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The strength of CDPs in a customer-driven world

(Image credit: Image Credit: Billion Photos / Shutterstock)

Customer Data Platforms (CDP) have become the latest must have tool for businesses aiming to rival their competitors and achieve stellar customer experiences. As companies work hard to comprehensively understand customer behaviour, having a strong, connected database has become an important focus – allowing a 360-degree view of the customer and empowering real-time responses.

In fact, in 2019 CDP revenue rates are expected to exceed $1 billion, en route to overall growth of 29 per cent by 2025. But with an increasing number of companies now claiming to be a CDP — and a host of other acronyms regularly being used — it is no wonder people are confused about which platform to choose and how to maximise their full benefits.

It is vital businesses understand the difference between the available data platforms. From Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to Data Management Platforms (DMP), the ability to leverage and orchestrate data on an organisation-wide basis is too important to make technology decisions without being fully informed.

Seamless and tailored customer experiences

Gartner defines CDPs as platforms that “enable marketers to stitch together an array of data sources and orchestrate that data for activation across numerous ecosystems”. However, they can encompass much more than that: presenting a unique opportunity to truly understand customer behaviour via a database that allows a complete understanding of each individual. When CDPs perform at maximum capacity, they can equip businesses to react in real time and provide a more seamless, and tailored, customer experience.

However, as CDPs rise, choosing the right platform has become challenging. While companies are faced with more CDP vendors than ever before, only a select few fulfil the potential that true CDPs bring. To ensure the results of their tech choices deliver on high expectations, businesses must understand what genuine CDPs actually offer and how they can carefully and precisely select the platforms that will best meet their business goals.

The hallmarks of a real CDP

There are several differentiating qualities of a CDP to help companies wade through the noise and pick out the optimum platform. At a glance, these include; deterministic real-time identity resolution, instant cross-touchpoint data consolidation, flexible integration with other tools, first-party data protection, a versatile data structure, simple and easy-to-use interface, and the ability to plug into a wider orchestration framework.

At a deeper level, to provide an all-encompassing insight, the ability to sort and convert varied data into a unified foundation – in real time – is essential for a CDP. Even the best tech stack is limited if it can’t seamlessly transfer the right information from one component to another.

For many companies, the right CDP can help tie the entire technology stack together. It will be well-connected to the entire ecosystem, not just to a single cloud or marketing platform, flexible and unbiased in its data handling, and able to provide data storage alongside data orchestration capabilities – a key process for the prevention of silos and misinterpretation. With these practices in place, companies can easily orchestrate their customer data to achieve their goals.      


Setting what CDPs are aside, it is time to take a look at what they are not; specifically, the similar yet fundamentally different tools they can be confused with: CRMs and DMPs.

Addressing CRMs first, their primary and central role is to hold transactional data. As a consequence, they have no access to anonymous behavioural insight while they are also restrictive as plug-ins or integration options. Being dependent on data that is supplied via forms or at the point of purchase also makes them unable to trace links between touchpoints, no matter how much customer interaction is monitored.

Meanwhile, DMPs are more difficult to differentiate from CDPs, due to similarities in how they manage the gathering and coordination of data. However, their restrictive attribute comes from being able to process information from website behaviour only, reducing the extent of data used in comparison to CDPs.

Completing the jigsaw

Of course, results from DMPs and CRMs are still valuable, but it is impossible to attain the same complete 360-degree customer view without a CDP. In essence, DMPs and CRMs supply essential pieces of the puzzle, while a CDP completes the whole jigsaw – depicting a complete understanding of individual customer journeys.

From that position of strength, the implications of Customer Data Platforms are not complex. The more businesses know about their target audience, the greater the impact on customer experience. Response will be positive, business reputations will improve exponentially, and this all equates to enhanced return on investment at the end of the process.

Going into the new decade, and with the data-driven ecosystem continuing to thrive, finding the right CDP is vital to maintaining consumer trust in the midst of on-going regulation changes, as well as safeguarding loyalty and meeting customer expectations.

Lindsay McEwan, General Manager EMEA, Tealium

Lindsay McEwan has almost 20 years of proven strategic leadership and commercial management expertise gained within leading marketing and technology businesses.