2020 saw an acceleration of consumer trends that had already been underway for years. As millions of customers moved to online as their primary way of interacting with brands and their products, businesses were forced to react accordingly and accelerate their digital transformation plans to serve a digitally-centric customer. Within the first three months of the pandemic, e-commerce experienced ten years of growth in just ninety days, according to McKinsey & Company. In fact, the pandemic has caused a shift from physical stores to digital shopping by roughly five years, according to a study by IBM.

As the volume, complexity and diversity of digital interactions increased, so did the amount of customer data. 2020 saw significant increases in the volume, quality, speed, and variety of data across organizations. And as the scale of data grows, so does the need to move it around and store it so it can be used to target customers more effectively and efficiently.

This new customer-centric world is increasingly data-driven, since customers and prospects need to be understood across all touchpoints in order to market to them as individuals. This needs to be done with the appropriate contextual messaging and personalized experiences that generate value for the customers, potentially turning them into life-long fans.

Modern Marketing Challenges

The challenge for marketers post-pandemic is acquiring and deploying the right technology tools that will enable them to execute data-driven marketing programs that deliver measurable results for their businesses. Particularly, the legacy campaign management tools many marketers currently deploy, as well as their traditional approach to marketing campaign management, are falling short for large-scale businesses who need to modernize and react to customers’ needs in real-time.

According to a 2019 CMO Council Report, 53% of marketers said it takes too long for them to move from insight discovery and planning to campaign delivery. The traditional form of outbound "push" campaign marketing based on legacy data just won’t cut it in a digital-first and customer-centric world. It simply does not allow marketers, without enormous manual effort, to deliver the personalized messages and experiences their customers and prospects have come to expect.

In general, the campaign-centric approach is too restricting for customer-centric, data-driven marketers. The data is too old, the planning takes too long, and customers can’t be reacted to quickly enough to improve conversion and engagement. Sadly today, for many large companies across most industries, businesses continue to rely on marketing campaign management tools, especially ones that are wary on spending money to update their tech stacks in these uncertain times.

Related Article: Which Customer Data Platform Road Should You Travel?

Where a CDP Can Add Value

The reality is if brands need to engage in global omnichannel marketing they need the right intelligent technology solutions, and foundational to them is the customer data platform (CDP). An enterprise-grade CDP can enable individualized marketing for cross-channel journey orchestration and campaign management. Full journey orchestration, supplemented by a CDP, enables marketers to respond to their customers in real-time, with the appropriate tailored messaging and experiences that deliver value at the right moment.

Learning Opportunities

According to Principal Analyst Rusty Warner, VP at Forrester, “Empowered customers are quickly becoming entitled customers who expect consistent, high-value experiences, regardless of channel. On their own, traditional marketing campaigns are ineffective at meeting these demands.” He said marketers need to implement “customer-driven inbound interactions throughout the customer lifecycle.”

With the advanced functionality a CDP offers in its ability to ingest, combine, segment and deliver data to the platforms that need them to tailor the digital experience (DX), marketers will have the technology solution they need to do data-driven campaign management for outbound and inbound marketing for the full customer lifecycle. This will enable companies to acquire and retain customers easier, cheaper and more effectively, while expanding their loyalty programs to improve lifetime value (LTV).

The reality is a CDP may not fully replace your legacy campaign management tools, but can work in tandem with them to reduce manual labor and complexity, and provide real-time insights and actionable guidance to product measurable effects. A CDP can be used to create a single customer view with a persistent and unified record, while some have multi-channel campaign management tools that give marketers the ability to engage and communicate with customers at every stage of their journey.


2020 was a bit of a mixed year for CDPs. Many companies saw the need for managing customer data and the digital experience with large deployments, while others pulled back on investment somewhat due to uncertainty. The good news is the CDP Institute estimates industry revenue will reach $1.55 billion in 2021, a 20% increase over 2020.

The shift to customer-centric and data-driven inbound and outbound marketing campaign management will help to ensure CDPs place in the marketing tech stack as a foundational customer data management solutions for years to come. Regardless of challenges the pandemic has introduced, CDP market growth is strong and the future is bright for CDPs.