Are You Smart Enough To Use A CDP? Study Shows Confusion Abounds

Customer Data Platforms, that proclaimed miracle tool for brands, can be of great help to email marketers. But first they have to understand what CDPs actually do, judging by CDP Confusion: Examining the Impact of Uncertainty Around Customer Data Platforms, a study released Friday by MessageGears.

Of the firms surveyed, 93% of firms use a CDP and most of the others plan to invest in one, with 98% saying they believe it would help them do their jobs more effectively. But uses vary. 

Asked where CDPs will help the most, 32% say websites. 

Email is second, cited by 19%, and is followed by social (18%), paid ads (12%) and mobile (11%). 

Moreover, 75% say their CDPs are directly integrated with their email service providers or Marketing Cloud. 

But it’s not clear that email features are critical. Here’s how respondents rate the importance of different activities:

  • Makes customer data available for immediate use all marketing across channels — 45%
  • Consolidates various types of data (transactional, event, etc.) — 33%
  • Utilized your live data where it is instead of storing it themselves — 28%
  • Predictive analytics — 27% 
  • Native marketing channel execution capabilities (email, social media, SMS) — 26%
  • Visualization of customer data — 26%
  • Creates customer profiles — 25%
  • Identity resolution capabilities — 25%
  • 27%l all potential access to your data — 23%
  • Attribution — 16%



CDPs also come with some drawbacks: 

  • Too expensive to buy/build/maintain — 28%
  • Lack of integration to other systems — 27%
  • Data is incomplete or accurate — 26%
  • Too difficult to use and/or customize — 17%

In another negative finding, 57% agree there is confusion in the marketplace about CDPs, where 30% feel there isn’t and 11% aren’t sure. 

Why this confusion?

  • Because vendors have done a poor job explaining what it is and why it’s needed — 31%
  • Because many companies believe they already have a solution that fits this need — 29%
  • Because no vendor has established itself as the leader in this category — 14%
  • Because there may not be a need for pure-play CDPs after all — 14%
  • Because CDPs are too hard to use — 9%

Still, for all these misunderstandings, 71% say they have worked with CDPs. And 51% say they definitely grasp the difference between a CDP and a DMP, with 38% saying they likely understand it. 

Of course, MessageGears claim it can clear up CDP confusion. 

Of companies that have CDPs, 60% built them with a mix of internal and outside resources. Another 25% bought them, while 12% built one themselves, solo. And 1% are not sure. 

How much should a company spend on a CDP? Better start budgeting:

  • $200,000 to $500,000-49% 
  • $50,000 to $200,000 — 19%
  • $500,000-$1 million — 17%
  • Less than $50,000 — 7% 
  • More than $1 million — 7%

And how quickly can a firm expect ROI? 

  • Three to six months — 63%
  • Six to 12 months — 17%
  • Less than three months — 14%
  • More than one year — 3% 

Specific uses aside, marketers list the following as the primary general purposes of a CDP:

  • To manage customer-marketing activities — 51%
  • To keep track of customer information — 22%
  • To predict the next optimum customer move — 17%
  • To group customers into audience segments — 8%

Oddly, only 17% see the CDP’s main value as increasing revenue per customer. Rather, 41% say it is to help a company increase customer satisfaction.

And the primary business value of a CDP? 

  • To help a company increase customer satisfaction — 41%

MessageGears worked with PureSpectrum to survey 200 marketing professionals.

The survey included both B2B and B2C, but was limited to those that say they are at least moderately familiar with CDPs. 


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