Marketers evaluating Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) continue to face a confusing swirl of similar types of capabilities, solutions and buzzwords across the CDP space. To help marketers cut through this noise, we’ve divided the wide array of CDP vendors into five core categories. By understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each category, marketers can narrow the field of potential vendors and focus on which ones are the best fit for their organization.
5 Major Categories of CDP Vendors
Let’s walk through the five major categories of CDP vendors, and explore the circumstances that would favor each of them.
1. Digital Data Shufflers
“Digital data shuffler” CDPs have a focus on moving digital data from one source to another. They can integrate data but they have no persistent database and therefore there is:
- No identity resolution
- No single customer view
- No insights that can only be derived from a single customer view
Examples of digital data shufflers include tag managers, integration solutions, and other marketing service provider-type solutions that integrate data between specific systems but do not provide a centralized, unified solution on their own.
These CDPs are good for use cases where a brand wants to feed one, two or a few data sets into one, two or a few specific execution channels without resolving customer data into a clean record or gaining insights from a master customer data record.
2. Easy Buttons
These CDPs advertise a compelling “easy button” for their solutions. They align with somewhat simplistic use cases, and similar to digital data shufflers, easy-button vendors specialize in e-commerce-only use cases or basic CDP use cases such as website retargeting. Easy-button CDPs can be useful for small to medium sized businesses, but aren’t equipped to scale for enterprise needs. These solutions:
- Unify and activate data from digital channels but lack support for physical channel data (store, call center, and other offline data must reside outside the CDP)
- Can’t provide a single customer profile with a unified view
- Are not useful for businesses with offline channels
Example “easy button” vendors include some CDPs and non-CDPs with a specific vertical or e-commerce focus. For companies earning less than $50M in revenue annually, with minimal channels of customer engagement, and for minimal interactions with customers per year, easy-button CDPs can be a good option for getting started with unifying, understanding, and executing campaigns based on some aspect of centralized customer data