What Is a CDP?

Most enterprises struggle to unify customer and prospect data. We all want to aggregate upstream data sources, and then activate that data downstream, through to different engagement channels. Customer Data Platform (CDP) technology seeks to address this challenge by providing a packaged data backbone that's designed to be more marketer-friendly than homegrown alternatives.

Put another way, CDPs can offer an operational (and sometimes analytic) customer and prospect data store.

Unlike a generic data warehouse, however, CDPs are packaged up to help deliver particular business benefits, including a more personalized customer experience and omni-channel campaigns. Some CDP vendors focus intently on core data management services, while others offer additional functionality, such as predictive analytics, campaign management, web personalization, or multi-touch attribution modeling.

Customer Digital Engagement Reference Model

Let's examine this visually.  RSG developed this model help enterprises understand and interpret their martech stack. In this model, a CDP replaces a more homegrown backbone to connect enterprise data and engagement systems.

Customer Digital Engagement Reference Model

Not a DMP. Not a CRM.

CDPs frequently get mentioned in the same breath as Digital Marketing Platforms (DMP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM), but they are quite different. DMPs are designed to facilitate acquisition marketing activities, such as targeted display advertising. DMPs collect and exchange anonymous, 3rd-party cookie-based data. The assembled profiles are anonymous and temporary, whereas in a CDP they are persistent and contain personally identifiable information (PII).

Meanwhile, CRMs struggle to manage data at scale, and lack key features like identity resolution or extended, graph-type data models.  In a B2C context in particular, CRMs should be more of a services layer than an authoritative data layer.

Next Steps

So for B2C enterprises aspiring to execute customer experience personalization at scale and to reap the benefits of AI, it might make sense to consider a CDP.

But it's a fragmented marketplace, so as always, make sure your chosen vendor’s focus aligns with yours.

Download a free CDP sample evaluation.


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