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A Marketer's Guide to Customer Data Platform Use Cases

March 8, 2022 5 minute read
Is a customer data platform right for your organization? Before deciding, determine the use cases your CDP will meet. Here are 4 common examples.
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Marketers in today’s digital-first world face increasing pressure to drive engagement, sales, and, ultimately, revenue, and they know they can’t do that without delivering tailored experiences for each visitor, prospect, and customer. Creating seamless, intuitive, and personalized experiences requires data and an understanding of your audience’s demographics, behaviors, preferences, and more. 

A customer data platform (CDP) is an organization’s foundation for building data-driven, tailored experiences, and marketers are taking steps to ensure their success by adopting this technology. In fact, Acquia’s Customer Experience Trends Report found that 93% of marketers believe gathering first-party data to understand their audience is more important now than two years ago, and 50% report their organization has adopted a CDP in the last 18 months.

But with so many options in the market (including technologies that are CDPs in name only), how do you select the right solution for your organization’s particular needs? The first step is to identify what you want to do with a CDP, so you can select the one with features and functionalities that deliver those use cases.

Four CDP use cases

To identify the required capabilities your organization needs in a CDP and narrow down your search for a solution, first take a step back to look at what you want to do with your customer data. For inspiration, here are four popular CDP use cases:

  1. Unified customer data
  2. Enhanced personalization
  3. Multichannel messaging
  4. Actionable analytics


Let’s take a look at each use case and what it may entail.

1. Unified customer data

Unifying customer data is perhaps the most common CDP use case. The first step in creating a data-driven customer experience is to compile a 360° view of your customer, but forming this view can be a challenge when your data is scattered across systems and teams. A customer data platform needs to be able to unify data from any and all sources in your organization — from your website and call center systems to your customer relationship management (CRM) system and beyond. Without this, you’ll lack a single source of truth on your customer data, meaning your marketing efforts will be based on incomplete or inaccurate data and, therefore, likely fall flat.

2. Enhanced personalization

After collecting and unifying your customer data, and then cleaning and deduplicating it, you can mine that data to generate a more robust understanding of your customers, which will help you personalize their journey with your brand. Use your CDP to build segments of your customers based on their behaviors, so you can enhance your future engagements with them. Customer segments can be created based on a range of factors, such as product categories browsed, web pages visited, spending level, in-store engagement, and the like. Using these segments, you can deploy customized experiences that align with their behaviors and preferences. Going a level deeper, you can also support personalized marketing at the individual level by using insights from your CDP. 

As an example of a customer data platform use case in retail, you could send an invitation to an in-store shopping event to a segment of your customers who live within a 10-mile radius of a particular store and have shopped in person over the last six months. To enhance personalization on a one-to-one basis, you could include a special discount for 15% off baby care items to a shopper whose last purchase included diapers.

3. Multichannel messaging

Once your customer data is unified and you have a complete profile of your customers, you can use your CDP to optimize marketing campaigns across all online and offline channels. For example, if you have data that a customer who often opens your marketing emails has viewed a product on your website but abandoned their shopping cart, you can then tailor your next email to that individual to reengage them. With a customer data platform, you can deliver the right message to the right individual through the right channel. 

Similarly, it can tell you what message not to send to a customer. You can use a CDP to combine online data from your digital channels with offline customer data from your point-of-sale (POS) system. A more complete view of the customer could prompt you to exclude customers who recently purchased an item in your physical store from your next social media ad campaign for that same item, leading to more effective and efficient marketing.  

4. Actionable analytics

Keep in mind that a CDP is not just another database to store your customer data and then forget about it. A customer data platform’s value comes from the insights you derive from it to inform your marketing strategy. You can use a customer data platform to identify your best (or most loyal, highest lifetime value, or some other superlative) customers, then leverage analytics capabilities to determine the other characteristics of these customers, such as they only shop with a discount or they prefer to buy online and pick up in store. Your marketing team can use these insights to design campaigns to keep these audiences engaged or even to find similar, “lookalike” customers who can be nurtured into becoming future best customers. With actionable analytics, a CDP brings your customer data to life and enables smarter, more successful marketing.

Bottom line

A customer data platform can transform your marketing by giving you a single, unified view of your customer and actionable insights that can inform your multichannel marketing efforts. While the possible use cases for a CDP are limited only by your imagination, at the most basic level, you should be able to collect data from all of your sources into one unified place. Without this foundation, any of the analytical, personalization, and optimization CDP use cases will be impossible.

For more examples of real-world use cases of customer data platforms, download The Power of a CDP: Success Stories from the Field” or request a demo of the Acquia Customer Data Platform.

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