If you’ve bought a CDP or have been looking at buying a CDP for your company for a while, what I’m about to say may be a little controversial: your CDP is only as good as your company’s data foundation, so any CDP initiative means you have to reevaluate your tag management system.

If you’ve read about the CDP industry, it can seem like they do everything: it collects, it unifies, it activates, it slices, it dices, and makes julienne fries! But that perception is why publications like CMSWire are constantly citing people who believe that the CDP industry will “jump the shark,” because too many vendors are claiming to do too much without being able to actually do it all. And if you’ve been following the whole “cookies are dead” storyline the last few years, you may have been writing off tag management as well, but stick with me here.

 Just because there’s confusion in the CDP market, there remains a strong argument for CDPs; in fact, the right CDP for the right reasons can be a game-changing technology for companies. To understand why your CDP is only as good as your data foundation, it’s helpful to look at the relationship between tag management systems—the workhorse of the MarTech stack for over a decade—and the CDP.

First, let’s take a step back and consider the business factors driving the need for CDPs.

Companies are collecting massive amounts of sales, prospect and customer data from their website, mobile devices, IoT devices, and even in-store systems, and one of the ways companies are looking to address the fragmentation is by buying a CDP.

The proliferation of data sources is the result of consumers having more channels than ever from which to learn about products, get customer service and ultimately make purchases. This is great for the customer experience—at first. But without the right data foundation beneath all of these customer touchpoints, it means more data silos and the need for more ad hoc integrations or additional API endpoints to solve the problem. Even though companies are improving the customer experience with more touchpoints, they’re ultimately created a fragmented view of the customer that creates bad experiences down the line.

Companies that are further along in their data maturity understand that getting the most out of their CDP requires fueling it with quality data, but some companies are now buying a Customer Data Platform without truly evaluating this part. Once you’ve fixed the upstream challenges, a true CDP—one that focuses on the data first— can affect the shinier downstream business goals like: 1) Obtaining a single, unified view of customers; 2) Using that data to provide customers with a better experience in real time; 3) Sharing that data with other systems to support all marketing and customer-related activities.

What Tag Management Has to Do With a CDP

Many companies use tags (also known as pixels) to collect customer data from integrated sources. So for each of the MarTech programs you’ve got on your site—advertising, live chat, recommendation engines—tags are used to collect and send unique visitor behavior and event data back to those systems.

Because companies typically have a large number of tags to manage at any time, a tag management system (TMS) can help them automate the process of implementing, managing and maintaining these tags. Thus, your tag management system, along with your API hub, is a critical source of data collection around the customer’s digital experience. These technologies create the pipeline of data that is needed to feed into your Customer Data Platform.

Why Buying a CDP is an Opportunity to Reevaluate Your Data Foundation

Even though cookies may be drifting off into the sunset, marketing and analytics teams will rely on the data collected by TMS systems (and API hubs) for everything that they do for years to come. The data being collected by these systems help teams do everything, ranging from identifying new market opportunities and deploying marketing campaigns to answering important business and customer-related questions. 

The value of a CDP comes in your ability to unify all of your data that’s being generated by your customer experience stack.

Webinar: Choosing the Right CDP

That’s why buying a CDP is a great time to take a fresh look at your company’s data foundation and make any changes needed. Since CDPs take what’s happening upstream (data collection) and turn it into value downstream (in your activation channels), getting the upstream portion is critical.

Many companies rely on free TMS, but as more and more companies adopt CDPs, the limits of free tag managers will be compounded.

Why a Free TMS Will Hold Your CDP Project Back

While there are several free tag management systems available today, such as Google Tag Manager, these tools can slow progress for CDP initiatives because they:

  •       Require IT teams to manually code and update unsupported tags on an ongoing basis.
  •       Some may integrate better with a single vendor’s suite of solutions.
  •       Don’t provide the robust security and data privacy protections companies need
  •       Don’t include any tools to manage user data preferences or consent.
  •       Frequently only provide support through user forums.
  •       Don’t offer a service-level agreement.

Crucial Qualities a TMS Should Have When Pairing It with a CDP

A more effective approach is to use an enterprise tag management system that allows your marketing and analytics teams to:

  •       Quickly implement their own tags without having to rely on an IT team.
  •       Easily integrate the TMS with thousands of vendor solutions.
  •       View the customer journey across multiple channels.
  •       Leverage data management capabilities and user permissions.
  •       Route and store data based on geographic requirements.
  •       Comply with security and data privacy regulations.
  •       Obtain customer support 24/7.
  •       Have a service level agreement.

CDP + TMS Benefits

Some of the biggest benefits of using a CDP with an Enterprise Tag Management System are that it:

  •       Provides a single, comprehensive view of the customer.
  •       Streamlines the process of collecting, organizing and managing customer data.
  •       Greatly improves operational efficiency and data quality.
  •       Enables marketers to be far more effective in marketing.
  •       Provides an analytics team with better and more accurate data.

The success of your CDP depends on the quality of the data coming into it. When you think strategically about your entire data foundation (of which a TMS is a critical part) alongside your CDP initiative, the value of your CDP goes up because you’re going to look beyond one use case.

Customer data is arguably a company’s most undervalued— and underutilized— asset. See how you can change that when you pair a data-first CDP like Tealium AudienceStream CDP with the industry’s most robust Tag Management System, Tealium iQ.

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Post Author

Hilary Noonan
Hilary is Director of Content at Tealium.

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