Most nonprofit organizations understand the value of data. For years, nonprofits have relied on using data for complex segmentation in direct mail and email marketing.
As we at Heller Consulting keep our eye on trends in technology and the nonprofit sector, one thing we see on the horizon is the potential of customer data platforms to help nonprofits use the ever-growing number of systems and data points to apply even more robust segmentation in marketing and fundraising.
Let’s look at some basics about this category of software and why nonprofits should care about it.
What is a customer data platform?
A customer data platform (CDP) is software that aggregates customer (or constituent, donor, etc.) data to create a centralized profile of an individual. Its main function is to maintain unified customer profiles so that you can use this information to market to customers more effectively and efficiently across your entire technology ecosystem.
The idea behind CDPs is that today’s organizations have multiple software systems for various purposes, and constituent data is scattered among those different systems. A CDP:
To help provide a standard definition for this category of tools, the CDP Institute established criteria for a CDP. According to the organization’s definition, to be a CDP, the software must:
You might be thinking, “CDPs sound a lot like customer relationship management (CRM) systems or data warehouses.” And it’s true that these technologies can all help your organization manage and use your data more strategically. But there are some key differences:
CRM systems are focused on managing information about an organization’s relationships and interactions with constituents. And while it’s true that a unified profile was once part of the vision of customer relationship management (CRM) systems, the reality is that CRM systems are now often a core system for many organizations but are one of multiple software systems in the technology mix.
Data warehouses are more focused on long-term data storage.
CDPs are focused on unifying volumes of information about individuals from an organization’s different systems and making it available real-time for highly personalized marketing.
How can nonprofits use customer data platforms?
While CDPs have been recognized as a technology category for nearly 10 years, they’ve been used mostly in the commercial sector. So, it might be easier to understand CDPs and why you would want to use one by considering a few use cases for nonprofits:
While CDP is relatively new to the sector, it offers great potential for nonprofits. We continue to stay up to date on technology and the nonprofit sector; so, if you’d like to learn more about customer data platforms and determine if they’re a fit for your nonprofit’s needs, contact us today. We’re ready to help.
Want more nonprofit tech resources delivered to your inbox? Fill out the quick form below!
Interactive Guide to Digital Tech
Almost all marketing is now digital. View the Nonprofit's Guide to Making Strategic Digital Tech decisions to learn more.View Now
Podcast: The Critical Role of Data
Digital transformation often comes down to data. Hear advice for how you can remake processes to better enhance the constituent experience.Listen Now