The customer data platform: A valuable marketing and sales tool
Customer data platforms are receiving increasing attention for their ability to aggregate customer data for analysis and insights-generation, and channel distribution platforms are well-adapted to act in this role for their customers.
As technology evolves, so business functions evolve with it. As financial and HR software has automated and digitalised previously manual processes, so marketing is harnessing the collection and analysis of customer data.
According to Forbes, there is an emerging trend to bring customer data into one place, commonly referred to as the customer data platform, or CDP.
Gartner defines a CDP as "a marketing system that unifies a company's customer data from marketing and other channels", as companies "seek an effective way to efficiently collect, manage and use their first-party customer data".
Forbes reports that these platforms are beginning to see widespread adoption across enterprises, with some 78% of organisations either having, or developing, a customer data platform.
Channel distribution platforms as natural CDPs
CDPs are generally broader and aggregate their customer data from a wider set of sources than traditional CRM systems, and with so many customers oscillating between phones, tablets, game consoles, desktops and laptops, many marketers are desperate for a unified view of the customer.
Channel distribution platforms have a natural advantage in that transactional data from all sources are aggregated within the platform, no matter the original source. Because all channel business transactions are driven through the aggregation platform, channel businesses utilising such platforms thus have a natural, 'in-built' CDP with which to work.
The transactional flow of data through the distribution platform quickly builds up a valuable source of information which marketers can then direct towards their marketing and sales initiatives.
Implementing data within marketing and sales frameworks
Companies using distribution platforms containing integrated marketing functionality can use this information in their marketing initiatives. Armed with data-driven insights such as who their high-value customers are, what they buy, when they buy, and how and when is best to reach them, channel businesses can increase the focus and efficiency of their marketing efforts.
By applying these insights correctly, companies can improve their customer conversion rates, personalise campaigns to increase revenue, predict and avoid customer churn, lower customer acquisition costs and increase overall marketing ROI.
Forbes lists some of the more general benefits of customer data platforms as enhanced ability to compete in today's cutthroat global economy, greater customer loyalty, richer relationships with vendors and partners, increased customer visibility and new opportunities for measurement.
What's clear is that in addition to the improved operational and transactional efficiencies of channel distribution platforms, the ability to analyse the collected data and implement the resultant insights is a powerful additional platform attribute.