What is a Customer Data Platform (CDP)?

Jan 31, 2022 | , , ,

Laura Bjerre Schwalbe

By Laura Bjerre Schwalbe


Reading Time: 3 minutes

A Customer Data Platform (CDP) is a software system that collects, organizes, and activates customer data from all sources to build comprehensive customer profiles. 
The CDP continues to be a hot topic in the world of marketing, sales, IT – basically any department that needs to take advantage of the large amounts of diverse customer data they store in many separate systems.

If you work within any of these fields, you might already be aware that a CDP is a must-have to collect and organize your customer data. But you might not fully understand what a CDP is and what problems it can solve for you.

We are here to break it all down for you.


What is Customer Data?

Imagine a customer looking for a new pair of running shoes.

Throughout the process, she might:

  • Browse around a site selling running shoes
  • Watch a few videos or blogs rating the top-sellers
  • Research customer reviews to make sure the site is safe
  • Check out the brand’s social media platforms for inspiration

By the time she finally makes a purchase somewhere, she has probably interacted with that brand on several different touchpoints, leaving a small footprint behind each time.

Customer data is exactly this: It’s the total collection of data stemming from anything from anonymous ad impressions to known purchases from every visitor interacting with your brand.

Today, companies are swimming in data (in part due to 3rd party data, which will soon be cut out by Google – read about the end of 3rd party data here), so organizing that data to get to know customers is all-important.

That is where a Customer Data Platform (CDP) comes in.

According to Forbes, one of today’s major challenges that retailers face is to take advantage of the great amount of POS, behavioral and ecommerce transactional data – from economic indicators to customer spend at competitors.

What is a Customer Data Platform (CDP)?

A Customer Data Platform is a software system that collects, organizes, and activates customer data from all sources to build comprehensive customer profiles.

If we return to our shoe-shopper from before, what was at first a plain and relatively anonymous customer profile slowly grows more and more detailed based on transactional, behavioral, or personal data. And the more detailed and accurate her profile becomes, the easier it is to deliver a personalized experience that resonates with her.

This is the ultimate advantage of a CDP. It stores, connects and unifies customer data and makes it available to all activation channels in your tech stack to create truly personalized customer experiences wherever consumers interact with your brand.

Every piece of data you have is streamed into the platform from every channel and customer touchpoint – your CRM, website, e-mail marketing platform, advertising campaigns, SMS, POS systems, social media, call center, or any other platform where the customer interacts with your brand.

And it all contributes to a unified customer profile – what we at Raptor Services call a Single Customer View.

What is a Single Customer View?

The Single Customer View is a database where all your customer data is stored in one place to get a full overview of a single customer.

This has many advantages, including simplification of GDPR compliance and most importantly, the ability to create a true 1:1 personalized customer experience.

While many companies have no shortage of customer data available to them, much of it is isolated and siloed, which makes it challenging to create a solid image of the sum of interactions a visitor has with your brand.

Through keychain technology, the CDP tracks the primary identifiers from your different channels and unifies them in a Single Customer View. In this process the CDP automatically removes duplicated idents and eliminates any conflicts between IDs.

This creates one, meaningful view of each customer that creates a sound foundation for personalized marketing.

Read about the 4 steps to personalize your customer’s journey

“Creating a single view of the customer must start with a 360° view of the customer. This is the biggest blind spot for retailers dealing with the disrupted marketplace”, Forbes.

What does a Customer Data Platform (CDP) do?

A Customer Data Platform (CDP) solves one of the hardest challenges facing businesses today:  Unifying and activating customer data across the organization, including known user data, in a way that benefits customers’ experiences. 


A CDP makes it possible to create a truly personalized experience for each customer, but the system also gives you a stable “arena” to grow from. When your customer base expands, the CDP will follow and make it possible to keep managing data and adding new channels as you go.  

The main purpose of a CDP is to seamlessly collect customer data in real-time from various data sources and activate this in relevant channels. It is also an operational platform that enables marketers to create advanced audiences based on customer data from all relevant sources.  


What a Customer Data Platform does best?

1. Understanding your customers


With a CDP you take data from any type of source, both online and offline, and create the Single Customer View that fosters quality personalization.

2. Improving customer trust


Customers are more comfortable sharing data in exchange for personalized experiences. However, they expect you to protect that data. 81 % of customers say that trusting a brand is a deciding factor in their purchase decision.


3. Securing customer-centric marketing 


To perform customer-centric marketing, you need to know your customers. A Single Customer Views always provides you with that knowledge in real time by automatically ingesting data from all sources. 


4. Predicting your customer’s next move


Instead of guessing what a visitor is likely to be interested in on your website, former behavior can predict their future choices thanks to AI and machine learning technology. Better predictions shape a better outcome and customer experience.


In short…

A Customer Data Platform is the key to understanding your customers and delivering a full omnichannel experience. There is no doubt that a CDP can be quite the complex venture, and this blog post only scratches the surface of what a CDP can offer your business.

From describing your use case to finding the right resources in your organization, there is much to prepare. But with the right knowledge – and with solid support along  the way – a CDP can truly transform the way you do marketing and sales.

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