What can a customer data platform do for you?

Our Enterprise Marketer's Guide to Customer Data Platforms defines what a CDP is (and isn't), how to choose the right CDP for your business, and use cases to consider.


What is a Customer Data Platform (CDP)?

A CDP is a marketer-controlled system that unifies data into a single customer view. Large omni-channel brands should look beyond basic capabilities and identify CDPs with features that meet enterprise needs.

Gartner defines a CDP as "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." While customer data platform vendors will vary on specific functionalities and integrations, to be a true CDP, the platform must be a marketer-friendly web-based interface that enables: 

  • Data collection
  • Profile unification
  • Segmentation
  • Activation 

How is a CDP different from other marketing technologies? 

Because some CDP capabilities may overlap with other solutions, marketers can confuse other technologies with CDPs, such as DMPs, CRMs, and MSPs. 


CDPs use first party data and identity resolution to build a single customer view that can be used in real-time for marketing, advertising, customer experience, and analytics use cases. DMPs rely on third party data to build anonymous audiences primarily for advertising use cases. 



CRM solutions were founded in B2B technology and have evolved to try to accommodate some B2C use cases. CDPs, on the other hand, were specifically developed for the B2C world. CRMs have traditionally been limited in what channels and data sources they can ingest, whereas a CDP is able to bring in customer data from any online or offline source. 



Before the advent of CDPs, most marketers used Marketing Service Providers (MSPs) to house their database of customer profiles, transactions, product, and campaign history. Most MSPs lack real-time updates, behavioral data, and modern connectivity to other systems. CDPs offer a robust real-time environment that can manage massive data sets. 


Why you need a Customer Data Platform

According to Gartner's 2017-2018 Gartner CMO Survey, marketing leaders invested two-thirds of their budget to support customer retention and growth, and spending on activities that focus on existing customers is outpacing spending on new customer acquisition. Customer analytics is a top priority for CMOs as they seek to inform these decisions. In short, marketers have reached the limits of what third party audience-based marketing can do, and they want to double-down on their own first party data. 

CDP Benefits

  • Consistent customer experiences and messaging across all channels 
  • Increased efficiency of your operating structure 
  • Thoroughly understanding your customers 
  • Improved profitability by reducing discounts and margins 
  • Increased market share in a rapidly changing competitive environment 
  • Understanding the relationship between offline and online experiences, store sales, and eCommerce 
  • Orchestrating engagement across online and offline channels 


  • Customer lifetime value
  • Customer loyalty
  • Customer retention rates
  • Conversion rates 
  • Return on ad spend
  • Operational efficiency across teams and technologies 

Four types of CDP use cases

Not all customer data platforms are created equal, so it is important for companies to define their core use cases before beginning CDP vendor evaluation. For enterprise brands, these four use cases tend to be the most sought after: 

1. Outbound Marketing
Use cases centered on segmenting customers based on value, behavior, and attributes so marketers can deliver 1:1 content on every marketing message, across every outbound marketing execution channel. Examples, which are all based on any number of real-time customer attributes, include:

  • Email segmentation
  • Direct mail campaigns
  • SMS/ push notifications 

2. Digital Advertising
Use cases that engage customers through digital advertising, where first party customer data is used for acquisition and retargeting campaigns. Examples include:

  • Suppressing display ads to recent buyers
  • Google customer match lookalike modeling,
  • Social customer audiences

3. Customer Experience
Personalization-focused CDP use cases for 1:1, relevant customer interactions and offers on the website and all other customer-facing systems. Examples include

  • In-store events
  • Call center tickets
  • Website personalization

4. Analytics
Use cases that calculate and predict key marketing metrics such as attribution, lifetime value, clusters, likelihood to buy, etc. A CDP should make these available through direct query access, the CDP UI, and APIs. Examples include

  • Attribution tied to customer lifetime value and acquisition sources
  • Clustering
  • Likelihood to engage, buy, churn, and convert
  • Next best product or offer

Choosing a Customer Data Platform

While most CDPs are able to solve very basic use cases, brands with many channels, many sources of data, and many points of interaction with customers need more from a CDP. When choosing a customer data platform, enterprise brands should seek a CDP that: 

  • Unifies all data, online and offline, to fulfill customer identity
  • Includes machine learning and data modeling to make customer data actionable
  • Has comprehensive built-in customer reporting and analysis so marketers can understand customer patterns, behaviors, and how to most effectively create segments for campaigns
  • Persists at providing personally identifiable information to distinguish one customer from another
  • Provides dynamic micro-segmentation at the customer level
  • Performs data cleansing, deduping, stitching, and enhancing of omni-channel customer profiles
  • Syndicates data to "final mile" marketing tools to increase customer retention

There are many resources out there to help companies choose the right CDP for their business. Here are a few to get you started: 

Why AgilOne?

AgilOne is the only customer data platform built to support advanced enterprise needs, with the most flexible and full-featured platform on the market. A few key aspects position AgilOne as the top choice for brands across all verticals: 

AI and Machine Learning 

AgilOne's calculations and machine learning bring the single customer profile to life, enabling deep insights for analysis and intelligent segmentation and action. With our platform's capabilities, marketers can easily access and explore customer data with interactive queries, cube reporting, template reports, and dashboards. 

"AgilOne's single customer view across online and offline channels gives us a holistic indicator of intention to buy, as well as customers' desired medium for transactions, directly leading to more sales." - Charlie Cole,TUMI, Chief Digital Officer

Identity Resolution 

AgilOne can cleanse and standardize data across all sources such as postal address, name, and phone number, as well as enrich customer data with first and third party attributes like income and demographic, social profile data, genderization, and geocoding. Our platform ensures data accuracy with exact and fuzzy matching to dedupe and stitch together online cookie and profile data and offline customer data into a single, persistent ID, even if there is only a partial name, address, or email match. 

"We needed a partner with an all-in-one technology that could solve our data silo issues and unite our customer profiles across all channels to provide actionable insights to inform and shape our marketing strategy." - Kylie McCarthy, Clarks, Director Performance Marketing, E-Commerce

Unifying Online and Offline Data 

AgilOne's pre-built connectors and APIs easily combine first party customer, transaction, and engagement data from every location and channel so you can gain insights and deliver consistent, orchestrated experiences. Additionally, our services and engineering teams can work with you to create custom, flexible, enterprise-grade integrations to ensure all of your company's data is unified and actionable. Through these integrations, customer, transaction, and engagement data from every location and channel can be used to deliver consistent customer experiences. 

"With AgilOne, we're able to look at data from digital and physical touch points and predict how a customer will behave so we can serve the next best action." - Catherine Laporte, DAVIDsTEA, Vice President Marketing & E-Commerce

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