What is a Customer Data Platform and Why You Need One Now

Last year, I knew I wanted to transition to a virtual business line instead of giving customers my personal phone number.

I started by searching on Google and researched the top four choices. I checked out some of the businesses’ sites and looked for reviews on third-party sites. One site had a strong blog, which helped build trust and explained exactly why the service would be perfect for my small, single-person business. And finally, I converted after getting a retargeted ad on LinkedIn that promoted a free trial.

Many B2B customer journeys are extremely similar, if not much more complicated. That’s why Customer Data Platforms are invaluable—they’re designed to help you track customer data across multiple touchpoints so you can better understand who your audience is, what they’re doing, and where they’re coming from. 

In this post, we’re going to go over everything you need to know about what a Customer Data Platform is, including how they’re different from CRMs, why you need them, and how to choose one.

What Is a Customer Data Platform? 

Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) are tools that collect and organize customer data across multiple different touchpoints. It can integrate with other tools and software to give you cohesive, wide-reaching marketing data in real-time.

Want to know how the crazy lady obsessed with leashes finally came to your brand and which touchpoints convinced her to convert after a long and winding purchase journey? CPDs can actually help with that, combining data from multiple data sources, including first-party and third-party sources. These sources commonly include:

  • Your CRM
  • Your transactional and/or eCommerce systems
  • Email data
  • Contact and lead form data
  • Site behavior analytics
  • Social media behavior

The idea is to manage and aggregate customer data, so you’re getting real-time data into centralized and individualized customer profiles.

CDPs prevent what’s essentially a “data silo” where different departments have isolated information they’re acting on. The marketing team might be acting on different data from the sales team when, in reality, a more holistic look for everyone would be more beneficial.

And since accurate, thorough data is the only true actionable data your marketing, sales, and customer service teams can act on, this is a huge advantage that will improve the customer journey at every touchpoint and help you to sell more at the same time.

What Types of Customer Data Are Taken Into Account? 

“Customer data” sounds fairly vague, but the data you get from a CDP is anything but. In many cases, they’re looking at every snippet of data they can find. 

Breadcrumbs, for example, uses extensive cross-platform customer data to look at multiple factors to identify lead, sales, and re-engagement opportunities.

You can use fit categories (like a brand’s size, industry, or revenue) and user activity (such as support tickets filed, features used, or emails opened) to identify users who could be sold on converting into customers or sold new products, services, or higher-cost products. 

Breadcrumbs Customer Data Platform For Lead Scoring

This is detailed, actionable information that your team can use to drive real sales in real-time, and that’s all because we’re able to source information from multiple high-quality sources like Salesforce, HubSpot, and Pendo. (You can check out more about our integrations here). 

These are the types of data you can expect Customer Data Platforms to track: 

Data of Identity 

The identity data of a customer is going to tell you who they are, and it’s essential to prevent replications of customers in the database. It only makes sense this information would be a core feature in a Customer Data Platform tool. This will include:

  • Name
  • Email 
  • Phone number 
  • Social media profiles 
  • Account information, including user IDs 
  • Location 
  • Demographic data like age or gender
  • Company size, industry, or annual revenue

For B2B businesses, this is vital information. A sales team member for a virtual phone line, for example, will know that a small law firm will prioritize security and reliability as a feature while a mid-sized company with 60 employees will likely care a great deal about scalability and collaboration features. 

Tracking identity matters a great deal, and it’s why “Fit” is one of our two categories that we use to assess sales opportunities through contact scoring here at Breadcrumbs. 

Behavior Data

How are users interacting with your sales team, your site, and your brand overall? This is behavioral data and it can help you get a better understanding of the lead’s relationship with your brand. It often includes:

  • Purchase or transaction information, including what was purchased, what was returned, and abandoned cart information
  • Email data, including email opens, click-throughs, and the responses made 
  • Site behavior like website visits, click-throughs, product and page views
  • Social media activity, including engagement 
  • Customer service data, including communication dates and details
  • In-app user behavior for app or SaaS tools, including support tickets filed, reaching the limits of a plan, or using specific tool features

Behavioral data, of course, matters just as much as fit. At Breadcrumbs, we use a co-dynamic scoring system that assesses fit and behavior individually for a hyper-accurate score. Someone who completes their free trial, for example, should be contacted directly by your sales team with an enticing offer to nudge them towards a higher-cost or annual plan. 

Breadcrumbs Customer Data Platform For Lead Scoring

And users who are visiting high-value site pages and filling out the lead form should be identified as high-interest right away. 

Qualitative Data 

When you create buyer personas, you develop pain points, opinions, and motivations for user profiles. Qualitative data is the real-life version of that information, making each customer profile much more individualized. This is essential for your sales team, and the data may include the following: 

  • The motivations users have stated for getting in touch or what they need help with 
  • Information about how the users got in touch originally
  • Data about how they’ve rated past purchases, customer service experiences, or site purchases 
  • What users are looking for in a tool, product, or service, and what pain points they need them to resolve

This isn’t information that’s easily collected automatically by tools, so it’s essential that you have measures in place to get this data as effectively as possible. To do this, make sure you’re doing the following:

  • Sending out customer surveys to ask how they feel after a trial, including how they felt the sign-up process was, what their favorite features were, and how they felt about the onboarding process 
  • Automatically having surveys go out following customer service calls or support tickets 
  • Having your sales team reach out on calls to ask why they chose this tool, what their needs are, and even what they’ve tried in the past 

What’s the Difference Between a CRM and a CDP? 

The first thing you think of when you first hear “customer data” is probably a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. Common examples include Salesforce and HubSpot, and they’ll store user information like their name, email, past purchases, and data about customer service interactions. Many CRM tools have sales-heavy features factored in so that you can send emails or schedule calls right from the dashboard

There are similarities between a Customer Relationship Management tool and a Customer Data Platform, but the two do serve separate purposes.

These are the core differences:

  • CRMs only collect data on known customers; CDPs collect data on unidentified and anonymous visitors, too
  • CRMs typically look at the sales pipeline, while CDPs look at a more comprehensive customer journey throughout the entire customer lifecycle
  • CRMs don’t track offline data (like a customer service exchange) unless it’s manually entered; CDPs use integrations to track online and offline data
  • CRMs collect data that’s entered individually, making it more prone to error; CDPs handle multiple data points from a number of sources 

Here’s a quick breakdown:

Table Illustrating The Differences Between A Crm And A Cdp (Customer Data Platform)

How to Use CDPs for Your Business 

All the data in the world isn’t worth anything if you don’t know how to leverage it, right?

There are plenty of ways you can use a Customer Data Platform for business, but these are the four most common and often significant use cases.

Improve & Optimize the Customer Journey 

When you’ve got disjointed data coming into different teams, it can be almost impossible to accurately hone in on what factors and touchpoints are influencing and impacting the customer journey. 

Once you have the holistic data that only a CPD can provide, you’ll have a great deal more information about how users interact with your brand throughout their entire lifecycle. 

Breadcrumbs Customer Data Platform For Lead Scoring

You can get a better understanding of how they’ve found you, why they purchased from you, what their purchase behaviors are like, and what triggers additional purchases. 

You can also see when they’re purchasing from you, how they’re using your SaaS tool, what support or customer service tickets are filed, and how they’re engaging with your content (emails and site visits included) even after they convert to become customers. 

This is invaluable, allowing you to optimize every single part of the customer journey, including your marketing funnels, your sales pitches, your offers, and more. And when you want to accelerate revenue and business growth, this is a necessity. You can even use this data with lead scoring tools like Breadcrumbs to identify and better target potential high-value leads.

Dive Deep Into Your Target Audiences 

It’s easy for different departments to end up with fragmented views of your customers. Google Analytics, social media, and your CRM may all have varying information about who your audience members are, and they may vary from your ideal customer profiles.

Illustration Of Breadcrumbs Icp Worksheet


Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Worksheet

Learn how to create an Ideal Customer Profile and build a successful sales strategy with this Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Worksheet.

As all of this information is streamlined and aggregated into a single place, however, you get a much clearer look at who your most high-value audiences really are. This can be crucial to help you determine who you want to be targeting moving forward, allowing you to optimize your campaigns and the customer journey further. 

Create & Identify Dynamic Audience Segments 

Most Customer Data Platform tools have information that’s updated in real-time, allowing you to take note of shifts in audience behavior and segments as they emerge. 

When you have a new lead magnet for a webinar, for example, you might see an enormous surge in users who view a page but don’t convert or even those who fill out the lead form but then never watch the webinar they signed up for.

This level of information allows you to create and target audience segments as they emerge, allowing you to more effectively reach a larger percentage of your leads and audiences with hyper-targeted messaging that can push them closer to the end goal of purchasing.

Give Your Client-Facing Team Members Additional Data 

Your sales and customer service team members are great with people. They’re good at reading people, even through an email or over the phone, almost with gut instincts that are right more often than not.

If you’re able to give these team members heightened access to detailed data, however, that enhances what they’re able to do. 

Customer service teams may realize that offering new types of solutions greatly increases customer satisfaction and retention rates, for example, and sales teams may realize that they should be looking at different types of leads (or using different platforms for following up) than what they were focusing on before.

Hard data + great interpersonal skills can help your client-facing team members become unstoppable. This alone is a massive benefit to using a Customer Data Platform tool.

Final Thoughts 

If you’re internally groaning at the thought of needing to look for another SaaS tool to help your business grow, don’t worry—we really get it. Customer Data Platforms, however, are definitely one that you want to invest in. 

It should be part of your sales stack in 2022 because it allows you to consolidate high-quality, up-to-date, and accurate data that you have across multiple platforms so that it can be found in one centralized place. This automatically makes that data more actionable by giving you full, complete looks at individual customers.

They’ll give you more accurate, holistic, and detailed data that would be nearly impossible to aggregate otherwise, and that’s the kind of information that you can actually use to scale your business and your revenue. 

With Breadcrumbs, we use combined data from multiple sources to give you the best look at your clients possible while utilizing completely customizable contact scoring models

Want to find users that you can upsell or cross-sell to to increase your LTV? We’ve got you. And if you want to look for users who need re-engaging or leads who are ready to convert, we can help with that, too. 

Ready to take advantage of Breadcrumbs CDP for contact scoring? Get started with Breadcrumbs for free today!

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