What Is a Customer Data Platform? A Comprehensive Guide to CDPs

While some compare customer data to currency, we consider it to be oil. It’s the fuel that ensures that sales engines are durable and productive. In sales and marketing, data also plays a role in steering the wheel. Information you have about your audience sets a direction for targeting, outreach, and the whole lead generation.

But the question is, where do we get the high-quality data and how do you store it? You can buy a lead list (with a risk of getting outdated info) or create a data research department in-house (which is quite expensive and time-consuming). Good research can get you a lot of info from different sources, yet now you have to make it into a unified record.

Although both options may have their benefits, there are new ways to gather data automatically, unify it, and create a personal data profile for each of your customers—the customer data platform (CDP) for marketing and sales.

If you’re not really familiar with the concept, this guide covers all of the basics about CDP, how it works, and the best ways to apply it to your business. 

Customer Data Platform

What Is a Customer Data Platform? 

A customer data platform (CDP) by definition is an interactive database that is used for collecting relevant sales and behavioral data of your customers, creating extensive and constantly evolving individual data profiles.

Such software can gather data from channels like websites, apps, digital assistants, and marketing clouds. It collects data including demographics, psychographics, behavioral, firmographics, transactional, and more. Most importantly, all of the data is collected in a legal way and can be constantly updated. 

What does a customer data platform do? 

A customer data platform provides a better understanding of your existing and potential customers, allows the crafting of hyper-personalized sales and marketing campaigns, ties new data together with the ones you already have, and is usually compatible with your existing tools. 

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Why is CDP important for marketing? 

Being able to understand your customers' needs across every platform where your interaction happens is a critical first step in aligning your marketing efforts and truly becoming a customer-oriented service provider. 

A CDP gathers data from every channel (no matter what format it comes in), compiles it into one extensive customer profile, and helps marketers activate it. It provides the business intelligence you need to tailor messaging and create real relationships that last. 

How Does a CDP Work? 

A CDP data model powers on when a customer interacts with your business. This can be through an email, ad, website, chatbot, landing page, or social media. At that moment, special pixels used in a CDP start gathering information. 

Data points can vary from basic contact info to specific customer behavior. The most significant thing about CDP is that all of the data is compliant with data collection rules, is gathered directly from the source, and gets updated if the variables change. 

CDP: Types of Customer Interaction

The customer data management platform collects the data (online or offline), creates personal profiles for each customer, and compiles an extensive database for your marketers to use. It is crucial for a better customer experience (CX), better targeting, and better results. 

What Does CDP mean compared to other products? 

Since CDP is a relatively new term in the industry, some might get it confused with other related products: data management platform (DMP) or customer relationship management (CRM) software. Let’s dig into their main differences to avoid any confusion between those terms. 

CDP vs. DMP 

A DMP mainly focuses on anonymous users and third-party data. Its primary source of information is cookies, and it’s mostly used to support web display advertisements.

On the other hand, the CDP tracks both identifiable and anonymous users and mainly focuses on first-party data accordingly. Rather than tracking just a few parameters, it finds all available information for creating highly personalized marketing campaigns. 

CDP vs. DMP

CDP vs. CRM

Although both the CDP and CRM software are absolutely vital for any marketer, they perform different functions in the field. 

CDP vs. CRM

Marketing automation systems, or CRMs, are used both in sales and marketing for tracking every prospect and customer interaction, managing customer data, automating routine tasks like email send-outs or contact segmentation, or even scheduling social media posts. 

CRMs are perfect for storing data, tracking customer relationships, and crafting outreach campaigns across different channels. However, CRMs are more like storage rooms that need to be constantly updated with new information while CDPs constantly evolve like the internet. 

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Customer Data Platform

What Are the Benefits of a Customer Data Platform? 

While we’ve established the difference between CDP, DMP, and CRM and their importance for marketing, let's talk about the unique value that a customer data platform can bring to your business. Here are three main benefits of using a CDP:

1. It gets you 1:1 with your audience. 

According to Statista, 90% of consumers in the U.S. find the idea of personalization appealing. When you know who your customers are and what they need, it sharpens your targeting and outreach efforts and therefore creates a hyper-personalized customer experience.

CDP collects and aggregates big amounts of data from all over the place, unites it, and makes a picture of your potential customer much clearer. It helps you to relate to them on a deeper, individual level, which will lead to better communication. 

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2. It’s secure, compliant, and complete.

Most customers are ready to share some of their information to get a personalized experience. But what about the security of that data? If sensitive information goes public, at least 71% of customers say they will walk away from your company. Be sure to keep your data safe using a secure VPN.

A CDP only seeks out customer information that is allowed to be gathered (GDPR compliant) and it is only available to you.

Plus, because a CDP is programmed to gather data from every possible resource, it creates a 360-degree view of the customer. And if any of the data components change, the data in the CDP will evolve as well. 

3. It makes it easier for your teams.

The biggest benefit of a CDP over other solutions is that you get one place for all data. Now, all the teams that usually work separately (IT, sales, marketing, copy, and designers) get to see a unified database and customer data integration with the tools they already use. This way, no matter what channel a customer uses, a CDP creates a seamless experience across all platforms.

Besides these three biggest benefits, CDP implementation requires minimal effort in terms of setup, provides real-time data, and is more cost-effective than any lead list you could purchase. If any of these needs are relevant to you, a CDP is on your horizon, but first, you'll have to go through the process of choosing one. Customer_Data_Platform_4

CIENCE GO Data: CDP for Your Business

CIENCE GO Data is a sales intelligence platform that hosts 300 million real-time, verified, and validated lead records from across all industries, designed for you to find smart business contacts that match your ideal customer profile (ICP) criteria.

GO Data gathers information from all publicly available and GDPR-compliant resources to fill in the gaps in your data or build data audiences from scratch. Contrary to data lists, data audiences constantly evolve: GO Data gets constantly cleaned up, updated, and refilled with new records. 

Besides highly accurate sales intelligence, GO Data offers CRM analysis, custom ICP construction, and individual research experts' assistance. It also comes bundled with GO Show (website visitor tracking) and GO Intent (data software) with additional software and services packages available. 

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Let a Customer Data Platform Work for You

Starting something new always feels like a bit of an adventure: Will my business benefit from this? Is it worth pursuing? Will it alleviate the workload for your employees?

A CDP ensures that you can be in touch with each one of your customers from the first interaction, track their activities in a respectful way to provide better customer service, and therefore achieve more meaningful and long-lasting sales relationships.

While we cannot be sure that every business opportunity will be a guaranteed success, a customer data platform is definitely a “yes.”