How Canstar is building out its CDP strategy

Comparison website adopts customer data platform as its looks to harness data to personalise experiences with consumers

Building out a unified view of customers and creating increasingly personalised experiences is firmly in the sites of Australian finance and consumer products comparison website, Canstar, thanks to adoption of a customer data platform (CDP).

Canstar group manager of research and strategic data, Mitch Watson, told CMO the journey to harnessing its first-party customer data was prompted by a shift in recent years away from being primarily a B2B provider, to engaging more directly with the consumer. Canstar and its Canstar blue brand offer products and services across a diverse range of categories, from home loans and superannuation through to consumables and whitegoods.

“Having developed a roadmap of products and services for the consumer, at the core of that is data and the data we need to power them,” Watson said. “It’s all about helping Australians make better, more informed decisions.

“As we explored that further and such use cases, the need to create a single customer view to produce insights across all channels became clearer. We needed to break down data silos and empower teams to deliver these solutions.”

Historically, Canstar’s data lake and data warehouse capabilities had been technology led. While those remains core to the company’s broader data infrastructure, Watson and his team needed to find better ways of taking data and making it available to the business to use.

“We have a long history of big data, having built one of the largest financial product databases in Australia. Amalgamating real-time behavioural insights with financial product data to help customers better navigate and source product solutions is key to our evolution,” he said.

The decision led to adoption of Tealium’s CDP. “Tealium provides that functionality and puts power into the business units so we’re able to create those audiences and be able to interact with customers in a more personalised way,” Watson said.  

“The other side of that is it integrates with many other platforms as well, so the ease with which we can integrate with other partners with our data is of interest to us. We continue to look at solutions that will bring benefits to customers and clients. This is one part of that. The way we look at these platforms is that as a platform alone, it won’t provide all that we need to achieve. But it’s a gateway to supporting our products and services more easily.”

First CDP use cases

The CDP has been rolled out by a cross-functional team incorporating marketing, analytics, product and architecture functions and led by Watson, and is a component of Canstar’s broader group data strategy. Watson said it was a highly collaborative effort.

“I can also see how we can use this platform will help customer data remain a very collaborative group at Canstar,” he commented. “Whether it’s marketing delivering messaging to customers, or frontline staff or product guys creating the solutions, this information will be very useful to supporting those endeavours and initiatives.”

The initial implementation has been completed and Canstar is now in market trialling its first use cases to understand how they perform. Initial work has been more foundational, Watson said, concentrated on delivering tailored messaging to those either researching or in the process of making a purchase decision. Key focus areas include identifying prospective and existing customers who have visited the site before and providing real-time triggers for previously visited or related products, as well as pointing them to more relevant content based on their affinities.

For example, a use case could be around a first home buyer starting the purchase journey. “We’re delivering communications that may help them understand what their needs might be and how to understand what to look for in sourcing a home loan,” Watson explained.  

Product segmentation was an obvious place to start for Canstar, but customisable messaging using recency and frequency criteria is also being activated through the CDP to build out customer intelligence.

“It’s a broad set of use cases as everyone can see the benefits of this to the business,” Watson said.  

With executive sponsorship readily to hand, Watson said the whole business appreciates the benefits of adopting the platform and importantly, taking a longer-term view rather than purely looking for short-term gains.

“It’s an important viewpoint to take as you implement a new platform - it’s about that ‘crawl, walk, run’ approach,” he said. “It is about developing your knowledge and in time, the use cases you take to market become more sophisticated. In the initial phases, we’re focused on getting the core foundations and low-hanging fruit.”

Watson noted strong supported from the Tealium team during implementation and said Canstar has also placed team members through available bootcamps to build their knowledge and skills base.

“It’s not just getting the data in nice, neat way. It’s also about what is the activity we are placing against that and the use case,” he continued. “From a business point of view, as much investment needs to go into the execution as the upfront data curation. Without them working together cohesively, you won’t get a strong outcome.”

Next steps for Watson are to collate the business learnings off the back of Canstar’s first CDP use cases to inform how to move forward and the types of other use cases worth deploying. Having research and content across many verticals, he’s also looking for use cases to be scaled across many products and services.

“We look forward to the benefit of working with Tealium and learning from such expertise and understanding of how others are using these CDP platforms so we can leverage those learnings for our own approach,” he said.

“Ultimately, what we’re looking to do is make sure we develop long and loyal relationships with customers. It’s one way we can achieve that.”

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