By Josh Wolf, Director of Solutions Consulting at Tealium

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When it comes to evaluating tools and technologies that focus on customer data, it can be difficult to understand exactly how one tool differentiates from the next.

This is especially true as more IT and developers begin to enter into the conversation and help lines of business evaluate tools and technologies that help them take advantage of customer data.

As customer data platforms (CDPs) begin to permeate the market, and more organizations begin to evaluate CDPs across lines of business, we hear questions like, “How is this different than my data lake?” or, “What does a CDP provide that I’m not already doing today in my customer data strategy?”

These are important questions that begin to help businesses build a bridge between marketing data technologies and the rest of the enterprise.

Tealium was one of the first entrants in the CDP category and helped shape the industry. We’re also an AWS Partner with AWS Competencies in Digital Customer Experience, Data & Analytics, Retail, and Travel and Hospitality.

As such, Tealium is uniquely positioned to help organizations answer questions about CDPs. In this post, I will help you bridge the marketing and IT data divide around these key technology concepts.

Benefits of a Customer Data Platform

Let’s start by getting everyone introduced to customer data platforms (CDPs).

To effectively engage, sell to, and retain customers, it’s critical to know their preferences. This is often done through a complete set of customer data.

While it would be ideal to talk to every customer 1:1, that approach doesn’t scale, so understanding customers through data is the next best thing.

Many organizations recognize the importance of customer data but struggle with how best to access all of the relevant data, bring it together, and then act on it in real-time. This is where CDPs come in.

Specifically, CDPs help businesses:

  • Aggregate customer data from all of your customer touch points, including your AWS data lake.
  • Transform disjointed data points into a single, unified profile of the customer.
  • Activate context-rich data across channels of customer engagement and analytics.

While most CDPs do all of this, there are differences in how they’re built and the degree to which they excel in each area.

When evaluating a CDP, look for data collection and delivery in real-time, the number of integrations to share customer data on both the client and server side, data governance and privacy capabilities, and flexibility. For example, ask if the CDP works with AWS and the rest of your current tech stack.

CDPs and Your AWS Data Lake

Now that we’ve covered the basics on CDPs, here is the golden question: “How should a CDP work with my AWS products? Specifically, my data lake?”

While data lakes ingest data from across the enterprise (typically first-party data from internal sources), CDPs focus is on unifying first- and third-party customer data and then orchestrating that data out to the tech stack for activation.

Conversely, building your own CDP is not the best use of valuable resources. The most successful businesses focus on the areas they are experts in, using a “build and buy” approach with their data lake and CDP.

Your CDP should offer several capabilities that would be costly and time-consuming to build and maintain. CDPs should collect customer data from many sources in order to deliver a clean, consistent stream of real-time data to AWS that’s ready for machine learning, analytics, product recommendation, storage and any other areas AWS delivers value.

Additionally, CDPs should be able to receive insights from AWS in real-time and enable the activation of this data across any third-party vendor or tool that would benefit.

By using the CDP to build and maintain an ever-changing marketplace of integrations, your business can focus on building new insights to better understand customers and personalize their experiences with the brand.

In short, CDPs shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for data lakes. Instead, they are a complement to them.

CDPs and Data Lakes: A Real-World Example

Now that we have a good idea of how a customer data platform and data lake work together, let’s take a look at a real-world example.

A large retailer with ecommerce and brick and mortar shopping channels wanted to personalize their customer experience across website, app, messaging, and advertising touchpoints.

The business was manually pulling lists of a few segments and uploading these to one vendor, with promising results. However, using this approach to target many segments that may change daily across vendors would not be efficient or scalable.

The business began using Tealium and their AWS data lake to create a real-time, 360-degree view of the customer and automate this process. By creating new customer segments and testing various marketing activations, the retailer was able to improve the customer experience, increase sales, and drive marketing ROI.

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Figure 1 – Sample bi-directional data flow between AWS and Tealium.

Here’s what happening along each step of this CDP + data lake use case flow:

  1. Tealium provides integrations to cleanse data and collect data in real-time from a variety of digital and offline sources.
  2. Event-level data flows into Tealium’s Customer Data Hub and is enriched to build visitor-level profiles of your customers and prospects.
  3. Tealium streams clean, consistent event and/or visitor-level data to AWS in real-time.
  4. The business can now leverage any available AWS solutions to analyze and act on this data in real-time, such as determining a “next best action” or identifying a customer segment. Insights trigger AWS marketing activation such as messaging from Amazon Pinpoint and are streamed back to Tealium for activation across your other Martech vendors.
  5. Turnkey user interface-based API connectors allow for real-time distribution of event and visitor-level data to 300+ tools and third-party vendors.
  6. Data layer enrichment brings dynamic customer insights client side to the browser or device to power onsite and in-app personalization, as well as 1,000+ tag-based vendor integrations.

Business Outcomes

The retailer in this example relied on the bi-directional data flow between Tealium and the AWS data lake to achieve these outcomes:

Collect, Standardize, and Unify All Customer Data

Events from digital sources such as websites and native apps were collected directly via Tealium integrations. Offline purchases are loaded in as flat files.

Tealium, which is built on AWS, processes high volumes of data for this retailer in real-time whenever possible. However, sometimes the inherent limitations of existing data sources require other methods.

In this example, the business collected website and native app data in real-time and point of sale (POS) data via batched file uploads. Offering different integration options allows the business to build a customer data supply chain across all sources of customer data, regardless of any technical limitations.

Build a Comprehensive, Real-Time Customer Profile

The 360-degree view of every prospect and customer can now be continuously updated in real-time as new insights are created by AWS and streamed to Tealium.

Extend the Profile Across AWS Services

Tealium’s CDP AudienceStream processes the incoming data into profiles of prospects and customers, and the business used this new customer data with Amazon Personalize to improve product recommendations, Amazon SageMaker to build advanced modeling scores for each customer and prospect, and Amazon Pinpoint to trigger and personalize messaging.

Leverage AWS Insights Across the Rest of Your Stack

Tealium distributes AWS insights to the rest of the third-party marketing and analytics tools used by the business.

The retailer recognized additional value from AWS in cross-channel activation:

  • Amazon SageMaker segments are used to personalize content on websites and native apps.
  • Product recommendations from Amazon Personalize are used to show the appropriate products in search, display, video, and social advertising.
  • Interactions with Amazon Pinpoint are used to determine whether to launch chat, or offer coupons for discounts.

Tealium becomes a central source of clean, consistent customer data for AWS, and the single destination to send customer data where it’s easily relayed to every tool used for analytics and marketing activation.

Enterprise-Wide Value with AWS and Tealium

The strategy of using Tealium and AWS data lakes allows the business to focus on understanding their customers and delivering good customer experiences that are consistent across all touchpoints. The tedious work of building and maintaining inbound and outbound integrations is managed by Tealium.

Many businesses already use Tealium to send customer data using AWS services such as Amazon Kinesis Data Streams, Amazon Simple Queue Service (SQS), Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose, and Amazon.com advertising, with more integrations on the way.

Some of the largest enterprises in the world use Tealium and AWS to put their customer data to work across a variety of use cases like:

  • Collecting customer data from any source: Real-time streams of customer data are collected from multiple sources, such as websites, apps, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, OTT devices, and third-party tools like CRM systems. AWS should be a source of data for Tealium as well.
  • Delivering a single view of the customer: CDPs create a comprehensive 360-degree view of prospects and customers, making that data available to AWS and other tech tools across the business.
  • Impacting marketing and customer experience through AWS: Customers are using more channels and devices than ever before while demanding exceptional and relevant experiences. Tealium offers more than 1,300 integrations to the tools used to understand and interact with customers, including many with AWS products and services.
  • Increasing the value of AWS across marketing touchpoints: While AWS is core to the business, there are often other tools that are used to market to the customer. CDPs enable businesses to fuel cross-channel marketing with insights built with AWS.

Summary

For AWS customers, Tealium provides critical capabilities that enable businesses to collect, enrich, unify, and activate customer data. AWS should be both a source of data for Tealium to combine with other sources of customer data, as well as one of many destinations for the combined single view of the customer.

We are committed to helping our joint AWS and Tealium customers make the most of their data and offer more ways to deliver high-quality customer data to AWS in real-time. In the meantime, you can get more information on Tealium’s collaboration with AWS.

The content and opinions in this blog are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.

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