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Thinking About a CDP: The Importance of an Implementation Partner

In my previous post, Thinking about a CDP: Why you also need to think about Data Management, I made the case that even though the customer data platform (CDP) is a relatively new technology, traditional data management and technology implementation concepts must be considered to make your investment successful. In this post, I will outline the importance of having resource(s) devoted to the efficiency and effectiveness of your CDP implementation. I’m not talking about resources who have a day job and are trying to squeeze this in on the side. I am talking about creating focus to drive the outcomes you want. In many cases, this may mean engaging an implementation partner who can help to navigate challenges, drive priorities, and bring knowledge and experience that will help you avoid pitfalls and drive to value realization.

CRM Expertise and Guidance

For those who have been involved in large technology implementations like a marketing database build, you may be used to your vendor partner being a combination of technology implementation and consulting on best practices in data integration and process and methodology. Remember that CDP companies are generally product companies, which means you are less likely to receive the same level of insight, general marketing experience, and guidance directly from a CDP vendor. Unless you have very strong internal resources who will be able to devote much of their attention to getting a CDP implemented and driving the realization of your use cases, this could be a big gap. In many cases, this is where Merkle has been brought in to help.

Gap skill sets

One of the selling points of CDPs is that they put the data in the hands of the marketer in a marketer friendly tool. However, the data needs to get into the CDP first and that road still goes through the IT department and other third-party partners. With the marketing team driving the use case and the IT team providing the data, there must be a bridge that connects the two. As an example, if one of your goals is site personalization and identifying more as many known customers as you can on your site, you must be able to ensure that the data captured from the CDP tag can connect to other data inputs to the CDP (namely customer, transaction and outbound email activity feeds). If you do not have this skill set internally, an implementation partner can be a great option to fill that gap.

Focus and Direction

In my last post, I mentioned that topics like input data have a way of leading to conversation loops which risk delays in implementation. In order to combat this, you need a strong voice that can bridge the gap between you, your use cases and priorities, your chosen CDP vendor and their scope and capabilities. Understanding who is responsible for determining requirements, prioritizing those requirements based on effort and value, and working with various internal stakeholders (IT, brands, business intelligence, analytics, etc.) is critical to any successful project; these are all things an implementation partner can drive.

In the world of CDPs, like anything else, you get what you pay for. There are times, in an implementation, where conversation may arise regarding the need for new scope and investment for new modules, features, or functionality. These conversations are also risky from a project delay perspective. It is important to be able to rely on a voice to evaluate needs and priorities, provide market perspective and, perhaps in some cases, options for alternative solutions. Implementation partners will typically have experience working with several different platforms, allowing them to ask the right questions and focus the conversation to get you where you want to be.

Want to learn more? Check out Merkle’s new guide, How to Make Your CDP a Catalyst for Organizational Change here.

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