10 Questions You Need to Ask CDP Vendors

By Isaac Ferreira

Published on 16 Dec, 2022

What are CDPs?

CDPs are marketer-managed systems designed to collect customer data from all sources and build unique, unified profiles of each individual customer. CDPs enable marketers to create a single view of the customer by gathering data from software deployed throughout the organization. When it comes to Customer Data Platforms (CDPs), many B2B organizations have more questions than answers. While most understand the value of this technology in unifying customer data across channels and enabling customer modeling as well as optimization of messaging timing & targeting, there are gray areas around the specific features of each platform, implementation and vendors. To help you feel more confident about choosing the right solution for you, here are ten questions to ask every CDP vendor you consider. 

Top 10 Questions to Ask CDP Vendors

Data Ingestion

How does your platform ingest data?

The main point of a CDP is to centralize your most relevant data from a variety of sources, so how the data gets into the platform is important. Ask potential vendors how many different types of attribute and behavior data their platform can ingest and whether it can natively collect data from websites and web-based applications. It’s also helpful to find out if a CDP can upload tables of data in a 100% customizable schema (object oriented) via file pick up from data storage or API. 

How quickly can I ingest and use data?

As with most marketing-related initiatives, timing matters and the same is true with CDPs. Not only should a platform be able to ingest attribute data in real-time, but it should also be able to be made actionable quickly. Ask potential vendors if their solution will unify data to a visitor profile in real-time and allow you to immediately use data after ingestion to build profiles. It should also enable you to immediately utilize newly created audiences, which can then be evaluated and deployed in near real-time.

Can your platform track anonymous users? 

Buyers are increasingly becoming more and more anonymous, which makes marketers’ jobs increasingly difficult. If you invest in a CDP, it should have the functionality to track anonymous users and build profiles with behavior only data (web, mobile app, web application or API) including capturing UTM parameters and referring URLs. 

How does your CDP stitch together profiles?

Once a CDP has gathered all of your relevant data, it will then create unified customer profiles. Ask potential vendors if they can create calculated attributes in the UI and use them for segmentation, use many different IDs to merge devices and browsers to a profile and match a profile using configurable probabilistic and deterministic criteria. It’s a good idea to find out if a given system allows you to save profiles in the platform in perpetuity, too. 

What are your audience and segmentation capabilities?

Without strong audience and segmentation capabilities, a CDP won’t be able to provide the value it should. Check if a solution enables you to automatically build profiles into audience cohorts (e.g. accounts, householding, etc.) and create calculated attributes in the UI to use for segmentation. Visibility is important, as well. You should be able to easily view audience member profiles, audience level activities and connector level activities from the UI in any CDP you’re exploring. 

How much data can your platform ingest?

If a CDP can only store a limited amount of data, it’s not going to serve its most critical purposes. Any platform worth its salt should be able to ingest a nearly unlimited amount of data daily. It should also allow users to build an unlimited amount of audiences or segments, and use uploaded and custom created attribute data to build audiences without limitation as well. In other words, when you ask about data capacity, the vendor’s answer should be some version of “unlimited.”

What are your reporting capabilities? 

Ask whether a solution allows you to create custom reporting on audiences based on attribute or behavioral data points. Also ensure that you’ll be able to export standard reporting data from the UI, as this will help you later as you share necessary information between departments. 

CDP Security and Compliance

What are your security certifications and permissions?

Of course, security matters. Any CDP should have baseline security certifications (privacy shield, trustE, SOC2) and support MFA/2FA (multi-factor authentication) and SSO. Additionally, it’s helpful if it allows for the configuration of roles and permissions by team, so you can grant access to users as needed. 

How do you support compliance? 

Just like security is important, so is CDP compliance. Ensuring that a CDP is HIPPA, GDPR and CCPA compliant goes a long way in protecting your customer data, abiding by the law and building customer trust.

What are your data encryption measures?

Another key step to strong security is data encryption, so ask vendors about their practices in this area. Is data obfuscation a configurable permission? Is data encrypted in transit with native connectors? Is data encryption at rest available? These specific questions will help you pinpoint whether a solution has enough safeguards in place for you to feel comfortable using it to store your data. 

Finding, implementing and making the most of a CDP requires a lot of knowledge and time, but the benefits are worth it in spades. Remember to ask these 10 questions as you interview potential vendors and choose the one that checks all these boxes. If you need help navigating the world of CDPs, we’re here to support you assess your readiness.

Written By Isaac Ferreira

Isaac Ferreira is the VP, Enterprise Technology Strategy & Design at Shift Paradigm, leading his team in developing innovative revenue ecosystem technology solutions and strategies to enable massive growth for diverse companies. With over 23 years of experience in various verticals, including IT, marketing, and manufacturing, Isaac has served in different roles, from programmer to CTO. He is passionate about technology-enabled growth and goal recognition and enjoys aligning boards and executive teams around growth strategies. In his private life, Isaac is a dedicated family man who enjoys playing his guitar, outdoor activities, fitness, and gaming.
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