How to Choose the Right CDP: Why Integrations Matter

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CDP integrations are a critical component when evaluating customer data platform vendors. Here’s five things you should look out for when choosing the right CDP for you.

The business world of today is one of unpredictability and uncertainty. Brands must set themselves up to be as adaptable and flexible as possible to meet the challenges of the future. This uncertainty has the potential to prompt companies to reevaluate their tech stack in order to adapt to emerging business and consumer demands.

Every vendor will tell you how their platform easily integrates and interconnects with the rest of your technology stack to accommodate future changes. When it comes to discrete applications, this may not be as big a concern when supported by IT customization. But when you are talking about centralized data management infrastructure, it must integrate with the rest of your stack, or else it is just another pricey customer database. 

A customer data platform (CDP) is built to excel at integrating with the larger tech stack, making it ideal for companies that want to integrate best-of-breed solutions with their data management platform, so apps can be switched in and out with relative ease. 

So, what are the most critical integration considerations for a brand who is considering purchasing a CDP?

Five Things to Consider When Evaluating CDP Integrations

1. Out-of-the-Box CDP Integrations

One way CDPs benefit marketers is to provide more self-service options when visualizing and managing single customer view (SCV) profiles. The hope is that with easy-to-use interfaces, and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities that provide next-best action, marketers can liberate themselves from IT to some degree to deal with customer-centric issues closer to real-time. 

But if the CDP you purchase does not have a serious set of out-of-the-box (OOTB), pre-built integration capabilities, you will still be relying on IT to integrate with the rest of the stack. Pre-built, OOTB integrations will do most of the heavy lifting when moving data in and out of the CDP, so you do not need constant IT handholding when doing data integrations and delivery. 

Prior to picking a CDP, consider what pre-built integrations exist from the CDP vendor and how well they connect to the rest of your stack. It is not necessary to have every app and platform represented, as some level of customization will always be required, but the vendor’s OOTB integrations should cover a majority of the tech apps in your data stack.

2. Vendor CDP Integration Capabilities

Another thing to consider is how broad and deep the vendor’s integration capabilities are. You want a vendor that can future-proof your data management efforts as much as possible, so finding one that covers a lot of different areas is important. Look at their existing capability set. Does their source integration cover different categories, like web, mobile, and IoT? Do their destination categories include things like analytics, advertising, and storage? The more depth and breadth the integration capabilities have today means better integration in the future.

3. Professional Services/Implementation Partners

Let’s face it, there is only so much that can be pre-packaged into any software platform to accommodate all possible scenarios and applications. Even with a strong internal IT technology team, or highly-skilled in-house marketing technologists, no one will be as familiar with a CDP software package and its nuances than a professional services team from the vendor, if in fact they have one.

Many top CDP vendors will have a dedicated team for building and maintaining integrations, among other levels of support. These integration teams are the ones who build the vendor’s entire library of OOTB integrations. If a vendor has a strong set of diverse OOTB integrations, you can feel confident they have quality integration experts in-house who can help with custom integrations.

Not all pre-built integrations are the same. Some are better designed and executed than others, so some may require some level of customization from an integrations team, making this a top consideration when evaluating a CDP vendor.

4. Ecosystem Neutral

When you are evaluating infrastructure technology like a CDP, there are unique concerns relating to scalability that are not as critical when deploying discreet apps. A top consideration for companies looking to bring a CDP in house is whether the CDP is designed to connect to a multitude of best-of-breed apps, or if it is part of a larger proprietary ecosystem that locks you into a particular vendor’s ecosystem. 

An ecosystem-neutral CDP is designed using APIs to connect to any piece of the technology stack that uses customer data. Picking a CDP that is part of a larger, vendor-specific ecosystem limits you to the applications and systems that vendor provides. Picking a CDP that is vendor neutral allows you to leverage best-of-breed solutions for each particular job.

5. Dig Deeper into Documentation

A good way to gauge where a CDP stands in terms of integrations is by reading through the vendor’s product documentation. While this can be a bit boring for the non-technical, it is a smart step in the due diligence process.

Product documentation will give you a good idea of how well the vendor’s pre-built integrations will work, and how user friendly the steps are for each integration. You should be able to tell if the work can be done internally, or whether you will need an external specialist for support. The product documentation should also be able to give you a good idea how long it will take to achieve each integration.

Always keep an eye out for “gotchas” that may not be self-evident upon first glance. There may be product limitations based on the plan you subscribe to, like not being able to use certain integrations, or usage ceilings that limit data ingestion rates.  

Conclusion

The five steps discussed above should provide a roadmap for how to evaluate CDP vendors based on integrations. By doing your full due diligence prior to purchasing a CDP, and committing to a vendor, you will be more confident that the CDP you choose will not only be ready for your needs today, but for your unknown needs in the future.

The inherent unpredictability in the modern world means ensuring the MarTech infrastructure you deploy will still be viable for the business in the years to come. And with change comes the need to update and modernize your technology stack. 

With a vendor-neutral CDP that has a wide range of pre-built integrations, along with a solid professional services team to assist in customizing integrations, you will have a future-ready centralized data management platform that will be able to grow and evolve with your company. 

Brian Carlson
Brian Carlson
Brian Carlson is the Founder and CEO of RoC Consulting, a digital consultancy that helps brands establish the optimal balance of content, technology and marketing to achieve their goals.
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