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When it’s Time to Set-Up a Customer Data Platform (CDP) with Vinny Sosa

November 8, 2021

Join Kristin and Kristin to talk CDP with Vinny Sosa, Head of DevMOPs at Etumos. They talk about what CDP really means, who plays in the space, how to know if you need a CDP as part of your tech stack, and if so, how to get started and to make sure you don’t flub it.

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Transcript

Hosted by Kristin Crowe (OGK), and Kristin Anne Carideo (KAC)

Intro Song by Rusty Hall: (00:35)
[Inaudible]

Kristin Crowe: (00:37)
Hi, I’m Kristin Crowe.

Kristin Carideo: (00:39)
And I’m Kristin Carideo.

Kristin Crowe: (00:42)
And this is Must Contain, the podcast from Etumos, where we help explain the how of marketing. Although we can’t always explain the why.

Kristin Carideo: (00:49)
Join us every two weeks as we break down marketing and corporate topics and discuss what they really mean. Hello again, on this week’s episode of Must Contain, we’re talking about CDPs.

Kristin Carideo: (01:11)
Which stands for…

Kristin Crowe: (01:14)
Customer Data Platforms, but if you still don’t know what that is, you’re in luck. We have an expert joining us today who can tell us everything we want to know. Our guest today is Vinny Sosa, head of DevMOPs at Etumos. Hey Vinny.

Vinny Sosa: (01:28)
Hey, what’s going on, Kristin. And Kristin. [laughter]

Kristin Crowe: (01:33)
We’re glad to have you, Vinny. Can you tell the audience a little bit about yourself?

Vinny Sosa: (01:40)
Sure. I am I head up development operations like you said, but I’m not a developer. I actually tell people I’m not a developer. Maybe that’s a cop-out. I don’t know. But I’d probably describe myself as a, I have a lot of experience with acronyms, which is what we’re here to talk about today. Acronyms like APIs, I-PAAS, ETL, and of course CDPs.

Kristin Crowe: (02:03)
Well, perfect we’re so glad you’re here. And now that we know about you and obviously a lot of other acronyms, let’s talk a little bit about what a CDP is and hearing more about this term in the industry and often as a requirement for a well-functioning tech stack, but can you give us kind of the quick elevator pitch on what a CDP is beyond just that it stands for customer data platform?

Vinny Sosa: (02:31)
Sure. you know, and I’m happy you asked this question too, because, you know, I, I, it seems like I talk to marketers and you know, everybody knows it’s a, it’s a customer data platform, but they don’t really know what that means beyond that. And I think the reason is because CDP doesn’t really describe what it does, right. Customer data platform doesn’t really describe what a CDP actually does. I actually like to think of it as a marketing data platform. Right. and so if you think about a CDP does a couple of key things. One is it helps you collect data from lots of different sources. Two, it helps you enrich and transform that data. So you can standardize it to to to meet your specific needs. You can synchronize it back to all of your systems. You can store it so that you can analyze it and use it for future reference. And then most importantly, all of the data that you capture, you can now use to build audiences and buzzword, buzzword alert and then activate that data in your throughout your marketing technology stack. So you can reach out to these to these audiences and segments.

Kristin Carideo: (03:47)
Okay. So that’s kind of starting to click for me a little bit better. I would love to know who some of the leading players in the space are to complete that picture. Who do you see our clients using as a CDP vendor?

Vinny Sosa: (04:03)
Just like a lot of other martech. One of the things to consider is it almost feels like when, when a lot of these vendors grow up, they all want to be a CDP, right? So depending on how good their marketing is, right, they can think of pretty much messaging themselves as anything, but a few key players you’ll see out there or Treasure Data, which is one that’s very common. They have a pure plug-and-play CDP Tealium is also a pure plug-and-play, CDP, even Salesforce and Adobe have CDP solutions. But one of the newer entrants, I would think, and one that’s the most accessible to a lot of organizations regardless of whether they’re an enterprise or not is a CDP called Segment.

Kristin Carideo: (04:49)
Yeah. We hear about that a lot from our customers, right?

Vinny Sosa: (04:52)
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And probably one of the reasons why we hear about it is because, you know, CDPs in order to be successful with them, you do have to do a lot of planning and make sure you have a good measurement plan. And, but a lot of times you want to integrate them to, to capture and collect data from sources that aren’t necessarily plug-and-play. And so some of these more traditional or enterprise targeted CDPs, a lot of times they require the help of a developer or more technically oriented folks. Whereas Segment is it tends to be much, much more plug and play much more accessible to the non-developer type of teams or the teams that don’t necessarily have a lot of development support. And so it’s, it’s, I believe it’s really starting to gain traction and I’d be surprised if you know if we don’t start hearing it more, and more, and more, as a commonplace thing within the next couple of years here.

Kristin Crowe: (05:55)
So there’s a pretty wide, it sounds like of various companies offering a CDP or what you’re renaming. And so now, you know, now that we’ve talked about what a CDP stands for kind of what it is, who’s out there in the space to deliver it from a, you know, plug and play options to full-on developer options. Can you talk a little bit about, more about like companies and who, who those companies are that need a CDP and why they need a CDP?

Vinny Sosa: (06:28)
Yeah, that’s, that’s also great too. I mean you know, any CDP vendor, any vendor in general martech is going to try to convince you that you need something right now. Right. what, what I think are kind of indicators that you might need a CDP are, you know, you’re innovating with data on a regular basis, or you’re kind of being pushed to innovate with data on a regular basis, but you can’t get that data to the right systems because there’s too much of a dev effort. There’s too much of a BI effort. You know, you kind of have a lot of manual segmentation going on where you’re trying to build audiences, smarter audiences based on, on data, that’s in lots of different systems based on events and things that are happening across your marketing technology stack, even across the enterprise technology stack.

Vinny Sosa: (07:19)
And you have to employ BI your BI team to gather that data come up with a list that you’re now manually importing into your MAP or into your other, you know, marketing systems CDPs designed to do just that. Right? So those, those kinds of activities where your, your, your BI team, or maybe you have a project where, you know, you’re, you’re gathering different sources of data in order to come up with a target segment, or in order to do some kind of analysis like maybe you’re building a lead scoring model and you gotta bring all this data together. A CDP is designed to bring all of that data together and either archive it for your, you know, BI usage and analysis usage, or allow you to explore different segmentations and, and, and create audiences. So you can push them into your marketing platforms. Right? So it’s designed to do all of those things in a more plug-and-play fashion. So if you find that you’re doing those things by employing manually driven sort of projects and initiatives on a regular basis, you’re probably ready for a CDP.

Kristin Carideo: (08:25)
I think one of the use cases that we’re seeing marketers just kind of like in our realm talk a lot more about is activating their owned data, meaning their product data or things that may come out of some of the systems where they’re storing customers, things like that. Is that a situation where you can insert a CDP into, into the stack to help with that process? Or is that kind of outside the scope of what a CDP does?

Vinny Sosa: (08:55)
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, in the world of CDPs product data like that, like what, what you’re talking about now is just another source of data, right? If you’re, if you’re already sinking the product data you want into, let’s say a data warehouse like Snowflake or Redshift or something like that, which a lot of SAAS vendors are doing, right? So like, you know, you sell your own product. You’re probably already exporting all of your interactivity data and all that stuff into some kind of data warehouse that data warehouse can probably already be used natively as a data source to push data into your CDP. Or sometimes you might use like a mixed panel or something like that to grab interactivity data from the, from your, your own SAAS product. Again, you can use that as a source into your CDP, but absolutely that is totally use case.

Vinny Sosa: (09:50)
And just like I said, you know, earlier, if you’re trying to build smart segments that, that that sort of take into account what people are doing with your product, how they’re interacting with the rest of your organization, how their data is changing, how they’re interacting with your campaigns and all of these activities that really make up who they are. And you want to be able to create segments based on those things, including how they interact with your product, what features they’ve lit up, what features they’ve started using, how many users they’ve added when their subscription comes to an end, what their communication preferences are, all of those things can be considered when you build audiences, segments do analysis on data, that’s captured by a CDP. So absolutely that’s a core use case.

Kristin Crowe: (10:38)
You know, I’ll be honest, Vinny there’s a lot of things, it sounds like a CDP can do and collect a lot of data. And from my perspective, working as a Marketing Operations Manager, all I’m seeing right now is dollar signs and thinking, there is no way I’m going to convince anyone that we should make this purchase to help grow our tech stack and, you know, be more efficient and optimize our marketing. So am I right about that or am I just kind of being scared?

Vinny Sosa: (11:09)
[Laughter] No, you’re not, you’re not being scared. Right? It’s the same challenge that marketers face all the time when they try to introduce a new technology into their martech stack, right? You go back to basics, what are the driving? What are sort of the driving business objectives and business use cases that can help you justify this purchase and how much value do they have. Right. I mean, everything, everything in martech is about the, you know, the good, the good old dollar, right? So you know, when you start considering a CDP, think about some of the use cases I talked about already, right. That how much time do you spend on doing manual segmentation analysis? How much time do you spend gathering data from key data sources throughout the organization for analysis purposes, whether it be for research for model building, framework, building for planning, whatever the case is, right?

Vinny Sosa: (12:05)
Those you figure, what are the man-hours, person, hours associated with those kinds of effort, right? What do you employ outside organizations to do this stuff? What is the cost of, of employing, you know, those people? Do you have contractors that do this stuff on a seasonal basis? What is the cost of all of that? Whether it be in time, in opportunity, or in budget, and all of those things need to be factored in, I think with the CDP, the other thing too, is, you know, you, you do have to do your homework and try to demystify the acronym. An acronym is just a really easy way for people to kind of get through the verbiage that is customer data platform, but you can’t use CDP as an acronym too early on. Right. before you start, before you get an opportunity to educate people as to what it really is and what the benefits are, if you do that too early, then yeah, absolutely there’s going to be hesitance to invest in it.

Vinny Sosa: (13:03)
Right. But then the other thing too is, you know, understanding those use cases and putting together a roadmap. And I know that that term is overloaded and, you know, et cetera, et cetera, but, you know, it’s, it’s really important whenever you endeavor to integrate any new platform into your martech stack, you have to sequence the benefits you get, right? You need projects that are kind of easy to knock down, but that provide a lot of value upfront. So you can start getting the business to drink the Kool-Aid and get addicted to that value. And then you start introducing some of the things that take a little bit more effort, you know, that might take some custom dev work, or that might require you to collaborate with multiple departments across the organization in order to get something that, you know, that works out for you, but easy and high value first, and then medium difficulty and as much value next, and then higher difficulty high value after that should be how you build the roadmap for this.

Kristin Carideo: (14:10)
And it sounds like a lot of the value initial value that easy, low-hanging fruit kind of stuff that folks can talk to their organization about really centers around easily being able to merge data about customers for multiple systems, right. Easily being able to, to create what did you, you said activate the activate segments of your audience and sub-segments of your personas and things like that that you don’t normally have access to, or it takes a lot of manual work. So I think, you know, based on what you said, if I were trying to get budget for this kind of platform, I might, you know, look at all of the missed opportunity of not doing that segmentation or all of the hours that I spend trying to do it manually. Right?

Vinny Sosa: (14:56)
Yeah. You, you, you know, you took the words right out of my mouth and you know, another thing to consider is we get asked all the time, well, should I get, you know, a CDP or should I just buy an integration platform as a service, like you know, Workato or Tray, right. I think the two, those things are dissimilar to one another because, you know, I Paas sort of allows you to do it in a custom way, but a CDP should allow you to connect these applications in a much, much more native and, and accelerated way. Right. you know, you might consider, you know, Boomi or MuleSoft or something like that. Like your, your IT department could do some of these integrations and do it for you. That’s great. Especially if you want to wait a couple of years to bring all that data together, your data warehouse, right. One of the benefits you should get from this is, is rapid integration, rapid time-to-value.

Kristin Carideo: (15:49)
I’m going to throw another acronym at you because another one that we hear sometimes is master data management, MDM. So what’s the difference between MDM and CDP?

Vinny Sosa: (16:00)
Well, Kristin, I’m happy. So, so yeah, you know, MBM marketing folks may not have heard of an MDM. If they’re not working in a larger enterprise. Master data management systems are usually implemented or employed to try to get a, a system of record that represents each and every contact in, in as close to real-time as possible at an organization, but the people and the companies they work at, what is the most up-to-date data that we have across all of our systems on those entities, people and companies they don’t one of the things that MDMs do not do is capture activities, right? So CDP, the difference between a CDP and MDM, MDM is typically managed by IT, CDP can be managed by marketing. The other thing is CDP, think of it as enterprise-level activity law. Whereas the MDM is the system of record for contacts and accounts. Now an MDM can feed data into your CDP. Okay. And that will make sure that your CDP has more accurate information, but a CDP should not be used to replace an MDM.

Kristin Carideo: (17:28)
I think that that helps, you know, in the enterprise, there are so many of these platforms that are, you know, essentially doing some kind of ETL, right. Use another acronym kind of ETL process to your data across the stack. So having that clarity, I think will really help marketing ops folks kind of get their heads around how this is different from some of the other platforms that they may already have in their stack, or that they might hear their IT team talking about and, you know, be able to come to the table with a, you know, that’s great that we have that, but it doesn’t do what I need it to do.

Kristin Crowe: (18:07)
I want to know a little bit dive into a little bit more about reality of this. You know, we’ve talked a lot about what the possibilities are, what it is, what it isn’t, what a CDP is, what a CDP isn’t along with a lot of other related acronyms as is the case for Must Contain. Of course. And so I just wanted to hear from you Vinny in your experience, you know, as a consultant in the dev world, even though you’re not actually a developer do you have any stories that show how people have done this well, or maybe where they haven’t done it well, and you’ve got some key learnings you can help share with the audience.

Vinny Sosa: (18:44)
Yeah. I, you know, I think so I’m going to go the opposite way. I’m going to go where it can go bad. Right. I think a lot of times you know, people go the way of sunshine and there’s enough stories out there about success with the CDP. You can go to any vendor and, and find customers who’ve succeeded with the CDP, but I will give you a word of caution. So I’ve worked with clients who they do what marketing does best, right? Hey, what kind of data do you need? All of it. Right. And taking that mantra, that’s how they set up their CDP and they connect everything under the sun, you know, Marketo, and then, you know, they have a friend in, on the Salesforce admin side and they get their API information and plug that into the, you know, their CDP.

Vinny Sosa: (19:34)
And then they get, you know, Google Analytics connected and they get all these other systems that are Mixpanel connected and they’re all happy. And then they, they blow through their, their, their free trial. This has happened to one customer that I, you know, I recently had the chance to engage with, but it’s not something that’s abnormal. I hear from just about anyone who’s come in contact with CDPs is not creating a measurement plan is a recipe for success, right? So this is not about collecting everything under the sun. I would say, you know, if you want to be successful with a CDP, don’t be that story, right. Be the story of, you know, we understand our data as marketers, we know what’s valuable and we’re going to start collecting those things that are valuable first. We’re going to focus on, we’re going to be focused and disciplined about that.

Vinny Sosa: (20:35)
There’s a number of reasons why you want to do that too. Not the least of which is is privacy, right? Everything you collect has some kind of cost to it, whether it’s you know, security policy that now you have to maintain and, and, you know, make sure that you can apply or costs, right? Every record, every single field you decide to bring into a new system or database you’re going to pay for it. Don’t be that organization that, collects everything under the sun, be smart. And most of these vendors to the CDP vendors, they want you to be successful and they will guide you to that measurement plan. They may even have a line item that, you know, that yeah, sure, it’s going to cost you some money, but where they lead you through what measurement planning looks like, don’t try to save a buck by getting that line item off, you know, off of your purchase order. That’s an important line item if you want to be successful. So so take heed.

Kristin Crowe: (21:32)
I feel like we’re hearing a theme. When we spoke to Kelly, Jo about ABM, it was all about having a plan and knowing your “why.” And I think that’s probably, I expect going to be a common theme through a lot of these conversations we’re having around various topics and components of your martech stack and strategies that you’re working to implement as part of your overall marketing plan is that you’ve really got to be prepared and you shouldn’t just jump right in, less is sometimes more, I hear you saying there, Vinny,

Vinny Sosa: (22:03)
And by the way, you know, Hey, I don’t like to plan empathetic with all of you. I do not like to plan. I love to have fun with new systems. I like to just dig right into it. Unfortunately, it’s gotta be done. And you will reap the rewards if you do it right. You know, this is not one of those systems where you just kind of want to jump in and try to operationalize it for that quick win, because it will come back to haunt you later. So yeah.

Kristin Carideo: (22:32)
I think it comes back to haunt you in that meeting that somebody has to have three years from now where they’re staring at all the connections across their martech stack.

Kristin Carideo: (22:46)
Yeah. That’s where it comes back to haunt you. All right. So I think we’re ready to talk about the three things that you really need to know about CDPs. If your organization starts to use that acronym, ask you what you think, ask you to look into it. If you know nothing else about CDPs, know these things. One, if you have a lot of great ideas of how you could target and activate segments with data that lives across your stack or across your product, a CDP may be something that you want to look into. A CDP is a marketing data platform. It helps you gather all your marketing data in a single place with native connectors so that you can activate those audiences. We think most advanced marketing organizations need one, but as Vinny mentioned, you want to make sure that, you know, why and how you’re going to measure success.

Kristin Carideo: (23:44)
Two a CDP is really good at matching attributes to individuals in real-time. Uh, it allows you to better understand who your customers and prospects are across attributes that aren’t necessarily native to say, just your MAP or just your CRM. So it allows you to connect all that together.

Kristin Carideo: (24:01)
And three, again, be smart about it. There is such a thing as over connecting your CDP to start, you got to understand your goals. You’ve got to connect the most important data and then grow from there. You don’t need to race to the finish line and getting everything totally and fully connected. And in terms of other things that you know, you need to know, I think Vinny will have something linked in the show notes, is that, right?

Vinny Sosa: (24:25)
Oh yeah. I have this diagram that I use to talk about CDP and sort of help people understand the component tree within the martech stack and how it relates. So we’ll try to share that with this podcast.

Kristin Crowe: (24:42)
Awesome. All right. Thanks, Vinny. And thank you, everyone. That is mMust Contain CDP. We appreciate you listening, and we’ll be back in two weeks with another great MOPs topic until then remember, don’t start AB testing anything without a hypothesis.

Kristin Crowe: (25:02)
This episode was produced by Kristen Crowe, Kristen Carideo, Ali Stoltzfus, and Lindsay Walter. It was edited by Kristin Crowe, theme music by Rusty Hall, and a special thanks to Vinny Sosa. I’m Kristin Crowe. And we’ll see you in two weeks.

Kristin Crowe: (25:25)
God, we’re getting so good at this.

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