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The right way to select a CDP



The right way to select a CDP

At Real Story Group, we’ve been evaluating customer data platform (CDP) technology on behalf of enterprise buyers for more than four years now. Initially, we saw a wave of early adopters making hasty decisions both to license this type of technology and pick a vendor. As you can imagine, many of those early partnerships didn’t work out so well. Now I see a somewhat different phenomenon: enterprises wanting to select a CDP but feeling more cautious about it.

In general, that’s a good thing. You want to make sure you have the right technology, platform fit and supplier fit, especially for something foundational to your stack. So take your time, and do it right. Here’s how.

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Understand the marketplace

It’s an understatement to describe the CDP market as “fragmented.” RSG evaluates nearly three-dozen vendors, with more added each quarter. This breadth speaks to the rising tide of interest that’s floating so many boats and the breadth of capabilities that potentially fall under the CDP label.

CDP Vendors can be usefully grouped into categories. Source: RSG Vendor evaluations

There are, of course, many ways to slice and dice any tech marketplace. Perhaps the biggest distinction among CDPs is how a platform is more engagement-oriented than data processing-oriented. Or, roughly speaking, a business versus infrastructure platform (more about that below).

We separately break out the biggest “suite-dependent” vendors into a separate category because our research finds they carry the most significant risk for you. This is not unusual in martech.  

Understand your architecture

Indeed, that breadth of potentially available capabilities –  reaching from deep-tunnel data routing, cleaning and transformation, possibly to more front-end services like email messaging and real-time personalization – makes the CDP marketplace unusually wide.  

So what matters here is the specific set of services you want to render unto a CDP, and which you want to (or already) accommodate somewhere else. Consider this handy chart from my colleague Apoorv in his recent MarTech piece.  

Look at your broader customer data ecosystem to figure out where a packaged CDP will – and will not – fit into your overall portfolio of services. Source: Real Story Group

In that article, Apoorv analyzes various build vs. buy scenarios but concludes that your customer data modernization journey will include ample build and buy for the typical enterprise. Budget accordingly.

Prioritize your scenarios

Explicitly or not, vendors tend to focus on a limited set of use cases imprinted with new technology and then persist as true strengths. It’s not like you can’t stretch a platform to go where it doesn’t want to, but that takes time, money and scarce developer talent. So you want to make sure that your use case priorities align with your CDP vendor’s strengths.  

Below find ten canonical scenarios that RSG uses when critically evaluating CDP solutions.  Again, vendors will argue they’re good at many if not most of these. Pro tip: the typical CDP vendor is only good at three or four. 

CDP technology can theoretically address up to ten different business scenarios, though vendors almost always excel at just three or four. Source: Real Story Group

And while you’re at it, make sure to catalog your true internal capacity to leverage this new platform – particularly around customer data unification and identity resolution, which in many cases will need to take place underneath any packaged CDP solution.  

Take an agile approach

CDPs represent modern technology, so you should take a modern, non-waterfall approach when selecting one. You can read more about this agile approach from an earlier column, but for now, I’d like to stress the importance of testing any platform before you go ahead and license it.  

Sometimes, when working with large enterprises, team members are surprised that they can test-drive martech platforms in general and CDPs in particular. Well, you can, and you should! If a vendor pushes back, drop them from your list. We like to structure week-long sprints with ample business and technical training, ideally separately with two finalists – a.k.a., a competitive bake-off.  

This is easier to do with a CDP than you might think, though it does take some work. Compare that level of effort with the cost of making a bad choice. Also, bake-offs are going to foreshadow the potentially ample organizational change you’ll need to effect for success in any CDP deployment.

Negotiate hard

In any martech procurement, you should negotiate early and often, and not just when you’re down to a single finalist (and have therefore lost much leverage). Unfortunately, over the past year at RSG we’ve seen substantial shifts in CDP vendor pricing. The short story is that it’s becoming more complicated and more usage-based.  

This can lead to strange conversations where vendors ask you to calculate fairly fine-grained usage projections long before you’re prepared. As usual, I’ll encourage you to push back. Ask for a menu of prices and flexible fee structures that align more with value than data throughput.  

This is a hot space, so vendors lead with more aggressive pricing. But even more so, in this young market, vendors want to grow quickly and gain share. Negotiate aggressively.
And let me know how it turns out!

Real Story on MarTech is presented through a partnership between MarTech and Real Story Group, a vendor-agnostic research and advisory organization that helps enterprises make better marketing technology stack and platform selection decisions.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Tony Byrne is founder of Real Story Group, a technology analyst firm. RSG evaluates martech and CX technologies to assist enterprise tech stack owners. To maintain its strict independence, RSG only works with enterprise technology buyers and never advises vendors.

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HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1



HubSpot to cut around 7% of workforce by end of Q1

This afternoon, HubSpot announced it would be making cuts in its workforce during Q1 2023. In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing it put the scale of the cuts at 7%. This would mean losing around 500 employees from its workforce of over 7,000.

The reasons cited were a downward trend in business and a “faster deceleration” than expected following positive growth during the pandemic.

Layoffs follow swift growth. Indeed, the layoffs need to be seen against the background of very rapid growth at the company. The size of the workforce at HubSpot grew over 40% between the end of 2020 and today.

In 2022 it announced a major expansion of its international presence with new operations in Spain and the Netherlands and a plan to expand its Canadian presence in 2023.

Why we care. The current cool down in the martech space, and in tech generally, does need to be seen in the context of startling leaps forward made under pandemic conditions. As the importance of digital marketing and the digital environment in general grew at an unprecedented rate, vendors saw opportunities for growth.

The world is re-adjusting. We may not be seeing a bubble burst, but we are seeing a bubble undergoing some slight but predictable deflation.

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About the author

Kim Davis

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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Advocate | DigitalMarketer



Advocate | DigitalMarketer

Happy customers love to share their experience, but sometimes they need some encouragement to do so. The cool thing is, once they do, they become even more loyal to your brand.

So, at this stage of the Customer Value Journey, ask people to share their positive experience with your brand by writing a review or sharing a social media post.

Once you get to stage seven, the Customer Value Journey is going to get a whole lot easier for you. This stage is all about learning your customer’s experience, and building up your testimonial database. 

The most important part of this step is asking these four questions. 

What Was Your Life Like Before Finding Our Solutions? What Challenges Were You Facing That Caused You to Consider Us? 

These questions are great not only because it gives you some really good stories, but because it gives you some insight on how you can provide similar prospects with that AHA moment. Understanding the average day of your clients is important in reflecting on your Customer Value Journey, and helps you understand what really set you apart from your competitors.

What Key Features Had the Biggest and/or Fastest Impact?

Not only is this going to get you to really specific stories, you will understand the specific things you provided that gave the biggest impact. The answers to these questions will not only give you great insight and testimonials, it will provide you with ideas for new lead magnets. This part is a new Entry Point Offer goldmine! 

What Has Been the Impact or Results in Your Life or Business Since Using Our Product or Service? 

This is a fairly broad question, and that’s why we put it after the others. You will have already gotten all of the specifics out of the way with #1 & #2. But when you ask this question, this is where you get the most valuable stories. You can use this part as testimonials, as an order form, as a sales page, this part is testimonial gold. 

If You Were Asked to Justify this Purchase to Your Boss or a Friend, What Would You Say? 

This is our favorite question by far. If you had to go back in time and justify this purchase, what would you say? I promise you what we’re going to find is a lot of great ideas for the jobs that your product or service has done. You’ll get a lot of great ideas for your core message canvas. This question is about backfilling all of the assets that you may not have. Here you’re going directly to the customer who are already happy, and using their justifications to help you sell to new customers. 

Hopefully you now understand just how valuable the Advocate stage could be, as well as the key questions you need to ask to get your customers talking. Here’s how it works for our example companies.

When it comes to fashion we all love to show off our outfits. So a good example for Hazel & Hems would be to have customers write reviews for a discount code or points towards their next purchase. 

Better yet, follow up with the customers to ask them to share and tag themselves wearing the items in a social media post and providing them with something valuable as a reward.

For Cyrus & Clark Media, hopping on zoom meetings or a streaming service for live talks about them and their business could generate valuable awareness for them, and a live case study for the agency. They can use the questions Ryan provided during this lesson to conduct the interview.

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Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions



Drive Conversions and Generate Engagement With Instacart Promotions

Through deals and coupons, Instacart has saved consumers more than $700 million in 2022. As we dive into 2023, the leading grocery technology company in North America has big plans to help consumers save even more while also helping CPGs generate sales. Instacart recently announced an advertising solution that helps both sellers and consumers called Instacart Promotions. This exciting feature is designed to help drive conversions, boost sales, and generate overall engagement on the app.

Interested in this feature and how it can help your business on Instacart? Read on as we dive into everything you need to know about this ad solution including benefits, how to get started, and more.


What are Instacart Promotions?


Instacart Promotions is an advertising feature that’s now available to all brand partners, including emerging brands, within their open beta program. Promotions give CPGs the opportunity to offer new deal structures, promotions, and incentives with Instacart Ad campaigns. With this feature in place, consumers will have access to more promotions, coupons, and deals that are tailored to them within the Instacart Marketplace.

“With the launch of our new Instacart Promotions, all of our brand partners now have the ability to set up coupons and promotions that can drive meaningful business results while also passing on more savings opportunities to consumers. We’re proud to continue expanding our portfolio with additional self-service capabilities, ad formats that drive results, and measurement that brands need to understand the true impact of their campaigns on Instacart.”


– Ali Miller, VP of Ads Product at Instacart


Source: Instacart


How Do Instacart Promotions Work?


Promotions, now available in Ads Manager, gives consumers the ability to discover more promotions and savings opportunities within the Instacart app. These promotions now show up directly on product item cards before checkout for easy accessibility. Promotions allow advertisers to customize their campaigns to sync with their goals and objectives whether that be driving sales, building baskets, or boosting trials.

Instacart shared a recent example of a brand successfully utilizing Promotions… 

Athletic Brewing, General Mills, Sola Company, and Wells Enterprises (maker of Halo Top) are strengthening campaign performance by pairing Instacart Promotions with ad formats such as Sponsored Product and Display. Instacart Promotions include two new flexible and customizable structures: Coupons (“buy X units, save $Y”) and Stock Up & Save (“Spend $X, Save $Y”). 

According to Instacart, in the coming months, the company “will work to further enhance the new offering with new deal structures such as Free Gifts and Buy One, Get One (“BOGO”). The new deal structures will help brand partners run “Free Sample” programs that can win new customers and serve personalized discounts for different customer segments, such as “new to brand” and “new to category.”  


Example of Instacart Promotions

Source: Instacart


Instacart Promotions Benefits


Deliver Value and Savings to Consumers


With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to deliver value and savings that will have consumers coming back for more. With this savings feature, your brand can stand out among the competition and offer a variety of deals to shoppers ie: “Buy X units, Save $Y”.


Hot tip: Ensure you are selecting products for your promotion that are well-stocked and widely available.  


Tailor Your Campaigns to Specific Objectives


With a variety of savings options available, your brand can structure deals to fit specific business goals and objectives. 


Hot tip: If you’re looking to drive visibility and awareness, try pairing promotions with Sponsored Product campaigns. 


Access Real-Time Performance Insights 


The Promotions beta program is live and can be accessed within Instacart Ads Manager. Within Ads Manager, advertisers can access real-time insights to maximize performance and adjust campaigns as needed.


Hot tip: Make sure your budget matches your discount and objectives.


“As an advertiser, Instacart’s unique offering to self-manage promotions is so exciting! Historically, making adjustments to offer values and other promotion parameters was a more manual process, but now we’ll be able to easily make optimizations in real-time based on redemption performance.”

Emily Choate

Emily Choate, Senior Specialist, Marketplace Search at Tinuiti


Interested in Instacart Promotions?


With Instacart Promotions, you have the opportunity to reach new customers, build bigger baskets, and drive sales. Interested in testing out the beta program or looking to get started with advertising on the app? Drop us a line – we’d love to help elevate your CPG brand on Instacart.


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