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We can all agree that modern marketing relies on data. So it comes as no surprise that the Customer Data Platform (CDP) is gaining momentum faster than any other marketing technology. Many marketers are however not yet familiar with the technology, so let me provide you with some insight.

Last week I finally purchased a Korean skincare set online, since it’s been all the craze for the past couple of years. I first typed in Google what I was looking for. I then bounced between several beauty brands’ websites, read a couple of blog posts and testimonials and checked out their social media. I subscribed to a handful of newsletters which offered a discount code with my first purchase. I even went to a physical store to ask for a recommendation.

The path to my purchase was definitely not linear, and truth is, most online shoppers follow a similar customer journey: bouncing between several websites, ecommerce platforms, live chat, email, social media, and physical stores. So how are brands supposed to keep up with all these customer touchpoints?

This is where the Customer Data Platform comes into play. In today’s world with thousands of customer touchpoints, Customer Data Platforms create persistent, unified records of all your customers, their attributes, and their data. How? First, let’s look at what exactly customer data is.

What is Customer Data?

Customer data is information users leave behind as they surf the internet and interact with companies both online and offline – through e-commerce platforms, websites, blogs, social media and in-store interactions. It’s highly valuable to businesses, although recent legal dialogue in Europe (such as the GDPR) has changed how companies can collect and manage this data.

CDP’s gather and organize 4 main kinds of data:


Basic or Identity Data

Name, demographic information such as age and gender, location information, phone number, email address, professional information such as job title and company are all examples of basic data.On its own, identity data is only useful up until a certain point, but when basic data is combined with other types of data, you can start to piece together a wider view of your customers. Basic or identity data is convenient because you can use it for customer segmentation, or grouping customers based on shared attributes.

Interaction Data

Sometimes referred to as engagement data, interaction data shows how your customers engage with your brand across the various touchpoints. Interaction data reveals how customers interact with your brand, including actions they’ve taken on your website or mobile app, how they’ve responded to your social media posts, ads, or emails.

Quantitative Data

Quantitative data allows businesses to better understand how each customer has engaged with their brand, whether through certain actions, reactions, or transactions. Quantitative data includes transactional information, including the number of purchases made, returned products, and abandoned carts. It also includes RFM analysis, that is Recency, Frequency and Monetary value. It also includes email communication info, such as the number of emails opened or click through rates.

Qualitative or Attitudinal data

Qualitative data provides context for customer profiles. In other words it is what makes our customers human. This type of data collects any motivations, opinions, or attitudes expressed by customers often captured in surveys, focus groups and usability tests. Qualitative data includes motivational information such as the responses to “How did you hear about us?” or “Why did you purchase this product?”. Other data that falls into this category is opinion information, such as the responses to “How do you rate your experience with us?” or “How would you rate this product?”.

So, What is a Customer Data Platform?

The CDP Institute defines a Customer Data Platform as “packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.” For you, that means having unified data from all sources and touchpoints. You can then segment that database in numerous ways to create more personalized marketing campaigns, customer service, and customer experience improvements.

CDP, CRM, DMP – What's the difference?


An important thing to understand about CDPs is that, although they handle customer data, this software is not the same as a Data Management Platform (DMP). DMPs are typically only used in advertising, and won’t help you with customer segmentation and personalization of your own marketing. Between Customer Data Platforms and Data Management Platforms there are three main differences to keep in mind. The first is the type of data they use. CDP’s tend to use 1st party data while DMP’s typically use 2nd & 3rd party data. The second difference is their use of customer identities. CDP’s collect personal data from users while DMP’s typically use anonymous data, such as cookies, devices, and IP addresses. The third difference is in data retention. CDP’s keep data for long periods of time, while DMP’s typically only retain data for short periods.


Customer Relationship Management (CRM) providers help businesses organize and manage customer-facing interactions, however they don’t collect any behavioral data on how customers interact with your product or service. While both CRMs and CDPs collect customer data, the main difference between them is that CRMs organize and manage customer-facing interactions with your team, while CDPs collect data on customer behavior with your product or service. CRM data will give you a client’s name, their history of interactions with your sales team, and support and organize tickets they’ve filed. CDP data, on the other hand, can tell you each specific step that a customer has taken since engaging with your company, from the channel they found you on to how they engage with your product or service.

Key benefits of Customer Data Platforms


Avoiding Data Silos

Silos within a company aren’t good to have — they create a less collaborative environment, slow the pace and productivity of your teams, and undermine the accuracy of your customer profile data. Data silos typically occur when businesses scale too quickly to sufficiently share data.
Within a company, every single person will need access to customer data at one point or another. Finance teams need customer data to understand purchase behaviour and payment patterns. Marketing teams need customer data to get a better understanding of who their customers are, in order to provide them with personalized, engaging content and communications. Top management needs immediate feedback on key KPI’s and consumer trends in order to make strategic decisions. A Customer Data Platform can help your business avoid data silos. By providing all teams with unified customer data, you can be confident your organization will improve its productivity and collaboration.

Providing More Effective Customer Experience and Marketing

In today’s world, personalization is more important than ever, as consumers have access to content from a wide variety of channels. Sometimes, users feel overloaded with information and won’t bother to give it full attention, and customers absolutely do not like it when they are advertised a product online that they’ve purchased in-store. It’s clear that personalization in marketing can lead to greater engagement, conversion rates, and revenue. With a Customer Data Platform in action, businesses can gain a complete, single view of customers’ behavior that can be used to drive the most personalized customer experience possible, without any blind spots.

Allowing companies to be more competitive

According to a Forbes study, 93% of marketing executives believe that using customer data for decision-making and campaign creation provides them with a substantial competitive advantage. In addition, 53% believe that the transparency provided by these platforms makes it possible for their teams to react quickly to changes in markets or customer preferences.