3 minute read

Why CDPs Can Fall Short for Marketers (and What to Consider Instead)

Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are a popular topic among B2C marketers looking to manage all of their customer data in one place. This is especially true as consumers are more conscious of their privacy—and as personalization continues to be the #1 priority across every industry.

But while CDPs offer an alluring pitch to unify disparate data, Forrester states that “CDPs are a Band-Aid solution to a much larger challenge… Data has become bigger, faster, and more complex, and marketers have to activate it on more channels.” To help enterprise marketers further understand these complexities and shortcomings, Forrester released a report titled “For B2C Marketers, Customer Data Platforms Overpromise and Underdeliver.”

Top Findings & Takeaways

Forrester analysts Joe Stanhope and Stephanie Liu received product overviews and demos from 18 self-identified CDPs—all of which have a purpose to “centralize customer data from multiple sources and make it available to systems of insight and engagement.” 

A few of their findings include:

  • CDPs aren’t solving critical issues. While some offer basic features, many CDPs don’t offer the advanced level of identity resolution and cross-channel execution marketers need to be productive.
  • CDPs are overcrowding the space. Adding a CDP also means adding yet another solution into the mix that doesn’t allow marketers the opportunity to consolidate their existing stack. In addition, Forrester says a CDP might be too hands-on for the busy team that would be utilizing it.
  • CDPs are lacking key data features. While CDPs can act as a primary data ingestion point, Forrester says marketers need solutions that dive into and solve various data complexities. Forrester also found that each vendor is very different in their offerings, typically falling into one of four main buckets, defined below:

What Marketers Should Keep in Mind

Along with top takeaways, Forrester gives some great tips on the solutions marketers need to go after instead. First things first, they suggest for marketers to evaluate their existing technology before diving into a CDP and make sure they’re not duplicating services—do your current tools and vendors already do some of the things that a CDP promises? Better yet, do they do them better, and/or offer various orchestration, automation, and activation capabilities a CDP can’t fulfill?

Forrester also suggests that marketers who are looking for a Customer Data Platform need to drive decisions based on the bucket (data pipes, orchestration, automation, measurement) that most supports their needs. 

Our Take on CDPs

CDPs mean well (and really any solution that ingests and unifies data could be considered one, including SmarterHQ), but to us, B2C marketers should be more focused on the advanced capabilities of data activation many CDPs promise but can’t deliver on.

SmarterHQ offers customer data management, but we also provide much more than what a CDP can. To start, we have advanced identity resolution capabilities, allowing clients to manage and unify all of their data into a single customer profile and history. This echoes Forrester’s claim in the report that “Accurate, scalable, and durable customer identification is fundamental to modern marketing, and no supplier category is better positioned at this nexus of data and activation than identity resolution.” We then allow clients to activate their customer data, leverage predictive models, identify audiences in real time, and automate personalized content across their sales channels.  

When it comes down to it, marketers need to focus on choosing a solution that allows them to make data actionable through automation, personalization, and easy integration with internal systems and vendors in their marketing stack—allowing them to be more efficient with less effort on their part.

Read the full Forrester report here.