How to Choose a CDP Vendor?

5 min read

how to choose a CDP vendor

“Who uses a Customer Data Platform?”, technically anyone who wants to peep into their customers’ minds. And, if you are finding an answer on, “How to choose a CDP vendor?”, then you would have already experienced the need and importance of a Customer Data Platform in your marketing technology stack.

There are a few questions exclusive to your usecase that need to be answered by the CDP vendor, in-person. Before you start shooting those questions, we recommend you to run an exercise that lets you eliminate options that do not meet your ‘minimum criterion’ of a CDP. Our clients using have perceived different value and experienced a unique solution out of the same platform. One of the reasons FirstHive’s Customer Data Platform is conducive to multiple sectors is because of its ability to provide deep customizations to both B2B and B2C marketing problems.

The guide below, not only includes a set of questions that you need to ask your vendor, but also address questions pertaining to the minimum criterion that should be met while purchasing a CDP, how to convince the management about using a CDP, the evaluation process, and a CDP’s impact on your business.

Here are a few layers of information which you need to evaluate before choosing a CDP vendor. Your first step would be to evaluate the following criterion:

Evaluate Your Business Criterion

Answer some of the most basic questions and map those responses to the CDP’s domain expertise and align them with your needs. Many Enterprise-driven CDPs are capable of customizing their segments and create unique solutions for you.

  • What is the stage of your business?
  • What is the scale of your business?
  • What is your business model? Is it B2B or B2C?
  • Determine the industry sector: Retail/ Publishing/ Digital Products/ Manufacturing/ Healthcare/BFSI,etc?
  • Determine the pricing model: SaaS, any other subscription model, project model, hourly model? It helps you configure your analytics segment in the CDP better?
  • Maturity of marketing and marketer? This could mean that if you are marketer, then you may want to evaluate your maturity vs organizational maturity towards marketing.

Features of the CDP that you need

Each feature needs exclusive attention. Not all CDPs support the features listed below. However, few Enterprise CDPs or those recognized as full-stack CDPs help you add and remove features for different needs within your organization.

Data Ingestion

This is an obvious feature of CDP. If you don’t see this, then it is not a CDP. But, what draws the difference is the following set of questions.

  • How many data sources can your CDP support?
  • How many data formats can the CDP support?
  • Does the CDP include processes such as data cleansing, data standardization, classification, and so on?
  • How does data mapping occur?
  • What are the different types of data that a CDP can gather, correct and process?
  • How does data enrichment happen?
  • What are the methodologies used to unify customer data?
  • What are the deterministic and probabilistic methods used to enrich data?
  • Does CDP track both anonymous visitors and known customers across devices?
  • Does the CDP offer flexible and unlimited data retention?
  • What degree of data warehousing capabilities does your CDP have?
  • What data privacy regulations does it adhere to or is certified for?
  • Do you get to draw primary, secondary and tertiary data?

Analytics & Attribution

Thankfully a CDP can attribute back revenue contribution at a granular level and also measure multiple KPIs in a single dashboard. If the CDP you are evaluating cannot do this yet, then look into other alternatives. Smart CDPs also support with predictive analytics apart from website, mobile, social media or ad analytics. You will get read more about it in one of the subsequent sections below. Start evaluating this feature with the following questions.

  • What KPIs can the CDP include and measure?
  • List out the Channel KPIs and Business KPIs that can be measured.
  • How does the CDP help in tracking and measuring the customer buying journey?
  • What is included in campaign analytics?
  • Does it support data querying for data analysts?
  • How does the CDP support programmatic advertising?
  • What devices can it integrate with and track metrics? For eg: desktop, mobile, sensors, beacons, PoS machines, etc.
  • What degree of insights will be available for a marketer?
  • How are permissions handled?
  • How much of cohort analysis is made possible?
  • Can analytics be customized?
  • What are the different levels of attribution that the CDP offers?

Data Distribution & Campaign Management

After successfully ingesting data pertaining to the customer, channel and other aspects, a marketer waits to kickstart campaigns and apply it to high-return contexts. However, what you may want to consider is the following:

  • How much of the data needs to be further transported onto a third party tool to begin the campaign?
  • Does the CDP allow you to monitor and measure campaigns on the same platform?
  • How many tools can be integrated into the CDP to manage campaigns from a single platform?
  • Can budgets be managed using the CDP?
  • Can the triggers and rules be configured using the CDP?
  • How many campaigns does the CDP support? Does it allow multi-channel campaign management?
  • Can you orchestrate campaigns across different channels at the same time?
  • While the campaigns are active or paused, will the new data be compliant to international privacy rules and regulations?
  • List down the campaign types that can be managed. For eg: Display targeting, Lookalike models for Google Customer Match and Facebook and Instagram custom audiences, Email marketing, etc.
  • Does it support clienteling apps for one-to-one personalization?

Loyalty Program & CDP Customizations

Having supported to implement many loyalty programs for our clients, we often hear questions about a CDP’s ability to engage existing customers that build brand loyalty among the existing customers. For eg: We have successfully implemented several high-return loyalty programs in partnership with Worldswipe, a rewards and loyalty management tool.

  • Who manages the reward system that includes points redemption, pay-outs, etc?
  • How can this increase multi-channel customer engagement?
  • How does this help your ROI?
  • Can this data be integrated into other campaigns?
  • How to manage cross-persona loyalty programs?

Cohort Management

This cannot be overlooked at any stage or scale of business. The success of cohort management is directly proportional to the increase in ROI. Better customer experience with granular customer identities and cohorts increase engagement and brand stickiness. What should you know about this feature?

  • How frequently do the cohorts get updated?
  • What data can be used and drawn to create more cohorts?
  • Can you set up rules and triggers that enhance the quality of cohorts?
  • What parameters can be used in the CDP to classify and allocate cohorts for campaigns?
  • Is there any automation involved? For eg: FirstHive allows its users to enjoy the luxury of auto-segmentation of cohorts with the use of AI and machine learning. So, over time the CDP learns from your inputs and intelligently recommends cohort upgrades.

Predictive Analytics & AI Capabilities

With so much integration happening, you may want to understand how your CDP can make your day smarter than before. The words ‘Artificial Intelligence’ makes everything sound larger than life. But, honestly, you may want to spend some quality time evaluating this feature.

‘Insights’ are a gold mine for a marketer.

And, this is how you can find out the capabilities of predictive analytics in a CDP.

  • What are the reporting integrations available?
  • What are the advanced reporting features of the CDP?
  • Find out about the exclusive capabilities such as predictive lead scoring, predicting procurement levels, campaign budget adjustments, offers and discounts, process failures, and so on.
  • What are the statistical techniques used?
  • How does it help real-time activities such as dropout rate, conversion rates, loyalty, etc?
  • Identifying risks and opportunities
  • Can your team get a personalized recommendation engine?
  • Can the CDP help with information and insights on a customer’s preferred store location; recent website, email, or mobile activity; preferred method of communication; likelihood to buy and churn; and shopping, product repair, and return histories?
  • How does the predictive ability help you in decision making?

Organizational Alignment & CDP’s Impact On Your Business

Is your organization ready for a Customer Data Platform? Ask your team.

77% of survey respondents believe that they’ve had a somewhat or significant increase in access to useful data over the past year. This indicates that organizations that back their decisions with insightful data experience ROI success. Customers of FirstHive have already experienced a 6X increase in ROI with the inclusion of CDP into their marketing and technology strategy.

So, what does all this mean to your organization? Use of a CDP and its right use would translate into

  • Increased Revenues
  • Increased ROI; nominal or no increase in costs.
  • Better Brand Loyalty
  • More Customers
  • More Selling Opportunities
  • Elimination of a Siloed Culture
  • Seamless Information System Integration
  • Better Data Management
  • Better Lifetime Value of Customers

CDP Purchase Evaluation Process

Before you start deep diving into the features of the CDP, here is a short step-by-step checklist that will help you purchase the right tool.

  1. Setting Context: Set your organizational goals that a CDP should accomplish
  2. Internal Alignment: Align with the other key decision makers and the top management about the need for a CDP.
  3. Research: Create a fundamental criterion, without which the adoption of a Customer Data Platform may turn out to be meaningless. Create use cases that can be communicated to the vendors. This will help in receiving more accurate solutions from the vendors.
  4. Request Demos: Get a first-hand experience over a demo.
  5. Review: Request for industry-specific success stories and testimonials to validate the vendor claims.
  6. Due Diligence: Read through the fine print and privacy policy. Ensure that your CDP partner complies with international data privacy standards such as the GDPR.
  7. Comparison: Compare your criteria with the proposed CDP solution and its features.
  8. Purchase: Make the best choice.

Share your use cases with us and our team will respond with the possible solutions to help you achieve your objectives.