmentation – Specific identity attributes shared across person profiles can be used to create audience subgroups and segmentations for highly personalized marketing engagements.
  • Adobe Sensei AI and Machine Learning – RTCDP leverages Adobe’s Sensi AI modeling and machine learning to perform analytics and drive automated marketing engagements in real-time.

Important to note—using the Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform does not require using any other Adobe suite products. RTCDP can be used as the only Adobe platform in your eCommerce technology stack.

Integrate with DotcomWeavers—The eCommerce Ecosystem and ERP Specialists

Whether you’re looking at customer data platforms or other ERP solutions to integrate with your Adobe Commerce / Magento site and broader eCommerce ecosystem, look no further than DotcomWeavers.

Our team has earned over 70 Adobe certifications and Gold Partnership status. We’ve been designing, developing, and launching Magento sites for over 14 years. We leverage that expertise to advise on, implement, and integrate your ERP platforms for seamless interoperability.

To get started with a CDP or other ERP integration, contact us today.

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