Top 5 criteria to look for when choosing a Customer Data Platform (CDP)

Top 5 criteria to look for when choosing a Customer Data Platform (CDP)

Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are not new. Still, their importance has grown significantly over the past few years as organizations have begun to recognize the need to have a 360°view of their customers.  

What is a Customer Data Platform (CDP)? 

Simply speaking, a CDP is a marketing-focused solution that creates a persistent, unified customer profile that is accessible to other software, system, and marketing efforts. In a CDP, the data is collected from multiple sources, cleansed, combined and enriched to create a single or centralized customer profile. This structured data helps organizations improve marketing effectiveness and enhance customer experience. 

Benefits of a CDP 

An effective CDP can drive increased revenues by enabling the delivery of targeted, personalized content and offers to your customers. It will also strengthen your brand through tailored experiences and community-building activities. Finally, it can boost your marketing investment ROI as better data leads to better decisions. 


Choosing the right Customer Data Platform for your business is essential to unlocking the potential business value that it can deliver. This choice also impacts the length of time it takes to start realizing the benefits from investing in the technology. 

Factors to consider while choosing a CDP 

There are numerous turnkey or customizable offerings available, and it is also always possible to build your own. 

Here are some of the top five factors to consider when evaluating your options:

1. Breadth of pre-built data connectors for ingesting data 

The primary purpose of a CDP is to collect and unify customer data from as many different touchpoints (i.e., data sources) as possible. The ease with which you can connect to and pull data from these internal (ERP, CRM, PoS, Customer Loyalty/Support, and other martech tools) and external (social media, public information, third-party tools such as marketing automation ones, etc.) data sources will play a significant role in how fast you’re able to build out holistic and robust customer profiles. 

It’s also crucial that the chosen CDP allows you to create custom connectors so that are no limitations on the types and sources of data that you can integrate. 

This ability to create custom connectors will allow you to use existing internal and external data sources to enrich customer profiles by unlocking current customer data already in your systems: loyalty programs, customer support systems, billing, and more.

2. Can be easily managed and maintained by your marketing organization with very little reliance on IT 

Once the initial data connections have been configured and tested, the rest of the configuration effort should be something that marketers can perform on their own. It allows them to configure the solution to meet their specific needs while reducing the time and costs associated with the deployment of a new application.

3. Provides a secure and trustworthy customer data environment

Given the nature of the data involved, a CDP must adhere to the highest standards for data security and compliance. Solutions should provide data encryption between integrated systems and data sources while maintaining a secure authentication environment.

4. Data is immediately actionable

Suppose your CDP can take on some baseline capabilities like segmenting customers and calculating marketing-defined metrics (such as the Number of Purchases higher than $100). In that case, your marketing team can leverage this data faster and more effectively in their campaigns. 

Of course, it’s also crucial that the CDP provides access to the raw data so that you can apply AI and Machine Learning (ML) models for more advanced use cases.

5. Allows easy connection to visualization tools, app development platforms, and workflow automation tools

To enable faster time to value and a lower cost to deploy with less reliance on IT and consultants, your CDP should also be able to easily connect to visualization dashboarding tools, such as Microsoft Power BI or Tableau, be consumed by low to zero code app development platforms such as Microsoft Power Apps or AppSheet, and be integrated into business workflows automation tools such as Microsoft Flow or Zapier. 

In addition to these top 5 criteria, CDPs such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insight also allows companies to access data unique to the platform. 

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights 

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights is a leading CDP that takes the basic functionality of a CDP and augments it with its suite of advanced features and integrations, including out-of-the-box AI and ML models. 

It helps organizations unify all the customer data to provide AI-powered insights in real-time and understand customer behavior using digital and cross-channel analytics. 

Neal Analytics helps organizations to tailor their CDP, leverage specialized machine learning or AI models, or ingest data from multiple sources. Neal has an extensive library of data connectors and AI/ML models for Customer Insights and has deep expertise in building custom models and connectors for an organization in virtually any industry. 

Want to learn more about CDPs? Check out this free ebook:   

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This blog was originally published 11/25/2019.