Analytics, Digital Marketing, Technical Development, UX / CX

The Power of Real-Time Unified Customer Profiles

In the article “Architecture of a CXM Solution,” we explored the benefits of becoming an experience-driven brand, and how data drives the ability to create, measure, and improve the customer experience. We left off discussing the initial architectural hurdle, and how a unified customer profile can help.

What is a unified customer profile?

Brands typically use numerous platforms and systems to build and deploy customer experiences across channels. These systems capture various customer data points and generate their own set of analytics. The customer profiles from all each system only present pieces of an individual’s interaction with a brand, making it difficult to analyze customer data from a holistic view and turn it into actionable strategies. The answer? Unified customer profiles.

A unified customer profile presents all data points, spanning online and offline customer interactions to form a “Golden Record.” A true Golden Record paints a complete, accurate picture of customer engagement across all brand touchpoints. However, to present a real-time personalized experience to a customer, unified profiles need to be updated with real-time data.

The Rise of Customer Data Platforms

Modern marketing technology stacks aim to integrate customer profiles from various systems and update those profiles simultaneously. This need for unification plus real-time connectivity led to the rise of customer data platforms (CDPs). 

CDPs offer a 360-degree view of customers and capture the individual’s journey across channels, platforms, and systems. On the backend, the platform user sees the Golden Record. With a CDP, brands can analyze each touchpoint in the customer journey, attribute credit to marketing strategies, and measure the effectiveness of defined conversions.

Unifying customer data doesn’t happen overnight. Brands typically have data silos between systems, departments, and channels—each with their own method of identifying customer records. CDPs simplify the process by integrating multiple customer IDs into one platform, allowing brands to combine demographic, psychographic, geographic, and device data into a single view.

When you integrate your customer data into a platform that updates profiles in real-time, you develop the ability to provide fully personalized, on-brand, cohesive experiences across channels (the ultimate omnichannel experience). For example, you will no longer need to present the same “sign-up for our newsletter” messaging to every site visitor. The CDP will pull the customer data instantly and automatically surface or repress the messaging based on their newsletter sign-up status.

It’s proven that customers reward brands that leverage their data to deploy personalized experiences as long as they add value to their relationship with the brands. As a result, brands grow faster and build lifelong customer relationships through loyalty programs, referrals, and repeat conversions.

Download Blue Acorn iCi’s Complete Customer Experience Report to learn how to create an unforgettable, personalized customer experience.

Applying Data Science to Customer Interactions

Applying data science techniques to customer data allows brands to do two things:

  • Present the right message at the right time to the right customer
  • Estimate the likelihood that a customer will convert on any given campaign or product

With this type of knowledge, marketers can make business decisions based on the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and what business outcomes will likely result from running the campaign against a specific segment. We often see marketing teams with access to these advanced analytics increase marketing return on investment and hit revenue and profitability goals.

What Differentiates CDPs From Other Data Storage Technologies?

To integrate their various systems and align data, brands have started data lake projects. A data lake holds data in its rawest form, meaning it’s not processed or analyzed. The repository collects data from all types of sources and supports all data types. While data lakes provide a solution to bring multiple data sources together into a single view, it’s limiting when it comes to real-time interactions.

CDPs provide real-time personalization capabilities across online and offline channels for modern marketing. There are many exciting new CDP technologies on the horizon, two of which are Adobe’s Experience Platform (AEP) and Tealium’s AudienceStream. Currently, Adobe uses an Experience Data Model (XDM) to align data as it feeds into the platform. XDM sends the data back to disparate systems, allowing those systems to form unified records. Tealium’s CDP features EventStream, which enables brands to create API connections to any system to share and integrate data. 

These types of capabilities bring real-time unification of customer profiles from multiple systems and platforms to realization. Marketers can then use CDPs to perform powerful tasks. For example, the connectivity between the CDP and customer service applications allows the platform to serve suggested scripts to customer service representatives. If a customer needs more information than the digital experience can offer and reaches out to customer service, the rep can pick up the conversation exactly where the digital channel left off. No matter where or how a customer engages with the brand, the experience is personalized.

Regardless of the specific use case, real-time unified customer profiles enable brands to take their marketing strategies and experience personalization efforts to the next level. In the next article, we’ll discuss how the analytics team generates customer insights from well-architected solutions to solve common marketing problems:

  • What personas exist, and how does that resonate with prior research?
  • What are their core attributes?
  • How do I target them effectively?

Miss the article, “Architecture of a CXM Solution?” Read it here. If you’d like to chat with a member of the Blue Acorn iCi team about unified customer profiles or improving your customer experience, reach out to us here.

Reid Bryant
Reid Bryant is responsible for building a world-class team focused on creating and capturing value through the sophisticated application of data science to analytics, optimization, and personalization. He brings over 13 years of expertise in quantitative fields and has led high performing optimization and analytics programs at clients like Microsoft, Barnes & Noble, Bank of America, Viacom, the Gap, Humana, Johnson & Johnson, and Chic-fil-A. He is a co-founder of the Raleigh Chapter of the Digital Analytics Association and provides digital marketing analytics lectures at the Institute for Advanced Analytics at NC State University as well as Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.
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