Customer Data Platforms: Core CDP Capabilities You Should Expect

Authored by ActionIQ Team

To  compete with brand leaders like Netflix and Google that have data-driven marketing baked into their DNA, large organizations are increasingly exploring the benefits of Customer Data Platforms. 

While every CDP promises to unify and connect all customer data, not all of them can do so at enterprise scale and speed. To make that a reality, enterprises need a solution that can return results on billions, even trillions, of customer transactions and events in a matter of seconds.

The right CDP can provide a foundation for future marketing innovation by connecting and unifying any and all data sources, empowering marketers to create AI-driven microsegments on the fly and on a self-service basis, driving extreme personalization at scale by leveraging individual customers’ comprehensive historical data, and more.

As you consider your Customer Data Platform options, here are the core capabilities an enterprise-grade CDP solution should provide. We break down why each capability is critical, and why, if a particular CDP lacks any of them, you should think twice before investing in that particular solution. Be sure to ask if your CDP can Unify > Match > Define > Discover > Activate.  Read on to learn more:

  1. Data Connectivity & Unification

The full richness of your customer profile and event data is the foundation of 1:1 marketing. An Enterprise CDP must reach across siloed marketing systems and disconnected channels, so you can unify the full breadth and depth of your data sources, down to the most granular level. An Enterprise CDP should be able to handle both streaming and batch data of any size and complexity. Beware of any CDP with the inability to bring all your relevant historical customer data—online, offline, behavioral, and demographic—into the CDP, without requiring a 6+-month-long IT project.

  1. Intelligent Identity Resolution

Because customers interact with your business across multiple channels and touchpoints, you often have multiple, separate identities for the same customer. An Enterprise CDP should automatically resolve multiple identities into a single, comprehensive profile of each customer, even when that requires statistical matching techniques and powerful machine learning. The inability to apply both probabilistic and deterministic logic to map ALL customer data to unified customer profiles, while preserving disparate IDs for seamless orchestration across channels, is a showstopper.

  1. Dynamic Customer Attributes

To democratize data and drive marketing self-service, you need a way to quickly translate all that raw data into the language of your business. You should also be able to quickly evolve the terms you use, or create new ones, to meet changing business needs, e.g., the definition of an active, loyal, or high LTV customer. To make this possible, an enterprise CDP should provide an independent layer that can organize and transform the messy raw data into the semantic notions (e.g. attributes) that business users understand. In this way, marketing retains the flexibility to create new attributes, or refine existing ones, on the fly, without waiting in queues for scarce IT resources. Beware of a CDP that does not allow marketers to define customer attributes within the CDP, forcing them to rely only on attributes pre-built outside the CDP and then ingested along with the relevant customer data.

  1.   Audience Discovery & Insights

To define audiences and develop targeted campaigns that make a difference for the business, marketers need to ask questions of customer data, build models, and iteratively test and improve—all at the speed of thought. An Enterprise CDP should make it easy for marketers to interact with all the data to test potential audiences on the fly. It should also present AI-driven ideas and opportunities that marketers may never have discovered on their own. The inability for marketing to be truly self-service in audience creation and discovery, or to complement those efforts with AI-driven targeting and insights, is a showstopper.

  1.  Activation & Orchestration

Insights are only valuable when you act on them. An Enterprise CDP should enable you to take the audiences and insights you’ve developed to orchestrate campaigns quickly and seamlessly across all your different marketing channels, without relying on tech experts. It should also be fast and easy for marketers to set up testing, so they can measure the impact of their campaigns and learn from these results, promoting a virtuous cycle leading to superior customer experiences and outstanding business results. Beware of a CDP with the inability for marketers to orchestrate and drive 1:1 personalized customer journeys across every channel using all available customer behavioral data, and gain insights on the true performance of their efforts. 

  1. Enterprise-Grade Management Capabilities

An enterprise marketing organization consists of multiple teams. To serve them all at scale, a CDP should provide enterprise-grade tools to manage teams, roles and data governance. Otherwise, you impose significant limits on access to the CDP—and defeat the purpose of self service in the enterprise. If the CDP is unable to support multiple marketing and analytics teams with enterprise-grade tools to manage teams, roles, and data governance, it’s a showstopper.

Clearly, there are many factors to consider when evaluating an enterprise CDP. By arming yourself with core capabilities of a data-first marketing platform, understanding must-haves, and asking key questions to drive the deeper discussions about your enterprise’s unique needs, you will be able to make a more informed choice.

Save our infographic below for easy reference and download our Complete CDP Evaluation Guide here to learn more about the core capabilities you should be on the lookout for.