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What is a CDP?

The driving force behind every great customer experience. Data’s beating heart. Martech’s game changer. These are just a few of the ways we can describe the customer data platform. But what exactly is a CDP and what role does it play in the delivery of exceptional customer experiences?

Table des matières

Table des matières

Quick insight

The CDP complements existing marketing strategies by activating customer insights, in real time, to trigger unique and memorable experiences for customers across advertising, marketing, e-commerce, and customer service.


What is a Customer Data Platform?

To start, let’s take a look at the Customer Data Platform Institute’s definition:

"A Customer Data Platform is packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems".

They break it down as follows:

  • "Packaged software": the CDP is a prebuilt system that is configured to meet the needs of each client. Some technical resources will be required to set up and maintain the CDP, but it does not require the level of technical skill of a typical data warehouse project. This reduces the time, cost, and risk and gives business users more control over the system, even though they may still need some technical assistance.
  • "Creates a persistent, unified customer database": the CDP creates a comprehensive view of each customer by capturing data from multiple systems, linking information related to the same customer, and storing the information to track behavior over time. The CDP contains personal identifiers used to target marketing messages and track individual-level marketing results.
  • "Accessible to other systems": data stored in the CDP can be used by other systems for analysis and to manage customer interactions.

This definition paints the CDP as a dynamic multi-tasker, tirelessly working behind the scenes to manage, process, and convert data into meaningful customer experiences. But, as David Raab, head of CDP Institute points out, not all CDPs are created equally. Differences that exist between CDP products include: the types of data they ingest, how they unify customer identities, the support they provide for real-time updates and queries, and ancillary capabilities such as machine learning, segmentation, message selection, and campaign management.

As we’ll see, the CDP has been evolving for some time, refining and improving its processes to meet (and exceed) the ever-changing expectations of customers.

Chapter 2

Key features of a CDP

Chapter 3

The evolution of the CDP

Over the past 10 years or so, marketing technology stacks have been leaning more and more on CDPs. It’s easy to see why. The CDP complements existing marketing strategies by activating customer insights, in real time, to trigger unique and memorable experiences for customers across advertising, marketing, e-commerce, and customer service. The latest and greatest development in the CDP landscape is the “Smart Hub CDP”. In this chapter, we’ll explore its advanced capabilities.

Smart Hub CDP Key Capabilities

The Smart Hub CDP is the “gold standard” of CDPs, a well-oiled machine that centralizes intelligence, providing businesses with a consistent view of the customer, a consistent set of segments, and a consistent overlay of intelligence, which ultimately improves alignment across departments. Here’s a breakdown of the components that contribute to the smooth running of the Smart Hub CDP:

  • The CDP capability is responsible for owning customer profiles (both anonymous profiles and customer profiles), as well as identity resolution. It uses that blend of data (engagement, behavior, customer history, transactions), to segment and build audiences.
  • The Smart capability manages digital decisioning. It takes data about individuals who are interacting with a product or site and figures out what’s the next best action, experience, or offer to push toward this person or segment depending on their scenario. Often, you’ll see experimentation and optimization built in to Smart CDPs to enable marketing teams, e-commerce teams, and digital teams to experiment with conversion rate optimization or a new feature rollout. You’ll also see predictive insights – AI that’s built into the platform, as well as activating AI that sits outside of the Smart Hub CDP.
  • The Hub capability drives personalization, engagement and orchestration – deciding how to use the data and intelligence ingested by the platform to surprise and delight customers at the right time with meaningful offers and experiences via the website, mobile app, social media, or email.

Chapter 4

CDPs and the future of marketing

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, companies have been raising their game like never before, investing heavily in their digital marketing strategies in order to adapt and survive. In a recent webinar with Boxever (recently acquired by Sitecore), Scott Brinker, editor of, discussed the transformative effects of the pandemic and its impact on the traditional rules of marketing. To meet new and emerging demands, he advises companies to focus their attention on centralizing, automating, decentralizing and humanizing everything they do, and embracing continuous change as they do it.

Sounds like a complicated balancing act, right? This is where the CDP comes in, primed and ready to sift through data, mold it into personalized campaigns, and offer your customers experiences that truly resonate. With digital marketing and personalization processes accelerating at an unprecedented pace, there really is no better time to embrace the CDP.

Learn more about the lightning-fast capabilities of Sitecore CDP or visit the Knowledge Center.

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