CDPs and What Customer-First Marketing Means in 2022

By Ascend Marketing


Although the beginning of the 2020s have been marked by chaos and uncertainty, customers within the digital realm enjoy more control and agency than ever before. Technology continually brings more freedom of choice in entertainment, media, and vendors. Naturally, customers expect the same freedom when it comes to digital marketing, and are becoming increasingly frustrated with unskippable, irrelevant, and frivolous content. People gravitate toward brands that respond to their wants and needs, and seek more meaningful connections with the brands they choose.

Consequently, marketers must adapt by centering their strategies around customers’ communications and behaviors. A Customer Data Platform (CDP) is a good start toward achieving this, as it allows customer behavioral data to be consolidated, segmented, and operationalized (learn more about CDPs here). In any case, a customer-first marketing strategy requires a deeper understanding of what people want and how to deliver it to them, which will involve collecting and digging into behavioral data with the help of martech. However, before rushing to implement a CDP, it helps to ask a few questions to guide your journey toward more meaningful brand-customer relationships. For starters…

How do your brand and customer values overlap?

More and more, customers expect brands to take a stand on issues that matter to them, and reward closely-aligned companies with enduring loyalty. A 2020 survey found that 5 out of 6 of customers are loyal to brands that share their values. Commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential, as is company alignment on what company values mean in practice. Furthermore, it pays to clearly communicate these brand values to your customers, and to understand what your customers value, as well.

Because deep brand-customer relationships depend on understanding shared values, a complete view of customer data—including details about audience segments—will help strengthen these relationships on both sides. High-growth brands incorporate company purpose into their messaging as well as their employee decision-making. Doing so requires a strong investment in first-party data to understand what specifically your customers are passionate about, then delivering content based on these insights. The details and timing of your content should match customers’ interests, or they may rapidly disengage. On that note, you might also want to ask…

Is your content useful?

As martech becomes more personalizable and responsive to individual preferences and behaviors, customers increasingly demand content that is relevant and valuable to them—and have increasingly less tolerance for traditional advertising. Adapting to a customer-first marketing model means creating content focused on utility; i.e., content that provides value in exchange for customers’ time. Customers streaming digital media, for example, will likely respond negatively to irrelevant ads that intrude on their video without providing any value to them in return.

As a result, customer-first marketing requires martech solutions that accurately capture and analyze a customer’s behaviors and intentions, then deliver the appropriate content at the right time. This demands technology that provides a granular view of customers’ behaviors. Although there are numerous martech options for gaining detailed knowledge about your customers, not all are beneficial to your specific marketing strategy—or your customers. This brings us to another relevant question…

Is your martech strategy helpful (or creepy)?

It is unnecessary and ineffective to use every martech tool in your arsenal, especially if it makes brand interactions uncomfortable for your customers. A recent Deloitte survey polled consumers on their feelings toward different forms of brand interactions using customer data—i.e., whether these interactions were helpful or creepy. The results: customers found methods involving in-depth tracking (such as active device listening) to be more unsettling than helpful. In contrast, methods involving an established business-customer relationship—such as sale alerts from most-purchased brands—were perceived by customers as much more valuable.

The upshot of these findings is that customers deserve agency and choice, which they feel is undermined by intrusive tracking before a prior relationship. Moreover, excessive monitoring sours the overall customer experience; as more customers expect deeper relationships with the companies and brands they love, pleasant experiences become paramount (this is also a good reason not to neglect consistent customer service, as unresponsiveness can quickly kill loyalty). Understanding your customers better will inform how you reach out to them, and making good use of first-party data will help immensely in this regard.

Is it time for new software?

Storing, filtering, and analyzing first-party behavioral data is no easy feat, but many processes can be streamlined and automated with a CDP or related technology. Getting AI-powered insights from first-party data is not only doable, but may no longer be optional for marketers planning a competitive, responsive strategy in 2022 and beyond. Your company will still have to decide which solution fits best with your business needs and existing data structures, but you will likely want to have data that is consolidated, accessible, and easily-analyzed—all hallmarks of a CDP.

Regardless, current trends indicate that the marketing landscape will continue to evolve in a customer-centric direction, emphasizing personal choice, content utility, and brand-customer relationships above all. Adapting to this reality may be challenging, but prioritizing customer experience can elevate your brand’s power and meaningfulness in ways that set it apart from the rest.

Keep Reading: Implementing CDPs for Customer-First Marketing

Interested in more content related to this topic? Learn how to implement a CDP, starting with the decision to switch and continuing throughout the setup and integration process, and why doing so matters in 2022.


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