4 Elements of a Customer Data Platform for B2B

4 elements of Customer Data Platforms for B2B

In "7 Jobs For Customer Data Platforms in B2B," we outlined the primary attributes of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs).  These attributes expand on the CDP definition that was originally proposed by David Raab of the CDP Institute back in 2013.  In the B2B context, these attributes are:

  1. Data is integrated from multiple systems, cleaned and joined to create a 360 degree customer view.
  2. The data is maintained in a persistent unified customer database and can be used for complex analysis.
  3. Line of business managers from sales, marketing, customer success, product management and financing can all use CDPs for analysis and engagement with customers.

In this blog post, I'm going to dive one level deeper into the first two attributes.  These attributes break down into four elements:

  1.  Integration of customer data from multiple sources
  2.  Cleaning up and joining of data into a 360 degree view of customers
  3.  Analysis of data to generate insights about how to land, expand and renew the best customers
  4.  Prioritization of go-to-market activities to drive revenue growth.

1 Integrate Data

Integrate Data with Rekener's Customer Data Platform

The starting point for a Customer Data Platform is the integration of data from multiple sources.  In B2B, the typical data sources include the customer relationship management (CRM) system, marketing automation platform, support ticketing system, product usage data and financial platform.  There may also be other sources of activity data, such as email and calendar data from sales people.

It's not too difficult to get started. With Amazon Redshift and Snowflake, you can set up a data warehouse in the cloud.  Many systems, such as Salesforce, have APIs that can be used to export data to your new data warehouse. It gets a little trickier to integrate custom data sources, such as product usage data, but it is do-able if you have the technical resources.

2 Organize Data

Organize Data with Rekener's Customer Data Platform

The really tricky part is organizing the data to make it usable for analysis.  The goal is to be able to join data together from multiple systems so you have a 360 degree view of customers.  Before you can join data, you need to clean up the account structure.  For example, if you have 13 different Cisco accounts in your Salesforce CRM, which one do you use to join marketing, support or product usage data?  To clean up accounts, you need to roll up all those Cisco accounts into one.  Some of the accounts are duplicates that need to be eliminated. Others are accounts that have different names but are actually part of the same company.

Once you've created your account roll up, then you need to join data from different systems.  To do this, you need a "join key" of some kind.  All of this takes work to set up and then requires constant maintenance, usually by an IT team.

3 Analyze Data

Analyze Data using Rekener's Customer Data Platform

Once you have a 360 degree view of your customers, you can analyze the historical data to do complex segmentation analysis.  Segmentation analysis will tell you the attributes of customers that are good for metrics such as net new bookings, upsell bookings and renewal rate.  You can also optimize for more complex metrics such as Lifetime Value (LTV) or Sales Velocity.

With a CDP, you can go way beyond the firmographic attributes of accounts (e.g., industry, geography, company size, etc), and look at attributes such as engagement with your marketing campaigns, volume of sales activity, support tickets and product usage.  This paints a much more complete picture of the customers that are best for your business. 

With a strong understanding of these attributes, you can score accounts and target them.  It works for net new sales and account expansion.  It also works to identify early indicators of churn.  

4 Use Data to Drive Your Enterprise

Use Rekener's Customer Data Platform to Drive your Business

Once you have targets, you can use a CDP in order to engage with those targets.  In B2B, the best way to do this is to push lists of leads and contacts at target accounts back to your CRM.  From there, you can feed your sales team's cadence tools such as Salesloft, Outreach and Yesware.  You can also populate campaigns in your marketing automation platform.  The end result is that your go-to-market is aligned and focused exactly on the customers that you want.

When you execute your strategy, you want to measure what's working and what's not working so you can make quick adjustments.  With a CDP, you can slice your data by accounts, segments, territories, sales teams, marketing campaigns, individual product lines and more.  You can automate reports for all of these views to stay on top of how your business is performing.

The 4 Elements in Rekener's Customer Data Platform

Rekener is a Customer Data Platform for B2B.  We started the company because we had tried to cobble together our own solutions in the past.  We tried everything.  We pushed Salesforce reports to the limit.  We built massive spreadsheets.  We also tried to build our own CDP using Redshift and BI tools, but it became way too expensive in terms of both time, and IT people to set up and maintain.

Rekener's Customer Data Platform for B2B

We realized that there is a crucial need for a platform that includes all four of the elements described in this post, so we built it.  We also kept two important requirements in mind:

  1.  Automate elements 1 and 2 with machine learning and a powerful data network effect.  Rekener automatically rolls up accounts and attaches leads to accounts.  We use WhoIs, Google, Bing and Owler as sources of data on account structures.  Plus, every time we add a customer, the data structure gets smarter. Finally, we augment all of the account data with firmographic data from Owler.
  2. Make elements 3 and 4 usable by everyone, not just IT.  The promise of a CDP is that it makes the power of data accessible to people in all lines of business.  IT and Operations people are key enablers of a CDP, but companies can grow so much more effectively if everyone is able to understand customers through a single pane of glass.   

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Alex Laats

Alex is CEO and Founder of Rekener. Previously, he served as President and COO at ZeroTurnaround and as President of the Delta Division of BBN Technologies. At ZeroTurnaround, he grew high velocity inside sales by 6x in 3 years. At BBN, Alex co-founded RAMP and AVOKE, both recurring SaaS businesses based on BBN's world class speech recognition and natural language processing tech. Alex started his entrepreneurial career as founder and COO of NBX Corporation, which led the transformation of business telephone systems to Voice over IP. Alex’s companies have generated $500M in liquidity events and more than $1B in sales.

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