The world of marketing is full of data. The solution? Embrace a customer data platform. Or at least some companies say.
A customer data platform (CDP) is a software system that brings together data from a wide variety of sources – such as websites, e-commerce and advertising platforms, social media applications, retail software, and more – to also create a centralized customer database as well as detailed profiles of each customer. CDPs then use these records to organize personalized marketing campaigns.
The platforms are relatively new and offer a wide range of approaches, both in strategy and tactics. All speak of multichannel marketing, but there are differences in which channels are supported. Some focus more on leveraging data that arrives at an ecommerce portal or website. Some integrate with advertising platforms. Some are trying to harmonize marketing messages sent via email and SMS.
At the heart of these systems is a comprehensive data collection mechanism with ranks reaching across all of your various partners and internal databases. CDP systems have a wide collection of integrations and all support APIs for customization. Any evaluation of CDPs should start with understanding how well the tools will work with your current stack and how much custom code you’ll need to write.
Some CDPs are more comprehensive than others. Some allow users to create custom marketing campaigns through visual flowcharts created with drag and drop tools. There are also low-code or no-code options that make the platforms more accessible to non-coders in the marketing department, at least after developers handle the integration tasks.
Another difference is in the pricing. Some CDPs rely on a sales team to set up demonstrations and then make a price. Others have open price lists with fixed thresholds and sometimes free tiers to help you evaluate the tools.
Here are eight customer data platforms that are all the top contenders, listed in alphabetical order. While they offer major differences in their strategic approaches and levels of integration, they are all focused on delivering more personalized marketing to your customers.
Bloomreach’s platform is designed to integrate typical CDP features with content management and search. The goal is to bring the different omnichannel reach mechanisms together with well-curated web content, supported by a strong search engine. Potential customers will find an intelligent path to discover products with an intelligent search engine supported by semantic understanding and synonyms. At the same time, an automated SEO engine pushes content to the general web.
A drag-and-drop editor creates “personalized omnichannel journeys” that can be integrated into a wide collection of databases and APIs. This includes all basic backend foundations such as PostgreSQL or major products such as Salesforce or Quickbooks. Some standard webhooks can simplify connections to any other platform. The headless CMS at its core integrates with major ecommerce platforms like Shopify.
Pricing is determined by the sales team based on the number of customers, the number of marketing messages, and the size of the backend product collection.
Delivering good, consistent messages from all channels is Insider’s focus. It merges control of website, email or text messages and the custom app into one cross-channel customer engagement tracking platform. Messages are personalized using predictive AI to draw customer attention. All this is tracked with graphical dashboards to understand which themes yield.
The platform focuses on major industries such as retail, automotive and travel. A major focus is on developing responsible techniques to track customers over time without third-party cookies. Prices are available from the sales team.
An online store already has quite a bit of data about their customers. Klavio connects to the store and converts the data about visits and purchases into an ongoing email and SMS marketing campaign that uses predictive analytics to drive engagement and sales. The tool tracks users’ emails and text messages and times to maximize effectiveness.
The tool offers fast integration with major ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, Magento, WooCommerce, Presto, and Salesforce. At the back, data also flows to platforms for loyalty programs (LoyaltyLion, Antavo, smile.io), quiz tools (Jebbit, Survigate), or help desk management (Gladly, Zendesk, Gorgias). More than 200 connections help Klaviyo to optimize messaging for every customer. An open API helps integrate with enterprise stacks.
Pricing starts with a free tier for businesses with small mailing lists. Email and SMS connections are priced separately, but a company with about 1,000 customers would pay $30 and $40 respectively to send emails and text messages for a month. An adjustable price calculator will produce an exact quote.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights
The basics of Dynamics 365 Customer Insights from Microsoft are simple. The transactions go into a database and then standard reports come out. The system builds a track record of each customer and then attempts to aggregate it with neighborhood and person demographics. Aggregated reports track regions or stores, but you can always drill down into each individual customer’s view.
Microsoft also brings all its expertise with artificial intelligence into the mix. The “out-of-the-box AI” calculates data such as customer lifetime value and some basic recommendations for the next marketing steps to take. Companies that want to go deeper can turn to the no-code “self-service AI”, which provides more comprehensive and customizable reports on regions or stores. Custom machine learning models can be built to answer specific questions.
Prices start at $1,500 per “tenant” per month and grow with add-ons. The basic account will track 100,000 consumers and 10,000 businesses, and the price goes beyond this. Other enhancements include Dynamics 365 Customer Voice, a marketing module that tracks customer surveys, and Dynamics 365 Marketing, which focuses more on the customer’s “digital journey” across the various marketing channels.
The goal of Optimove is to orchestrate customer journeys with enough precision to speak of tens, hundreds, or perhaps thousands of “micro-segments” along the path. The platform connects messages, websites and digital advertising and tracks customer engagement over time. The reporting and analysis focuses on understanding where the customer is and then tailoring the next segment to help them buy.
Prices are available from the sales team. The company also maintains a collection of open source frameworks to connect Optimove’s system with your internal frameworks.
SAP calls its entry into the field, Emarsys, a “customer engagement platform” to emphasize its focus on delivering messages across platforms, from email to advertising to in-store. The aim is to bring the different ways of communicating together in order to exploit cross-platform synergies. A collection of pre-built marketing campaigns can be synchronized and personalized across all channels for consistency and coordination.
Campaigns are created and customized with a visual flowchart editor that supports the kind of low-code or no-code programming generally accessible to marketing teams. The tool pulls customer information from the main database, personalizes the message, and then uses some AI to predict and tune delivery. Some of its turnkey solutions target key categories, such as consumer e-commerce or travel. Prices are available from the sales team.
Totango’s platform has five key components that work together to track customers on the buying path. At its core is DNA-CX, which acts as a database that maintains all customer data that can be extracted directly from e-commerce, help desks, and CRM packages. Spark builds and tracks a customer’s “health score” to view engagement through actions such as website visits and then trigger alerts. Zoe helps the team work together to keep up with new appointments.
Totango’s marketplace offers a number of “travel templates” categorized by customer engagement and role level. The Automate Renewals module, for example, tries to make retention run smoothly by handling all the details for renewing memberships or contracts. Customer 360 builds a dashboard to get a complete picture of the customer database and their different stages of engagement.
Pricing starts with a community tier that is said to be “free forever” and includes some of the basic travel templates for smaller businesses with around 100 customers. Paid plans start at $199 per month and grow depending on the number of customers and accounts for your sales team. A sales force of 10 users with 750 customer accounts costs about $899. Paid accounts include additional modules to help customers sign up or detect churn.
Treasure Data’s CDP platform handles three major types of tasks: marketing to attract new customers, pre-trade sales, and post-purchase support service. They all rely on a tight integration of many different data sources ranging from store data, website tracking, and contact information.
Treasure Data analytics focuses on creating a customer profile with past purchases and interest in marketing. The built-in AI works to estimate the lifetime value and speculate on the likelihood that the customer will churn. The marketing team can turn this information into more personalized messages, increasing the likelihood of freeing up spending.
The price is determined by the sales team. The company distributes open source versions of some of its tools, but not the entire platform, which works as a service.