Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are quickly becoming an essential tool in an organization’s arsenal, providing a central hub for all their customer data, but they aren’t the only tool modern organizations need. Even though the CDP gathers data in one spot, the insights drawn from that data remain siloed without additional tooling. To get the most out of a CDP, you need an analytics destination capable of taking all that data and parsing out the business-relevant information — you need a business analytics and intelligence solution.
The most common solutions available right now present two key problems for businesses looking to get the most out of their data: 1) the current tools don’t offer robust enough aggregation options and 2) they are difficult (or even impossible) to fully integrate. Without proper aggregation and integration, your data is no better off than it was without the CDP and you miss out on the insights that can drive meaningful business outcomes.
Let’s take a look at what goes into choosing the right analytics destination for your CDP, starting with aggregation and why it’s so important.
With a fragmented analytics view, gaining comprehensive insights from disparate data sources simply isn’t possible. For example, to calculate the cost of customer acquisition (total marketing spend / total new customers), you’d need to pull data from a variety of sources, such as Google Adwords, Facebook ads, and LinkedIn. Without a unified tool this is tedious, time-consuming work. More importantly, it isn’t scalable.
Furthermore, since event data comes in like a firehose, you need to be able to aggregate the information without a data analyst building reports, dashboards, or visualizations for every single thing. Analytics reporting at this level can’t be piecemeal; it requires a comprehensive user-centric approach.
With the right user-centric solution, you’ll get aggregated reporting features that make understanding your data and your users easier. User flow charts with cohort analysis for both single- and multi-platform options, identity user flow reports, and custom reports based on event strategy are often standard features with these solutions, so you’ll be able to glean the insights you need that will help you identify how your users are moving through your site — all with very little configuration.
Graphic showing user events aggregated to a single profile. Source: Mixpanel
General reporting tools, like Google Analytics, do possess user flow features (you may already be familiar with the “Behavioural Flow Report” in GA), but the flexibility in transforming the event data into meaningful insights is just not there. For the most part, you’re encountering one of two problems: either getting set up with Google Analytics is more challenging than it needs to be, or it simply doesn’t offer the options to help you achieve your goals that many of the user-centric options do, like what you see above from Mixpanel.
An additional benefit in choosing a tool that makes aggregation easy is the ability to group based on audience or persona features. Defining the criteria for grouping your users in a CDP like Segment is usually much more feasible with tools like Mixpanel. A higher degree of compatibility makes a difference: computed traits and audiences created in Personas can be sent to your analytics destination and used to create dashboards, run cohort analyses, or power messages quickly and easily (see below). And that saves you time and stress, equipping you to act on the insights sooner and with more confidence.
Graphic showing compatibility of audiences/personas between Mixpanel & Segment. Source: Segment
Lastly, the visualization capabilities found in user-centric tools tend to offer extremely flexible slicing and dicing of the events that flow in, so you have complete control over what insights you want to extract out of the aggregated raw data and place into a report. Being able to see exactly what you need and none of what you don’t is at the heart of data-driven insight work — why wouldn’t you want to make that as seamless as possible?
The second big factor to look out for when choosing an analytics destination is integration. The current approach to solving this challenge is to use the individual software that supports analytics and business intelligence for each fragment of the data (e.g. email, CRM, or customer support) that lives in the CDP. While these tools can offer support for working with specific chunks of the data, the reality is their features are not comprehensive or flexible enough for the insights that businesses today rely on.
For the full suite of needs, like custom calculated metrics, A/B testing, advanced visualization, and real-time data transformations, you need a solution that is capable of more than just basic analytics, that integrates with all the data (not just a piece of it), and especially one that is simple to set-up.
Traditionally, a business intelligence solution might require a developer, a data engineer, or both to be able to pipe event data from the source into analytics tools such as PowerBI or Tableau. The technical expertise required to set up data pipelines and code connections in this scenario can be extremely tedious and add unnecessary overhead.
By contrast, the connections between CDPs (like Segment or mParticle) and analytics destinations (like Mixpanel) tend to be tight-knit, cohesive, and straightforward to implement. This is because CDPs are built specifically with the ease of integration in mind. And not only is the initial set up to connect the two platforms simple, the connection will receive ongoing maintenance by dedicated teams at the CDP, ensuring your connection is never interrupted.
On the other hand, custom integrations that support analytics solutions require regular upkeep and constant monitoring. For example, changes in the code in either platform could break the connection, resulting in lost insights and possibly a delay in making crucial decisions. Forwarding data from your CDP to an analytics destination allows you to escape those maintenance headaches.
It’s important to note that each integration is unique and different inputs & requirements need to be met to complete the set up. Understanding how the tools are supported post-integration should be a major consideration. Documentation on the set up not only provides instructions on the integration, but it also informs you on the features supported as part of the connection — and that’s why it’s important to dig into the details before you invest.
The Big Picture
The solution we return to time and again is pairing the right CDP with the right single-platform solution. When you choose the right pairing (there are many options out there, but one combination we think is exceptional is Mixpanel business analytics platform paired with a Segment CDP), it offers easy & robust integration, doesn’t require a developer, is highly performant with reliable event forwarding for real-time insights, and it puts user data aggregation into a single customer profile. Whatever you choose, pairing your CDP with the right, user-centric platform will offer you an unbeatable combination when it comes to managing and making best use of your data.
Interested in implementing a CDP and analytics solution for your business? Let us help you find and set up the right platforms for your needs. Contact our team today.