Mar 22, 2021

Customer Data Platforms: Selecting the Best CDP for Your Brand’s Unique Needs

April Wanagas

April Wanagas

Customer Data Platforms: Selecting the Best CDP for Your Brand’s Unique Needs

A customer data platform (CDP) is truly the hub of MarTech optimization. As defined by Gartner, a “customer data platform is a marketing system that unifies a company's customer data from marketing and other channels to enable customer modeling and optimize the timing and targeting of messages and offers.”

To put it plainly, a CDP is where customer data from each of your brand’s touchpoints is brought together to create a remarkable customer experience. A CDP enables marketing’s core data capabilities such as ingestion, unification, and decision-making within one platform. This centralized data processing ensures any given customer’s data reflects the most recent actions they’ve taken to engage with your brand. The ability to quickly access and manage this information critically affects the ability for a business to interact with their customers and to develop personalized, real-time communications.

But all CDPs are not created equal. Before you get caught up in the pricing and bells and whistles, consider four overarching considerations when embarking on a selection process.

4 Practical Tips for Customer Data Platform Selection

When selecting a CDP, there are a few key considerations to remember.

1. Define High Priority Requirements First: Before initiating conversations with potential vendors, ensure your brand has canvassed your current and future state requirements for customer experiences with key internal stakeholders including marketing, digital, sales, customer support, IT, and data privacy. Start with a customer journey map that includes all the various ways your brand interacts with customers. Prioritize the interactions and “moments of truth” that improve customer experiences and lead to long-term retention. Use these top priority customer “use cases” as your north star for selecting the best fit CDP vendor.

2. Examine How Roles and Responsibilities May Evolve: When adding a CDP as a new product within your brand’s MarTech suite, consider the roles and responsibilities that are needed to support that product. Do those roles currently exist, or would current roles evolve to support that need? The addition of a CDP will impact your architecture and increase business capabilities, but without clear roles and responsibilities of interaction, it cannot be used to its full potential. Before comparing CDP vendors, fully examine current team structure and define future state responsibilities for each role impacted.

3. Prepare for the Future Landscape: Building and connecting into your MarTech architecture does not have a short implementation timeline. Depending on the complexity of the chosen CDP and surrounding technical landscape, full implementation usually spans three to nine months. Expect that digital and customer trends will change by the time your CDP is implemented and beyond. Understanding how the CDP architecture can adapt to potential changes will solidify its use to grow your customer’s experience and your marketing offerings. Add use cases that incorporate reacting to recent trends, new paid media platforms, or newly added platforms within your brand’s technology stacks.

4. Understand Recommended Practices and Support Models: While comparing CDP vendor capabilities, keep in mind how those can be utilized together and if any send rates or data ingestion frequencies need to be throttled to fit within the vendor’s best practices. Working with the vendor to understand their recommended processes and volumes for effective and uninterrupted use are critical to utilizing your CDP. Will your ad hoc event needs interrupt your lifecycle campaign needs? What type of product support is offered as your business evolves or as vendors solicit new ideas for enhancements? Details on recommended practices and support models should be weighed just as heavily as the product. A vendor’s product and its ability to support your business should still be as high of a priority after they’ve won your business.

Starting Your Customer Data Platform Journey

In summary, during a CDP evaluation, while intended use cases bring the capabilities to life for your business, consider the needs that are beyond those boundaries—how user roles and responsibilities are defined, how vendor-supported use cases provide future flexibility, and a vendor’s recommended practices and support model.

Should your brand need additional support in selecting a CDP or starting your CDP selection journey, reach out to our team of MarTech experts at

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