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CDP: Another Three Letter Acronym Marketers Need To Know

By Simon Yates | February 11, 2017 | 1 Comment

marketing analyticsMarketingMarketing Data and AnalyticsMarketing Technology and Emerging Trends

Is it bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s another three letter acronym for the next marketing technology to change marketer’s lives — the cleverly named Customer Data Platform — or CDP. Its not a DMP, a DMH or an MCCM and its definitely not CRM. Well, thank goodness. Its so much clearer now! This whole space is so confusing that in our recent Gartner Marketing Technology Survey 2017 (subscription required), a whopping 47% of marketing leaders told us that they already have a CDP in full production and another 19% are in the process. Hmm. Clearly, customer data platforms are not differentiated in marketers’ minds from familiar capabilities of established CRM solutions. In fact, over half (52%) identify Salesforce Analytics Builder as their customer data platform. Time to shed a little light on this interesting and relatively new martech innovation.

In her research note, Innovation Insight for Understanding Customer Data Platforms (subscription required again, sorry!), my colleague, Christi Eubanks defines the CDP as an integrated customer database managed by marketers that unifies a company’s customer data from online and offline channels to enable modeling and drive customer experience. So, its like a single, unified 360 degree of the customer?” I say, hoping to look like I get it. She bristles and responds: “No! That implies IT-led master data management, that all the data about a customer needs to be physically stored in one place. I don’t think that’s practical or necessary for marketers.”

CDP addresses the need for marketers to access, analyze and act on  their customer data across multiple channels, devices and life cycle stages. It’s not there to create another database or source of customer data, but to synchronize customer data for personalization and journey optimization across all possible touchpoints. To be considered a CDP, it must:

  1. Be manageable by a marketer and not an IT analyst.
  2. Focus on known customers and prospects who have opted in to something or anonymous visitors to your site.
  3. Unify *there’s that word again!) customer data from disparate sources, linking identity, behavior, purchase and demographics together in a single record.
  4. Activate data — not store it for posterity — by creating actionable customer segments.
  5. Support real-time data streaming to take immediate action such as enable site or app personalization or trigger emails.

A CDP is worth investigating if your organization:

  • Has a trove of customer data, names and contact information, purchase history and cross-device logins
  • Wants to model and activate that data through personalized multichannel experiences
  • Is not interested in or already has a DMP for third-party data integration and programmatic media
  • Has multiple point execution tools that are not easily integrated
  • Wants more (marketer) control than a CRM system provides

To learn more about CDP, the use cases, benefits and risks and the vendors moving into the space, you’ll have to read Christi’s note.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

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1 Comment

  • Andrew Watt says:

    Hi Christi
    Thanks for helping us marketers try to stay current on the alphabet soup.

    CDP? DMH? DMP? I am still struggling with these three and how to assess which, if any we need?
    Any thoughts how to break through?


    Andrew Watt
    Director CRM