The ABCs of CDPs Part I – “What?”

I’ve spent the past three months digging into Customer Data Platforms – speaking with marketers who use them and examining the vendors who supply the technology and services to enable them. Over the next three days, I’ll share some of the key findings of our research and answer some key questions about the role of the CDP in the enterprise marketing stack.

In Part I, “What is a CDP?”

In a relatively short period of time, Customer Data Platforms have carved out a dynamic, new, and expanding space for themselves, within the enterprise marketing stack. Although the term was coined as early as 2013, it is primarily over the past 18 months that vendors have embraced the moniker and marketers have realized the distinct value proposition that a CDP brings to the table.

CDPs enable marketers to:

  • Join and Combine Data – Marketers who are facing increasing volumes of useful customer data are increasingly turning to CDPs to help them join and integrate these often disparate and unnormalized customer data sources to make them more easily available for marketing applications – targeting, personalization, measurement, to name a few.
  • Create and Manage Profiles – CDPs can help marketers navigate the waters between known and unknown users through various probabilistic and deterministic identity methods. This enables CDPs to stitch together user profiles to more accurately identify and address people as individuals across channels and devices.
  • Enrich and Augment Data – While primarily focused on first-party data, CDPs can help marketers enrich data on a continuous basis by incorporating a variety of sources and efficiently augmenting these to ensure accuracy and usefulness to other systems across the enterprise.
  • Syndicate and Activate Audiences – CDPs help marketers identify the appropriate customers and prospects to address through both paid and organic methods across online and offline channels. By using a CDP to inform audience selection and content recommendations, many marketers can individualize more campaigns at a more precise level, driving increased response rates and more efficient paid media spend.

The Relevancy Group defines Customer Data Platforms as data management solutions specifically designed for marketers that enable a view of the customer that is:

  • Holistic: Able to interface with and encompass the wide array of data sources available to marketers today.
  • Integrated: Able to map and tie those diverse data sources together seamlessly, accurately and cleanly mapping to individual people and their journeys.
  • Persistent: Providing an ongoing, evolving, always-available, always-updated data stream over time.

Put more succinctly, CDPs are HIP. The final definitional element of a CDP relates to control. A CDP gives the marketing team full mastery of data usage, control, and security. That includes determining who within the organization has access to the data integrated within the CDP, and whether and how that data gets leveraged externally.

CDPs are driving efficiency and efficacy for marketers across business verticals; in Part II of this series, we’ll dig deeper into the specifics of how and why.

If you can’t wait until then, click here to download a copy of the research right now, and feel free to follow up with me directly for an analyst inquiry if you do.

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