Choosing the Right Approach for a B2B CDP Project

 In Customer Data Platform

The CDP market is notoriously diverse. The sub-segment for B2B is no exception. Recently, we’ve seen a divergence with specialist B2B CDPs that offer capabilities traditionally handled in point solutions or ABM platforms and traditional CDPs focusing on data platform capabilities powering tech horizontally across the enterprise. There are many factors to consider when picking the right tool.

First, What Kinds of B2B CDPs Are Out There?

In the B2B space, in addition to the traditional stalwarts, specialist vendors focusing more on sales/marketing enablement and ABM capabilities have emerged.

Forrester’s B2B CDP New Tech report breaks down the difference between “Embedded” CDPs (focused more narrowly on B2B sales execution) and Standalone B2B CDPs (more focused on integrating across the enterprise).

In many ways we’re seeing a bifurcation of the market between best-of-breed CDP solutions and more all-in-one ABM solutions that feature some CDP features. Throw in the fact that many standalone solutions are part of a larger cloud offering, and there are some significant considerations for companies looking to leverage CDPs in their business workflow.

Each type of B2B CDP is positioned differently. Let’s look at 3 groups – (1) Embedded CDPs in ABM Platforms, (2) Independent Standalone B2B CDPs, and (3) Standalone CDPs as part of a larger cloud or suite of tools.

  1. Embedded CDPs in ABM Platforms – These all-in-one tools bring together ABM features along with data management capabilities and largely serve demand generation programs. These systems are best for smaller teams that don’t require much customization, or lack the resources to support customization. Some have B2B specialist functionality, such as data marketplaces that may be useful if you don’t use a best-of-breed vendor for that purpose (though there’s a privacy downside to that approach). Embedded CDPs enable you to run better ABM campaigns, but are less flexible for other use cases around the enterprise.
  2. Independent Standalone B2B CDPs – These tools are exclusively focused on creating a unified view of your customer that can be leveraged in any system— including ABM platforms or even tools you don’t know about yet. They provide a 360 degree view of your customer and support a variety of channels including email, display ads, mobile, and web, etc). This approach maintains maximum flexibility (important if your tools or goals change) and future-proofs your data foundation. This flexibility is great for building a differentiated customer experience, but generally fits better with larger, more sophisticated teams with needs to fuel many best-of-breed tools.

    Remember: the privacy bar is being heightened, which is an especially big change for B2B organizations. An independent standalone CDP, since they are meant to work across many vendors/channels and typically aren’t in the business of selling data, add significant value building trust and privacy with your prospects and customers.

    Tealium is an independent standalone CDP that thrives in businesses that have many tools, have diverse needs beyond ABM with their data, and require flexibility to customize CX while future-proofing their tech stack.
  3. Standalone CDPs as part of a cloud/suite of tools – These CDPs have a similar value prop to independent standalones, but have an inherent interest on where the data is executed. This leads to less flexibility, but can simplify vendor relationships. Typically these tools integrate best with the cloud that they’re a part of and there’s more focus on supporting those tools.

Why Are B2B Companies Looking at CDPs?

Forrester highlights (1) the benefit of Data Unification, (2) CDPs being likely to flourish, and (3) the importance of data management in light of the rise of AI as significant considerations for B2B companies looking into upping their data management capabilities. Simply put, CDPs represent the next wave of critical data capabilities supporting CX and those companies that do not adopt CDP capabilities will increasingly find themselves unable to deliver experiences that stand out.

How to Pick the B2B CDP That’s Right For You

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How many systems/use cases across the enterprise do I want to support?
    • Just ABM or sales/marketing = embedded
    • Across the enterprise = standalone
  • How important is it to be flexible and future proof?
    • More concerned with the near term = embedded or standalone as part of a cloud
    • Want flexibility and agility for the long term = standalone independent
  • How important is consent, privacy and regulatory compliance?
    • Prioritizing building trust and privacy = standalone independent for agnostic enforcement across channels
    • More focused on simplicity = embedded
  • Do I need ABM tools or am I looking to make my existing ABM tools better?
    • ABM tools needed = embedded solutions
    • Want flexibility to use with many tools beyond ABM = standalone
    • Somewhere in between = Standalones that are part of larger cloud
  • How sophisticated and large is my team?
    • Smaller and less sophisticated = the embedded all-in-one approach is attractive
    • Larger with more nuanced, customized use cases = standalone CDP
  • Does my organization need to support B2B and B2C use cases?
    • No = embedded
    • Yes = standalone

Summary

The decision largely comes down to flexibility supporting the right use cases, customization requirements to your specific business, and your time horizon.

Do you need less flexibility, less customization and have a short time horizon? An Embedded B2B CDP is probably right for you.

Do you need more flexibility, want to customize to your CX strategy and want your foundation to last for a longer time horizon? A Standalone B2B CDP probably is the choice, preferably independent.

There are many cases where companies might want both an embedded and a standalone as well. The embedded tool could be a best-in-breed ABM platform and the standalone independent can connect the dots to the rest of the enterprise for use cases like customer service, support, product onboarding, customer experience through the lifecycle, etc.

The B2C-ification of B2B isn’t likely to end anytime soon even with some companies taking ABM-centric approaches. At the end of the day it’s important that B2B companies treat their prospects and customers as individuals, not as just part of a target account. Make sure you have a solution in place that lets you speak to the person like a person with unique desires, feelings, goals and not just a cog in the target account.

If you’d like to see how Tealium fits the bill, we’d love to talk. We can help separate fact from fiction and provide insights into any unique situation (with customer data, they all are!). Let us put our experience providing CDP solutions since before the CDP category even existed to work for you!

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