• Athina Mallis

David Raab reveals insights into the growth of CDP platforms in the APAC region

David Raab is the founder of the CDP Institute and owner of Raab Associates. The CDP Institute is a vendor-neutral educational project to help marketers build a unified customer view that is available to all of their company systems. The Institute provides a library of information, daily newsletters and blogs, discussion forums, and other services.


In this episode of our Target Market Podcast, host Athina Mallis speaks to David about the growth of CDP in the APAC region, the importance of education and some of the data mistakes marketers are making.



David, you revealed some very interesting insights in your latest report on the state of CDPs in the APAC region. The report shows delivery of customer data platforms grew fastest on all parameters across a number of companies, added funding, employment. What do you think is contributing to this growth in CDPs in the region?


The APAC region has been a little behind the other global regions. There's a bit of a catch up going on with CDP. But people in APAC are seeing what's going on in other places and recognise that CDP is established and successful and kind of here to stay. It makes it easier for them to jump on without perhaps quite as much research as the pioneers did in some of the other regions.


In terms of why CDP in general is growing. It's, of course, because companies recognise this need to unify their customer data. They're just coming to realise that CDP actually can solve the problem. They've known about the problem for quite some time. But many of them have realised that it was actually a solution to the problem. They all get very excited and happy when they see that there is one and they jump in to explore it and see if it's really everything that is promised.


Looking at the challenges, the report identified, the biggest barrier to the pay growth in this region remains the ongoing confusion about choosing the right solution between different products claiming similar outcomes. What can marketers and heads of digital do to alleviate the confusion and how critical is investing in education and learning?


For other systems that manage customer data, they typically manage data that they themselves generate in one channel, or sometimes even a couple of channels. But email systems manage email data, web personalisation systems manage web data and CRM systems manage CRM data, they don't really pull in data from other sources.


In most cases, the only system that pulls data from multiple sources are things like data warehouses and data lakes. They're not usually really designed specifically around customer data and they're not designed certainly to do what a CDP does in terms of making that data easily accessible in the variety and scope of data that a CDP does data warehouses.


For example, you almost always leave it as just structured data. So you wouldn't pull in your web browser history for example. The CDP does actually have dome fairly unique things that it does. But that's a little harder to communicate, there's definitely a challenge with that.


Obviously, education and learning are part of the way that we get people over that hump. We just have to keep educating them. Hopefully, they keep learning as we educate them about what it is that CDPs do and how CDPs solves their problem. Yes, it is a solution, like they're all solutions. They're all ultimately solving more or less the same problem. But this is how the CDP solves it in a way that's unique to CDP. That's what we have to educate people about.


What are three things you think that CDP vendors should consider before expanding to the APAC market?


We think that the CDP vendors certainly should consider the fact that it's not 'just one market' as there are a lot of different regional markets in APAC, and you will have to address each one differently. That's extremely important. You have to realise that there are different industries at different stages. The telco and financial services industries are actually quite advanced and probably on par, in many ways with the rest of the world. Retail, health care and education are quite different. You have to look at which market you're selling into.


On top of this, almost all the APAC countries are far more mobile-oriented than certainly the US and Europe. A lot of data that comes from mobile, location data in particular is something that you just don't get without mobile, so you have to do things a little differently when you really think about being mobile first.


What's the commonly held belief in data-driven marketing that you passionately disagree with?


I passionately disagree with the notion that customers want personalised marketing, which is something that, unsurprisingly, personalised marketing technology vendors like to talk about. They do all kinds of research to demonstrate customers want you to know them and to give them a good experience. When you really look at that research, it's very consistent. But if you ask somebody, do they want personalised marketing, very few people say yes, less than 20%.


What they really want are convenient experiences. They want it to be easy to make returns, they want to be easy to buy things the first time around, they're not really interested necessarily in personalised product recommendations, because that feels too much like marketing. But anything you can do to make their life easier, make their sales experience smoother, with less friction, if we must use that cliche, those are the things that people really want. But marketers have to understand that when customers tell them they want a personalised experience, they're talking about convenience, they're not talking about personalised marketing.


What should everyone who is involved with data-driven marketing stop doing?


I think they should stop pretending that data-driven marketing is entirely 'objective'. Because it's not, it's still marketing, there's still a lot of subjectivity. There's still a lot of intuition, that data can help you to optimise and refine things. Maybe you have some really fancy AI system, it'll actually tell you what's the right time of day to send you an email. But those are things that are really making incremental marginal improvements. The really big ideas still have to come from people. It's very important to recognise that the data is valuable and extremely important, you wouldn't want to not have data, but you can't just be blinded by the data.



What do you think everyone who's involved in data-driven marketing should start doing?


They should start paying more attention to data quality, by far the single largest problem that people run into when they implement a CDP. But also, when they do almost any kind of data-driven marketing, they just have to recognise that their results are not going to be any better than the input quality. We all know that cliche - and they're just going to have to invest the time to straighten it out. It's no fun, data hygiene, it's like brushing your teeth. You have to do it, but nobody gets excited about doing it. But if you don't do it, things get really messy quickly. So you really have to just spend the time making the investment in data quality.


Tune into the full episode here.


Target Market, a podcast series by AZK Media, where the world’s most premium thought leaders across technology, marketing and data come together to share their insights. Hosted by Athina Mallis


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