6 things to look for when evaluating CDP vendors

In a digital world, it's amazing how much brands can understand about their customers. 

People interact with brands in myriad ways, from signing up for email lists to shopping online, in-store and via app, and capturing those actions within a single view unlocks a trove of insights about how real people tick.

One powerful tool to do that is a customer data platform (CDP). These pieces of martech are designed to organize customer data and develop insights. At their most basic, they're places for brands to pull together their existing data in a single view, but at their most complex, they can actually enhance a brand's first-party data to develop rich customer profiles and drive better-performing campaigns on a person-level

Marketers looking to build person-first marketing across owned and paid channels should look for a CDP that does more than just organize data. Here are six essential capabilities to look for

Persistent, stable and continually fresh identity 

A key factor that sets CDPs apart is identity resolution. Many brands have a lot of first-party data at their fingertips, and can glean important insights from that alone. But any brand's own customer data is inherently incomplete —it's only looking at what customers are doing inside a brand's owned channels. Even the largest brands with the most first-party data don't have a view into every facet of a single customer.

Imagine if you could know what your customers are doing outside your brand? To truly understand a customer--and market to them accordingly--you need to have that holistic picture, which goes far beyond your first-party data. Identity resolution identifies real people across channels with a unique, privacy-compliant ID, and maintains an accurate, constantly optimized view of them as they evolve. When this is built directly into a CDP, this means brands can take their existing customer data and start filling in the gaps of things they don't know: what they buy, what they browse, what they watch and on what devices.

It also deduplicates a customer file by finding people with multiple devices or emails (common identifiers brands use to "count" a customer) and mapping all of those back to one person. A normal CDP might just take all of your data and organize it for you, which wouldn't necessarily de-dupe issues already in your data, it just exacerbates them. 

A secure, privacy-forward framework that makes marketers feel in control 

Privacy is critical in today's digital age. The right CDP will have privacy not only built into it, but a way to ensure that as privacy policy continues to evolve, brands will be able to stay up-to-date with the latest developments while maintaining marketing effectiveness.

When we're talking about first-party data, it's easy to assume the majority of people in your system have opted in and want to receive marketing communications from you. But it's not always that simple when you get to the activation step, as the channels where you may want to reach those people are outside of your "first-party data" purview. Again, with an underlying identity layer, you can pseudonymize your first-party data (aka stripping away the personally identifiable information, or PII), so you can reach all of your customers and people like them across activation channels. This keeps your first-party data secure and your customers' privacy at the forefront. 

And you want a CDP that is proactive in letting the customer decide what they're comfortable with, too. This includes preferred (or unpreferred) device settings and contact information. Your solution should honor a customer's preferences and consent. That's how you build strong relationships.

Current audience insights that drive intelligent campaigns 

People are not stagnant. What we loved one, five or ten years ago might not be the same today. Which is why its so important to understand your customers as they change.

AI and machine learning models allow you to predict your customers' needs before they happen by using digital signals that show interest and intent to drive highly relevant media activation. If your CDP maintains key things about your customers, they can anticipate what they do (and don't) need. Did they move out of market? Are they starting a family? Did they suddenly (and somewhat inexplicably) get really into mountain biking? 

These are the things that help you create compelling customer experiences that change and adapt as much as your customers do

Person-based, closed-loop measurement and optimization

Customer data enhanced by identity resolution enables person-based measurement because you can follow the customer journey on an individual level. You can construct a multistep journey with real-time personalization across all channels (both owned and paid), and then see the individual outcome of a campaign. Did this person click on this ad? Did they buy a product? Did they sign up for a newsletter or loyalty program? 

This is also true in aggregate. Richer insights help group together like-individuals, so you can not only see what worked for one person, but you can also see what worked for people who are like them, too. This means you're able to prove your strategies and pivot when something isn't giving the type of return you'd hoped for. 

A solution that fits into your tech stack 

CDPs are often bespoke products that work on their own, but having a CDP that can plug and play into your existing tech stack makes it not only work smoother, but it also creates better connectivity from where the data is housed to where it is activated.  

Look for CDPs with next-generation technology that integrate easily with what you already have, specifically what adtech you're using to deliver campaigns. When tech works together, you have less data loss, higher data fidelity and can streamline important customer insights gleaned from a CDP directly into your campaigns. 

A proven partner with experience

Perhaps most importantly, you want a CDP vendor who you can count on. Epsilon Customer, a CDP product, has identity built into it. By using CORE ID, an industry-leading identity solution, Epsilon Customer not only organizes a brand's first-party data, it cleans and enhances it with proprietary and third-party data sets, meaning you have a deeper understanding of your customers on a person-level.

It also is built with activation in mind. Epsilon Customer is designed to work with media activation solutions to drive higher performing campaigns. When coupled with Epsilon Digital, we offer delivery at scale across channels and devices that reach 3x more customers across the open web.

Interested in learning more about Epsilon Customer? Visit our website