Clouds May Be the Intelligent Data Solution for CRM Marketers

Companies are turning more and more to 1st-party data. But how to turn raw data into something that can help marketing & business goals?

Matt Engstrom

Head of Marketing

Time to read6 min read
January 17, 2022

Is the CDP boom about to bust?

The ability to access, process, and action data is constantly changing for marketers. That’s a given. Now, we are moving closer to a world where the free-for-all data gold rush may be coming to an end. 

Consumers no longer accept that their data can be mined and sold without their consent. Consumer pressure as well as big tech vying for market dominance has made the future of 3rd-party data uncertain. As a result, we are in the midst of the rise of 1st-party data as 1st-party data is owned by companies and can more freely be used by marketers.

But, much like extracting raw gold and processing it into something valuable, marketers need to take their raw data and transform it into something that can help achieve marketing and business goals. 

CRM marketers have an incredible opportunity to lean into their greatest asset, but obstacles remain in place:

  • Data is siloed, inaccessible, unprocessed and can’t be used to create marketing value
  • Closed platform CDPs require long on-boarding and lack interoperability with other solutions
  • Data science teams are stretched thin and have little bandwidth to dedicate time to CRM 

Since data feeds audience building, personalization, and targeting, these obstacles leave many CRM marketers relying on batch & blast. Others use limited segmentation either because they are limited in the ability to access their 1st-party data or because their CDP or marketing cloud doesn’t offer anything more sophisticated. That is a far cry away from the individualized approach marketers look to deploy to create true personalized experiences on the individual customer level. 

The openness of data clouds offers a solution

How can CRM marketers access the power of their 1st-party customer and product data so they can build better audiences and create relevant experiences for each of their customers without the roadblocks that many data software solutions create?

The answer is to break out of the closed platform mindset and look to what will soon be the dominant solution in the market – data clouds.

Clouds aren’t hard coded like CDPs, they offer many of the same benefits but with increased flexibility and openness. They enable the creation of custom IT projects through a managed services approach designed to achieve specific business goals for a variety of departments. 

Marketing can benefit from the data-cloud approach

Hard-coded CDPs have always been challenged to integrate with other solutions. Be those intelligence solutions or marketing activation capabilities. Clouds solve for this challenge. 

Best-of-breed solutions that are integrated and available within the cloud ecosystem itself. Data clouds vet these partners and find the best possible solutions designed to solve specific business challenges better than any large scale software platform can on its own. The solutions may be designed to achieve HR, finance, IT, and of course marketing objectives. 

Also, clouds make developing and deploying updates much easier so these solutions can easily evolve to solve for marketers unique, shifting challenges.

Cloud platforms enable companies to put their data in a single place, process that data, and structure it for output…just like a CDP. The main differences are 1) that data within cloud platforms can be used by other solutions whether it’s marketing activation systems or other applications and 2) increased flexibility for companies to build custom solutions within the cloud themselves. 

Clouds are a true ecosystem in the sense that many companies use their technology. When brands as well as technology partners exist within the same place, it’s much more seamless for them to work together and build solutions that achieve the goals set in place by the brand. 

The intelligence layer is just as important for activation as the data layer

One thing many marketers overlook is the layer of intelligence. Think of this as the bridge between data and marketing activation. Intelligence solutions take data, available within the cloud, and transform it to supercharge activation.

One example is using intelligence AI to predict buying intent for each customer for any product simply through using the 1st-party data assets available within the cloud. Then the output supercharges marketing platforms by enabling them to target based on accurate intent to buy across any channel.

No CDP or marketing cloud is sophisticated enough to do that as well as a dedicated best-of-breed solution. Generally, their “AI” capabilities rely on general propensity modeling (propensity simply to buy anything) or persona based segmentation (which groups many unrelated customers into clusters) for targeting. 

Within data clouds, like Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azul, and Snowflake, data intelligence solutions can easily be accessed and used to transform data into powerful audiences for targeting across marketing activation solutions. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t access intelligence capabilities if your data sits in a CDP, in-house data lake, or is even siloed, but having it in the cloud makes it less costly and significantly decreases implementation time and resource expenditures.

Will data clouds be the choice for companies in the future over CDPs? Only time will tell. But what is also telling is that many CDPs are electing to integrate with clouds as well. As marketing clouds continue to underdeliver when it comes to audience building, personalization, and targeting, that will only continue to strengthen the case for marketers to lean into systems of intelligence to supercharge activation and to place their chips in open data cloud ecosystems.

It’s looking more and more like the future will be open.

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