Customer Data Platforms: Everything You Need to Know

Customer Data Platforms: Everything You Need to Know

As marketers and salespeople, we often drool over data. The more we can learn about our customers, the better.

With in-depth data, we can personalize interactions with customers, market to them at the right times, create a more enjoyable experience, and overall, close more sales.

That’s no secret. However, capturing all of this data, organizing it in one place, and making use of that data has been a struggle using traditional tools such as web analytics, CRMs, and marketing automation.

You typically have to spend a lot of time somehow combining all of this data in order to get a complete picture of your customer. Even then, this process is limited and you can’t fully take advantage of this data to completely personalize your marketing campaigns.

This is where Customer Data Platforms come in and aim to fix this problem.

In this article, we’ll define Customer Data Platforms, the difference between them and traditional marketing tools, their benefits, and even a list a few Customer Data Platform options. Follow along:

 

What is a Customer Data Platform?

The Customer Data Platform Institute defines a Customer Data Platform (CDP) as the following:

“A Customer Data Platform is a marketer-managed system that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems”.

But what does that really mean?

In layman’s terms, a CDP is basically a system that pulls together all the data you have on a customer in one place. This way, you can create a unified view of that customer and you can see every action they’ve taken since first interacting with your company.

Ideally, you would be able to discover:

  • When that person first visited your website
  • How many times they’ve visited a specific page on your website
  • When they opened one of your emails
  • When they clicked a link inside that email
  • How many times they opened your emails
  • Even information on mobile app sessions, social media comments, purchase orders, and chat history would be accessible

In essence, a Customer Data Platform aims to pull together data that once existed in multiple platforms (such as email marketing platforms, CRM, analytics, etc.) and makes all of that data available in one place.

 

Customer Data Platforms vs. CRM vs. Marketing Automation: How Are They Different?

You may be thinking, “Don’t CRM or email marketing platforms such as Hubspot and MailChimp already do this?”. Not exactly. Customer Data Platforms differ from these two traditional tools in a few ways:

1. CDPs Provide More Data & Deeper Insight

The data that CRMs and email marketing platforms offer is limited. CRMs typically offer basic information and allow you to store customer information such as addresses, emails, etc. Some may even track interactions such as email opens and live chat or email conversations.

The same goes for email marketing platforms such as MailChimp. These platforms will store a customer’s email and track email activity but they miss other key areas such as web activity, mobile app activity, and so on.

However, CDPs aim to combine all of this data into one place and try to capture a customer’s entire interaction with a company. A true CDP would have data on a customer’s chat history, email history, website visits, mobile app sessions, purchases, social media interactions, and anything else that would involve an interaction between them and your company.

 

2. A CDP Combines All of These Platforms into One System

Ideally, a true CDP will have all of these capabilities in one platform. From your CDP, you’ll be able to track web analytics, store customer data, send emails, run marketing automation, etc.

 

What Are the Benefits of Using a Customer Data Platform?

Having all of this data under one house can be huge. Instead of having data in a host of different places (such as email activity from MailChimp, chat interactions from Zendesk, web activity from Google Analytics, and purchase activity from say, Shopify), all of this data in stored in one place.

Benefits of using a CDP include:

1. Having a Single View of Your Customers

The most obvious reason to use a CDP is that you can get a “single view” of the customer. You can see their entire interaction with your company in one place, rather than trying to somehow manage and collect this data from multiple tools.

 

2. Being Able to Personalize Customer Interactions

Having all of this information in one place can allow you to personalize a customer’s entire experience with your company.

You can personalize names in emails, send out a coupon directly after a customer has visited a specific page on your website, enter them into a marketing automation process when they’ve had a chat with your company or send them an email when they logged onto your app.

The possibilities are really endless as to the type of personalized experiences you can craft for your customers. This all goes into to creating a stronger connection between you and them.

 

3. Being Able to Create Insanely Targeted Campaigns

With all of this information at your disposal, you can now create insanely-specific targeted campaigns.

Do you want to target customers who have visited your pricing page within the past month, have opened up and clicked in your last three emails, downloaded your mobile app and have been actively using it for the past two weeks, and have also contacted your company via email or your live chat widget?

 

You can do that.

Using a CDP gives you an immense number of options as to how you can segment your customers.

 

Customer Data Platform Options

Since CDPs are relatively new, there aren’t a ton of providers out there. However, we’ve listed a few of the top players in this list of Customer Data Platforms:

 

LeadBoxer

We’ll start this list of CDPs off with an introduction to ourselves so you know who we are and what LeadBoxer does. LeadBoxer collects information about your customer throughout their entire customer journey.

We collect and give you information such as:

  • When a customer visited your website, what pages they visited, and how long they spent on that page
  • What emails a customer has opened from you, when they opened it, and what links they clicked
  • Contact information such as the person’s name, email, what company they work for, where they’re located, etc.

All of this information is then organized into your “LeadBoard” and each of your different customers or leads are given a score to gauge how engaged they are with your company:

Each of these customers or leads can be viewed on a micro level to see every bit of that person’s activity:
Note: LeadBoxer can be demoed as free-trial for 14 days with full-access to all of its paid features.

Start your free-trial here.

 

Boxever

Boxever is CDP that collects data on web visits, mobile activity, email activity, calls, ads, and more. It combines all of this data into one place and allows you to personalize your marketing and deliver predictive offers. Pricing is crafted on a per business basis.

 

Evergage

Evergage allows you to personalize content on your website, app, and emails. It’s been used by companies such as Intuit and Walmart. Again, pricing is offered on a per business basis and you will need to contact a salesperson for a quote.

 

AgilOne

AgilOne is CDP specifically for B2C companies. The platform offers a “360 profile” where you can view customer interaction. Pricing is offered on a per business basis and you will need to contact the company for a quote.

 

Using a CDP is really the next level of marketing automation.

Providing an entire customer’s interaction with your company all in one place, rather than trying to make do with a suite of separate tools, really gives marketers and salespeople an immense amount of opportunity. It also saves time as you’ll no longer have to dig through data from multiple sources.

Instead, you can see a unified view of your customer all in one place and create insanely targeted and personalized marketing campaigns for your customers. Something that will not only create a stronger connection between you and your customers, but it will also help to close more sales.

Getting started is super easy. We will provide a tracking pixel for your site and emails and we will help you getting connected to as many touch-points as possible.

If you want to get started using a Customer Data Platform today, try LeadBoxer’s free 14-day full access trial.

 

Email Tracking: The Complete Guide for B2B Sales Teams

Email Tracking: The Complete Guide for B2B Sales Teams

Have leads and customers opened your email? If so, when, and what links they click? This is valuable information for Sales teams. With this information, you can find out if your emails are actually being read, and pinpoint the optimal for a follow-up.

Tracking emails is nothing new. Popular email marketing platforms like MailChimp and Constant Contact have been providing statistics on open and click rates for years. What these platforms lack however, is the crucial ability to track a lead’s email interaction history over the entire course of their customer journey.

This is where email tracking software can provide Sales teams a much-needed edge in closing deals. With the right email tracking software, you’ll be able to identify when, exactly, a lead has opened your email, who opened it, and what pages they viewed since opening that email.

To help introduce you to email tracking software, we’ve put together this in-depth guide to cover what information you can learn from email tracking, how you can use that information, email tracking software options, how to setup email tracking, and a few tips for success.

Use the links below to navigate to each section:

What Can You Find Out Using Email Tracking & How You Can Use This Information?

With email tracking, you can find out the following information:

 

If Someone Has Opened Your Email

The first thing you can learn is if someone has opened your email.

This tells you if you’re sending to the correct email address and if the email subject your using is capturing the recipient’s attention. If they don’t open your email, try to follow up and/or use a different subject line in the future.

You can also identify how many times a person has opened an email and which people have opened the most emails. This allows you to identify the warmest leads and pinpoint which people you should follow up with first/spend the most time contacting or calling. Best kept secret: do not waste time on people who aren’t interested.

 

Who Opened Your Email

As a salesperson, you often have to navigate through a few different positions at a company before finding the person who can actually make a purchasing decision (DMU or decision-making-unit). With email tracking, you can identify other people that may be opening the email and reach out to them directly.

 

What Time They Opened Your Email

If you find that a specific person opens your email in the morning, sending to them again at that time will increase your chance of capturing their attention.

If you find most of your list opens your emails at a specific time, send future emails at the time to increase engagement.

Additionally, you can pinpoint exactly when your emails are being opened and decide if now is the right time to follow up. In many cases, it’s best to reach out right away when the person is already thinking about you versus interrupting them when they’re focused on something else. Extensive statistics tell us that “pizza is best eaten hot”. In other words, people at work are making decisions, and their interest is the most valuable during that decision-making process.

 

Where They Opened Your Email

If someone opens your email in say Hawaii or some other tropical resort, you can probably guarantee they’re on vacation. It might be best to follow up a week or two in advance when they return from vacation and will have the time to respond to your email.

Additionally, some email tracking platforms will track the following:

 

What Pages the Person Has Visited on Your Website After Clicking via Your Email

Software such as LeadBoxer and SharpSpring (which we’ll discuss in further detail below) take tracking a step further and identify which pages the person visits after clicking a link in your email.

For example, in the email, the person may click on any link to your latest blog post. But from there, they then navigate to your features page and pricing page. This is all tracked and it can allow you to identify when to follow up, and on what subject.

Get Ready-to-Buy signals from your email list

Get a steady stream of qualified leads from your email list. Which of your recipients are ready to be contacted and closed.

Email Tracking Software Options

Now, let’s cover a few email tracking platforms that will enable you to track emails at a deeper level than most email marketing services.

This article doesn’t cover every single option out there. But, it does list some of the major players and a few different options based on how in-depth you’d like to go with your tracking.

A few of these options will integrate with Gmail or Outlook only, while a few others can be used with any email client or service you are using.

 

LeadBoxer

We’ll start this list of software with an introduction to ourselves and our email tracking tool so you know who we are and what LeadBoxer does. LeadBoxer is a lead analytics platform that allows you to see who visits your website, what company they work for, lists that person’s contact information and more.

All of this information is then organized into your “LeadBoard” and each of your different leads are given a score to gauge how engaged they are with your company:

Additionally, email opens and click-throughs can also be tracked. From there, any visits to other pages on your website can be tracked and each action is shown in the history for that lead:

This allows you to see every action that the person has taken since first opening your email.

You can use this information to identify when will be the best time to follow up (for example, if that person has visited your pricing page). You can also identify what emails work, which ones don’t, and where your visitors tend to go after clicking through via your email.

LeadBoxer tracks all of this activity via a tracking pixel (which we’ll discuss how to implement further below). Therefore, LeadBoxer can be used with any email client or email marketing platform you are using. All you have to is add the tracking pixel link to any links inside your email that you like to track.

This allows you to track activity and identify leads at scale. Pricing starts at $250/month for SMEs. Custom packages are available for larger organizations.

You can learn more on our email tracking features here: Email Lead Generation

Or jump straight to our solutions for Gmail, Outlook, MailChimp, or Others

Note: For all our email tracking features a (free) trial account is available: Start your free-trial here.  

 

SharpSpring

SharpSpring is a full CRM and email marketing platform. With the tool, you can manage contacts, customer relationships, create a content calendar, and send out emails all from the same tool.

In addition to tracking email opens and link clicks, SharpSpring will also track website activity. Therefore, you can see which leads have opened your email and which pages they may have visited directly after viewing your email (or at a later time).

This is all organized into what’s called the “Life of the Lead”. This page shows the entire history of the lead’s interaction with your company. It lists what emails the person has opened, what pages they’ve visited, and so on.

All of this information is then used to create a Lead Score that can be used to identify how engaged that person is and whether or not you should reach out to them.

SharpSpring will be great for teams that want to scale their sales follow up efforts and would like a tool that combines CRM and email automation. However, that amount of power won’t come cheap.

SharpSpring’s plans start at $450/month (for up to 1,500 contacts). Pricing goes up from there based on the number of contacts you have.

 

Hubspot Sales

Hubspot Sales’ email tracking allows you to track email opens straight from your Gmail or Outlook account. Setup with Gmail will require you to allow Hubspot to integrate with your inbox. This is done by installing an extension to Google Chrome.

This extension can be clicked to see who has opened your emails and who hasn’t. A notification will also popup when the recipient has opened the email:

You can also check the history of a lead in the Hubspot dashboard:

Hubspot’s email tracking feature is free to use to track up to 200 email opens. From there, paid plans for Hubspot Sales start at $50/month.

Hubspot is great for sales people who need a simple approach and want to track opens in Gmail or Outlook. However, it lacks the in-depth details of a platform such as LeadBoxer or SharpSpring.

Additionally, it can only be used with Gmail or Outlook. It can not be used with an email service such as MailChimp.

 

Yet Another Mail Merge

If you send a lot of emails from Gmail and want to track opens, Yet Another Mail Merge can help speed up your process.

Yet Another Mail Merge (YAMM for short) integrates with Google Sheets. To use the add-on, you would create a Google Sheet with information for each person you want to reach out to (separated by row). You would include their email, but you can also include any custom information (such as their name, company, role, etc.).

Then, you can send out an email and use YAMM’s tags to insert that information. For example, you might say “Hey <>” in your email. YAMM will insert the name that you set for that email. This works similar to MailChimp’s “Merge Tags”.

Additionally, the tool will track who has opened your email, who hasn’t, and who has responded. This is all documented right in the Google Sheet you’re working in. You can then create a follow up directly in that Google Sheet and send from a template you create in Gmail.

The tool is great for speeding up your process if you currently use Gmail to reach out to leads. However, it will only work with Gmail and it won’t track information on the life of the lead. Thus, it will be difficult for teams to use to scale.

 

Yesware

Yesware is a tool that will work with Gmail and Outlook only. It is a paid application that starts at $12/month and is installed via a Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox extension.

The tool is similar to Hubspot’s email tracker. Email tracking can be turned on for a specific email by checking the Track box when using the email composer. However, Yesware does take over your inbox and change the look and layout:

From your email inbox, you can check tracking, templates, and create follow up drip campaigns. Additionally, you can also set reminders for email (much like the way Boomerang works).

The tool is powerful but is a bit intrusive. Some people may not like the fact that it will change their inbox interface. Additionally, the tool can’t be used with email marketing platforms such as MailChimp to track emails at scale.

 

Mixmax

Mixmax is another email tracker that installs via a Chrome Extension. It is not available via Mozilla Firefox or Safari, however.

One of the unique features of Mixmax is the “Enhance” feature inside the email composer of Gmail. Clicking this button will bring up a list of options that will allow you to share calendar availability, create a calendar invite, add a poll, add a custom CTA button, and more directly from the email composer.

Again, just like Hubspot and Yesware, email tracking can be enabled on a per-email basis. With Mixmax, you can do this by clicking the “Track” icon when composing an email. By default, this will stay enabled until you disable it for a particular email.

Mixmax can be used for free. However, a link will be placed at the end of each email that says “Sent by Mixmax”:

You can remove this link, but you will have to do so everytime you create a new email. Paid plans start at $12/month.

Mixmax will be good for anyone that uses Gmail and likes the features of a tool like Yesware but doesn’t want the intrusive interface that Yesware adds to Gmail. Again, Mixmax will only work with Gmail and can’t be used with email marketing platforms such as MailChimp to track leads at scale.

 

How to Setup Email Tracking (with an Email Tracking Pixel)

Setting up email tracking is different with each email tracking software. Some companies, such as Hubspot, have a Chrome Extension that will set this up for you if you track emails via Gmail. But as we mentioned above, tools like Hubspot can be a bit limited.

So we want to briefly cover how to setup email tracking with LeadBoxer so that you can track leads over the course of a person’s entire customer journey.

In order to track email opens, LeadBoxer uses a tracking pixel.

This tracking pixel is a transparent image with the size of 1x1 pixels that can be embedded in an email. Then, once someone opens that email, the image is downloaded. This is how email tracking can identify when an email has been opened.

From this download, it’s also possible to tell the time and date the email was opened, how many times the email has been opened, and from what type of device the email was opened on.

From with LeadBoxer, this pixel can be generated and needs to be added to the source code of your emails (example below):

There are 3 parameters within this snippet of code that can to be set: the dataset ID, Campaign Name, and the email of the recipient. The recipient’s email can be added using a Merge tag. This tag will dynamically add a person’s email from your list to this link so that their activity can be tracked. Our generator can be used to easily create your tracking pixel.

For more information on these parameters, Merge tags and using the generator, please visit this article.

 

Tracking email clicks

The tracking pixel will take care of tracking email opens and reads. From there, to track link clicks and identify customers with it, parameters with merge needs to be added to any link in your email that you’d like to track.

Here’s how the URL will look once the code has been added and a person clicks on that link:

Once the code is added, LeadBoxer will be able to begin collecting data. For example, when a person opens that specific email, this action will be added to the person’s existing customer journey.

This way, you will know exactly when a person has clicked your email and you’ll be able to see their entire history. Also, once this person clicks through via email, they are then identified for all past, present, and future behavior.

 

Email Tracking Limitations

Of course, there are limitations when it comes to email tracking. The main ones include:

 

Images Need to be Enabled

With any email tracking software that relies on a tracking pixel to identify opens, in order for email tracking to work, image loading must be enabled by the person’s email client.

Some email clients block external images by default or can be set by the user to not load when opening an email. If this is the case, the pixel will not be loaded and there will be no way to identify whether or not that email was opened (or any other information that can be gather using email tracking).

 

Your Pixel Could Be Blocked

Just as there is email tracking software, there is also software to prevent email tracking. Pixel Block and Ugly Email will both prevent the email tracking pixel from being loaded. Ugly Email will also let the recipient know if you are using email tracking software and can even identify which software the sender is using.

While it may be rare that your recipients will use an application like this, it’s something to be aware of.

 

Email Tracking Tips & Best Practices

Lastly, we want to cover a few tips to make email tracking easier for you and hopefully, more successful:

 

Use Email Templates

Using email templates can help save time when adding tracking links to your email and help you follow up to leads quicker.

For one, having a few email templates that you can edit will save you time having to insert the tracking pixel code to links within the email that never change (for example, a CTA at the bottom of your email).

Additionally, having a few emails ready to go when you need to follow up with a lead will allow you to touch base quicker versus having to waste time trying to think of what to say.

 

Test Thoroughly

Before sending any tracked emails, make sure to test that everything is working correctly. First, send a tracked email to yourself or other members on your team to ensure that email opens and other track information is being identified.

 

Encourage Recipient’s to Whitelist Your Email

Whitelisting is an action that can be completed in a person’s inbox to ensure that emails from a specific email address are received and that images are downloaded.

By encouraging your recipient’s to whitelist your email address, you can ensure your emails are being delivered and that images are being download. Therefore, the tracking pixel will also be download, allowing you to track the recipient’s email and web activity.

 

Develop a Follow Up Strategy

Decide on a follow up strategy before you even send an email to any of your “hot” leads. That way, when someone opens your email or completes another specific action, you’ll already know what to do next.

Decide when will be the best time to follow up. For example, how many times do you want the recipient to open the email before following up? Or, how much time do you want to wait after they’ve opened the email?

Additionally, have some follow up emails already created and ready to go. This will help to save time and allow you to follow up quickly.

GDPR Compliant Lead Generation

GDPR Compliant Lead Generation

GDPR compliant lead generation means collecting, processing, and storing leads according to the GDPR. This means putting lead qualification materials in place. These materials, consist of relevant content, and touch-points. Touchpoints range from downloads, trial sign-ups, contact forms and logins through newsletters, emails, and social media. A third element is data-processing, which consists of CRM (customer relation management) software and audience segmentation, which allows you to monitor sales cycles, and identify upsell opportunities. Click here to read an in-depth treatment of touchpoints for sales and marketing purposes.

GDPR Compliance

In May 2018 GDRP compliance arrives. What this essentially means is

1. you need to have your data secured properly and
2. the (general) Privacy disclaimers most websites currently use will no longer be sufficient.

What do I actually need to do?

1. Perform a serious audit on how your data is stored/ secured/ encrypted, and improve where necessary
2. Customize your Privacy statement – which should not be generic boilerplate, but needs to be tailor-made for your business.
3. Assign a person responsible for communications

 

What is the GDPR?

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation

In this article we try to explain and what it is, and how to comply.

If you use LeadBoxer, click here for a GDPR compliant-Privacy statement, which includes a specification of the data we collect.

The GDPR regulation was adopted in April 2016, and takes effect in May 2018. It replaces the previous Directive, covers all EU member-countries, and does not require individual countries to implement, interpret, etc.

The GDPR applies to the collection and storage of data regarding people residing in the EU, even if your organisation is outside of the EU

Definitions / roles

Any tool or service that collects and stores data from your online customers, leads, prospects, visitors, etc (on your behalf) is called the data processor, and your organisation is defined as the data controller.

 

What does it all come down to?

In terms of communication with people in your database, two things:

As a company that collects data from your online users, you are the Data Controller. As such you have the following main responsibilities;

  1. Make it clear what you are collecting and why.
    According to the European Commission “personal data is any information that can be used to identify an individual, whether it relates to his or her private, professional or public life. It can be anything from a name, a home address, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information”, or even a computer’s IP address, if it can be used to identify an individual.
  2. Grant the person rights to control their personal data
    Give people the opportunity to file a complaint, have their data removed (deleted), stop tracking this person and provide a point of contact to a real person who can be contacted through your company website. In other words: the public now has the right to ask you – what information do you have about me?, and to request that you delete the information. Therefore, you need to appoint people to communicate with the public (within 72 hours) and process “right to forget” requests. The public may ask or communicate things such as  –

    • what information do you have about me?
    • i want you to delete me from your system(s)
    • i don’t want you to store my data – going forward
  3. Secure your data
    Additional (important) aspects: encrypt personal data, and have data in a format that can be exported. Put consent documentation in place, and ensure that you are able to quickly announce breaches.

 

GDPR in depth

The General Data Protection Regulation is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union, and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. Click here to read about GDRP in wikipedia.

Informing the public what data is collected.

Article 13 of the GDPR specifies what information must be provided to the public when their personal data is collected. Similarly, Article 12 states that you need to provide:

an “easily visible, intelligible and clearly legible….and meaningful overview of the intended processing”.  In other words, as we mentioned above, no blanket Privacy principles. Everybody has to be able to read and understand your Privacy statement.

In short, The GDPR increases the scope of information required in your Privacy notice while demanding that the notice be “concise” (detailed).

Telling the public how & why the data is collected and processed

The question you are expected to answer on your website is: what are the purposes and legal basis for the processing data (for example, for purposes of lead generation). You (also) need to explain why the data is processed. For example, the purpose is to improve communication with customers. There needs to be some legal basis meaning, for example, that the processing is based on legitimate interests, details of which should be explained.

To repeat; this needs to be present in you publicly visible privacy statement

See our GDPR compliant Privacy Policy paragraph for LeadBoxer Customers

Meet your new Data Protection Officer (DPO)

You will need to appoint (identify) a person in your organization who can be contacted directly by a member of the public, and who can provide and delete personal data upon request. This is called ‘right to forget’ – it is the right for consumers to have their data erased.

  1. you need to provide the identity and the contact details of the controller (your company) and
  2. the (contact) details of the data processor – being LeadBoxer if you are a client of ours

The point is you need to provide details of persons whom the public can contact

Data protection

A key element in being GDPR compliant, is making sure your data is protected properly. This includes but is not limited to:

  • The storage of your customer data
  • The transfer of this data between servers, computers, browsers, etc.
  • The encryption of this data
  • How long will the data be stored for
  • Where is the data stored (geograpically)
  • How customers can obtain the data.
  • etc.

You don’t have to publish these in the policy, but make sure they are being taken care of.

 

Conclusion – Plan well and Avoid Stiff Fines

As a company specialized in B2B lead qualification for Sales and Marketing, we take the GDRP very seriously.
We recommend that you plan well do not underestimate the amount of time / resources needed to properly assess and implement your responsibilities. In terms of time – you will probably need 40 hours to completely research and document your tasks and requirements. Do not wait – begin planning as soon as possible.

Fines for GDRP non-compliancy are serious, from  a lower level of €10 million and 2% of last year’s annual revenue, to an upper limit of €20 and 4% of last year’s annual revenue.

 

LeadBoxer can help you safely generate more leads

Get more insight into your online visitors and behaviour, and turn this data into customers.