DXP Catalyst Consulting

CDP Series Part 1 - Demystifying CDPs: an Overview of Types, Benefits, and Key Vendors

In the current competitive market landscape, understanding and effectively engaging with your customers is critical. This is where Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) come into play. CDPs collect and unify data from various sources, creating a comprehensive view of each customer, enabling personalized marketing efforts.

Illustration of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) with people analyzing and discussing data on a digital clipboard.

This blog post is the first part of a two-part series. In this introductory part, we will explore what a CDP is, its benefits for marketing executives, and provide an overview of different CDP types and vendors. We will also discuss some other CDP distinctions like traditional vs composable, pure play vs DXP/Marketing Cloud integrated, and real-time. The second part of the series will offer a deep dive into the CDP solutions offered by Acquia, Optimizely, and Sitecore.

What's a CDP?

A CDP is a software system that collects and organizations customer data from various touchpoints to create a unified customer profile. This data is then accessible for marketing, customer service, and other business needs. The primary goal of a CDP is to enable companies to delivery personalized and consistent customer experiences across all channels.

In the context of Digital Experience Platforms (DXPs), CDPs serve as a foundational layer for customer data management. DXPs, which include capabilities for content management, digital asset management, and personalization/experimentation, rely on CDPs to provide the necessary customer insights and data integrations. By integrating CDPs with DXPs, organizations can enhance their ability to deliver seamless and personalized omnichannel digital experiences. 

Contact Us for a Complimentary One hour Consultation

If you’re interested in learning more about how CDPs and DXPs can fuel your growth, we’re here to help. Schedule your consultation today!

Benefits of a CDP for Marketing Executives

Marketers face many challenges – uncoordinated channels, siloed systems, uncorrelated data, limited ability to drive effective customer engagement, no unified understanding of the customer. CDPs help solve for this. With first-party cookies becoming increasingly important as third-party cookies are phased out, CDPs become even more critical for companies. Here are some benefits of a CDP for marketing executives:





  • Unified Customer View – Aggregates data from multiple sources to create a single, comprehensive profile for each customer.
  • Personalization – Enables highly personalized marketing campaigns based on detailed customer insights.
  • Improved Customer Engagement – Facilitates targeted marketing efforts, enhancing customer engagement and loyalty.
  • Data-Driven Decisions – Provides actionable insights through advanced analytics and reporting.
  • Increased Operational Efficiencies – Streamlines data management and marketing processes, reducing redundancies and improving overall marketing efficiency.
  • Improved ROI – Optimizes marketing strategies and campaigns, leading to better conversion rates and higher ROI.
  • Building your Customer Strategy on Trusted Data – Ensures that all marketing and customer engagement activities are based on accurate and reliable data, leading to more effective and cohesive strategies.


Different CDP Types and Vendors

Classifying CDPs can be challenging because many platforms don’t fit neatly into a single category. One categorization we’ve seen divides CDPs into Data, Analytics, Campaign, and Delivery types, but many CDPs span multiple categories, making this approach less effective. We’ve seen Gartner categorize them into Marketing Cloud CDPs, CDP Engines and Toolkits, Marketing Data-Integration CDPs, and CDP Smart Hubs, which works a little bit better. 

Other guides classify CDPs by distinctions rather than clear categories. For example, traditional CDPs vs composable CDPs or pure play CDPs (from independent CDP vendors) vs CDPs associated with a suite of tools (such as a DXP). We consider real-time capabilities to be a feature of a CDP than a separate type altogether. This space continues to evolve.

Traditional vs Composable

  • Traditional CDPs – These are standalone platforms primarily focused on collecting, unifying, and activating customer data. They integrate with other marketing tools, but function independently. These platforms are highly specialized in data management and offer robust features for identity resolution, segmentation, and analytics.
  • Composable CDPs – These platforms are designed to be modular and flexible, allowing organizations to integrate and customize various components according to their specific needs. Composable CDPs often leverage existing data warehouses or data lakes as part of their architecture, enabling businesses to store large volumes of raw data that can be processes and activated as needed. This approach allows companies to combine best-of-breed solutions for data collection, management, and activation, often integrating with other marketing technologies. This provides greater scalability and adaptability, allowing companies to build a tailored customer data infrastructure that can evolve with their needs. 


Some Leading Best-of-Breed, Independent CDP Vendors

Note: Our next blog post in this series will feature Acquia CDP (AgilOne acquisition), Optimizely Data Platform (Zaius acquisition), and Sitecore CDP (Boxever acquisition). While Adobe Experience Platform / Real Time CDP is also among the top CDP solutions in the market, it is not included in the list below because, like Acquia, Optimizely, and Sitecore, it is part of a broader suite of a capabilities. 

  • Tealium – Known for its strong data integration capabilities, Tealium offers comprehensive solutions for data collection, management, and activation, enabling real-time customer insights and personalization.
  • Amperity – Excels in identity resolution and data unification, providing robust tools for creating comprehensive customer profiles that enhance personalization and marketing effectiveness.
  • Twilio Segment – Offers powerful data integration and analytics capabilities, helping businesses unify data from various sources and derive actionable insights for personalized marketing.
  • Treasure Data – Provides extensive data management and analytics capabilities, helping businesses unify data from various sources and derive actionable insights for personalized marketing.
  • BlueConic – Focuses on data unification and customer journey orchestration, offering advanced analytics and segmentation tools to optimize marketing efforts.
  • mParticle – Specializes in data integration and management, providing tools to unify customer data and enable real-time personalization and analytics.

Common Functionalities of CDPs

All CDP solutions share several common functionalities that make them robust tools for customer data management.

  • Data Collection and Unification – Each platform excels in aggregating data from multiple sources and creating unified customer profiles. 
  • Identity Resolution – Robust identity resolution capabilities ensure that all data points are accurately linked to the correct customer profiles.
  • Segmentation and Targeting – Advanced segmentation tools allow marketers to create detailed customer segments for targeted campaigns.
  • Activation – Facilitates the use of unified customer data to drive personalized marketing actions and customer interactions across channels.
  • Integration Capabilities – API-based connectors and flexible schemas enables seamless integration with other marketing and customer engagement tools. 

Beyond these core capabilities, CDPs may offer additional features that highlight distinctions and differentiators among solutions. These can include capabilities such as storing B2B data, expanded machine learning models (i.e. propensity and clustering models), and the ability to bring your own models. 

Preview of CDP Series Part 2 - "Deep Dive into CDPs: Exploring Acquia, Optimizely, and Sitecore Solutions"

In the next blog post, we’ll take an in-depth look at the CDP solutions offered by Acquia, Optimizely, and Sitecore. We’ll explore their unique features, capabilities, and how they compare with each other. Additionally, we’ll discuss how DXP Catalyst Consulting can help marketing executives leverage these CDP solutions to achieve their goals. If you’re interested in learning more, please click this link to schedule a consultation.


Investing in a CDP is crucial for organizations aiming to enhance their customer engagement and achieve a unified view of their customers. By first understanding fundamentals like the different types of CDPs and their common functionalities, marketing executives are on their path to making more informed decisions for which platform meets their needs. Stay tuned for our new post in this series, where we will dive deeper into specific CDP solutions.

Unlock Your Digital Potential

Strategize, Optimize, Elevate: Your DXP Transformation Starts Here