What is a Customer Data Platform (CDP)?

First things first

A Customer Data Platform (CDP), so far, is a marketing tool that has escaped definition. There are a lot of ideas out there as to what a CDP should be, do, and look like, but the technology is still young, and we’re only beginning to define what a CDP actually is. Here’s how Gartner describes a CDP:

“A CDP is a marketing system that unifies a company’s customer data from marketing and other channels to enable customer modelling and optimize the timing and targeting of messages and offers.”

What is CDP

We think that’s a pretty good way of describing, in simple terms, what a CDP should do. The key is that you’re working with first-party data – email, CRM, online, offline, app engagement, sales, and more of the data you already have (likely siloed off in different systems).

The goal is simple: data unification and activation

Tag managers, CRMs, DMPs, and other data platforms are good to great at housing data, but not all data is equal. They also fall short when it comes to getting the insights derived from it to the people and systems that need it. We’re not talking about analytics and dashboards, we’re talking about actually capitalizing on what all those systems are telling you. As Gartner defines it, a CDPA is a marketer-friendly, web-based interface that:

  • Data Collection
  • Profile Unification
  • Segmentation
  • Activation

Collecting, connecting, tagging, identifying, analyzing, and delivering first-party customer data to business users in an actionable format is complicated. But, anything that doesn’t do all of these things simply is not a CDP.

The Single Customer View

A crucial element of any CDP is the single customer view. We know that this isn’t some kind of new effort, not by a long shot. Businesses know the value of the single customer view, and they’ve been working to get it done for decades. There are two parts of this problem:

  1. High hopes put on CRM systems which, in reality, are simply databases for transactional data – at best, and tools for managing the activity of sales people at worst. Either way, they didn’t live up to the promise.
  2. The growing landscape of touchpoints where consumers interact with businesses – online, offline, events, social, and so on. It’s not easy to catch up – and stay caught up – with fast-changing consumer behavior if you’re using legacy technology and a complicated, diverse marketing tech stack that doesn’t integrate smoothly.

The single customer view, leveraging fully-integrated first-party data – both offline and online – is not an easy problem to solve. But, businesses are finally realizing just how crucial it is to their success.

Focus on CLV

Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) may be the single most important metric in business. With all of your first-party data unified and activated via CDP, focusing on the big picture becomes much easier. Building rich custom audiences based on the full range of your customer data means marketing teams be delivering quality content with the right messages at the right time. With an effective CDP, marketing teams can cater to repeat customers, approach specific segments, and react to trends in real time.


There are a ton of powerful systems on the market for collating, analyzing, and visualizing data. The whole philosophy behind a CDP is that the front end – the data activation piece – is as easy to use as possible. No more data mining requests to the IT team, no more analysts spending their time with exports – just a simple interface that any non-technical marketer can use.

Jana Marle Zizkova

CEO | Founder Jana is the co-founder and CEO of Meiro. She is passionate about data, tea, art, diversity, and her non-profit initiative @Shelovesdata.
You might also like:

How can Meiro help boost your business?

Whether you’re looking for operational efficiencies or improved marketing effectiveness through data activation, our customer data platform can help.