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A customer data platform (CDP) is a data management system that has a unified and persistent database which can be accessed by other martech systems. CDPs consolidate and integrate customer data from multiple channels into a single database which allows an organization to build a unified profile around an individual customer. The structured data from a CDP can then be delivered to other martech systems to enable customer-centric features like personalized messaging campaigns.

Why use a CDP?

By aggregating and unifying data from all the places customers interact with your company, CDPs can help organizations get a more complete understanding of their customer's behavior in order to deliver them a consistent messaging and transactional experience across all digital channels.

Related Download: Customer Data Platforms Buyer’s Guide

What are the Core Elements of a CDP?

CDPs need to have three key elements in order to be called a CDP. Be wary martech shopper since many companies are repackaging various legacy solutions and calling them a CDP, so make sure any software you are considering meets the following criteria, as defined by the CDP Institute.

1. CDPs need to be managed and controlled by marketers, with limited ongoing technical support from their IT departments of external vendors. While it's understood CDPs may need extensive technical support to set them up, marketers should be able to run daily without tech support.

2. A customer data platform at its core need to be a persistent, unified database that collects data from multiple sources and associates that data with an individual customer profile.

3. CDPs need to be accessible by external systems and deliver data to them.

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What are the Key Features of a CDP?

A CDP needs to have an easy-to-use, web-based UI with certain built-in functionality to be called a CDP, according to Gartner and The CDP Institute. Look for the flowing features from any vendor calling their software a CDP.

  • Data Collection - A CDP needs to be able to load in data from multiple customer data sources (websites, server data, CRM, email, etc.) in real-time.
  • Unification - A CDP should have the ability to consolidate and unify customer profiles of a single person.
  • Segmentation - CDPs should have a web-based UI that gives marketers the ability to segment customers into custom audiences.
  • Activation - A CDP needs to be able to push segmented data back out to other platforms and external systems like email, mobile, social media, and web.