We’ve been trained to think of CRM onboarding as the holy grail of personalized marketing. Once you’re able to ingest the data from IT (after months of effort) and get it on-boarded to a data platform (a battle won from privacy), it feels like you’ve won a coveted award. But in reality, it’s after the data is onboarded when the real work begins.

To get a sense of whether your CRM onboarding partner is equipped to deliver high quality personalized marketing, efficiently and at scale, here are some important questions to ask:

  1. Does it recognize that CRM data is just a means to the end? Your first-party data has by far the highest value when compared to all other kinds of data available in the market. It should be used as a foundation for creating customized experiences at scale. On the flip side, CRM data is the first to be outdated, so it requires a great deal of maintenance to keep fresh. It’s important that you’re ingesting new data continuously.
  2. Does it operate on reach or quality? If quality is important then check for the linkages that your onboarding partner provides, such as offline-to-online linkages, the amount of fractional identifiers it factors in when creating audience profiles, and the number of data refresh cycles. A partner can provide high reach with online linkages, such as email addresses, but the quality of that kind of linkage is inherently low. To ensure higher accuracy, inquire if offline parameters can be part of the linkages.
  3. Does it focus on just match rate or find rate? Both are equally important. If your onboarding partner is focused on just one or the other, then they likely don’t have your best interests in mind. Following are three kinds of rate metrics you should be aware of, in order of importance:
    1. Match rate between your CRM data and DMP’s online database.
    2. Match rate between online data and successful linkages (i.e. household IDs to online cookies and device IDs).
    3. Find rate of this audience in the digital sphere. Strive for a higher rate in order to get a larger reach and scale. This is where an onboarding partner should a vast distribution network comprised of DSPs, DMPs, ad networks, and publishers across devices.
  4. Does it emphasize precision or scale? If your goal is to be very precise in reaching a specific, niche group (such as a B2B audience), then individual-level onboarding (such as through email addresses) is key. If you’re looking to reach a larger consumer base, then household-level onboarding can provide the scale. Since that’s not as precise as email address onboarding, it should be considered as reaching your target audience on multiple devices and influencers who live in close proximity to them.
  5. Does it value timeliness? Increasingly more onboarding companies are now enabling ‘data onboarding’ software to make the process faster and less cumbersome for marketers. This allows 24/7 access to refresh old data with new. Timeliness and freshness, as you know, is the currency of CRM data.
  6. Does it maximize compatibility? A true CRM onboading solution is agonostic to the offline data platform. Weather it’s a traditional CRM tool or POS database or loyalty system, the onboarding solution should be able to transform it and make it available for any of the digital marketing channels (e.g. display, video, social, search, mobile, web personalization, or analytics).
  7. Is its pricing customer-centric? Just like media inventory, onboarding pricing among vendors is gradually moving to a value based model (i.e. cost per record matched vs. cost per record onboarded). This is a big step demonstrating commitment on the data onboarder’s part to improve its match rate and provide scale. It also provides more transparency to marketers and reduces limitations on the volume of data that can be leveraged.

These are some of the critical points to be addressed up front in strategy discussions with your onboarding partner. Without this questioning, it will be difficult to build a strong foundation to activate effectively, at scale, and derive the desired ROE & ROI.