Top 12 Questions to Ask Before You Invest in a Customer Data Platform

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Here’s How B2B Marketers Can Find the Right CDP

In our newest Data-Inspired Guide to B2B Sales & Marketing, we explain the features and benefits of implementing a customer data platform (CDP). But, with multiple vendors, offering diverse solutions, how can you be certain that the one you choose will help you improve business performance and drive faster growth?

Our guide includes a dozen questions you should ask each vendor that can help you make the right decision. And, making the right decision will help you consolidate data and insight, align sales and marketing efforts, and achieve a stronger ROI.

Questions to ask CDP vendors

Q. What is a Customer Data Platform?

A. According to the CDP Institute, “A Customer Data Platform is packaged software that creates a persistent, unified customer database that is accessible to other systems.”4

Q. Does your solution ingest data from any data source?

A. Customer data comes from many different places — CRM, marketing automation, website logs, support and service systems, ERP systems, and other enterprise systems. A B2B CDP must be able to ingest any of these first-party sources as well as any third-party source you’ve licensed.

Q. Does it create a 360-degree view of the customer?

A. Your CDP must be able to take data from multiple sources and create unified profiles that serve as a 360-degree view of each customer so that you can drive the best segmentation and optimize your audience creation.

Q. Does it capture raw data?

A. To ensure you can see the most detail about each customer interaction, your CDP must be able to capture and track every click, marketing engagement, sales engagement, support call, etc.

Q. Does it map individuals to buying centers, companies and corporate hierarchies?

A. In order to match data across your source systems and unified profiles, you need to identify not just the right individuals, but their company, the buying group(s) to which they belong, and if the company is large enough, their place within the account hierarchy.

Q. Does it enable audience activation across any and all channels?

A. Marketers have a variety of channels through which they can engage with their buyers (and new channels come online on a regular basis). A CDP must share campaign audience data (and keep it updated) with all your channels.

Q. Does it have flexible AI and deep insights?

A. Customer data is constantly being created and updated at an unprecedented scale. The CDP must offer flexible and customizable AI to help you to surface insights about your customers in terms of who will convert, what they will buy, how much they will spend, and when.

Q. Does it offer deep integration with the sales channel?

A. In B2B, the sales channel is critical. In order for marketing to be successful, sales needs to adopt the leads and recommendations sent over from marketing. As such, the integration with sales tools must have capabilities designed to drive sales adoption – rather than just “sharing data.”

Q. Is it independent?

A. Given that 82% of B2B marketers use a best-of-breed strategy when it comes to the MarTech stack,1 it’s critical that vendors are not tied to a specific platform or marketing/sales cloud.

Q. Does your solution store data indefinitely?

A. Data for life provides marketers with the full history of customer behavior and interest over time, thereby enabling more accurate segmentation.

Q. Does it provide the ability to clean your data and add new records?

A. No database is perfect. There are inaccuracies in individual account and contact records, and you may have missing data as well. Companies need the ability to easily improve the data quality of their first-party data (and keep it updated) for more accurate segmentation and audience creation.

Q. How flexible are your capabilities?

A. The vendor should be able to tell you what is powering their analytics, whether it is self-serve or not, and if you have the ability to make customizations.

Q. With the ever-increasing laws and regulations (e.g., GDPR), how are you ensuring compliance?

A. The vendor should have clear, stringent rules in place regarding how they obtain new records and regularly maintain their data, so your company doesn’t end up getting fined — or worse.

Next steps

According to our survey “The Past, Present, and Future of Data,” 43% of B2B professionals say that data is too siloed to make any sense of it and only 56% say their sales and marketing teams are working from the same dataset.2 This is a huge red flag for businesses. The good news is this doesn’t have to be your fate!

Forbes Insights believes that CDPs are “the foundation of the emerging, digitally savvy marketing organization that not only has that 360-degree view of customers but also actively engages with customers across the channels of their choice.”3

With access to all of your customer data in one place and powerful insights at your fingertips, the opportunities for sales and marketing to engage with impact are nearly limitless. It’s time to take control of your data destiny!

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1 Campaign Monitor, “How Marketing Automation Stacks Up,”, updated March 2019
2 Dun & Bradstreet, “The Past, Present, and Future of Data,”, 2019
3 Forbes, “The Rise of the Customer Data Platform and What It Means to Businesses,” 2018
4 Customer Data Platform Institute, “Customer Data Platform Basics,”, accessed September 2019