Postcards from The Client Side: Set Business Stakeholder Expectations Early and Often for CDP Success

March 1, 2018

Shift stakeholder focus from capabilities to outcomes                                     

The CDP is going to convert our anonymous web visitors to known contacts. The CDP is going to unify our customer data across legacy silos and create a master record. The CDP is going to resolve user identities across devices and optimize engagement across channels. The capabilities and value potential of CDPs are amazing. But is a CDP really going to do all this singlehandedly? Could this narrative be a case of missed expectations just around the corner?

The answer depends not only on your organization’s unique definition of success but each stakeholder’s unique definition. Helping stakeholders focus on business outcomes rather than technical capabilities can improve CDP value perception and help make deployments more successful. Like people, CDPs often don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

A CDP can provide strong competitive advantages and measurable results when effectively integrated and deployed. It can add tremendous value to achieving ambitious data-driven marketing goals. But ultimately it’s people, planning, communication, and execution that make the difference. Organizational readiness and clear, realistic business stakeholder expectations can help drive CDP success and progress.

Socialize the CDP and make dependencies clear

Even if they’re aware a CDP is coming and know the overall value proposition, not all business stakeholders understand the technical realities surrounding integration and deployment. It’s a process with dependencies that can impact stakeholders very differently. Organizational readiness and data readiness go hand in hand. The right data has to be collected and integrated before the CDP can effectively enable customer/audience segmentation and activation. Data readiness requirements and impact can vary widely between stakeholders.

Help stakeholders understand that an audience is only as actionable as the data collection and integration strategy behind the CDP. Identity resolution is one example. Simply importing known contacts into a CDP doesn’t make them identifiable or digitally actionable. With the right planning and execution a CDP can identify anonymous visitors when they engage with CDP-integrated digital touchpoints. But to do so the CDP must have access to the data it needs to resolve their identities. Only then can the CDP begin to merge known and anonymous profiles.

Business stakeholders can benefit from continual reminders that there’s no identity resolution magic inside the CDP. It requires precise technical strategy and tactics such as cookie syncing, third party data services, and user self-identification strategies. Business stakeholders don’t need an in-depth understanding of the difference between deterministic and probabilistic matching, but they should be aware of major data dependencies that impact them, the CDP deployment roadmap, and its impact on their business goals and plans.

Use an MVP approach to narrow scope and prioritize business needs

Sharing prerequisites and dependencies with individual stakeholders not only sets realistic expectations but also helps identify business priorities in the context of the deployment roadmap and technical realities. Leverage clear expectations to drive discussion and definition of a “minimum viable product” (MVP) for each major stakeholder. The MVP is a set of baseline CDP capabilities and outcomes the stakeholder can expect at launch, as well as metrics for measuring progress. This baseline can go a long way toward helping stakeholders understand how their capabilities will be enabled and grow as the data integration strategy matures and new CDP features are delivered.

A digital sales stakeholder’s MVP may be the ability to sell advertisers on targeting ads and messages to behavioral audience segments. A marketing stakeholder’s MVP may be the ability to acquire more email newsletter subscribers. An editorial stakeholder’s MVP may be the ability to serve targeted content recommendations. These small, narrowly scoped business wins can help establish traction for the CDP and demonstrate measurable results to stakeholders.

More is more

The benefits of proactively setting reasonable stakeholder expectations?

  • · More satisfied and open minded stakeholders
  • · More stakeholder patience during work on data integration and other technical dependencies
  • · More effective stakeholder priority roadmapping and enabling
  • · More traction for the CDP deployment
  • · More stakeholder buy-in and adoption

About the author

Fred Maurer is a Chicago based CDP consultant with over twenty years of digital and data-driven marketing experience from strategy through execution across the technology and business spectrum. His recent hands-on customer data platform experience includes enterprise business strategy, vendor platform evaluation/piloting, vendor selection, contract negotiation, data strategy, data integration, CDP platform integration, business deployment, and (of course) stakeholder engagement. He can be reach at or 630-790-0836.