What is a Customer Data Platform or 'CDP'?

What is a CDP? Another decade, another Martech category. Right?


This is a game changer. This Martech category is only 3 years old, and there are +100 vendors in this crowded tech space. It took CRM 15 year to reach that level, and Marketing Automation about 6. So, we see the adoption of new technologies reduced by half in time it takes to reach a certain level of adoption and maturity. And as it does, it democratizes fast - both functionally and economically.

So why is this category of Martech exploding the way it does?

It is no secret that data is the key to successful marketing and influences your business success. So we all collect data, but what are we doing with it? Businesses are covered in customer data that comes from so many different channels. Those channels are often using different tools & technologies to collect that data. But because of the use of these various tools & technologies, the data is usually siloed and almost inaccessible for marketers to use. Leading in bad user experience and therefore loss of market share and opportunities.


We’re all familiar that companies like Netflix, Amazon, and LinkedIn build great consumer relationships and grow their businesses around serving customers and fully understanding them through data. We also know how siloed data within an organization is difficult to stitch together and makes a customer-centric approach much more difficult.


Marketers seek to build omnichannel experiences to please their customers, who interact across multiple touchpoints, when and where they want. In contrast, the traditional customer data management models lead to a disjointed experience. Not being able to act on the signals that your customers provide in real-time is a missed opportunity to create delightful and relevant experiences.


This is the year 2020, the average adult owns more than six smart devices (Gartner), making cross-device IDs and identity resolution – the ability to consolidate disparate sets of data into an individual profile – a critical need for marketing effectiveness. We have entered the era of data-driven, always-on marketing in which marketers need to be both present and relevant ‘in-the-moment,’ the so-called “micro-moments” already introduced by Google back in 2015. A customer is in a micro-moment when in an instant, he turns to a screen because he needs to learn something, discover something, do something or do nothing.


It’s in these intent-rich moments that preferences emerge and decisions are made. A 2018 study by 451 Research states that within five years, 40% of digital marketing leaders will prioritize intent-driven engagement. Many marketers continue to work with these glimpses of customer understanding because they struggle with technology or don’t have the means of putting the entire picture together. So how can companies organize around their customers to deliver excellent experiences in today’s data-driven world and streamline the flow of customer data throughout the martech stack? In a survey done by the CDP Institute, this is seen as a leading obstacle to marketing success.

What is a Customer Data Platform actually?

Let’s go on with the one-million-dollar question, what is a CDP? There are several interpretations regarding CDPs but here’s a definition from David Raap, founder of the CDP Institute.


“A Customer Data Platform is a packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.”


Customers interact with brands across various channels: social media, email, website, phones, and much more. They expect brands & businesses to know the journey they’ve already had with the brand. This is where Customer Data Platforms thrive, with a CDP customer data is structured into individual profiles resulting in a single customer view. This is the fundamental part of a CDP.

Now what are Benefits of a CDP

In a nutshell we can pinpoint the following 6 categories of benefits you can expect to get out of an investment in a CDP:

  1. Accessible data allowing to create and act upon a unique Single Customer View of the Customer
  2. Better Marketing Outcome & performance
  3. Mitigated Data Risk - Privacy & regulatory compliance
  4. Higher Data Quality means increased marketing efficiency
  5. Agility & Flexibility for new channels, applications or sharing with stakeholders or outside company walls
  6. Easy integration and out of the box zapier alike connectors meaning lower development costs


Next Blogpost we will dive deeper into the actual business case of a CDP based on the 6 benefits stated above.


The value of a CDP does not lie in the way it collects and connects the data, but in its ability to help other systems to access and reuse the wealth of data available. It’s a way to get a better insight into your company’s audience and to help personalize individual communications and promotions.


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