The best customer data platforms on the market today

A professional comparing the best customer data platforms

Customer experience is the digital trend driving modern businesses because customers and buyers in almost every industry are now digital-first. Personalization at scale is becoming urgent, and brands are collecting a lot of customer data to make it happen.

But customer data streams in from a variety of sources, and much of it is unstructured. One of the key factors that will determine which companies thrive in the coming years will be how well they manage and use all that customer data.

That’s where customer data platforms (CDPs) come in.

Your CDP is a crucial business decision. But with so many options on the market, it can be hard to know if you’re making the right decision. We’re here to help. In this piece, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to help choose the right CDP for your company, your audience, and your teams. We’re going to:

What are customer data platforms?

Customer data platforms (CDPs) are software solutions that collect data that comes straight from customers to create a unified profile for each user. This data, called first-party data, can come from a variety of sources, and you can use it to identify trends and behavior patterns among your audience as a whole. And because it's unified, it lets you make sure your campaigns are highly targeted.

And good CDPs are becoming increasingly important in every industry. For example, when Google announced that the future of Chrome would be cookieless, marketers realized that collecting data about customers would become more difficult. CDPs fill that gap.

CDPs collect and organize this first-party data from multiple sources — from in-store terminals to emails and web forms. Then the CDP merges that data into a single customer profile that you can use across every channel and system. For instance, data collected in stores can inform social media marketing decisions, or data collected from an ecommerce platform can be shared with customer support.

But that’s not all they do. With artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced CDPs can predict what your customers will do next and recommend the next steps you should take. You know exactly what email to send, what products to recommend, or what campaign to enroll them in.

There are a few general types of CDPs, but it can be hard to categorize any one solution because features overlap. In general, there are four main types of CDP for you to choose from. Let’s break down their differences.

  1. Marketing cloud CDPs are large software companies’ entries into the customer data platform market. Their main selling point is how they integrate with the provider’s other solutions. So you can combine your CDP with the rest of your marketing suite without changing providers.
  2. Smart hub CDPs are clear and easy to use out of the box. These CDPs focus on analytics and predictions (this is what makes them smart), so users can respond to customers’ behavior in real time.
  3. Marketing data integration CDPs are all about the data — with less attention given to analytics and predictions. Users can still deliver segmented campaigns, but these CDPs don't give much decision-making assistance.
  4. Engines and toolkit CDPs are for brands that need their own solutions for unique requirements. These CDPs are complex and generally expensive. Unless you need a tailored solution and have some technical expertise, it’s best to choose one of the other types.

There are hundreds of CDP providers out there, so finding the right one for your business can be tough. Here are the 13 best CDPs on the market now.

Compare the best 13 customer data platforms

Adobe real-time customer data platform dashboard

1. Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform

Adobe Real-Time CDP is a cloud-based platform that collects and organizes both B2B and B2C data from multiple channels and builds unified account profiles. These profiles update in real time whenever the software activates new data, which empowers marketers to create relevant and personalized experiences for audiences based on their most recent interactions.

The strength of this CDP lies in its real-time capabilities. It updates audience data any time there is activity, giving companies an overview of customers’ attributes and behavior in the moment.

Treasure Data CDP dashboard

2. Treasure Data CDP

Treasure Data CDP is an enterprise CDP that prioritizes data privacy. Treasure Data CDP is known for its ability to process large amounts of data. It can transfer millions of rows of data each second, which makes it a good choice for companies with big data needs. Users also appreciate the built-in connectors for saving time when unifying customer data.

Some users do complain that documentation for some workflows is missing — leaving them confused about how to implement them.

3. Bloomreach Engagement

Bloomreach Engagement is a CDP that gives users a range of marketing tools in one platform. Users say Bloomreach is adaptable and intuitive, so it’s easy to create sophisticated marketing campaigns to meet their needs.

For simple tasks, it’s easy to get up and running, but more complex processes require developers and Bloomreach support to set up. The learning curve with Bloomreach is steeper than with some of the other CDPs on this list.

4. Twilio Segment CDP

Twilio Segment is easy to set up and use, and it has all the standard CDP features like collecting, organizing, and unifying data. Users recommend Segment for the wide range of available integrations and its Chrome extension. Because integrations are easy to set up, companies spend fewer resources on developer expertise.

But it’s not cheap to get all these features — because of Segment’s expensive pricing structure, it isn’t suitable for smaller businesses, startups, and newer companies. Not only is it expensive, but some users aren’t satisfied with the level of customer support, specifically citing slow response time.

5. Blueshift SmartHub CDP

Blueshift SmartHub CDP is an easy-to-use platform that enables customer experience management with a wide range of tools. Blueshift integrates with a number of third-party apps through its App Hub, and its flexibility allows for more complex tasks. Blueshift customer support is quick to respond — often resolving issues the same day.

The same can’t always be said about the platform itself. Users commonly complain that data exports are often slow.

6. Tealium AudienceStream CDP

Tealium AudienceStream CDP is a versatile platform with good options for creating personalized experiences. The user interface is intuitive once you’ve gotten used to the system.

But Tealium isn’t as easy to learn as some other CDPs on this list. It can be difficult to get started without some technical knowledge and experience. Luckily, Tealium provides training sessions and support for users who aren’t used to the technical side of a CDP.

7. Insider CDP

Insider CDP is popular with enterprise marketers. One of Insider’s biggest strengths is its mobile capabilities like in-app and push notifications.

On the other hand, Insider can be overwhelming for new users because of the high number of tools and capabilities. And all these capabilities come with a hefty price tag too — some users have complained that Insider’s plans are expensive and limited.

8. Listrak CDP

Listrak is a CDP suitable for retail companies. It’s a simple and easy-to-use platform that's best for small to medium-sized companies that don’t have complex data analysis needs. Listrak also aims to be a one-stop shop for email and SMS marketing. Listrak’s Growth Xcelerator Platform (GXP) is a favorite feature with many users because it helps grow email lists.

Although Listrak combines SMS and email in one platform, SMS capabilities are lacking. SMS segmentation features could be improved, and the format of data from email and SMS campaigns is not always consistent. Finally, Listrak UI hasn’t been updated for a while — so the UI is outdated and unintuitive.

9. Optimizely Data Platform

Optimizely Data Platform (formerly called Zaius) is a comprehensive CDP that works well for B2C email marketing and segmentation. Setting up segmentation and campaigns in Optimizely is simple and intuitive — but even if you get stuck, users have good things to say about its customer support.

Despite the strength of their email solutions, its SMS offering lags behind the industry. Users have commented that SMS analytics are superficial and that SMS scheduling functions aren’t consistent.

10. Salesforce Marketing Cloud CDP

Salesforce is one of the big players in marketing tech, and its Marketing Cloud CDP integrates with its other software products (like its popular CRM). This CDP focuses on data collection — with tools that focus on data collection and automation. For personalized marketing, you need to combine Marketing Cloud CDP with Marketing Cloud Personalization.

Unlike other products on this list, this isn’t an all-in-one tool. Salesforce tools are most suitable for large companies due to its high costs.

Lyrics CDP dashboard

11. Lytics CDP

Lytics CDP prioritizes behavioral and intent-based personalization in a simple platform. The Lytics segment builder allows users to build tailored audiences for their marketing campaigns. One of its most popular features is its AI-based audience building and segmentation.

Integrating the CDP with other platforms, however, can require a developer. And sometimes, the Lytics customer support takes up to a week to respond to queries — which means it’s often necessary to figure out the issue on your own.

12. SAP CDP

SAP has been building software for many years, and its CDP is a powerful data analytics tool.

But to engage customers with omnichannel personalized marketing content, SAP recommends combining its CDP with its Emarsys software. Unlike most of the entries to this list, SAP CDP is not a one-stop shop, but for companies already within the SAP ecosystem it’s a good choice. SAP CDP gives users a detailed picture of their customers. Brands considering this CDP should be aware that it requires training to use effectively — as it is complicated for new users.

13. Optimove CDP

Optimove CDP prioritizes retail and gaming brands but is well-rounded with data, analytics, and engagement capabilities. Its most popular features are its segmentation capabilities, campaign building, and customer journey tools. Optimove CDP is an intuitive tool that is easy to get the hang of.

But despite Optimove’s claims of real-time data capabilities, users have commented that this feature is lacking.

How to choose the best CDP for your needs

With all these CDPs on the market, choosing the right one for your brand can be difficult. But there are a few features that all good CDPs should have:

  1. Real-time data — The best CDPs update your profiles and customer segments in real time, so your entire company is always working with the most up-to-date data available. In today’s competitive market, you can’t afford to be a few days behind.

  2. Behavioral triggers — A good CDP uses behavior triggers to understand how customers act and build a unified customer profile.

  3. Analytics, predictions, and insights — A modern CDP will be able to analyze data and produce actionable recommendations for engaging target audiences.

  4. Data privacy and governance — Make sure the CDP you choose is compliant with data protection and privacy requirements.

  5. Integrations — Prebuilt connectors should allow your CDP to integrate with the applications you already use on any channel.

    Adobe Real-Time CDP has all these features and more. By making enterprise-wide data available and actionable, you can engage customers across all channels at scale. Adobe Real-Time CDP integrates data from all customer touchpoints (CRM, loyalty programs, web searches, and more) and creates a unified customer profile in real time.

    With segmentation and timely experiences, you can truly engage consumers with relevant content when it matters. All customer data is secure with privacy tools that comply with regional and organizational data policies. And all of this comes in a package that is suitable for both B2B and B2C brands.

    To see what Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform can help you do, check out this overview video.