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How Unified Data Is Driving Today’s Digital Transformations

Get ready to unify your data, optimize your campaigns, and create the personalized experiences your customers want.


Unified data is the key tool in a marketer’s arsenal to personalize at scale. In a digital-first world, consumers are engaging brands and consuming media at the time and place of their choosing, across multiple channels. Building that one-to-one relationship has become the way to delight your customer. Personalization has the ability to unlock up to $3 trillion of value for companies. Yet, enterprises are finding it difficult to transform to meet the challenges of this new normal.

The biggest problem? Getting a single source of truth for their customer data.


Connected experiences drive loyalty, satisfaction

Think back to a year or more ago — when you might have taken your last pre-pandemic flight. Maybe you booked the trip on an airline’s website, called the 800 number to change your flight, checked in and chose your seat on a mobile app, then registered at the airport lounge through an employee with a tablet.


The best airlines move you through that experience seamlessly, and it’s a connected and personalized journey from booking all the way to the post-flight email survey. A connected experience creates loyalty and trust, and makes you want to fly with that airline again.

Every company wants to deliver the kind of personalization Google, Netflix, and Amazon have come to be known for.

It’s not easy connecting five or six very different systems that each contain customer data and make them work together. That’s the power of unified data and you rarely get that kind of seamless experience from a brand.


But also think about that time you got the wrong product from an online brand and had to return it, only to go from website to call center to app, repeating your name, order number, and address again and again — just to get to the next step in what seems like a very simple task. That experience leaves you frustrated and lowers the chance you will ever buy another product from that brand again. That company’s vertically integrated disconnected systems were what provided you with a subpar experience.


Personalization is possible with unified customer data

What is the difference between these two scenarios? Your superior customer experience was powered by unified data. When the website, app, call center software, customer relationship management (CRM) system, and email marketing system are all connected by a rich customer profile, it’s possible to personalize a customer journey. When they are not, chaos may ensue.

The marketing world is moving into an era where platform choice will determine the winners and losers in the space.

Thankfully, CDPs have emerged as a technology solution for ingesting, harmonizing, reconciling, segmenting, and activating customer data across systems. It’s at the top of the “hype cycle” on analyst reports, and every big company has either built one, bought one, or is thinking about it. Every company wants to deliver the kind of personalization Google, Netflix, and Amazon have come to be known for — but not every company has endless amounts of customer data and thousands of engineers.


Connected platform ecosystems are the future of marketing

The marketing world is moving into an era where platform choice will determine the winners and losers in the space. What this means is we’re moving away from a world where marketers have a suite of loosely connected applications to an era when they use a platform ecosystem. Marketers now plug their solutions into their one existing platform — the CDP.


Building a one-to-one relationship with your customer: The C in CDP stands for customer

Marketers are constantly challenged to build personalized relationships at scale. Customers engage with brands across a multitude of different channels and brands need a bird’s-eye view to understand every detail of their journey. CDPs give companies a single source of truth around customer data — knowing whom they are by aligning all of their different IDs across many systems. CDPs understand what customers care about by enriching their profile with data from sales, service, commerce, and marketing interactions; it uses data to engage them as they interact with a brand across numerous touchpoints.

“Adapting (quickly) to the pace of change while continuing to deliver amazing customer experiences was the big motivator to accelerate our CDP thinking.” -DAVID KAVANAUGH, HEAD OF MARKETING TECHNOLOGY, BANK OF MONTREAL

Marketers need to understand the customer in a different way to succeed in this new work-from-anywhere world. They need to think about the customer holistically — their experiences throughout sales, service, and many other touchpoints — going beyond marketing and advertising is the new challenge.


Trailblazers like David Kavanagh, head of marketing technology at Bank of Montreal agrees. “Adapting (quickly) to the pace of change while continuing to deliver amazing customer experiences was the big motivator to accelerate our CDP thinking.”


Unified data is the key to building trust in relationships with customers: The D in CDP stands for data

Many CDPs on the market are very good at taking data and pointing it at simple marketing and advertising use cases. But today’s world requires complex thinking about the data under your management. We have to now think about privacy regulations, stricter rules enforced by web browsers, and mobile app providers, the “cookieless” future, where a company’s first-party data strategy is the only thing that matters, and the customer journey as a whole.

We think better marketing always happens with consent, so we have built a privacy-first CDP for the new world.

To keep up with all this, you can’t undergo a digital transformation without a system that enables you to be the trusted stewards of customer data, and that makes trust the most important feature.

When we launched Salesforce, the idea of asking companies to let us manage their data “in the cloud” was a new concept. We had to ensure that, no matter what, their data would be secure and available at all times — and that we would be 100% transparent with how we did it. Today’s CDP market is no different. First-party data is a company’s most valuable asset, and our CDP leads with data availability, governance, privacy compliance, and transparency. Plus, we think better marketing always happens with consent, so we have built a privacy-first CDP for the new world.


The “D” in CDP is all about helping our customers build the type of customer data asset that can be valued on their balance sheet. Data that is part of a unified system of record that helps brands create transactions with customers that are built on trust, ultimately leading to higher ROI.


Bank of Montreal managed to stay ahead of the curve by building a single view of the customer with the help of Salesforce. “Combining deep profile data with signal and intent data is the basis of our strategy, but it’s always grounded in creating value for the customer first. We’ve learned that connecting the last mile or 10% [of marketing data] is often the most difficult, but rewarding part of the journey and where we extract the greatest value.”


Connected platforms are the way to future-proof your marketing: The P in CDP stands for platform

The platform is the investment, but it is also an operating philosophy. Technology platforms are effective because they share a common language, and enable creativity by allowing people to build on top of them. Simply put, this is like building a castle from lego pieces rather than building lego pieces first. You have more time to innovate because you’re building on top of well-established information systems.

If CDP is the tool at the core of transformation, it must democratize data across the organization, and enable access to them across roles.

Looking back, one of the first times we did this was when Salesforce’s Co-Founder Parker Harris made a gamble by developing our core platform the hard way — by opening it up to developers, rather than building it on a closed system. This was not the norm at the time. That vision was richly rewarded when we built our second big product, Service Cloud, for managing customer service. We didn’t have to start from scratch — the codebase from our original product and all of the tools were there to leverage. Today, we have thousands of companies that develop applications on our codebase and nearly 8,000 connected applications available in our marketplace, the AppExchange.


The same platform approach applies to the CDP. It is essential to unleash the value of the CDP. Customer data, once the provenance of “data geeks” who knew how to write SQL and munge together datasets using technical tools, must be made highly available to every stakeholder who needs it. Data cannot be “the new oil” if everyone who needs a quart must dig a hole 6,000 feet deep.


The right CDP enables nontechnical users to dive into the data, query it, test out new assumptions, and quickly put that data to work. If CDP is the tool at the core of transformation, it must democratize data across the organization, and enable access to them across roles. Rather than displacing the IT team, this platform-based approach partners with IT more closely, and unlocks more and more value as diverse customer data comes into the system.

We feel that the platform makes all the difference.


Moving forward

Today, we launch this new CDP brand. We built ours on the core Salesforce platform, just like Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and our numerous Industries Clouds. As our platform evolves with every release, so will our CDP. It also means that our customers like Casey’s and Bank of Montreal get the benefits of our entire success platform when they start to work with it.


As Kavanagh has remarked, “ … Salesforce’s CDP will help us enable and activate our rich profile data to help create even greater experiences for our customers. Leveraging technology to create frictionless, meaningful, omnichannel experiences powered by rich and accessible data enables us to deliver on the promises we make to our customers and ourselves.”



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