Successfully onboarding a Customer Data Platform (CDP) is critical for laying the foundation to better leverage customer data to gain a competitive edge. This is especially true with the rise of Artificial Intelligence which requires a high-quality, comprehensive data foundation in order to fuel meaningful innovations. A CDP centralizes customer data from various sources, providing a unified view of your customer behavior and preferences. However, onboarding a CDP can be a complex process. In this blog post, we will guide you through the steps involved in successfully onboarding a CDP, ensuring a smooth transition into everyday workflows and providing the maximum benefit.

Maximizing your investment in customer data management and a CDP requires a thoughtful approach to team and organizational structure. Customer data is a team sport and in order to ensure your company is collecting and using data efficiently (and in a compliant manner) it requires collaboration across departments often including marketing, IT, data, and customer success to name a few. It is helpful if cross-departmental teams clearly document roles and responsibilities. Does a team need to access a CDP daily or just be involved occasionally?  Being clear about objectives and ‘swim lanes’ early helps ensure projects have the right buy-in and defined outcomes. 

There are eight steps to take when onboarding a Customer Data Platform:

  1. Agree on the top business outcomes that the company is trying to achieve with a CDP. (for e.g.: Improve retention in segment ‘x’ by 15%, or marketing needs to reduce advertising spend on segment ‘y’ by 25%.) Defining the business goal(s) will also help the core team narrow in on which use cases to prioritize. It is important not to boil the ocean, instead understand where the company can achieve the most value and start there. It can also be helpful to develop a roadmap to ensure stakeholders have a sense of priorities and timing. Setting expectations is key.
  2. Identify what customer data exists and where it resides within the organization.  It is important to know what types of data are currently collected and where it is stored. If different groups are involved (e.g. marketing, IT, digital), bring them together so you can get a complete picture of the data sources and any possible issues. 
  3. Design a core team that owns customer data and the use cases. This team should be cross-functional in nature and own the roadmap, timelines, resources, goals, and measurement. Being clear on roles and responsibilities within the core team is essential to prevent confusion or duplicative efforts and processes. 
  4. Choose the Right CDP. With your objectives and data infrastructure assessment in mind, research and select a CDP that aligns with your specific needs. Look for a CDP that supports your desired use cases, offers integration capabilities with your existing systems, and provides robust data security measures. Consider factors such as scalability, ease of use, vendor reputation, and customer support. Engage with multiple vendors, request demos, and evaluate their offerings against your requirements before making a final decision.
  5. Map and integrate your data sources. Collaborate with your internal teams, including marketing, IT, and data analytics, to identify the relevant data points that need to be collected and consolidated within the CDP. Create a data mapping plan that outlines the fields, formats, and transformation rules for each data source. Work closely with your CDP vendor to establish secure and reliable data connections, ensuring a seamless flow of information into the platform.
  6. Develop a data governance framework that establishes policies and guidelines for data usage, access controls, and consent management. Data governance and privacy compliance are paramount when working with customer data. Ensure compliance with relevant data protection regulations, such as GDPR or CCPA. Implement data anonymization or pseudonymization techniques where necessary to safeguard personal information. Prioritize transparency and communicate your data handling practices to customers to build trust.
  7. Conduct rigorous testing and validation procedures. Ensure that data is accurately captured, transformed, and integrated within the CDP. Test various use cases and scenarios to validate the effectiveness of your data-driven strategies. Engage a cross-functional team to review the results, identify any issues or discrepancies, and make necessary adjustments. This iterative testing process will help fine-tune your CDP implementation for optimal performance.
  8. Train your teams to effectively utilize the platform. Provide comprehensive training sessions to relevant stakeholders, such as marketing, sales, and customer support teams, on how to leverage the CDP’s features and insights. Encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing to maximize the CDP’s potential. Regularly communicate

The urgency for companies to prioritize onboarding a Customer Data Platform lies in its ability to empower data-driven decision-making, deliver personalized customer experiences across channels, ensure compliance with data privacy regulations, optimize marketing efficiency, foster agility and adaptability, and enable your company to gain a competitive edge. By successfully onboarding a CDP, you can unlock the full potential of your customer data, drive growth, and stay ahead in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. It is a strategic imperative to embrace the power of a CDP and leverage its capabilities to fuel your success in the digital era.

For more information on successfully onboarding a Customer Data Platform, check out our popular eBook, “The Organization
of the Future: A Blueprint for Structuring Your Optimal Customer Data Team (Plus Sample Org Charts!)”

Post Author

Hilary Noonan
Hilary is Director of Content at Tealium.

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