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Customer Data Platform

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Overview of software buying process
  • Purchasing CDP software
  • Common Integrations Used with CDPs
  • Vendor Comparisons
  • Conclusions
  • References


CDP software  enables an organization to have one database that stores all the customer interactions regardless of the channel the customer came through.

 These channels include but are not limited to: 

  • Website
  • Mobile
  • CRM
  • POS
  • eCommerce
  • Social media

Typically each channel is owned by a specific team and very rarely do they share the data. Each team uses the data to reach their objective and there’s a missed opportunity for collaboration with the goal to provide customers with a unified experience of the company’s product or service.

Often the data gathered by these individual teams just remains where it’s captured and nothing is done with it. This phenomenon is referred to as data silos.  

A CDP dissolves these data silos and aggregates the data for easier segmentation so that marketing teams can create more robust programs to enhance the customer experience. By consolidating and integrating all interactions into one platform, the customer ultimately benefits from a more personalized experience. Businesses benefit also because they can create highly targeted marketing campaigns which translate to increased revenue.

Overview of Software Buying Process

Get Ready

  • Build or Buy?
  • Budget
  • Software type: Cloud based? On premise? Open source?
  • Determine the internal stakeholders
  • Determine the timeline – when do you need to have CDP ready to be used?
  • Determine the internal proposal approval process
  • Determine the project management tool to use for tracking


  • What is your organization currently using?
  • What’s working versus. what’s not working?
  • What does your organization need?
  • How will you find the vendors?
  • How will you find impartial recommendations?


  • How do you narrow down vendor choices? 
  • How many vendors should you demo?
  • Which stakeholders from your organization should attend the demo?
  • What questions do you have?
  • Determine timeline to do the trial with the vendor(s)
  • Make sure stakeholders are ready to pilot the product
  • Establish how feedback will be captured and addressed

Select the vendor:

  • Ensure all stakeholders are involved in the final decision-making process. 
  • Complete thorough review of the product you are about to choose including outlining pros and cons, pricing, implementation process and timeline
  • Go through the internal buying approval process

Purchasing CDP Software

What is a CDP?

Gartner defines a CDP as follows: 

A CDP is a marketing system that unifies a company’s customer data from marketing and other channels to enable customer modeling and optimize the timing and targeting of messages and offers.”

How do you use a CDP?

Collect data

From various channels and sources such as CRM, emails, mobile apps, POS websites, advertising as well as 3rd party, other offline sources and servers

Process data

With a CDP you can gather, consolidated and process data to create a single unified customer profile

A CDP can even capture and build customer profiles from “unknown” website visitors 

A CDP can help with cleaning data and remaining compliant with privacy standards

Activation and Integration of data 

Once the data is collected and processed, the unified customer profile can be activated easily be integrated and across various categories with common tools such as:

  • Email marketing
  • CRM
  • A/B Testing
  • BI Tools
  • Analytics


A CDP is a powerful tool used for precise execution of marketing programs to the right customer, at the right time through the best channel the customer will respond to. Ultimately this means a higher LTV of the customer and more revenue.

Common Integrations Used with CDPs


Google Analytics, HubSpot, Kissmetrics, Mixpanel, Heap


Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Twitter Ads, Bing Ads, Linkedin


Adjust, Localytics, Branch, Attribution


Looker, Tableau, Periscope

Data Warehouse

Postgres, Redshift, IBM DB2, BigQuery, Snowflake, Azure


SalesForce, GoSquared, Firebase


Email Marketing

Mailchimp, Drip, Autopilot, Intercom, Sendgrid



Clearbit, MadKudu, Hull


Marketing Automation

WebEngage, Airship, Crowdpower


What kind of data is aggregated in a CDP?

A CDP allows an organization to answer the following questions and categorize them into the relevant type of data.

Who is the customer at a high level? IDENTITY DATA
What are other relevant details? DESCRIPTIVE DATA
How do they behave? BEHAVIORAL DATA
Why they make the choices they do? QUALITATIVE


Benefits of purchasing a CDP

  • Visibility of all customer data for all teams throughout the organization. 
  • Full utilization of all gathered data in order to gain a 360 degree view of the customer experience and interaction with the organization 
  • The ability for creating highly targeted customer programs and offerings
  • Ensuring customer data protection and security since it is housed in one place
  • Simplicity of accessing all the data because it is all housed in one place 
  • More accurate and easier analytics and reporting on the customer data to better track KPIs

How using a CDP can improve the customer experience

By customizing the customer’s experience you hold their interest and greatly increase the likelihood of them purchasing.

Organizations who used CDPs to implementing the following:

  • Customized ads
  •  Email content that is specifically tailored to the specific reader
  • Design a website experience that meets the needs of the person navigating the site
  • Select the best channel to use to market to the customer

Your Organization and CDPs




Deeper insight and 360 view of the customer in order to create programs that are unified across the board regardless of channel types to have greater impact on the customer experience


Saves time by using a single API to collect data means no longer wasting time and resources on building integration tools


Increased Speed in product creation because of easier access to data and the ability to easily pivot to meet kpi’s.


Strategic Planning is more accurate to because decisions are made with a deeper understanding of the customer journey which is based on actual data

Understand clearly what your organization needs

In order to choose the correct CDP for your organization it’s important to do the following:

  • Define the data silos in your organization by understanding how you are currently collecting and managing customer data including 3rd party data sources, which systems are holding the data and how clean the data is
  • Clearly understand and define who the stakeholders are and which teams these are
  • Get buy-in from all the leadership across the different departments
  • Define exactly which data is going to be integrated into the CDP and which isn’t

Some questions to consider are: 

  • What do you want the customer profiles to look like once all relevant data has been integrated?
  • How exactly will a CDP fit into your overall business and marketing strategy?
  • What KPIs need to be tracked?
  • What reporting tools are needed? 
  • How will the organization define success once the CDP is implemented?

Now that you have a firm grasp of your organization’s need, it’s time to choose the CDP

Start with the these questions: 

  • What specific challenges does your organization have because of data silos?
  • How will investing in a CDP positively impact your organization?
  • Which marketing teams within your organization gather and work with customer data on a regular basis?
  • Which platforms are you using to gather customer data? List them.
  • What kind of data does your company need aggregated?
  • Where is the data currently held?
  • Who has access to it? 
  • What are the key features you need from the CDP vendor?
  • Which teams will be using these features and do the features meet the needs of all the teams?
  • What role will your IT department need to play if any?

Should you Build or Buy a CDP?

Consider the following factors if you decide to build:

Timeline: How soon will you need the CDP? Your marketing initiatives and goals will determine how much time you can give to building it. If there are programs you want to launch within a certain time frame, building might not be feasible. 

In-house Resources: Who will build the CDP? Do you have internal resources to dedicate to this? Do they have the correct data science and programming skills necessary? If yes, do they have the bandwidth to take this own in addition to their current responsibilities?

In-house Resources: Who will build the CDP? Do you have internal resources to dedicate to this? Do they have the correct data science and programming skills necessary? If yes, do they have the bandwidth to take this own in addition to their current responsibilities?
Calculate All the Costs: Building means your organization has to assume every aspect of the development cost of the CDP such as – set up,  implementation, staffing, ongoing maintenance, improving the software, training and most importantly the migration of the data itself from all its different sources
Customer Data Privacy and Security: How will you remain compliant to the ever changing consumer regulations? Who in your organization will be responsible for this?

Industry Knowledge: As martech continues to grow and expand, how will you ensure you are staying abreast of industry trends and best practices? 

Questions to ask the vendors if you decide to buy

  • How have they combined data housed in different places? 
  • What was the process?
  • What types of data have they combined and migrated?
  • How much data have they migrated/integrated before? You’re looking to see if they are experienced with handling the volume of your organization’s data.
  • Do they have enough storage to hold the consumer data and data related to products if needed?
  • Have they integrated 3rd party data? Which 3rd parties did they work with and what was the process?
  • Explain the exact process to combine the data – from the vendor’s perspective and what they will need from the organization. 
  • Do they integrate data that is gathered from AI and machine learning? 
  • Depending on the volume data and type of data – what is the expected timeline for the migration?
  • How flexible is the software with respect to customizations that will suit your organization’s needs especially when it comes to reporting and analytics?
  • When new marketing programs are created, what’s the speed at which they can be deployed? Will there be a delay depending on the marketing channel used? 
  • How do they handle privacy security?
  • What is the uptime? What is the contingency plan if the system is down for an extended time? 
  • What are the data analytics and reporting tools?
  • What is the onboarding and implementation process once the vendor is selected?
  • What type of support can we expect during implementation and afterwards?
  • What about training – now and after implementation?

CDP Pricing – What to Consider

  • One has to take into consideration the total cost of the CPD including but not limited to:
    • The vendor cost to evaluate and plan the scope of the project
    • The license which most likely recurs annually
    • While some vendors price by users and events, others may charge flat pricing options for unlimited events, sources, and destinations. 
    • The full implementation cost including how to integrate the data, the type of data,  how much data and where the data is coming from
    • Additional related products you need to purchase such as hosting and tracking
    • Ongoing maintenance of the CDP which includes data management, integration with new systems and other enhancements including more robust reporting tools

    According to Gartner depending on the size of your organization a CPD could cost at least $100,000 per year once it has been implemented.

Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce in the CDP space

As more organizations begin to combine all customer data into one unified database, existing cloud companies are making their offerings in response to this need. But is this the right option for your organization? Or is it best to go with a CDP vendor?

Let’s look at a bird’s eye view for each of these vendors and their offerings


After several months of beta testing in November 2019 Adobe officially launched its Adobe Real-time Customer Data Platform product. 

Rather than creating a new product they leveraged their existing Adobe Experience platform which is  part of their Adobe Experience Cloud suite which includes various marketing offerings such as analytics and advertising customer data. Adobe’s CDP product combines customer data in real time from various sources into one place for marketers to easily access and use. 

They also have  built-in AI tools specifically tailored for marketing teams as well as dashboards for easier visualization of analytics. In addition they have built-in features to help with compliance as it relates to handling customer data and privacy. 


In 2018 they launched Oracle CX Unity. It’s described as an “Intelligence Platform for Real Time Customer experience” meaning it combines data from a variety of sources such as offline, online as well as 3rd party data sources for both B2B and B2C customers.This is a part of their Oracle Customer Experience Cloud product suite.

It enables the deeper understanding of the customers who purchase the most, their response to the different branding and what else they are most likely to want to purchase. These insights are possible due to employing a variety of machine learning tools to gather and integrate all this data onto one platform.

They also provide digital assistants for a variety of users such as sales, marketing and customer services. Industries such as financial services, some public sectors and various media are using Oracle to compile their data. 


It’s not entirely surprising to see Salesforce enter this space especially because they are the CRM industry leader. In the Fall of  2019 launched Customer 360.According to Martin Kihn a Selesforce Marketing VP stated that the company discovered:

that the average customer uses 15 significant sources of data to build a much more comprehensive picture of their customer.”

They begin with a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s identity in as much detail as possible including the marketing channels they used.Once this is established then it’s time to build their profile within the CDP.

For Salesforce security is a high priority as they have a keen awareness of the disastrous effects of a data breach so they have taken this into account when building a CDP. 

In February 2020 the acquisition of Evergage (a CDP company) strengthened their position in the market as a CDP vendor.

Vendor Comparisons

Founded in 2014, Blueshift is headquartered in San Francisco,CA but also has offices in Charlotte, NC, London, UK and Pune, India.

Their AI-centric platform is ideal for marketing across all channels. By using AI, Blueshift customers are able to increase the speeds at which marketing campaigns are created and executed which ultimately leads to a higher degree of a personalized customer experience. 

Medium to large companies who use Blueshift describe how using their Customer Data Activation Platform (CDAP) has enabled them to bring a clear message that is timely and relevant to the customer. It has also helped companies with meeting some very aggressive targets with some reporting a 700% increase in ROI.

Emarsys was founded in 2000 and according to their LinkedIn profile is the “largest independent marketing platform company in the world”. Although it’s headquartered in Indianapolis, IN they also have 13 other offices including those in Europe and Asia.

They have helped over 2500 clients and to date have processed billions of data points including personalizing on a monthly basis over 10 billion customer interactions. 

Their omnichannel marketing offerings are ideal for the following industries: Retail, ecommerce and travel.

If you’re an online retailer and in ecommerce then Exponea is the industry leader for a CDP. They were founded in 2015, and headquartered in London, UK. Businesses are able to seamlessly create, segment, execute marketing campaigns and use their robust options for custom analytics and reporting all on one platform.

Their Customer Data and Experience Platform (CDXP) was recently ranked #1 by G2 Crowd. They pride themselves on being hands on and working very closely with their customers to ensure success. Exponea customers are given the tools to have deeper insights into their own customers in order to create programs that ultimately lead to greater numbers of customer retention.

With over two decades in the marketing space, Listrak was founded in 1999 and has its headquarters in Lititz, PA and an additional office in Newport Beach, CA.

They are passionate about helping their customers exceed their marketing goals. Over 1,000 customers have also experienced the benefits of using Listrak’s automation of loyalty programs, product alerts and abandonment campaigns. They also leverage historical customer data and integrate into existing campaigns to enhance the customer experience.

They were founded in 1996 and are headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

OneCount is unique because their CDP offering also combines DMP (Data Management Platform) capabilities.  Another differentiating factor is their ability to account for and capture all website visitors which results in better segmentation. Within a few short months, customers have reported a 40%+ increase of identifying users as a result of implementing Onecount. This ultimately translates to greater revenue which is one of Onecount’s main goals for customers who use their system.

They are the CDP choice for many media companies who utilize the various custom dashboard tools for easier tracking of marketing campaigns. This allows easier visibility and accountability to all teams as well as potential advertisers. Understanding every aspect of the customer journey is key in creating highly personalized programs. Onecount also provides robust tools to understand and track the customer journey.

Founded in 2009, Optimove is headquartered in Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel but also has offices in New York, NY and London, UK. 

Over 500 brands credit Optimove with providing them with an approach which employs a high EQ as a key component necessary in fully understanding the customer. This is important because having deeper insights into the customer means the ability to create more effective marketing programs. In addition, Optimove prioritizes using automation as part of their “Science-first” philosophy to deliver messages and campaigns through the right channel, at the right time, to the ideal customer.

Headquartered in Salzburg, Austria, Pimcore was founded in 2009. They also have a US office in Sugarland, TX. They are unique as a CDP provider because they are open source which means users have more control and autonomy. An additional benefit for their customers is the speed and execution of programs.

The stats are impressive. Tens of thousands of companies have used Pimcore. They have international impact with customers in over 50+ countries using their platform. In 2018 Gartner even named them the “Cool Vendor”.

Founded in 2012 and headquartered in San Francisco, CA, Segment has multiple locations throughout the world.

More than 20,000 organizations have chosen to use Segment because they have many options and choices with access to over 300 different marketing and data analytics tools to manage their marketing campaigns. With a very strong customer focus as a driving force, their platform enables users to build a robust unified customer view by gathering data from all sources and channels. Segment users also have the option to create and execute campaigns in real time.

Founded in 2008, Tealium is headquartered in San Diego. They distinguish themselves with a unique approach of helping their customers to provide the “Single of Source of Truth” to their customers. This is a universal approach to compiling customer data from many sources including offline, mobile, web and even data from Internet of Things devices. It allows Tealium users to deliver the best solutions across multiple channels and multiple devices in real-time.

Data privacy and security is so important that they offer their customers the Tealium Private Cloud which enables users to remain compliant with various regulatory requirements such as HIPPA. Customers can have peace of mind knowing that their data is stored without any data sources being shared.

Customer Data Platform Comparisons


These CDP offerings are many and varied. Once you have a clear understanding of:

  • What your company’s biggest data silo problems are
  • The exact outcomes you are expecting by purchasing a CDP
  • Who the stakeholders in your company are
  • What you are looking for when you are buying a CDP

Then you will be ready to go through the process of choosing a vendor.

From the 9 vendors discussed in the guide here are the winners for various categories:

Open Source

Pimcore, Segment

Use of AI and Machine Learning

Blueshift, Emarsys, Tealium


Blueshift, Onecount, Optimove

Handles large amounts of data

Emarsys, Pimcore

Customer Retention

Exponea, Listrak, Onecount

Robust Analytics

Exponea, Emarsys

Marketing Automation

Listrak, Optimove, Tealium

Excellent Support


Meeting Marketing Goals

Blueshift, Exponea, Onecount

Speed in execution of programs


Can handle data from any source and in any form

Pimcore, Tealium, Onecount

Privacy and Security

Tealium, Segment

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