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Pimcore

A review of free open source Pimcore Customer Data Platform software for use in direct marketing operations

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4.5

About PimCore

Pimcore Customer Data Platform is an open source framework for managing and processing customer records for the purposes of direct marketing.

Before explaining the Pimcore Customer Data Platform, it’s best if we take a high-level view and examine what Pimcore is itself. Pimcore is a full featured open source platform for managing pretty much every aspect of a marketing campaign, from integrating various types of external data, organizing and maintaining lists of customers, products, and if needed, creating and maintaining a full e-commerce website. Because of the underlying data structure, it is easy to track products purchased by customer, by channel and by offer.

This review will be focusing specifically on the Pimcore Customer Data Platform, which is the module that handles the management of customers. The CDP maintains a Master Data Record, often referred to as a “Golden Record”, for the purpose of integrating multiple online, offline and social channel activity and response data from direct marketing campaigns.

The Pimcore CDP provides features for importing data, including from offline data sources (such as your direct mail list) stored in CSV files. It also can gather data through APIs from external applications. And it can capture data in real time from your ECommerce platform. The information is stored centrally as master data record of your entire customer base, enabling marketing organizations to maintain a 360-degree view of their customers, and to provide the ability to use this data to organize individuals into relevant target markets.

Using rules and conditions you have assigned, Pimcore will dynamically sort individuals into groups based on defined actions or user behavior. It will then seamlessly integrate with email marketing platforms, such as Mailchimp or the IBM marketing cloud. This data can also be exported into CSV to be used for any other marketing purposes.

Pimcore Customer Data Platform provides a number of event triggers which can either assign users automatically to segments, or can kick of personalized newsletters or automatically create a customized web experience with messaging targeted to each individual customer.

Features

For the feature section of this review, we will be focusing on the main functions of the Pimcore Customer Data Platform as it relates directly to a normal direct marketing workflow.

Loading Customer Data

As a direct marketer, say you have a list of customers that you would like to track. In many cases, particularly if you are using offline mail campaigns, this data may be exported in a spreadsheet or CSV file. Pimcore makes it easy to load a CSV with this information into its customer data management platform like so: 
 

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You are immediately able to see a list of the customer records you have loaded. This list is fully filterable and sortable by whichever data you have included in your spreadsheet.

 

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Segmentation

In most cases, you will likely already have a set of basic information about the customer, such as their name, their gender, their address, email, etc. Some of this data is already useful for you to be able to identify a few market segments, such as male/female, what state they live in (from the address fields), etc.

Pimcore Customer Data Platform has two ways of handling segmentation: either manually or calculated.

Before loading your data, or at any time after, you can create new groups or market segments to separate users into individual target markets. You can create manual market segments for data that you already have, such as gender, interest categories, etc.

Pimcore also enables the construction of “calculated segments,” built off logic you define in the application. By using a set of customer automation rules, you can create triggers, or events which will kick off actions based on a set of preset conditions. These can be handled easily without having to write any specialized code.

For instance, with your new customers, if you wish to build a new segment, you would create a trigger and choose the “segment building” selection:

 

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Then you would create a set of conditions, such as picking those within a specific segment, or those who have performed an activity a certain amount of times:
and then you perform a chosen action on that rule:

 

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After this, the information will be available in individual records. Individual records show a considerable amount of data, such as records of all events run on or for your customers, so you can identify whether a person has been contacted, whether they have responded, whether they are involved in any campaigns, etc.

For instance, here is a record of various activities taken by or for a specific customer:

 

image5_1.png



Customer Automation Rules

Before you send off your mail or email campaign, you can set up a few rules for how to handle responses that come in. These can be triggered off of events, such as a user logging in, making a purchase, etc, or they can be a set of rules that can be applied after the fact (such as on your already pre-existing data), either manually or according to a schedule via a cron job.

First you would create a number of target groups, which are “buckets” for grouping together customers. You would then set up a number of Global Targeting Rules, which pick up information about the customer based on their actions, and assign them to a group based on that behavior.

For example, say you want to log repeat customers as “trusted customers” which could identify whether or not they have made more than one purchase. When a person makes a purchase, the system can identify whether a previous purchase has been made and automatically give them this “trusted customer” label.

Another example is if, for instance, this person has clicked on multiple links on your site looking at footballs. You can identify if someone has done this a certain amount of times and then if so, assign them to a new category, such as “football fan.”

Broader conditions can be defined based on information given by the browser when a customer visits your site, such as their web browser, or their geographic location:

 

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You can enter multiple conditions for a rule:

 

image7_1.png

 


Actions can be defined much in the same way as they are in the segmentation module described above, but drawn from their actual behavior during their response to a campaign.

 

 

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Iterative Process

For any activities that occur in Pimcore (or the documents platform), information gets recorded. Following whatever targeting rules you have created, as a user responds to these, it will follow formulas you have created to update your record, and can use this information to immediately change whatever views they are being served on your site. The more activity that a customer undertakes, the richer their profile becomes, and the more targeted and/or customized you can make your marketing efforts.

Summary: Key Takeaway

Overall, the Pimcore Customer Data Platform is valuable to Direct Marketers, and not just as a place for storing customer information. It enables one to build customer profiles, store this information, enrich this information based on customer behavior, and use it to be able to conduct new marketing campaigns. This information enables the creation of customized mailers, emails, and websites based on this behavior. The entire process is iterative in that the more it is used, the smarter and richer your customer dataset becomes.

Pimcore Customer Data Platform comes highly recommended for direct marketers.

Integrations

Pimcore generally takes a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead of many built in integrations, it provides a fairly rich API. Files are typically downloadable in CSV format.

  • Mailchimp
  • IBM Marketing Cloud

Wyzoo Star Ratings

Overall functionality useful to a direct marketer
5 /5

The Pimcore Customer Data Platform is an excellent tool for managing and organizing customer information. It enables the creation of customized marketing campaigns and processing customer responses which can iteratively improve future campaigns. While it has functionality beyond marketing, the tools for enriching customer information alone make it well worth adopting. It is one of the only tools that enables bringing in offline data such as direct mail lists and responders, so as a result, it can be particularly well-suited for omni channel direct marketers.

Intuitive User Experience
4.5 /5

Despite its complexity, and the fact that is a free Open Source tool, it is surprisingly user-friendly. While there are a few places where navigating may be a little confusing, in comparison to other tools of its type, it has a strong level of usability.

Active Support Community
2.5 /5

According to the factors we use, Pimcore's support community appears a little weak. While there is some activity on the forum, it does not appear to be particularly responsive. However, the tool itself is relatively easy to understand, so this may be a factor in the small amount of activity. There are a lot of contributors to the project on Github
 

Pimcore Community Forum

https://talk.pimcore.org/
Not hugely populated – 735 total threads in support. Most questions have a response, but not all, and some of what look like legitimate questions are unanswered. Fully 15% of questions in support have no answer, and only 2 of those were in the last day.

Github:
Pimcore Customer Data Framework:
github.com/pimcore/customer-data-framework
Full Pimcore: github.com/pimcore/pimcore

 

Commits:

1002

Contributors:

22

Releases:

81

Watch:

30
Star: 30
Fork: 22

Commits/Contributors:

46

 

Minimal Technical Skill Required
5 /5

While the full platform, including setting it up and configuring it is not for non-technical personnel, the tool itself is extremely easy to use. Most items can be chosen from a drop-down, and configured without knowing coding at all. The only skills required in most cases is knowing something about the direct marketing process.

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