Looking for a DMP? Ask yourself these 5 questions first


Most businesses know that a data management solution – such as a data management platform (DMP) – is vital to driving personalized customer experiences across all touchpoints by managing and activating your customer data. But the proliferation of marketing technology means that choosing the right platform for your organization can be a complicated process. Which one will help you accelerate your marketing by using your data smartly? And based on that, what should you look out for when you’re choosing this type of technology?

Whether you’re a dynamic eCommerce engine with a mesh of second-party affiliates and sister companies, a travel hub with a central office and 70+ markets to serve, or a traditional financial institution with inherited legacy, here are the key questions every marketer should ask themselves — and their stakeholders — when considering a data management solution.

How flexible is the platform's identity management?

To deliver personalized customer journeys, you need to be able to recognize your customers across any device and channel — and ID management is the foundation of smart data management that allows you to do this. A few layers of ID management to consider:

As close to 100% accuracy as possible

You want an ID management solution that can build profiles based on any identifier your organization chooses. Besides offering the traditional cookie ID via your website, you also want a solution that can build profiles based on CRM ID, Facebook, account login, and more.

Flexibility to change your basis for recognition

Imagine that you want to use a social login button to identify your customer for mobile app interactions; but for your website, an email click-through, or a download instead. ID management that acts like a flexible layer you can adapt, depending on the context, means you can determine which identifiers work best on which channel.

Adapting to context quickly

Your business changes all the time. It follows that as you learn what works for your customer base, you might need to map or merge IDs to quickly create customer profiles in different ways. Flexible ID management ensures you can always mirror your customer's behavior seamlessly and consistently to provide the most relevant next-best channel — whether it's a retargeted display ad or abandoned cart email.

What kind of data am I using?

Triple threat: activate 1st, 2nd, and 3rd party data

When it comes to activating customer data to drive more personalized and relevant customer experiences, there are three types of data your organization can leverage.

  • 1st party data: Customer information collected by your own organization
  • 2nd party data: Another organization's 1st party data; for example, that of a trusted partner
  • 3rd party data: Large sets of data from your target audience collected by publishers and data vendors

Make sure that the data management solution you are considering offers you the ability to make the most of the information you already have: your first-party data. This data records all of the interactions that your customers have with your company across all touchpoints (for example, online interactions,
service or call center communication, in-store visits, and so on). This information can be used to create a baseline that not only helps you serve existing customers better but also extrapolates to relevant prospects.

Too many organizations overlook the importance and value of first-party data when it’s something right within their reach — a goldmine they’re already sitting on. With the right type of technology, such as a data management and journey orchestration platform, you gain opportunities to enrich and extend your customer base by adding second- and third-party data to your already valuable first-party data.

Dig deeper into different types of data and their roles in this article >>

How diverse is my current tech ecosystem? 

The power of data activation with a data management solution means the ability to connect all the channels your organization and local markets are using. Very often, your organization’s ecosystem, which contains a variety of systems and platforms, will comprise a symphony of tools carefully selected by each team over the course of many years. A data management solution will connect with this ecosystem in two different ways, depending on whether you choose a Marketing Cloud or a Best-of-Breed platform.

A Marketing Cloud will enable the connection between tools within their own ecosystem. This means that your organization will be locked into using the same vendor for email, on-site personalization, web analytics, and more.

A Best-of-Breed platform focuses on connecting any channels from any vendor used by the advertiser — today, and in the future.

Some key questions to ask yourself:

  • How dispersed is our ecosystem?
  • Are we planning on keeping the tooling we use today long-term or will we be adding/removing tooling as new opportunities enter the market?
  • What are the timelines and what are the cost limitations involved in potentially replacing our tools and channels?

How is my data stored?

With tightening data regulations such as the GDPR, activating and working with customer data to facilitate one-to-one personalization requires serious consideration of how your data management solution is set up to facilitate data privacy. For example, what happens to this data once it leaves your CRM and enters the data management platform? Where is the data physically located, and how is it processed to facilitate the identity management of your customers? How does the platform respond to the customer requests of managing their own privacy preferences?

Be sure to consider the following:

How is the data stored?

Is the data stored using a master cookie, rather than a dedicated cookie? The biggest difference between the two is that a master cookie may be used by all the clients of a platform, with the potential for customer data to be shared across clients; while a dedicated cookie will store and keep the data within one single environment per client. The only way sharing would be possible in this case is with a trusted partner and explicit consent of everyone involved.

Read more on developments around cookies here >>

Where is the data stored?

Where the data is physically located determines which laws its processing must obey. To ensure regulatory compliance, some businesses may wish to choose a provider that can guarantee data storing and processing restrictions to a certain geographical area, such as the EU.

How is compliance managed?

Think about whether or not your data management solution enables you to let your customers manage the way their data is used. When a customer chooses to revoke their permission for data usage, does the solution reflect this decision across all customer systems in one go? Is your business able to (in real-time and retroactively) determine how long customer data is stored?

Can your business decide for itself how fine-grained the encryption of the data will be?

In today’s world of the empowered customer, you should be able to answer these questions before choosing a data management solution, so you can stay on top of responsible data management for your customers from day one.

Is my organization looking to scale its personalization efforts?

Are your customers interacting with your business across a series of diverse touchpoints over the course of a typical customer journey, and is your organization looking to drive personalized customer experiences across these interactions, and not just at each individual touchpoint? If so, ask whether the data management solution you are considering will also enable your business to work with your data in the following ways:

Journey Orchestration

To get from personalizing channels to creating fully personalized channel-agnostic customer experiences that adapt to buying behavior, look for a solution that enables you to leverage your data for cross-channel journey orchestration. This kind of system will help you to react to user behavior, no matter how they interact with your business, and respond with relevant actions across your entire ecosystem that mirror without any loss of customer information.

Artificial Intelligence

The most future-proof data management solutions are ones that are actively creating platforms with artificial intelligence integrated into their journey orchestration mechanisms. This is the true driver of personalization at scale.

When your business can rely on intelligent orchestration to optimize customer journeys across touchpoints, you can create the best possible customer experience for each individual customer, every time.