Best Customer Data Platform

Find out why customer data platforms (CDPs) are an important marketing tool. Learn more about several of the top CDPs for your business.
Customer data platforms (CDPs) are important marketing and research tools for businesses. The easiest way to think of CDP is a piece of software that gathers vital data from the internet. Your CDP collects information on how customers find your websites, what pages they look at and what search results led them to your store in the first place. All this information is placed into a customer profile. You can apply customer profiles to different advertising platforms. Your customers then automatically receive custom tailored ads based on their references, without you having to take the time individually targeting your ads for each customer.

For example, if you run a clothing store and your customer found your site searching for jeans and did not look at other products, whenever he or she gets clothing ads, the ads will be centered around jeans. How often the ads appear depends on other factors, such as what other stores he or she searched for and the overall level of interaction. Some factors include how long the customer was on the site, whether he or she searched other sites and if he or she visited the page multiple times. There are more direct factors as well, such as whether the customer signed up for an account or made a purchase.

Breaking down CDPs

Because CDPs look at so much data it can be overwhelming to understand how the platform benefits your business. There are many benefits to CDPs, but most are broken down into one of three categories. The first is identity resolution. Identity resolution is what the software uses to create user profiles. It looks at the browsing history across all the user’s device, determining what keywords they used to find your website and what they are most interested in based on the pages they view.

Another benefit is trait and audience building. This is the bulk of what CDPs provide for businesses. Your CDP takes all the data compiled in user profiles and finds applicable uses for the information. Most notably, it integrates with other advertising software to generate ads based on interest. For example, many businesses use their CDPs to advertise across social media. Your CDP will automatically upload a user profile, resulting in ads for your store showing up for that user.

The final category is activation. Activation is an extension of audience building. When your CDP integrates with advertising software, it continues to push information, updating the user profile in real time. If the user starts looking at various parts of your page, your CDP starts generating more ads based on what the customer looked at. It will prioritize the ads based on previous search terms the customer used across not only your site, but the sites connected to your CDP.

Data Gathering

A common concern among businesses is whether CDPs are invasive. Customers value their privacy and are often critical with companies that gather too much personal data. While CDPs heavily rely on customer data, it uses first-party data. First-party data is any information automatically collected for marketing purposes. Neither you or any advertisers you work with view the information, and it is never shared or sold to third parties. The goal of the first-party data is only to offer users a personalized, interest driven marketing experience without invading their privacy.

Even when generating reports, user information is kept private. You can use your CDP to view how many customers access a page or what the most common search terms are on your website. However, this information is always presented as a statistic and never tells you what user specifically was browsing your website.

Choosing the Right CDP

There are many CDPs to choose from. Many are built with general businesses in mind, but some are for specific markets. There are several important considerations before you to commit to a purchase. First, speak with your marketing team to get their input. Your marketing team manages most of the data. If you select a program, they are unfamiliar with, your marketing will suffer. Most CDP providers offer a free trial, ranging from a few days to a month. Always take advantage of these to see how well a program works for your marketing team.

Another important consideration is compatibility. While most CDPs seamlessly integrate with other programs, this is not always the case. Make a list of your most important advertisers. If you do not see compatibility with these advertises listed, contact the CDP provider for clarification.

Cost is another consideration. The average price of a CDP varies. Unlike other programs, most companies offer custom quotes based on your needs and the size of your company. Most CDP providers offer monthly or yearly memberships. Some providers have different membership tiers, while others charge based on the number of users.


Segment is a popular CDP because it offers competitive pricing. There are three tiers of membership, starting at free and going up to $120 each month. Segment automates many tasks, making it easy to generate reports, even across multiple platforms. You can also setup various alerts and message other users directly through the CDP. It is also fully compatible with other popular marketing software, such as data analytics and sales tracking programs. While the free account only includes basic features, you can request a free demo to try out the higher tiers.

Oracle CX Marketing

Oracle CX Marketing is a cloud-based platform with extensive options for testing advertising campaigns and running cross-channel promotions across multiple platforms. In addition to tracking user profiles, it also lets you break down data by other categories, such as product sales, advertisement engagement and where the advertisement was displayed. The platform was also designed with social media engagement in mind, which is a key aspect of most online marketing. A free demo is available, but you must get a monthly quote directly from the provider.


Emarsys is an excellent starter CDP because it uses pre-designed cases based on what you hope to accomplish with your marketing. Advanced users can also customize and create their own cases as they become more comfortable with the program. Emarsys uses predictive AI to help anticipate your needs. The company also has some of the best reviews for customer service. You must contact the company directly for a quote.