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What is a Customer Data Platform (CDP)—and why does it matter?

Do you really know what a CDP is and what it can do for your business?

According to CMS Wire, Customer Data Platforms will be worth $1 billion by 2019.

According to Forbes, 78% of Enterprise companies have or are planning to implement a CDP.

And according to IDG’s 2018 State of Digital Transformation, data solutions like CDPs are at the top of most companies’ implementation lists.

Based on those stats, chances are, you’ve heard the term CDP. But do you really know what a CDP is and what it can do for your business?

In our newly re-launched CDP buyer’s guide, we take on this question first. Because before you can start researching data platforms, it’s important to get clear on what they are, what most of them share in common, what makes a CDP best-in-breed, and how they can impact your business in a real, measurable way.

Here’s an answer in a nutshell:

What is a CDP?

At its simplest, a CDP is a platform that stores, connects, and unifies customer data to give you an up-to-date, holistic view of your customers no matter how many devices they use or marketing channels they interact with.

This means tracking customers as they browse on their tablets, check in with customer service on their phones, make a purchase on a home computer, and check its status on their work computer. It means getting a clearer picture of that customer and their behavior. And it means avoiding expensive faux pas like advertising products to customers who already purchased or chasing customers around with irrelevant ads and potentially losing their business.

Collecting and unifying data is the core function of any CDP and the reason most companies start researching the technology.

It’s also only the beginning…

Great CDPs provide real, actionable insights

Unifying data is important, but where great CDPs really start to differentiate themselves is in making that data is available and integrated with your marketing efforts.

After all, what good is it to know who your top customers are if you can’t quickly and effectively target them, personalize content for them, and encourage them to purchase a product or subscribe to a service?

A great CDP should integrate seamlessly with your marketing channels to both import data into the CDP where possible and to export it back out into those platforms to enhance their performance. For example, you should be able to take first-party data from your CDP and feed it into Facebook or Google to target existing customers, shopping cart abandoners, or lookalike audiences that mirror your brand’s best customers.

When one Lytics client recently did just that, the results were staggering. Using Lytics data to identify their top customers, they created a Facebook lookalike audience and targeted a similar audience with Facebook ads. The result? The brand tripled conversions and decreased cost per conversion by 90%.

Great CDPs support privacy compliance

From the GDPR in Europe to the new California Privacy Act in the States, a good CDP should also support compliance with privacy regulations. These regulations expect you to know where your data comes from and where it goes. They also expect you to provide customers with a way to opt out or edit their data.

If your company has data stored across 10 or 20 or 50 different platforms and silos, this gets tricky. How can a customer opt out of 50 different data sources without substantial work (and the possibility of substantial error) within the business? How can you trace where your data comes from when it’s so fragmented?

One of the things CDPs do best is centralize and simplify. You'll know where your data is coming from and where it's going. And a great CDP should also give you individual customer profiles, which makes it easier for a customer to edit or opt out in one place.

Best-in-Breed CDPs Incorporate Machine-Learning and Orchestration

Most CDPs unify data and provide a centralized place to store it. Great CDPs make that data actionable. And the best CDPs take that a step farther, using machine-learning and AI to interpret customer behavior, identify top prospects, and orchestrate personalized marketing based on real customer behavior and interests.

The power of Customer Data Platforms

At its core, a CDP is about data-driven marketing. It’s about centralizing data, interpreting data, and making data actionable for your business.

And it works.

Data-driven marketers are six times more likely to be profitable year-over-year than their competitors. And 75% of companies say their brand engagement increased when they implemented data-driven marketing.

If you’re committed to data-driven marketing or are curious about CDPs, we’d love to hear from you. Check out our full, newly re-launched CDP Buyer’s Guide , or schedule a demo with our team.

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