HomeResourcesCustomer Data Platform (CDP) vs. Single Customer View (SCV)

Customer Data Platform (CDP) vs. Single Customer View (SCV)

22nd February 2022 - 6 mins


By Andy Gilhooley

, Product Marketing Manager

Data-driven marketers and CRM managers the world over unite with the growing confusion in the martech landscape with so many new acronyms to learn and shiny new systems to buy. What’s the difference between a CDP, a SCV, a CRM, a DMP or even a CEP?

We’re here to explain the difference – hopefully! It can sometimes be confusing for us in the martech industry keeping up with what’s on offer! Let’s start at the beginning and why these platforms exist in the first place.
Marketers want to send the best communications they can to an individual to encourage a purchase or foster a relationship with their brand. In order to do this effectively, personalisation became a key driver.
However, to offer a personalised experience that wows the customer, marketers needed to use more than contact details and list loads from an ESP (Email Service Provider). Another acronym to check off the list! But to achieve this level of personalisation marketers needed data from various sources, all pulled together and not siloed.
During the early years, marketers would attempt to do this via Excel using Look Up tables until the martech industry produced a more scalable solution that took the burden of having to manually collect data away from the marketer.
Customer Data Platform (CDP)

So, what is a Customer Data Platform? (CDP)

According to our friends over at G2 Crowd, they define a CDP as…
Customer data platforms are used to consolidate and integrate customer data into one single database. These tools offer marketing teams relevant insights needed to run campaigns.
A CDP can grab information from online and offline sources such as websites, mobile apps, and email platforms to offer a complete view of your customer.
After retrieving this data, a CDP can then help organisations predict the optimal next move with a particular customer. This allows businesses to learn what needs to be done to retain specific customers.
A CDP must:

  • Provide a 360-degree view of the customer
  • Gather data from multiple sources into one platform, including first-party, second-party, and third-party data from online and offline sources
  • Unify customer profiles across systems
  • Connect with other systems to allow marketers to execute campaigns
  • Improve targeting for marketing campaigns

It’s a great description. We’d emphasize the element of unifying, matching and cleansing data into a single source and creating customer profiles based on known and unknown behaviours to enable future predictions.
Single Customer View Diagram

Isn’t that what a Single Customer View is?

If that’s the question running through your mind right now, then the answer is yes. The Single Customer View is the end result and produces the “golden record” for marketers to view in their platform.
It’s the output of all the data crunching and merging of records that is performed at the layer below in database. A SCV is the consolidation of sporadic data, presented in a way to that is most appropriate to a user who is looking to make a business decision based on a large amount of data points.
CDP connecting to a SCV
A CDP can produce many different Single Customer Views depending on who needs to use it. For example, a customer services team would use different parameters for their SCV than a marketer’s SCV and again this would be a different view for a sales or logistics team.
In a nutshell, a Single Customer View helps marketers understand their customers and their interactions.
Marketing Automation with SCV

A Customer Data Platform also sounds very much like a marketing automation platform

And you’d be right. It does, there is much functionality cross over between CDP and Marketing Automation/ESPs. Back to our friends at G2 Crowd, they describe Marketing Automation Software as…
Marketing automation software automates marketing actions or tasks, streamlines marketing workflows, and measures the outcomes of marketing campaigns.
These tools provide a central marketing database for all marketing information and interactions, helping marketers create segmented, personalised, and timely marketing experiences for customers or prospects.
These platforms provide automation features across multiple aspects of marketing including email, social media, lead generation, direct mail, digital advertising, and more.
A key component of marketing automation tools is the provision of analytics features to determine the success of an entire campaign across segments and channels. These features measure the impact of campaigns on marketing team KPIs and campaign ROI, as well as the impact of campaigns on company revenue.
CRM, CDP, Marketing Automation and SCV

Do I need both a CDP and a Marketing Automation/ESP in my tech stack?

Many Marketing Automation providers offer a Single Customer View. And many Customer Data Platforms offer marketing automation services. The answer lies in your business needs.
A CDP in your tech stack will offer numerous benefits to the entire business, not just the marketing department. It can do wonders with all types of data, not just those segments that marketers need, and businesses with a number of data insights employees will love the capabilities.
Where they don’t perform as well is with marketing automation, delivering the campaigns to your customers. Dedicated marketing automation providers often outperform pure CDPs on functionality and user experience with the campaign management and delivery.
Like with anything in life, things that are designed for a specific purpose rather than multi-purpose will offer a better and richer experience.
CDP and Marketing Automation working together
Whereas CDPs excel on the data unification and analysis, they often ‘bolt-on’ services such as email sending capabilities, SMS and push notifications. In fact, many list ESPs on their integrations pages as they know some customers will prefer a traditional ESP to theirs.
Marketing automation providers specialise in email delivery, automated workflow creation, best-in-class SMS, social media orchestration and ad retargeting.
In addition, more advanced Marketing Automation platforms, such as RedEye, can create a single customer view that is solely focused on campaign management and customer lifecycle marketing.
Less advanced software, which claims to offer SCV capabilities, can sometimes only provide surface level details which are locked in, resulting in a frustrating experience for the marketer. It’s important to do thorough research and match capabilities to your business needs.
A marketing automation platform with a built-in SCV and predictive analytics will perform several of the tasks as a pure CDP with the added benefit of lower costs and an easier learning curve.
This can be of great benefit to high growth and mid-level businesses that need to concentrate their efforts on delivering the most compelling personalised content, increasing engagement and conversion.
Here at RedEye we’ve experienced businesses that operate pure CDPs will start looking for a dedicated marketing automation provider to fill in the campaign delivery gaps that cannot be achieved, thus increasing the tech stack and the yearly operating costs.
For businesses who aren’t large enterprise level with a data insights team and huge martech budgets, the solution that works best may just be a marketing automation platform with a focused SCV to deliver compelling personalised content across multi-channel.
CRM, CDP, Marketing Automation and SCV

Wait, you also talked about CRMs, DMP and CEP earlier?

Well remembered! That 3-letter acronym list just keeps getting longer! The martech landscape is flooded with these to convince marketers they need to buy more platforms and software.
You’ll be most aware, and likely comfortable, with CRMs. Every business needs one and it’s at the core of business operations. They are great at integrating into other systems! CRMs will always feed into a CDP and/or a marketing automation provider. However, they are not able to collect and unify standalone databases.
With CRMs, you’ll often encounter duplicate record error messaging, and this stops any transfer unless manually intervened. They are used best for managing customer interactions but provide limited reporting or segmentation possibilities.
DMP stands for Data Management Platform and are slightly older tech and don’t appear as much these days as first-party data takes over the narrative.
They primarily use third-party data that cannot always be verified like first-party data. It’s usually anonymous data which is only stored for short periods of time. DMPs are most commonly used for digital and display advertising networks.
A CEP stands for Customer Engagement Platform and is quite a new term compared to the others. It’s often used by vendors who want to position themselves differently within the crowded CDP marketplace.
And…Engagement sounds way more exciting than Data but, on the surface, it’s just another 3 letter acronym for a CDP.

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About the author

Andy Gilhooley
Andy Gilhooley Product Marketing Manager

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