The Journey of Selecting a CDP Vendor

The customer data that marketers use is made up of many things. The data is a collection of customer behavior, actions, reactions, requests, and opinions. The challenge is compiling this data from multiple sources and relating it back to a single individual. Patterns are then identified so that customers can be nurtured along the path to purchase.  This is done by sending the right messages, at the right times, to the right people using the right marketing channels.

To effectively pull this off, the customer data needs to be aggregated from many sources and accessible from a single platform, uniquely identifying each individual and capable of sharing and/or sending communications with multiple different technologies.  Systems that do this are known as CDPs, Customer Data Platforms.

Finding the right CDP can be like a weeks' long journey up a mountain.





The first leg from base camp involves setting the basic vendor requirements. This includes general objectives, priorities, industry verticals and marketing channel experience, assistance needed, budget and vendor location. These determine whether a vendor is a potential partner, before looking at specific product features.

The second leg of the journey involves selecting Use Cases that match the objectives to specific desired goals. This conveys criteria to a vendor by citing the functionality found in the use cases. For example, a use case may have a goal of “Combing Online & CRM Data” (Customer Relationship Management). Another might be to “Identify the Customers Channel Preferences”. By specifically stating these goals, prospective CDP vendors are given tangible functionality that is required.

After having criteria and goals documented, the next leg of the journey is to perform a Gap Analysis. A Gap Analysis is the comparison of existing and missing software technologies. It also considers the performance with the potential or desired performance of existing technology. Missing or inferior software represents the “gap”. This exercise informs the prospective CDP vendors of what software features and functionality are required. For example, a gap may be a “Website Tag” that captures visitor behavior and associates that behavior with an individual identifier. Another gap might be a “Persistent ID” that links personal identifiers such as email addresses or phone numbers to a permanent master ID that remains unchanged over time regardless of changes in other identifiers. Again, citing the gaps gives a vendor insight into specific requirements.

The next leg of the journey uses the Basic Requirements, the selected Use Cases and the Gap Analysis to match with the offerings of prospective CDP vendors. This can be a daunting task because it requires the gathering of vendor data, however, there are resources, like the

CDP Institute, that compiles and publishes such information.

Once the field of CDP vendors is narrowed down, they can be contacted for validation of matching services and scheduling of product demonstrations. The last leg of the journey involves creating an RFP (Request for Proposal) for distribution to the final selection of vendors. An RFP will explicitly state the Basic Requirements provided by most CDPs, and the specific requirements identified in the Use Cases and the Gap Analysis.

The journey of identifying requirements and finding matching vendors is truly analogous to the effort required in climbing a mountain. But what if there was a quicker way, a “ski lift” to the top, so to speak?


The CDP Institute has created such software that helps people navigate through the difficult tasks described above.  In one simple, 15-minute survey, prospective CDP candidates are prompted with questions and answers to help them define their general objectives and criteria, marketing priorities, industry requirements and matching budget constraints.  The CDP Institute also prompts for a selection of Use Cases from a list of 50, and the selection of the points of Gap Analysis from a list of 20. The system then generates two automated reports, customized to the users’ input. The first document provides a short-list of matching vendors and the second provides an RFP draft that incorporates the users’ specific requirements.

This service is currently offered for FREE by the CDP Institute and is accessible on Google Forms page at During the month of June 2020, the CDP Institute is offering 30-minutes of FREE, vendor-neutral advice from one of the Institute’s expert consultants.

DataEM is a Customer Data Platform (CDP) consultancy.  A CDP can ingest customer data from any source, create unified customer profiles (Golden Records), model behavior, and share that data with any source that needs it. Brent Dreyer is the Managing Partner at DataEM, and one of the expert CDP consultants assisting the CDP Institute with their vendor-neutral advisory services.

basic requirements

gap analysis

the rfp

the solution

use cases

match vendors