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Customer Data Management

Your Enterprise CDP Shopping List

February 24, 2023 7 minute read
A few customer data platform must-haves
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Not long ago — and still to this day! — organizations could buy so-called customer data platforms, but they were like the Louis Vuitton bags sold in New York City’s Chinatown: not the real deal. Enterprises didn’t know it at the time, but they needed the Customer Data Platform Institute’s RealCDP program, which launched in 2019. 

The term "customer data platform" (CDP) itself only hit the scene in 2013 when author David Raab noticed that a new type of software was popping up. In the years following, CDPs became more popular. Now, we’ve standardized what a CDP is and does, allowing us to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff. Still, it’s a tough job!

Organizations can still fall for fakes, but the RealCDP program can help marketers understand which vendors in a saturated market actually have CDPs capable of satisfying a broad range of critical use cases. To receive RealCDP certification, a CDP must:

  • Ingest data from any source
  • Capture the full detail of ingested data
  • Create unified profiles of identified individuals
  • Store ingested data indefinitely (subject to privacy constraints)
  • Share data with any system that needs it
  • Respond in real time to new data and profile requests

When you’re shopping for a CDP, below are the features and capabilities to keep in mind before signing on the dotted line. Here’s why. 

Data from anywhere, stored in one place

Enterprise CDPs are their own data warehouses, a central repository for data that the CDP has put through identity resolution, predictive intelligence, and unique business configurations.

Every team and department within a company should operate off the same data set versus separate data silos spread across the company. That single source — a CDP — avoids the discrepancies and misaligned objectives that siloed data engenders. Instead, teams trust their data, which fosters trust between departments, while prioritizing data governance, privacy, and compliance. A CDP drives this culture of data accessibility.  

Yet there are solutions that disguise themselves as CDPs but lack the full range of CDP capabilities, such as so-called “CDPs” that shuffle data around via tag management systems based on data access patterns. These present problems for businesses that are serious about understanding their customers and activating customer data for orchestrated engagement. Another example are products that sell you part of their “CDP,” but it only works once you’ve purchased the rest of that vendor’s suite. 

Lots of data, lots of details

Data arrives more quickly and from more locations every day. Data volume alone is enough to intimidate the doughtiest data warriors, but fear not! A CDP is built for that volume. 

One reason companies choose a CDP is because they need to unify, apply intelligence to, and activate massive amounts of customer data. Without a centralized data repository of cleansed, deduplicated records, the number of records that most enterprise brands hold will overwhelm whatever processing power the system has.

When marketing campaigns are built atop a cleansed, standardized, and unified data layer, they produce better results, more ROI, and more revenue at lower costs to the company. When gauging the total economic impact of Acquia CDP, for instance, a Forrester study showed that enterprises could realize 589% ROI over three years

When promotions, messaging, interaction channels, timing, and all other dynamics of a campaign are personalized based on unified customer profiles, results follow. Without centrally stored data — from zero-party and behavioral data to transactional and operational data — your organization can’t deliver engaging and relevant experiences, hindering its overall competitiveness and customer relations.

Identity resolution and unified profiles

You can’t build exceptional customer experiences with bad data. You need identity resolution to maintain the most accurate customer data records possible. 

Without a centralized data command hub, identity resolution is stifled. If identifiers are pulled across each application but unreconciled in a centrally stored record, there can be no elements of probabilistic matching or artificial intelligence (AI) / machine learning (ML) that stitches first- and third-party data into complete, single profiles. At best, identity resolution would be relegated to simple data stitching, not true, enterprise-grade identity resolution.

Customer data is only useful if you can understand it. And identity resolution is the first step in humanizing data points. And when you store that humanized data in a centralized hub of cleansed, deduplicated, stitched data, you can better personalize customer engagement because your dirty data is, well, no longer grubby. 

At Acquia, we believe that dirty data makes for poor customer insights and activations. Only when marketers have a 360° view of their customers can they enjoy best-in-class campaigns and robust engagement. Those beliefs informed our design of Acquia CDP, which naturally includes an identity resolution engine.

Of course, identity resolution works best when it’s configured to meet the exact needs of the organization, which is only possible with an enterprise CDP.

Enterprise-wide data storage and transparency

At Acquia, several clients use our CDP to power customer experience use cases driven by non-marketing teams — retail store associates using a clienteling app, for instance, or call center agents fielding inbound calls and filing help desk tickets. Users can access those examples through our CDP's UI, which teams can log directly into, or through our API, which feeds customer data to various other systems. The point is: Customer data is totally central and accessible to users across an organization. 

Free-flowing data and a central view of the customer enables marketers, BI teams, analysts, customer service, and other departments to easily make sense of the data. This direct access to intelligence allows them to move beyond traditional departmental silos and rapidly launch high-impact campaigns that boost their own business KPIs. 

Taking a data-first approach helps organizations invest their time and resources into initiatives that reap the highest value — no matter if that’s more easily identifying engaged customers, accelerating timelines, or discovering critical insights. Businesses are sitting on a treasure chest of data, and an accessible data platform that can be used by everyone who needs it can unlock that wealth of knowledge. 

One note on indefinite data storage: While storage is subject to industry-, state-, or country-specific data privacy constraints, it does remain a CDP capability. That capability doesn’t mean you need to use it in every instance, however. Data bloat is real, and storing every piece of information that’s ever come through your organization isn’t a good use of space. Storing the data that consistently improves a unified customer view and provides actionable intelligence about customer behavior is crucial. Being able to hold all of those insights indefinitely is key to a successful CDP.

Customer data evolution

Customer preferences and needs change daily, and everyone in an organization needs to take decisive action and move with agility when those shifts occur. Success means using data proactively over time to optimize customer experiences now and down the road, which means paying attention to data in real time. As digital experiences continue to evolve, so too must your attention to the data informing those experiences. 

Leverage predictive analytics and machine learning at scale to intuitively identify who your customers are, which will lead to engaging experiences for every individual. Those experiences will deliver value at every touchpoint — a customer journey worth taking.

What’s next?

A CDP isn’t just for marketers. A clean, enriched database of customers is useful for every team that impacts customer experience, which is, well, almost everyone. 

If you’d like to hear more about how a CDP can help brands glean actionable insights from their customer data, we’re here to chat. We’ll take you on a journey through Acquia CDP that’ll have possibilities dancing in front of you — like no more angry unsubscribes or discounts emails sent to full price purchasers.


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