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Friday, October 22, 2021

How CarParts.com leverages CDP tech to create customer-centric experiences

Before adopting a Customer Data Platform (CDP), CarParts.com had a vast dataset of customer behavioral data, but had issues with scaling to take advantage of it. In addition, it wasn’t able to glean insights from real-time signals as it would have liked to do.

“We weren’t really getting to that one-to-one personalization and we felt like we were falling short,” said Houman Akhavan, CMO of CarParts.com, speaking in a recent session at the MarTech virtual conference. “With all of the advancements available in CDPs we saw the value of being able to really understand the voice of the customer and being able to market to them in a very relevant and personalized fashion.” 

In the session, titled “The New Rules Of Marketing: How A SmartHub CDP Can Create Experiences That Meet Customers Where They Are,” Blueshift co-founder and CEO Vijay Chittoor spoke with Akhavan about the fragmentation of customer journeys in our always-on world and how marketers are being tasked with understanding customers through all the data they’re creating. CarParts.com adopted Blueshift’s SmartHub CDP to help it meet the challenges it faced. 

Sending a quarter-billion personalized messages

“Through our SmartHub CDP integration, just this year alone we have generated over a quarter billion personalized one-to-one messages,” said Akhavan, later adding that understanding your customers’ unique attributes is critical to determining how to use a CDP for personalization.

For example, Akhavan said, in the auto parts vertical, the most obvious attribute is the vehicle that a person drives. One might have a Chevy truck and another might drive a Ford Taurus, and the way you would market to them around their vehicle would speak to those unique characteristics.

“But the same thing applies to many different verticals,” he said. “It goes back to really understanding your customer and creating this profile,” that addresses the person’s preferences and motivating factors. Then, and only then, said Akhavan, you can devise a strategy and adopt technology that allows you to speak to that individual in a very personalized manner.

Akhavan detailed the specific characteristics CarParts.com was seeking in a platform, which included:

  • Scalability – the ability to easily ingest millions of records of customer information, including all of the data being generated by e-commerce shoppers every day.
  • UX – a user-friendly interface that enables marketers to develop segments and orchestrate campaigns without doing a ton of manual labor.
  • Incorporation of real-time user signals – because so much data is being continually generated, and customers are quickly making buying decisions, it’s critical that marketers be able to capitalize on this data before it grows stale.
  • Predictive modeling – once all of the data is available, you need to be able to use it to garner insights about customers and potential customers. Is this individual likely to have a high customer lifetime value, or is the person likely to churn? Depending on the answer, you approach marketing to them in a different way.

With a platform, a central hub, that embodies all of these things, “you can have very custom tailored approaches to these, you know, vastly, vastly different audiences,” said Akhavan. “Without that, you’re not able to get to that one-to-one personalization.”

Chittoor noted that, when talking to marketers, he never encounters a shortage of ideas or a lack of focus on the customer. “I think the limitation that holds back a lot of other marketers…is the lack of the right technology platform which can help them iterate and deliver experiences at the speed of their own ideas,” he said.

The omnichannel strategy for an multi-touchpoint world

Five or ten years ago, each marketing channel was managed in a silo and the folks working on that channel didn’t have the larger picture of the entire customer journey. Therefore, there could be no such thing as an omnichannel marketing strategy.

“Today, consumer behavior is changing and consumers aren’t interacting with you with just one touchpoint, or just one marketing channel,” said Akhavan. “On average, there’s probably at least five to 10 interactions across different channels that are taking place before a conversion event happens…. So, really, having a central hub that’s taking in and ingesting all these insights across multiple touchpoints and marketing channels is really going to allow you to have that true cohesive experience across different channels.”

Akhavan said one good example of this is how the CDP is integrated into CarParts.com’s call center. When a customer or prospect calls in, the agent should have access to the information that person has already revealed online, such as their vehicle or particular parts they’ve been looking at. That way, the person doesn’t have to start from scratch explaining what they need.

“At the end of the day, time is money, and you want to make these seamless experiences and really make them fast,” he said. “Customers appreciate that.”

And they’ve shown their appreciation for that customer experience. Akhavan says click-through rates have increased as much as 400% when messages were personalized. “Who wants to receive a generic message?,” notes Akhavan. “If they see something generic that doesn’t really talk to their needs or motivations, they’ll probably just tune out that advertising.” Additionally, adopting the CDP has allowed CarParts.com to grow revenue from email by 2X.  

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