Vertical Stack Series

Exploring the Vertical Stack: The Data Ecosystem (And What It Makes Possible)

Mary Kearl By Mary Kearl Nov 26, 2019

Today’s brands are living in an in-the-moment, technology-driven, mobile-first world—and so are all their customers. To break out of old habits and transform the way you’re speaking to your customers, you need to take a hard look at the technologies supporting your customer engagement efforts.

One key ingredient you may not be leveraging? A vertical engagement stack built on real-time, streaming data. To help you better understand what a vertical stack makes possible and how to leverage it effectively, we’ve put together a seven-part content series exploring all the ins-and-outs. Enjoy!

Back in ancient times, leaders tended to measure their success with the “big data” of the era: Applause. Without the kinds of complex tools available to politicians (and marketers) today, Roman rulers prioritized reading the room in order to evaluate their popularity, and they had it down to a science—focusing in on audience clapping, noting the intensity, the rhythm, the duration.

These days, so much thought and planning goes into marketing output, focusing on things like the wording, design, and audience segmentation that can impact your results. But the work of marketing and engagement teams doesn’t end when someone hits “send.” Those early Romans had it right: How people engage (if they do at all) with your outreach is one of the most powerful signals you can get.

While modern technologies may not be at the point of detecting whether a given customer claps in delight upon receiving a message from your brand, there are a slew of tools that can offer up the kinds of insights ancient leaders were hoping to glean from audience applause. The key is to bring all of those signals together, in one place. Enter a vertical, channel-agnostic customer engagement stack. Getting this kind of ecosystem set up will provide your team with an interactive feedback loop so you can improve campaigns, send after send.

The Building Blocks of a Best-in-Class Customer Engagement Stack

While every brand will have its own unique needs and no two customer engagement stacks will look exactly alike, the goal of any stack should be to provide teams with access to timely engagement data that can be leveraged to create brilliant customer experiences now and in the future.

What does that look like? For Braze, it means leveraging APIs on a layer-by-layer basis to allow other technologies to input key information where and when it’s needed. That could mean:

  • Pulling in information from first- and third-party data warehouses and CRM systems into your vertical stack’s Data Ingestion layer
  • Enriching your Classification Layer by bringing in audience insights and propensity scoring models
  • Including lifecycle triggers in the Orchestration Layer
  • Leveraging data from recommendation engines, point-of-sale and loyalty systems, your product backend, or other third-party data within your Personalization Layer
  • Or handling transactional use cases via your vertical stack’s Action Layer

One key building block your team will likely invest in (or bring into the stack if you already have one) is a customer data platform (CDP). CDPs allow brand to collect customer data from every relevant tool and every digital property or touchpoint associated with their customers and centralize that information—no more silos. Some first- and third-party data sources you may want to tie into your CDP and overall stack include information from:

  • Product analytics
  • AdTech platforms
  • Recommendation engines
  • Point of sale and loyalty systems
  • Customer service platforms
  • Legacy database systems
  • Location and weather data providers

Ultimately, it all comes back to data. If you can pull in data into your system in real-time, stream it through the layers of your vertical engagement stack, and then get timely feedback on the results of your efforts through these feedback loops, you’re well-positioned to provide brilliant customer experiences, now and in the future.

Next Steps

Ready to really read (all the audience signals in) the room? For more guidance on how to build a customer engagement stack that will meet your brand’s needs, we’ve got you covered. Head over to the Braze Product page to learn how the right technology system can help you provide your customers with the brilliant experiences they deserve.

Mary Kearl

Mary Kearl

Mary Kearl is a writer and digital strategist, who has led email, social media, and content marketing for several brands. She has helped launch six mobile apps and one niche social network and is always up for a good Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime binge recommendation or travel tip

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