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6 Key Steps for CDP Implementation Success

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If you’ve recently purchased a new CDP you most likely can’t wait to dive in, roll up your sleeves and get to work on your CDP implementation! And we don’t blame you for that excitement, we’d be ready to roll too! But before you go for broke it’s important you take critical steps up front and put some strategic measures in place before you start using your new solution.

I recently sat down with Jim Hartley, Tealium’s VP Customer Success, Americas, to get the inside scoop on what brands should do in preparation of bringing a new CDP on board to ensure total implementation success. (Note: A quick list of these steps can be found at the bottom of this blog post).

The Keys to CDP Implementation Success

Julie Graham: What’s the first, and most important, step brands need to take when starting their CDP implementation to ensure success? 
#1: Assemble and align stakeholders
Jim Hartley: It’s important that brands put a cross-functional CDP implementation team together so they can provide the organization with a coordinated strategy that will exceed their customers’ expectations and delight them with the experiences they’re providing.

Find collaborative, forward-thinking and hard-working professionals who want to get their hands dirty. 

This team could include a combination of roles like: Customer Experience, Paid Media, Email Marketing, Content, Social, Marketing Ops, Analytics/BIData, Dev/Engineering, and more.

JG: And this CDP task force we’ll call them, what will they do? How will they affect the CDP implementation process being a success? 

JH: They’ll work to improve communication between departments while simultaneously breaking down silos between people and tech. They’ll also do things like:

  • Map out project objectives to meet the strategic goals that have been put in place
  • Determine the overall digital strategy and how it rolls up to the CDP
  • Align content and customer experiences with this digital strategy
  • Implement and manage tactics and timeframes
  • Analyze, test and recommend optimizations of tactics throughout the process

This will be an agile group ready to pivot and optimize when necessary. A group that embraces the sentiment that the only constant is change. 

Once assembled and aligned the final piece of this step is for this team to educate the greater organization on what the CDP is and how it will help the organization achieve their goals.

JG: So you have your CDP task force and know who’s going to own the strategy, how do you start creating the strategy? What do you need to know and have in place for the next step? 
#2: Gather information, set expectations and formulate objectives 
JH: A solid data foundation, paired with a strong digital strategy, can become a long-term roadmap for the year ahead— a  guiding doctrine that both the CDP, and organization, are following and measuring results from.

What is the strategic plan for the organization? What are their goals? Knowing these key objectives is the same place you’d start for what the goals of CDP are so you can map to those very same business initiatives. Every organizations’ will be different. They could be to increase customer satisfaction, to cut operational costs, or maybe it’s to increase overall growth.

JG: After initiatives are defined and aligned it seems that a strategy needs to be in place, right? To guide all the actions that will be taken around the CDP? 

JH: Correct – once the goal is clearly defined it’s important to develop a framework. This essentially puts a quadrant-style approach to your goals so there’s something tangible that can be shared with the entire organization. This will highlight and reinforce how the CDP goals roll up to the same goals of the organization and that they’re aligned.

Next you’ll want to identify sources of data and look at the accuracy, maturity, and quality of that data. Who owns it? Where does it come from? You’re most likely collecting and housing data from multiple systems like your website, CRM systems, social channels, mobile apps and more.

Identifying the sources of your data will allow you to see the full picture of your data and the story that it’s telling you. 

The last part of this step is to identify cross-functional dependencies and understand what the process will be for each in regards to how they’re using the CDP.

JG: It seems that within each major step to CDP implementation success there are a lot of other very important steps to take. Do they all need to be taken at once? Or in this exact order? 

JH: No, they can be taken simultaneously or spaced out, or even in a different order. What’s important is that a brand is thinking about each of these key steps though as it really will ensure the tool is the most impactful for the organization.

JG: You have your team, you have your outcomes established, what’s next? 

#3: Determine segments and the identification/resolution strategy
JH: This step is so critical to a CDP specifically because you have to have a strategy/mapping to all of the different sources of your profiles (albeit prospects or customers). You have to have a strategy behind how you’re going to identify these people.

CDPs are based on identifiers (phone number, first party ids, etc.) and for large brands that are using systems like a POS (Point of Sale), CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or EDW (Electronic Data Warehouse), one person could have multiple identifiers on them with the brand and in different systems. So it’s crucial to understand the identification strategy and identity resolution strategy before you implement the CDP to do it’s magic. Otherwise you’ll be lacking the accuracy and quality to be able to really feel and see the value behind your new CDP.

JG: Personalization is now an imperative for brands that really want to stand out and provide those awesome experiences their customers are expecting, does having this identification strategy help with that at all?

JH: Definitely. Before you can create a personalization strategy for your marketing campaigns you need to first identify/segment your target audience into groups based on criteria you define. It could be by demographics, behavior, value, etc. – that is solely up to you and the goals of your org (ie: cart abandoners, blog fans, mqls, free trials, discount shoppers). But without having an identity resolution strategy in place one wouldn’t be able to effectively personalize the messaging as they choose.

You’ll also want to do an inventory of all of the different channels you’re marketing on and what integrations are in your martech stack. It’s important to document platforms like your Email Service Provider (ESP), search vendors, CRM, social media tools, analytics platform and others so you can see how and when each of these tools are used throughout the customer journey.

And of course you’ll want to list out content and creative needs along with resource and budgetary needs and constraints too to allow for proper planning.

JG: Awesome! What’s next? 

#4: Define the action plan 
JH: This is all about setting expectations and prioritizing the most impactful outcomes. Tell people why you’re doing what you’re doing and share what you anticipate the impact to be. This will help give a clear direction of where to start, what the entire CDP journey will look like and what the future holds as far as hoped-for results.

Prioritizing the most impactful outcomes is so important because of how much work you’ll be doing in the first three steps I laid out above. There will be a lot of moving parts so prioritizing what’s most important, and executing that first, may help to reduce some of the overwhelm and maximize the wins. 

Now all that’s left is the best part yet – to execute!

JG: So far we’ve gone through all of the steps a brand would want to take prior to getting their CDP on board. What do they need to do once they start running campaigns and everything is up and running? 

#5: Monitor, measure and capture the value
JH: This really is an ongoing and continual process that never stops, as you continue to pivot and adjust alongside it. I like to have the mentality of “If something is working do more of it, if it’s not working, fix it.” Ensure your strategy is up to speed with what’s been communicated and that you have an appropriate measurement schedule and cadence in place for what you’ll be reporting on, when and to who.

Remember that it’s not always about the dollars – it’s important to do qualitative assessments of what life looks like post-CDP implementation too. Is the CDP solving operational problems? Internal challenges? Document and share those too.

JH: The last and final step is to close the loop.

#6: Close the loop 
And that’s doing exactly what it sounds like – reporting on overall success, tying and relating everything that’s been done back up those initial goals that were set, ensuring internal and executive alignment still exists on everything and continuing to always come back to the “why” you implemented a CDP in the first place.

JG: Wow! Those 6 steps are so great and will be so helpful for brands who are just about to get started on their CDP journey. 

If you could give a brand any final CDP advice, what would it be? 

JH: To remember you also need to have a mindset shift in the way you think about how you’re doing business. Be open, and agile and remember that the people and process help guide the success of the CDP too, not just the product alone. Constantly measure, set expectations and stay aligned around your CDP initiatives with others in your organization.

A CDP really does have the power to change the way you do business if you let it. 

By following these 6 key steps you’ll be well on your way to CDP implementation success!

JGThanks Jim! 

Looking for more great CDP tips and tricks from those who are using the platform the most? Check out our CDP Study: How Organizations Buy, Implement and Use CDPs today!

6 Key Steps for CDP Implementation Success 

    • Assemble and align stakeholders
      1. Assemble the team
      2. Establish cross-functional roles
      3. Aligning key stakeholders
      4. Identify owners
    • Gather information and formulate objectives
      1. Formulate your strategy
      2. Strategic objective framework
      3. Sources of information
      4. Understanding process and dependencies
    • Determine your segments and id resolution strategy
        Segmentation and targeting

      1. User identification strategy
      2. Channels and integrations
      3. Creative needs
      4. Resources and budgetary constraints
    • Define your action plan
      1. Set roadmapping expectations
      2. Prioritize objectives and timing
      3. Define roles and responsibilities
    • Monitor progress
        The importance of measurement

      1. Monitoring progress and optimizing
      2. Data requirements
      3. Reporting tools and platforms
      4. Schedule of measurement
      5. Qualitative assessment
      6. Putting it all together
    • Close the loop


Julie Graham
Julie is a talented and passionate marketing expert with a colorful background in digital, traditional and integrated marketing solutions.

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