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Picking the right customer data platform (CDP) takes thought. Here are seven things to look for in your CDP — and one to avoid.

Picking the right customer data platform (CDP) is not quite as simple as it sounds.

You already know the exciting benefits of launching or updating your CDP. You have heard all about how CDPs are the future, set to replace data management platforms (DMP) so you can offer your customers wildly better experiences than before. And now you need to choose the right CDP — one that will prove its value and deliver on all the promises you’ve heard about.

While CDPs are known for their quick time to value, the CDP purchasing process can be a little tricky and time-consuming — especially if your organization has never implemented one before. Whether you are starting from scratch or looking to augment your CDP’s capabilities, there are a few key things you should know before choosing your CDP.

Seven things to look for in your CDP — and one to avoid

A CDP for any organization should check the following boxes:

1. Real-time data streaming and data ingestion

The future of marketing is real time, and it is a capability in which modern CDPs excel. Make sure your CDP streams and ingests data in real time so you always see your customers in the present moment — and not how they were a week or more ago.

2. Purpose-built as a CDP by a trusted organization

Many CDPs in the marketplace are cobbled together from disparate technologies, and some are created by young and unproven organizations. Because your CDP handles one of your company’s most important assets — your customer data — it is a good idea to choose a solution from a reliable source that built the CDP from the ground up.

3. Complete, unified user profiles

One of the principal benefits of a CDP is personalization on an individual basis. Your CDP should give marketers an access point to the known (personal identifying information or PII) and unknown (pseudonymous) data for every single customer. This allows for intelligent segmentation, personal preferences, and adherence to privacy and regulation standards.

4. Robust, native data governance tools

Your CDP should make your data governance simpler, not more complex. Look for a CDP that has pre-built and custom data tagging capabilities. Make sure to ask the vendor when your customer data gets tagged with regulatory considerations — ideally, it is at the point of ingestion, not after customer data has already entered your CDP.

5. Real-time data activation

Your CDP should function in real time both at the ingestion and activation phases. Both pieces are critical. Real-time data ingestion ensures your customer profiles are always up to date — but without real-time data activation, you cannot deliver experiences based on incoming changes to your customer profile.

6. Easy for marketers to use

CDPs democratize data, giving marketers the information they need to succeed. An ideal CDP will be built for marketers, with an interface, tools, and workflows structured to fit seamlessly into a marketing context. After implementation, using your CDP should not require any help from your IT department.

7. Scalable, flexible, and extensible

Your CDP should integrate seamlessly with your existing marketing and advertising technology stack — again, without putting extra strain on IT. The right CDP for your organization will be able to handle the complexity of your business and scale with you. You do not want a CDP that you can outgrow.

The one thing that you should avoid on your search for the right CDP:

“Point” CDPs

  • Referred to as such because they are point solutions, point CDPs cannot handle nuance and complexity as well as a modern, full-service CDP will. Point CDPs serve just one main purpose — storing known and unknown data — without the robust capabilities of modern CDPs. This means that your IT team will need to implement supplemental solutions, which wastes time and adds unnecessary bulk to your tech stack.
  • Because many organizations are calling their point CDPs by the name “CDP,” it can be hard to tell the difference at first. Use the list of seven CDP qualities above to ensure you are getting the best-possible CDP.

Your customer experience strategy will always be the best indicator of what CDP to choose. Whatever your “north star” of customer experience is, use it — along with the information above — to guide your decision. When you connect your vision to the right CDP, it can power the types of customer experiences that will strengthen and grow your business.

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