Gaining a comprehensive, 360-degree customer view is the end goal of digital marketing. Unfortunately, the term is commonly seen to be theoretical hype rather than a practical possibility.
In July 2021, market research firm Garner Inc. advised marketers to “abandon the pursuit of a 360-degree customer view.” The company’s Maverick* research had shown that the complexity of the digital environment and speed at which customers change what they want or need makes obtaining the illusive 360-view too costly for it to be a wise endeavor.
In December of last year, Gartner’s 2021 “Customer Data Survey” backed up what the earlier research had indicated: Only 14% of the organizations surveyed had achieved a 360-degree view of their customer, leaving the vast majority sinking funds into a technically challenging and collaboration intensive undertaking that is bringing minimal returns for the people who need it: the marketers.
“Brands are collecting all sorts of data. They have really smart people working on and analyzing it, being able to run data science models [and] predictive models on it,” said James Fang (pictured), vice president of product marketing at mParticle Inc. “But the marketers and the people who want to draw insights on it are asking, ‘How do I get it in my hands so I can use that data for relevant targeting messaging?’”
Fang spoke with theCUBE industry analyst Lisa Martin during the AWS Startup Showcase “MarTech Emerging Cloud-Scale Customer Experiences” event, an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. They discussed how mParticle’s Customer Data Platform makes it possible for cross-functional teams to achieve a continuously updating 360-degree customer view. (* Disclosure below.)
mParticle democratizes access to data, provides 360-degree view
On the surface, mParticle is one of many customer data platforms. It follows the tried-and-true formula of ingesting, collating and analyzing data before activating it by pushing it out to downstream business users. The difference is that it delivers on the promise of 360-degree customer visibility, giving marketers self-service access to data and allowing them to create custom views based on their needs, according to Fang.
“What mParticle does is we democratize access to that data by making it accessible in the very tools that the actual business users are working in, and we do that in real time,” he stated.
Another critical difference is mParticle’s ability to deliver continuous, streaming insights in real time. This is important in order to follow a customer’s decision journey and know when an item is browsed, put in a shopping cart, purchased, abandoned, or picked up again on a different device.
“In this modern day and age, consumers are engaging with brands from multiple devices, and their attention span, frankly, isn’t that long,” said Fang, describing how a consumer may be browsing an item and thinking of buying but then drops the transaction for any number of reasons.
Later on, the consumer remembers, for example, “Oh, I want to buy those season tickets,” and maybe stops into a physical location if they happen to be in the neighborhood or logs onto the organization’s website via a different device. Throughout this entire process, the mParticle CDP is connecting online and offline touch points to the user profile to create a contextual, real-time picture. This rich background data allows the company to target the consumer with location- and time-specific promotions. For example, sending a promotional offer when they drive toward a physical store or a reminder notification when they go back online, upping the chances of a successful conversation.
mParticle accomplishes this through its real-time streaming architecture backend, according to Fang.
“Our architecture from the ground up is built for real time,” he stated. “All the data points that we collect and send to those downstream destinations … whether it’s a marketer, whether it’s a business analyst looking at that data for intelligence, they get that data within milliseconds. And our audience computations also happen within seconds, so if you have a targeted list for a targeted campaign, those updates happen in real time.”
Data transparency and business-user control provide high-confidence insights
By providing marketers with complete transparency and control of the data, mParticle makes it easier for them to avoid data quality problems, such as incorrectly putting two different people in the same customer profile because of similar identification data.
“Now all of a sudden, you’re getting ads that completely don’t fit you, or worse yet that brand is violating privacy laws because your personal data is being used to target another user,” Fang stated.
mParticle users can avoid this by customizing the priority of different specifiers to sort customers. So rather than using low-confidence indicators of identification, such as email addresses, customer profiles could be built with only high-confidence identifiers, such as hash credit card numbers or customer IDs, according to Fang.
mParticle’s database also has built-in schema management that allows users to inspect for missing information in critical fields. Using the example of a fashion apparel purchase, Fang described a possible scenario where the marketer requires the size and the type of apparel to identify and order.
“Let’s say you’re expecting small, medium, large and you get a Q; you know Q is meaningless data,” he said. “We can then enforce that and flag that as a data quality violation, and brands can correct that mistake to make sure all the data that’s flowing through is of value to them.”
Another benefit of mParticle is that it allows customer choice, enabling businesses to modernize step-by-step rather than in a do-or-die marketing CDP implementation. The company’s platform has “over 300 productized, pre-built integrations” and “sits in the middle” of tools such as Adobe Campaign Manager or Salesforce Marketing Cloud, according to Fang.
“[mParticle] allows you to move away from a locked-in strategy where you are committed to a vendor a hundred percent to more of a best-of-breed, agile strategy,” he stated.
Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the AWS Startup Showcase “MarTech Emerging Cloud-Scale Customer Experiences” event:
(* Disclosure: mParticle Inc., sponsored this segment of theCUBE. Neither mParticle nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)