How to know the difference between CDP and CRM?

Here’s how Customer Data Platform is reinventing customer relations

Using a Customer Data Platform is helping companies to focus obsessively on their customers and benefit from their engagement.

You need to know your customers—this isn’t any news. It doesn’t matter if you want to make them more engaged, optimize your budget for campaigns, or improve your ROI.

Customer accurate information is at the heart of every company and should be treated correctly to generate powerful outcomes from your marketing efforts.

If you don’t have a consistent understanding of your consumers, then all your strategies will likely go down the drain.

But how exactly do you get to act like you actually know your customers? The answer is simple: by managing their data.

In order to treat data thoroughly and reach your customer relationship goals, you might come across the need to use the right technologies. This is when the Customer Data Platform (CDP) walks in.

A Customer Data Platform monitors and tracks several data sources to bring relevant information in a single hub that’s easy to access and understand.


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Once implemented, CDPs collect, integrate, manage, and analyze customer data continuously. These automated processes help many teams to focus on solving complex problems that require a human brain while a Customer Data Platform brings fresh, real-time data to be leveraged and turned into marketing master plans.

Why do companies use Customer Data Platforms?

Is there a reason why companies implement a Customer Data Platform in their business models? Yes, many.

According to Gartner, plenty of marketers look to customer data-driven strategies to deliver growth. For an example, marketers invested two-thirds of their budget in supporting relationships with their customers in 2017 and 2018. 

Still, they have found the technology they were using to be frustrating—until CDP’s unique upshots came out as a solution to their problems.

A Customer Data Platform reaches out for several channels and concentrates real-time data in a single place your team can access whenever it is convenient.

This stimulates a collaborative work environment and speeds the pace of operational routines. Customer Data Platforms are also known for making marketers’ lives less complicated since they automate workflows that would take too many working hours to be accomplished.

The other reason companies use Customer Data Platforms is that they are much more than a simple database. According to the CDP Institute, the ideal Customer Data Platform should contain five essential capabilities:

  • Absorb data from any source
  • Give full details of ingested data
  • Store data without end and frequently
  • Create unified profiles (such as personas)
  • Share data with any system that needs it

All of the five skills above drive brands into having a vigorous understanding of their customer base by collecting and analyzing reliable data across their marketing channels.


CDP: the biggest challenge in marketing and sales

What types of data does a Customer Data Platform assess?

The types of customer data assessed by a CDP can be quantitative and qualitative. 

In other words, by using a CDP, you will be able to figure out:

  • How to identify your customers, using personal data
  • How to interact with your customers, using interactional data
  • How customers expect to be impacted by experiences, using behavioral data
  • How your customers perceive your brand, using attitudinal data

The datasets above are being generated at all times in any digital environment and should be combined to create an unbeatable and absolute customer understanding. 

But how do CDPs gather such different information? 

They reach out to analytics reports, engagement measures, support occurrences, eCommerce metrics, and customer feedback (to quote a few), to maximize your knowledge and equip you with fast, accurate moves.

This is the main reason why CDPs are revolutionizing the way brands communicate with customers and vice-versa. They are an unlimited and underlying base for companies to create remarkable customer experiences and increase customer engagement in a way we have never seen before.

The effects of CDP in customer experience

A Customer Data Platform grants companies with an invincible competitive advantage: passionate customers that keep being fed with reasons to remain brand loyal.

Historically, we can see customers have adopted technologies faster than the brands they interact with. This made companies try to embrace digital transformation technologies focused on customer experience to reach out to consumers where they are and how they want.

Expanding your brand’s online presence to talk to customers in multiple channels isn’t enough, though. Any company can create an Instagram account and interact with its audience then and there, right? 

However, the ones that truly stand out are focused on delivering personalized, relevant, well-designed interactions that take place as soon as customers want.

Tailored customer interactions should happen anywhere, at any time. This is the main reason why organizations around the world are digitizing their business models. According to the Boston Consulting Group Research, personalization will drive an $800 billion revenue shift to the top 15% of companies that work best on it, in only three industries.


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I know what you’re thinking: that’s much profit for a small number of companies—and yes, it is. Even so, it sounds like a warning: companies that aren’t ready to turn personalization ordinary in their marketing campaigns, will be left stranded.

As you know, doing a great job on personalization is all about knowing everything there is to know about your customers and quickly activating your knowledge when needed. 

Can you notice any coincidences between this goal and the usage of a CDP?

How CDPs are reinventing customer relations

If you’re leading digital initiatives to deepen the relationship between your customers and your brand, you should pay attention to the changes CDPs are leading in customer management and how it differs from other popular marketing tools.

A Customer Data Platform is way more complete than a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. 

CRM will tell you how to personalize and improve existing customer relationships. Meanwhile, a CDP will do that and indicate how you can improve products and services, as well as what you should do to attract new customers.

With the new untapped potential CDPs unleash, companies are growing more confident in meeting market changes and customers’ preferences. Hesitating in our competitive world is not an option anymore, and data-driven marketing plays a vital role in feeding companies with unequivocal customer interactions.

Ahead, we have numbered a few ways Customer Data Platforms are reinventing customer relations to inspire you and your team.

1. A CDP enables segmentation opportunities

While it simultaneously optimizes strategies, a CDP provides companies with a 360-degree view of customers to act on an essential customer experience requirement: segmentation.

Segmenting customers by specific traits, behaviors, attitudes, and others, is an amazing opportunity to create tailored marketing touchpoints throughout their journey and attract them with meaningful content. 

When based on data, segmentation is an unmatched growth engine that encourages customer loyalty and enhances profitability.

2. A CDP gives your interactions a personal touch

Similarly, you can not spell personalization without customer data. 

Owning a Customer Data Platform will help you quickly access reliable information to customize customer interactions, making your consumers feel special, and long-term relationships feasible.

Many companies are using CDP for Customer Data Management. See below how their tactics connect with top-level personalization:

3. A CDP enriches customer relationships

There isn’t enough emphasis on how knowing your customers is essential for customer relations.

People expect to be treated accordingly to their visions as much as they wish to connect emotionally with brands. A single miscommunication can harm brand-customer relationships irreparably.

As soon as you have a panoramic view of your customers’ habits, preferences, needs, and issues, you should feel more confident in building specific touchpoints that elevate the customer journey and make customers want to hang around you for longer.

Owning a Customer Data Platform will also measure the effectiveness of your customer loyalty programs and help you find what groups of customers deserve attention according to their lifecycle.


CDP: the biggest challenge in marketing and sales

3. A CDP is agile

Agile methodologies are the perfect response to a world that is changing every day, every hour. CDPs take our ever-changing environment into consideration and let your team access specific data whenever it needs, contributing to an agility mindset.

Agility layers can be used to shape CDP frameworks that adjust to your company’s infrastructure, turning data sharing into a reality. CDPs also absorb data from other internal systems, like CRMs and Data Management Platforms (DMPs) you might already have.

Apart from that, CDPs update in real-time. This allows you to assess micro-moments data and instantly operationalize it.

4. A CDP ingests data from any source

Your customers are everywhere these days, right? You can find them on social media, navigating on your website, reading your emails, downloading your app, taking a look at your physical store… The interaction possibilities between your customer and your brand are countless.

If truth be told, it truly doesn’t matter where your customers are and what they’re doing—whether they’re reading your blog or using your chatbot, data is being generated at all times, collected from simple interactions to complex operations.

A Customer Data Platform reaches out to any source of information, from Live Chats to SEO, from blogging to Twitter, from customer loyalty to affiliate marketing programs to provide your company with everything there is to know about your potential and current consumers.

5. A CDP elevates digital transformation

To put it out simply, a digital transformation process should rely on—and a lot!—on a Customer Data Platform.

By watching digital-native organizations, it becomes clear that many technologies can be embedded to digitize businesses. 

However, it is worthless to implement technologies that don’t accurately connect with customers’ needs. Digital transformation starts and ends with the customer, transcending traditional marketing, sales, and customer service roles. 

That being said, without a reliable Customer Data Platform, companies who are digitizing their operations will mostly fail to unleash the real potential of a digital transformation.

Digital-native companies have already built their business model based on collecting data and responding to customers’ needs with high-level experiences. 

These companies combine traditional marketing strategies, such as loyalty programs, with groundbreaking digital initiatives that connect with customers in real-time and engross their engagement.

Remember: It is crucial to direct your digital transformation efforts into interactions that engage your audience, and a Customer Data Platform is intimately related to that.

It taps into your databases to unify relevant information and operationalize customer knowledge, delivering targeted experiences that will delight and retain your customers.

It should also be stated that CDPs assist companies in taking a step back and revisiting their processes to leverage technology cleverly. 

For example, Netflix was quick to turn its service into a scalable streaming platform that replies to customers’ demands. The now-sector-leading company could only reinvent itself because it took a very attentive look at customer data and responded accordingly.

Align your digital initiatives with the power of a Customer Data Platform

While IT staff has been skeptical for a while, digital leaders all around the world have been engrossing CDP in their workflows and getting amazing results from data management automation. 

Not only has treating data flawlessly been helping these leaders come up with customer-centric solutions, but it has optimized their budget and turned manual work more effective.

Forbes Insights highlighted that 44% of surveyed organizations stated a Customer Data Platform is helping drive customer loyalty and increase ROI.

Arena serves customers from 120 different countries and sees firsthand how the fast-paced digital environment influences global market changes day after day. 

That is why we work to build awareness for digital leaders and marketers to embrace Customer Data Platforms in their full potential and boost customer engagement.

In case you need to further your research towards the CDP role for the upcoming years, download our Customer Data Platform 2020: the future of marketing and sales ebook and take a deeper dive.


CDP: the biggest challenge in marketing and sales