Back to blog landing

July 10, 2017

New to Customer Data Platforms? Here's A Primer.

There’s been a lot of coverage on Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) in the past year. Having recently attended MarTech in San Francisco and Gartner Digital Marketing Conference in San Diego, it seems like the conversations and number of large-scale CDP adopters have dramatically increased. So, why now?

Industry Buzz

For starters, Gartner, Forrester and other analyst firms have recognized the need for CDPs and validated the new MarTech category in various cool vendor articles, research insights and reports. According to Gartner analyst Christie Eubanks, CDPs provide:

a holistic view of the customer to help execute and optimize personalized journeys...For marketers using multiple point execution tools, the CDP provides the connective tissue between and among them to integrate the marketing stack and enable orchestration across the web, mobile, email, social and so forth.


David Raab of Raab Associates, who first coined the term “customer data platform, also launched the Customer Data Platform Institute to promote and highlight the marketing department’s need for the technology. In addition to providing vendor evaluation guides and resources, the CDP Institute also released an industry profile report that highlights how and why the industry is expected to grow in the coming years.

CDPs, Defined

So what is a customer data platform exactly? At its core, a CDP is a centralized location for prospective and current customer data. This first-party data is any data that your organization has collected about your own customers, users, and site visitors — regardless of whether they are anonymous or known.

Blog Cdp Primer 2

First party data can include customer profiles, personal identifiers such as emails, website visits, mobile app sessions, email and social media engagement, chat transcripts, customer service and support interactions, purchases and more. In short, all customer interactions are kept in CDPs. While there are some exceptions, Data Management Platforms (DMPs), on the other hand, focus on handling anonymous, third-party data in the form of cookie pools.

Why Do Marketers Need CDPs?

Today’s marketer has many communication channels with which customers and would-be customers could engage. Think about all of the ways you might interact with your favorite brands today: you may like something on social media, purchase a product via mobile app, browse articles online and click on one or more emails in the same week.

From a marketers point of view, each of these interactions (e.g., email clicks, website visits, etc.) gets stored within different platforms: Facebook and other social media networks, mobile and web content management systems, Google Analytics, email service providers, and more. The result is a surplus of customer data scattered within a complex martech stack — making it nearly impossible for marketers to see a holistic customer profile or run relevant campaigns that reflect customer activity across channels.

Blog Cdp Primer

At a minimum, CDPs allow marketers to:

  • Flow all of their first-party data (from various sources and tools) into one centralized location
  • Distinguish unique individuals by stitching various identifiable data together
  • View real-time holistic profiles of both known and anonymous individuals
  • Build targeted, cross-channel audience segments based off of these user profiles and varied customer interactions
  • Take action on these audience segments by syncing them with various marketing execution tools


When it comes to CDPs, the features highlighted above would be considered table stakes. There are a lot of vendor-specific front and backend features that go well beyond the feature list above. Lytics’ Customer Data Platform, for example, offers marketers machine learning-based predictive and behavioral insights (e.g., who is most likely to engage, who has a high affinity for a particular topic, or who is at risk of churning) as well as built-in execution tools for running personalized web campaigns.

Curious to learn more about what differentiates Lytics from other Customer Data Platforms? Reach out for a demo and we’d be happy to show you!

Based on your interests, you might also enjoy...