Customer Data Platform (CDP)

Marketeers want to leverage data and analytics to target the right person at the right time with the right message. A Customer Data Platform solves a critical problem facing marketeers today: the need for unified, accessible customer data. 

What's a Customer Data Platform (CDP)?

A CDP (Customer Data Platform) is a SaaS platform you buy where on- and offline data is gathered, linked and exposed in marketing-actionable way. It’s a tool where marketeers manage the identity definition and segmentation of customers to then provide targetable audiences towards various execution channels including your marketing automation tool, your social channels, your advertising tool or even your own website or app.

Customer Data Platform (CDP)
Customer Data Platform functionalities include integrating on- and offline data, unification and segmentation and finally channel orchestration

Why do you need a Customer Data Platform?

As customers interact with a company offline and online and via multiple devices. As a result, it can be challenging to get a complete picture of your customers and prospects.  A Customer Data Platform gives you a 360-degree view of your customers that is necessary for knowing your customer and delivering personalized services customers expect and demand.

The role of a CDP is to be at the center of your existing marketing tools. It is there to facilitate the synchronization of customer data such that other tools, at any given customer touch point or interaction, can leverage the same customer profile (in real-time and fully up-to-date). A marketeer can thus reach and engage with the fullest extent of insight possible about each individual.


Customer Data Platform (CDP)
Figure: Evolution of Marketing Technologies - Source: Salesforce

What functionalities does a CDP have?

The market of Customer Data Platforms is growing and vendors are expanding their functionalities constantly. Well known players on the market are Blueconic, Segment, NGDATA, Blueshift, Lytics, mParticle, Tealium and Adobe.
CDP vendors typically share the same basic functionalities incl.
  • Data Collection: i.e., A CDP loads in data from multiple customer data sources (websites, server data, CRM, email, etc.) in real-time.
  • Unification: i.e. a CDP consolidates and unifies customer profiles of a single person to get a 360-degree view.
  • Segmentation: i.e. a CDP gives marketeers the ability to segment customers into custom audiences.
However, some vendors add other functionalities which might be differentiating in selecting your CDP platform:
  • Campaign orchestration: i.e. the ability to trigger and orchestrate a campaign orchestration across various marketing execution tools. Example: The ability to first send an email, then 7 days later target all non-openers of that email with a banner on Facebook and a pop-up on the website.
  • Data & Analytics integration: i.e. the ability to forward events from your CDP platform to your Data & Analytics platform likely running on a Cloud such as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud or AWS. Example: Can we forward pageview events in real-time to our Data Platform such that we can for trigger in close-to-real-time the Churn Scoring of this customer?
  • Master data Management: i.e. the ability to define and set rules such that different customer records can be merged into 1 golden record. Example: Which address to take if multiple addresses are available in various source systems.
Choosing and implementing a CDP isn't rocket science, yet it needs to be done knowing your overall data-driven marketing strategy and all techniques behind it. Too often organizations choose and implement a CDP without truly knowing how they will use it alongside their existing tools.

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