Do CDPs (customer data platforms) suck?

Well, you can paint a very bad picture of them from a bean-counter’s perspective. The technology costs money, they add another item to the marketing technology stack, they have to be set up to receive data from many different sources, they then have to store all that data, and have to keep on being fed with it. Someone even has to hit a few keys for something to come out of them.

We think there is a bright side, which is not surprising to hear from people who are intrepid enough to actually build and sell CDPs.

Obviously, in themselves CDPs are worthless; the value only comes when you start to do something useful with that data. But as an enabler today’s CDPs can be something quite special.

The big picture view is that if you don’t have everything known about each customer structured and held in one place then you have no chance of meeting the customers’ expectations. And this holds true for every occasion when you are interacting with customers.

However below this Olympian vision there are a growing number of applications that are either made possible, or made to work better, when they can be powered by a customer data platform.

Here is a checklist we have made or current uses that our clients have been making of a CDP:

  • Outbound marketing

– targeted and personalised direct mail

– segmented email campaigns

– triggered email campaigns

– SMS push notifications

  • GDPR/Call center support

– consent storage

– privacy portal for SARs

– customer recent activity search

  • Dashboards

– customer and sales performance

– linked to web browsing activity

  • Digital advertising

– website personalisation (segmented and one-to-one)

  • Technical/ analytical

– includes browsing history in the SCV

– bespoke engineered data fields based on the SCV

– SCV data exports for analysis

For those not entirely immersed in the jargon, what we now call a CDP we used to call a customer database, and after that a customer data warehouse, and then a single customer view. One of the differences between now and then is that in the now we expect data to come in from far more sources, and these include on-line browsing as much as off-line transactions.

CDP timeline