Best Customer Data Platforms (CDP) for Small Businesses of 2022

It might come as no surprise in today’s business environment, but digital acceleration and e-commerce growth are driving a surge in customer data platform (CDP) relevance. It’s only natural — as consumers change their tastes and raise their expectations, you need to understand how to best accommodate their needs. In short, the switch to a better online customer experience is crucial in keeping up with the competition, and collecting customer data can help you get ahead.

Just as e-commerce growth has taken off since the onset of the pandemic, so too has the number of businesses using CDPs. In one survey, “73% of respondents said that a customer data platform will be critical to their customer experience efforts in the coming years.” 

But before deciding which CDP to put your faith in, we always advise performing some in-depth research. Whether your business has yet to take advantage of CDP capabilities or is looking to switch services, we’re here to help. By the end of this guide, you’ll fully understand the benefits and features of a stand-out CDP platform and be ready to choose the optimal solution for your business.

What is CDP?

A customer data platform (CDP) allows your business to collect and view customer data from multiple sources. CDPs present you with complete profiles of each individual customer, rather than the fragmented profile views available on each individual channel.

The types of sources from which CDPs gather information can be behavioral, transactional, or demographic. How many minutes has a customer been chatting with a digital assistant? When is their birthday? Did they return their last purchase? It’s all recorded with a comprehensive customer data platform. You also have the flexibility to choose from programs that include data, analytics, or both.

Why is CDP important?

CDP is important for a variety of reasons, from improving your business model to helping with data compliance. Using the information gathered in your CDP, you can perform more accurate data analyses and create more effective marketing campaigns. These are the top benefits of CDP.

Makes data compliance easier

Current and forthcoming privacy regulations often require businesses to allow customers access to their data and erasure upon request. An example of this is California’s Consumer Privacy Act, which gives consumers the right to know how collected personal information is shared, delete it, and “opt-out of the sale of their personal information.”

When all of your customer data is stored across multiple channels, your business could find it difficult to comply with such privacy regulations. Customer data platforms funnel all of your customer data to one location, making compliance a breeze. 

Helps you segment your audience

After you’ve set up your user data preferences and condensed your customer data into individual profiles, you can focus on the next step: structuring winning marketing campaigns with your newly acquired analytics system.

Your CDP can eventually automate most of your marketing campaigns, but at the beginning, you may want to handle things manually. In any case, the platform you choose can create audience segments to best target certain demographics and individuals. Personalized, segmented ads are the latest marketing trend and with good reason. One survey from Mailchimp shows that when it comes to email campaigns, segmented campaigns garnered open rates 14.31% higher than their non-segmented counterparts. Additionally, segmented campaigns see an increase in clicks and a decrease in bounce rates and unsubscribes.

Avoids information siloing

In addition to making data compliance a chore, information siloing makes your job as a business person more difficult overall. A customer data platform allows you to make well-informed, data-driven decisions on nearly any marketing topic with a single glance at your CDP dashboard.

Understanding data is key to building your business. But first, you must have a way to collect, interpret, and use it. A CDP works in tandem with solid marketing strategies to avoid information siloing. Instead, you’ll enjoy expanded access to real-time consumer insights as you reach toward your marketing goals.

Comparison of major CDP vendors 

 
Mobile App
Campaign Segmentation
GDPR Compliance
Real-time Analytics
Data Analysis Tools
Segment
Insider
Zeotap
Blueshift
Totango

Top customer data platforms 

A CDP is an investment, and it’s important to select the right investment for your business model. That’s why we’ve pulled together a list of some of the top customer data platforms on the market. Let’s explore options for your business CDP:

Segment

Twilio’s Segment is the market leader for customer data platforms. Businesses like Segment for its easy integration feature and comprehensive customer service. Available support channels include phone, chat, video tutorials, and email. It’s also easy to install the software and get team members up to speed on event tracking and other functionalities. It’s the data visualization department where Segment comes up short. The CDP also does not offer mobile-specific access, making desktop the only practical way to monitor your customer data.

Pricing:

Segment does offer a free account, but it’s limited to two sources, making it an impractical business purchase. The Team account starts at $120/month, and you can test it out with a free trial. It includes 10,000 visitors/month and unlimited sources. At the Business account level, pricing is custom and plans are more tailored to your company’s usage level.

Pros:

  • Segment offers a data import feature that centralizes customer data from devices of all kinds.
  • Hundreds of integrations are on offer, including compatibility with e-commerce plugins and sales programs.
  • The CDP is fairly easy to get used to.

Cons:

  • Once integrated into your setup, it may be difficult to swap out for a software alternative.
  • It can sometimes be difficult to resolve implementation issues without the assistance of code-savvy individuals.
  • The cost can be a drawback since it’s based on the number of users tracked each month.

Insider

If you’re looking for a flexible way to improve your communication strategy while getting to know your customers, it’s worth considering Insider. The platform’s integrations list isn’t as impressive as some of its competitors, but Insider’s support team is constantly striving to improve its product. New updates are always on deck, and A/B testing is simple with Insider as well. While its template features are also outstanding, users want more options to choose from.

Pricing:

Exact pricing information for Insider is unavailable online. To learn more about Insider’s services and pricing model, contact the company directly.

Pros:

  • Insider provides excellent tools to optimize mobile marketing and push notifications.
  • Customer support is prompt and helpful.
  • Unique features like predictive search terms for individual consumers are available.

Cons:

  • Integration options aren’t as robust as they could be.
  • It can take some time to familiarize yourself with the dashboard and generating reports.
  • As site traffic increases over time, your Insider bill will, too.

Zeotap

Zeotap is the customer data platform for you if your business is forward-thinking and futuristic. The platform prioritizes customer data privacy and compliance, meeting the highest international security standards. Zeotap aims to empower brands to make use of customer data “in a cookieless future.” It’s a top-of-the-line CDP solution, even if it does tend on the pricier end of things. Zeotap is powerful, easy to set up, and boasts a clean user interface.

Pricing:

Zeotap is another listing you’ll need to contact directly for precise pricing information. A free trial is available, and pricing is based on a subscription model.

Pros:

  • Zeotap is a forward-leaning platform able to evolve alongside changing regulations and trends.
  • The platform prioritizes privacy compliance (GDPR, CCPA, etc.).
  • With multiple office locations and privacy compliance, they’re great for those conducting business internationally and specifically in Europe.

Cons:

  • Integrations with the activation platforms are useful but need some work to be fully functional.
  • The contract length is fixed at a minimum of a year.

Blueshift

For a CDP that delivers real-time updates across channels, one of your best options is Blueshift. 1:1 personalization, audience segmentation, and a reliance on predictive AI make Blueshift stand out. Once you’ve been using Blueshift for a sufficient time period, AI makes excellent campaign recommendations based on customer behavior. Blueshift’s tools are easy to understand for everyone in your organization, from marketers to data analysts.

Pricing: 

Similar to other industry leaders, Blueshift does not publish pricing information or plans online. Because the CDP is custom priced to scale alongside your business, however, you can expect prices to increase as your company grows in size.

Pros:

  • It’s easy to set up email campaigns by customer segments.
  • The software is user-intuitive and easy to pick up.
  • Data integration is simple to implement and helps drive growth.

Cons:

  • Customer reporting is lacking some robustness.
  • The dashboard can get buggy sometimes (but support is always helpful).
  • Additional features could make the CDP easier to use, including integrations with emerging applications.

Totango

Totango offers you the chance to view all kinds of customer data, from financial transactions to product usage and touchpoints. It’s quickly growing as users realize its modern software can help them organize and execute successful customer engagement campaigns. Businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to growing enterprises, can benefit from Totango’s customer data platform.

Pricing:

Totango’s community platform is forever free and ideal for organizations just getting started out on their journeys to drive customer growth. But if you want access to unlimited accounts, email campaigns, custom user roles, and other features, you’ll need to sign up for Totango’s Enterprise package. You can access a 30-day trial for free, after which you’ll have to contact the sales team for a personalized quote. Overall, Totango gets the job done but is a bit pricey considering its lower-level value proposition.

Pros:

  • There are plenty of options for customization.
  • Totango grades the health of your product users, which is useful when tracking client accounts and segmenting.
  • The system is optimal for smaller customer bases, which is great for small business owners.

Cons:

  • Integrations exist, but only with the assistance of third-party software like Zapier.
  • According to user reviews, the support team isn’t as helpful as other competitors on this list.
  • Hierarchy could be more extensive.

Top CDP features

The above list may have helped you narrow your CDP search, but the features we detail below could make or break the potential of your new software. Here are the top CDP features—must-haves for a fully functional CDP experience.

Identity Resolution

With your customer profiles all in one convenient location, your team will be able to pinpoint each user regardless of their device or location. Your CDP can intelligently construct more accurate customer profiles since it can track individuals across channels and devices. As a result, CDPs help you gain a more accurate understanding of customer identity profiles and habits.

Integrations

It’s essential to go with a CDP that integrates with your other business software, including your customer relationship management (CRM) system, social media software, e-commerce platforms, and any other software your team relies on regularly. Your CDP will be in charge of gathering data from various sources and distributing campaigns through your advertising channels. Therefore, it simply doesn’t make sense to go with a CDP that fails to integrate with the other software your company uses.

Data Centralization

An uptick in online purchases means it’s now easier than ever to obtain complete, accurate customer data. The problem with marketing platforms like analytics and social media is that they often fail to share information with other platforms, creating a skewed and incomplete customer profile. 

CDPs combat this issue by channeling all of your customer data resources to one central location. All of them work with your provided data, but some CDPs even use second- and third-party sources to construct more comprehensive customer profiles. With all of your data in one dashboard, it’s easier to analyze customer behavioral patterns and target your marketing efforts accordingly.

Cross-Channel Automation

CDPs help you automate and personalize your marketing campaigns better than your traditional marketing software can alone. Because CDP centralizes your customer data, the software can also automatically organize email campaigns, text campaigns, digital ads, and more. Without you having to lift a finger, your CDP works for you to personalize cross-channel campaigns and interact with customers at the most opportune moments.

How to choose the right CDP

When you’re selecting software for your business, it’s important to make the right decision the first time. Wisely spend your business budget on necessary tools only, which may include a customer data platform. After all, CDPs are becoming increasingly prevalent in a world where online shopping reigns king.

But before signing up for a subscription plan, you should consider your individual business needs. Weigh the pricing, pros, and cons of each software option. And finally, make use of user reviews and guides like this one. CDPs are rapidly growing in popularity and increasing in sophistication and accuracy, making now the perfect time to invest in customer data software. It’s just a matter of balancing your budget and business needs, and then you’ll be well on your way to finding your dream CDP.

Celita Summa
Celita Summa
By day, Celita Summa is a Florida-based freelance writer specializing in technology, marketing, sustainability, and a plethora of other topics. Nothing makes her happier than reading and writing well-researched content. By night, Celita can be found developing her talents, which include her black belt in karate, her fluent Italian, and her knack for vegan cooking.

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