Your organization is ready to leverage its investments in Martech to uplevel the way your customers experience your brand. You’ve been tasked with executing on the launch of a newly acquired Customer Data Platform (CDP), which will be the new backbone that orchestrates how your company communicates with your customers, and how your customers engage with you.

You and your organization have reached a critical juncture. This isn’t just another back-end system that needs to be spun up and supported. If implemented correctly—both technically and strategically—a well-executed CDP platform will fundamentally change the way your brand engages with your customers.

To increase the likelihood of success it’s critical that you take a measured, strategic approach to understanding the work ahead, and then execute on it iteratively. The process outlined below is a great approach to tackling all your Martech stack-related efforts, but we’ll focus on a CDP implementation today.

Who’s on the Guest List? Building Organizational Support for Your CDP

Two colleagues discuss a printout

A common mistake I’ve seen working B2C prior to joining BlastX—and experienced over the last few years with our clients looking for assistance—is for one function (often a Marketing Team) to look at a CDP as an easy way to improve their ability to reach and communicate with customers with little or no support from other teams in the organization. This assumption couldn’t be further from reality.

It’s imperative you have the support of executive sponsorship—that your leadership team considers this a priority, and there’s someone on high who will go to bat for securing resources and getting work prioritized.

Your CDP and your Martech stack are only enablers. Success, as it almost always is, will be dependent on developing a comprehensive strategy that addresses your marketing, product, and technological objectives in a cohesive roadmap.

It’s imperative you have the support of executive sponsorship—that your leadership team considers this a priority, and there’s someone on high who will go to bat for securing resources and getting work prioritized. The other critical keys to success will be identifying the different stakeholders who need to be involved, helping them understand the WHY behind launching a CDP, and showing them how it will improve their ability to meet their business objectives. Traditionally, these efforts will include members from your marketing, product, engineering, and IT/Operations teams.

Plan the Celebration: Envisioning Success for Your CDP Implementation

Two colleagues plan a project

To get this party started, you must ask and answer one critical question: what will success look like? This isn’t an abstract or hypothetical question. You want to be able to clearly articulate the expected outcomes for you and your team following a successful CDP implementation. Here are some areas to consider:

  • How will your customers interact with your websites, mobile apps and other touchpoints that will be different, or at least enhanced, vs. today?
  • What channels should the CDP support from outbound marketing, advertising, and customer communications standpoints?
  • What key experiences around your product or services do you see being enhanced by your CDP?
  • What data is needed to perform the desired personalization and marketing activation efforts, and what are the related privacy and user consent concerns?
  • From both an engineering and IT Operations perspective, what ongoing support will be needed to support the CDP and related activation efforts?
  • What internal processes for developing/launching marketing campaigns, content updates, and product features might need to be adjusted to achieve the benefits of integrating your CDP?
  • How will you measure the results of your efforts? What are your KPIs? What additional reporting capabilities need to be in place to monitor progress and success?

As you assemble these pieces, you’ll begin to see which parts of the puzzle are missing. Answering the following questions will help you fill in these gaps and understand how to best move forward with the project:

  • What teammates in your organization can help begin to fill in the blanks?
  • What information does each person need to complete the puzzle?
  • Who needs to be accountable for the different components of this effort?

Through the process of working with your team to answer these questions, you’ll gain an understanding of the key objectives for success and how the team can collaborate to achieve them.

Kick Things into Gear: Crafting a Strategic CDP Roadmap

A team builds a plan together

Once you’ve established this future vision of what success looks like for your CDP implementation, you can develop the roadmap that will take your organization from where it is today to where it must be in order to evolve. The team discussions you had to define your vision will ultimately determine what that roadmap looks like.

Do your best to stay out of the weeds at first: start by defining high-level milestones that describe the key steps of a journey from where you are today to your desired objectives. This can be challenging, especially if you don’t have experience with the technologies and processes you’re working with and the outcomes you’re working towards. In my experience, a great approach that can help if you get stuck is to ‘walk backwards’ from where you want to end up.

Ramp Up the Fun: Demonstrating Success with Early Wins

A team celebrates a successful project

By this point you should be armed with a clear understanding of what you’re trying to achieve, and a nascent Strategic Roadmap that will help you get there. Now, after all this BIG thinking, it’s time to start thinking…small.

Ask yourself and your team: what is the smallest, most contained effort you can complete that will show demonstrable progress towards the first milestone you defined? Then go ahead and build a project around this effort. Make sure you identify the working team needed to successfully complete the work, and assign RACI roles so accountability is clear. Document your success criteria and publish to everyone in your organization—not just the project team. Do your best to set a reasonable target deadline, as this will likely be new work for many on the team and some trial and error may therefore be involved.

Ask yourself and your team: what is the smallest, most contained effort you can complete that will show demonstrable progress towards the first milestone you defined? Then go ahead and build a project around this effort.

As the work progresses, embrace the Fail Fast ideology. Be sure to celebrate the progress and wins made by your team; but more importantly, be honest when something doesn’t work as well as expected. As with the delightful digital experiences you’re trying to create for your users, some trial and error is to be expected. Successful teams will recognize and surface those failures quickly to be learned from and addressed.

Rinse and Repeat: Adjusting Your CDP Roadmap on the Fly

A team meets in a hallway

Once your team has achieved (and celebrated!) reaching the first milestone, review your roadmap and the next milestone you defined. Does it still make sense the way it was documented? Have your company’s priorities changed? Are there external or internal factors that have changed? Make an honest assessment, and be flexible about adjusting your original plan if called for.

After completing each discrete effort, be sure to review—and if needed, reassess your roadmap to make sure you’re continuing to target the activities that will have the greatest impact on your business and create the best experience for your users.

When something doesn’t go as planned or fails to accomplish your objectives, embrace it and use it as a learning opportunity.

You’re now well underway in your journey with a solid, iterative approach. Keep focused and complete one significant initiative at a time. When something doesn’t go as planned or fails to accomplish your objectives, embrace it and use it as a learning opportunity. Make sure to take a breath, and remember to recognize and celebrate wins with your team.

After a few iterations, the distinction between the initial implementation of your CDP and leveraging the CDP for ongoing marketing activations and product personalization will become indistinguishable. Not only have you established processes in your organization to execute campaigns consistently and successfully through your CDP; you’ve also adopted processes and toolsets that you can leverage across your entire Martech stack.