skip to main content

Examining Various Use Cases for a CDP

  • Jason Skelton

Created at July 31st, 2020

Examining Various Use Cases for a CDP

CDPs, DMPs, other platforms… I think there’s one thing for sure in life at the moment, the world of “markitechture” can be complex to navigate! We only need to see the latest edition of the Marketing Technology LUMAscape to track the exponentially growing number of marketing technologies. 

So it’s no surprise many organizations may not know which technology best aligns to their desired business outcomes, what each platform is designed to achieve – or even more basic than that, which martech solutions are out there in the first place. 

In fact, if you’re considering investing in a customer data platform (CDP) solution, it’s fairly common that one or maybe all of these scenarios are running though your mind:

  1. I’ve heard the buzz. I need to understand what a CDP is, whether I need one, and likely use cases.
  2. I believe my business needs a CDP and I know possible use cases. But how should I approach selecting a solution, and ensuring I’ve got a plan to drive value from it?
  3. I have a CDP, but would like to know how to optimize it (or even replace it), expand use cases and ultimately generate more value. My team needs additional skills and needs to learn more best practices to drive better performance from our CDP.
  4. My CDP is great, but there are certain areas where I think the functionality needs a little enhancement, and I’m not sure the integration between the CDP and my existing martech ecosystem is working the best it could.

It can be difficult to know where to begin. And when you consider that your existing martech ecosystem, business goals and team’s skill sets all impact the best martech investment choices for your business uniquely – it’s clear to see why many marketers seek the advice of expert professional services partners to expedite your investment’s speed to delivering value.


To clarify a common, initial platform question – how do CDPs differ from DMPs (data management platforms)?

  • At a high level, a CDP, or customer data platform, helps collect, and unify, an organization’s first party customer data (PII-based, cookie IDs, device IDs, etc.)  into a single data ecosystem. A CDP allows you to build audience segments and provides a real-time activation layer for your direct and digital advertising and other channels.
  • A DMP focuses on the management of anonymous data sets, and creates and manages audiences to enable audience segmentation, analysis and optimization.

As you can see, there is some crossover here – and there are many other technologies that can be combined with a CDP and a DMP to further optimize a marketing ecosystem to improve results; typical areas include enhanced identity resolution services, first party data hygiene and enrichment services. 

Understanding CDP use cases

So which situations and use cases are best for a CDP?

CDPs offer benefits across multiple use cases. They:

  • Enable marketers to manage customer views, and create universal consumer views, by resolving identity across channels.
  • Connect with other marketing applications and technologies to collect and integrate data across offline and digital systems.
  • Create segments for real-time marketing applications.
  • Expose data to other systems – including customer analytics and customer engagement platforms
  • Enable real-time personalization to drive great personalized experiences
  • Allow real-time decisions so customers are getting the best services at every touch-point.

Overall, this means CDP platforms offer great features and functionality; these benefits help achieve an integrated, centralized data platform – making it an attractive choice for marketers looking for an omnichannel solution to address their key requirements. 

However, as the scope of CDPs’ capability can vary between vendors, there can be some areas where functionality could still be improved, or will require support from other technologies (such as identity management, or first party data hygiene services and enrichment). An organization may also need (or have) more than one CDP connected within an ecosystem to realize maximum value for the features they have.

Because of this, and because data marketers need a wide range of varying capabilities and technologies to achieve their goals, it’s common to seek the advice of a professional services expert that can clarify how best to select the right technologies, use them, and integrate them into a wider marketing business process.

Does a CDP fit your needs?

If it sounds like a CDP might fit your use case requirements, it’s still important to run through a few evaluation considerations first.

When considering a vendor, experience, flexibility, scalability and scope of integration in the enterprise are all core considerations. Yet the decision is complex! So when evaluating a CDP:

  • Step back from the hype. Are you sure a CDP is the right solution for your requirements, or are you simply following the buzz? Conduct a careful assessment of your organization’s needs and desired business outcomes – you’ll need them to identify which solutions will help you meet them.
  • Assess your inhouse skill sets. Does your team have the right skills to integrate, optimize and drive value from any new martech investment? Are you organized in the right way?
  • Consider your existing marketing technology. What does your martech ecosystem look like – and can it integrate seamlessly with your choice of CDP? Should you be looking to integrate or replace? Now might be the time to upgrade or replace any legacy technology.
  • Can your CDP choice provide a complete, high-quality single customer view? Does the CDP meet capabilities such as data quality and standardization, identity resolution and identity management? Or will you need other additional technologies? It’s true what they say – you get out what you put in! How can you give people the best experiences if your customer profiles aren’t being managed in the right way in the first place.
  • Identify what data your CDP can manage. CDPs commonly manage known customer data, including personally identifiable information (PII). Yet it’s important to consider what other data a prospective CDP can handle that is aligned with your objectives. For example: can the CDP manage customer data from all the source systems you need? Does it adhere to data governance rules and privacy-compliant processes to ensure personal data is used correctly? Are you required to comply with strict regulations such as FCRA, HIPAA, PCI, CCPA or GDPR, need to manage sensitive or special category personal data (such as ethnic origin, health, sexual orientation, religious or political affiliation data), or limit how the personal data is moved across national/regional borders? 
  • Do you have a data strategy in place? A considered data strategy is crucial to support optimal use and implementation of your CDP and will ensure you drive true value. You must ask yourself: at its most basic are you collecting the right data to be able to make meaningful decisions to drive value? If you are unclear on this, partnering with an experienced service provider can provide clarity on specific insight and recommendations to support your business objectives.
  • Consider analytics and measurement use cases. Do you require a solution to support omnichannel analytics, real-time decisioning, etc? Like all technologies, many CDPs are stronger in certain areas than others – so make sure you take a good look at the strengths of each platform and choose one that maps to your key business requirements.

Again, because of the vast scope of solutions, features and capabilities available in the CDP market, partnering with a professional services expert can help you identify the best fit for your specific business requirements – and identify a roadmap for improvement and generating optimal ROI.

Ensure organizational buy-in – and drive success

As with any martech investment, buying a CDP requires having a clear roadmap to success. That includes ensuring initial buy-in, team collaboration as the solution is rolled out, and analyzing ongoing results.

Often the advice of an experienced professional services partner can help generate and execute this roadmap. With a heritage in building custom data solutions for more than 50 years, Acxiom recognizes that the CDP landscape is complex, with the CDP Institute tracking about 100 CDPs – and so is uniquely able to inform, advise, and make recommendations to clients as they navigate through the complex martech landscape.

Prioritizing that CDP roadmap to success, Acxiom follows a professional services framework – “the 5 Es” – designed to help clients select, implement and quickly get value from CDPs. 

These are:

  • Evaluate – Validating the current and required capabilities from audience, investment, technology, people and skills perspectives.
  • Experience – Ensuring the solution meets all business requirements for delivering the client’s goals.
  • Enable – Designing the right end-to-end solution to meet business objectives in prioritized phases. 
  • Engage – Developing the required marketing communications strategy and processes based on the power of the technology platform.
  • Embed – Supporting internal teams to realize the full potential of the new platform.

The result? Marketers working with Acxiom on these 5 E’s can be confident of choosing the right CDP, for the right use cases, to ensure a successful CDP implementation, integration and ongoing optimization that delivers.