What Is a Customer Data Platform? (And Why Use a CDP?)

Do you use customer relationship management (CRM) software or a data management platform (DMP)?

Then get ready, because there is a new way to manage customer data, relationships, and marketing touchpoints. Say hello to the customer data platform (CDP), which offers businesses a fast and streamlined software solution to organizing, managing, and using customer data.

Keep reading to learn more about CDPs, and get answers to questions like:

If you’re curious about how a CDP could make using and managing your customer data easier, contact us online or call us at 888-601-5359 to see how our customer data management software, MarketingCloudFX, can help your business make smarter, revenue-generating decisions.

What is a customer data platform?

A customer data platform stores and unifies real-time customer data.

A customer data platform or CDP is a software that provides users with a customer database that stores and unifies real-time customer data by creating individualized profiles that detail the person’s purchases, marketing channel interactions, and more.

How does a customer data platform work?

Let’s go beyond, “What is a customer data platform?” and talk about how a CDP works.

A CDP works by collecting first-, second-, and third-party data, like from your website, email lists, and CRM, which it then stores and organizes into individual profiles. These profiles help you see and follow along with a current or potential customer’s journey.

For example, in your CDP, you could see the journey of Lucy.

A CDP collects first-, second-, and third-party data, like from your website, email lists, and CRM, which it then stores and organizes into individual profiles.

Lucy first discovered your business through Google. Later, she visited your social media profile on Instagram and became a follower. After a few more touchpoints, Lucy came back to your website and signed up for your email newsletter. Finally, she purchased your product, thanks to an email.

Using the journey of Lucy (and plenty of others), your company can find ways to improve its marketing plan. Even better, you can increase your understanding of how long a user takes to convert, which can lead to more realistic expectations about a strategy and its uses, like social media marketing.

CDP vs. DMP vs. CRM

For many marketers and business owners, it’s helpful to understand CDP’s definition by comparing it. If you’re familiar with CRMs and DMPs, for example, it’s easier to see the difference of a customer data platform by comparing it to what you know.

As a reference, here is a quick summary of what CRMs and DMPs do:

  • CRM: A CRM, like a CDP, collects and stores customer data. Unlike a CDP, however, a CRM’s customer database focuses solely on intentional customer interactions, like when someone calls a company for a quote or purchases a product. Salesforce is an example of a CRM.

 

  • DMP: A DMP, like a CDP, collects and stores customer data. Unlike a CDP, however, a DMP takes a broad approach to data collection, resulting in general audience takeaways versus insights into individual users, as with a CDP. Google BigQuery is an example of a DMP.

Ok, so how does a CDP compare to a CRM and DMP? Check out this table for a summary:

Feature CDP CRM DMP
Anonymous user data
Known user data
User identifiers Name, email address, phone number, etc. Name, contact information, etc. Cookies, IP address, devices, etc.
Online data
Offline data Requires manual entry
Data sources First, second, and third-party data First-party data Third-party data
Data storage duration Long-term Long-term Short-term
Customer data integration Full Partial None
Software integrations ✔­­
Data analysis Customer behavior

Customer journey

Marketing

Sales

Sales pipeline

Sales forecasting

Online advertising

Ad targeting

Ad audience targeting

If you look at CDPs vs. CRMs vs. DMPs in the table above, you can see that CDPs offer a competitive edge. They take all your data from your sources and compile it into a single platform, which you can then use to analyze and improve several areas, like your sales and marketing strategy.

Why use a CDP?

Investing in CDP can help your business in a few ways, including the following:

Collect actionable customer data

With a CDP, your company can collect tons of helpful information, including:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Location
  • Account number
  • Purchase history
  • Website visits
  • Personal interests
  • Product or service interests
  • Customer support history
  • And more

This data helps your business learn about your target market, from what they like to how they research purchases. With that level of understanding, you can create a better user experience, like by creating content that targets a specific question or emails that provide personalized recommendations.

Many shoppers and business buyers want personalized experiences too.

A recent survey, for example, discovered that 71% of consumers rate themselves as frustrated with impersonal shopping experiences, while another study found that 67% of users consider it important for brands to adapt content based on a user’s current context.

With a CDP, your company can move towards achieving these user expectations.

Improve omni-channel marketing

A customer data platform can also support your omni-channel marketing strategy. With an omni-channel marketing approach, your business focuses on using and coordinating multiple channels, like social and search, to accomplish an overall goal, like sales.

Since a CDP collects and stores all a user’s touchpoints, you can see how channels work together to reach your goals. A CDP can also compile a tremendous amount of data, which means you can look for trends across your entire market.

Since a CDP collects and stores all a user’s touchpoints, you can see how channels work together to reach your goals.

For example, you may notice that users discover your company via search, but don’t convert until months later. During that time, however, they visit your blog often. This finding motivates your business to increase its investment in content marketing and search engine optimization (SEO).

You don’t have to guess how your channels and strategies interact when you have a CDP. Or, spend hours trying to link your data pieces together. A CDP does it for you, saving you time and streamlining your omni-channel marketing.

Erase data silos

A CDP also helps your business remove data silos.

Data silos frequently prevent companies from achieving their goals, from closing a high-value lead to reaching a quarterly sales goal. When you have a data silo, you have isolated information that can leave one team, like your sales department, underprepared and ill-equipped.

With a CDP, you make customer data accessible to everyone in your organization. Plus, you can eliminate the need for staff members to check multiple programs to get information. Instead, they use your CDP, which can integrate with CRM programs like Salesforce, to get what they need.

Eliminate data collection and organization headaches

For many businesses, the biggest benefit of CDPs comes from their ability to streamline data collection and data organization. You don’t have to worry about manually entering information or organizing customer profiles.

A CDP does it for you, which saves you time and headaches.

Make data-backed sales and marketing improvements

Investing in a customer data platform also empowers your business to make upgrades to its sales and marketing processes. You don’t have to guess that a change will work. Instead, you can use your data to power your recommendations and improved procedures.

You don’t have to guess that a change will work with a CDP. Instead, you can use your data to power your recommendations and improved procedures.

Backing your marketing and sales strategy with data from your customers and future customers gives your business an unmatched competitive advantage too. You can move ahead with an approach, like programmatic advertising, while your competitors remain unaware of its role in your buyer’s journey.

Save your company time, plus enhance your marketing strategy with the power of a CDP.

See what a CDP can do for you. Try our customer data platform today!

Are you curious about how a CDP can streamline your customer data collection and organization? Then, you’ll want to see MarketingCloudFX in-action. This CDP helps your company take control of its data and use it to improve your marketing strategy, resulting in more sales and revenue.

Get a preview of our CDP software today by contacting us online or calling us at 888-601-5359!

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