How to choose the right Customer Data Platform [CDP]?

The criteria to consider when choosing your CDP are closely linked to your use cases and the resulting functional requirements identified when preparing your specifications.

In this article, we will focus more specifically on the criteria that will enable you to compare the solutions within your ‘short-list’. For this purpose, we have provided a free download of a template comparison grid. If you have already downloaded our specifications, you will recognise the document, it is the same! Better one complete template than two lightweight documents 🙂


Access the template for free

Differentiation criteria

There are two types of criteria to consider when choosing your CDP. Firstly, the purely functional criteria, which stem from the definition of your use cases. Secondly, the so-called “preliminary” criteria, which serve to ensure that the tool corresponds to your budget and your internal skills.

Functional differentiation criteria

  • Import / Connectors

Customer touch points change over time. The ideal CDP must therefore be able to collect and unify data from all your contact channels quickly and seamlessly. To do this, it must have good integrations. Important criteria to look at include connectors (off-the-shelf or custom), APIs, real-time batch, and web tracking.

  • Data structuring

Your data model describes the internal structure of the data after ingestion. It should be chosen carefully, as it should help you achieve your objectives and facilitate segmentation, targeting, reporting, etc. The model must therefore offer flexibility and allow the creation of customised tables, with modifiable fields, in particular to insert metadata. Also assess the quality of the deduplication and the existing database.

  • Data quality

The CDP should provide good quality data processing for data unification. Look at the vendor’s proposed normalisation rules (off-the-shelf or custom). Customised SQL access is an important criterion for easy manual access to the data source. In addition, your CDP must allow you to connect third-party enrichment or data quality tools.

  • Segmentation / Calculated fields / Scoring

Your CDP must allow you to create personalised audience segments, to target customer profiles as closely as possible to your needs. These segments must synchronise perfectly with your activation tools, and they must be updated regularly. To do this, check the CDP’s ability to create simple calculated fields and custom scores.


With Octolis, integrate calculated fields directly into your business tools.

  • Activation

The activation of your customer data is the ultimate objective of a CDP, which must allow you to feed your various business tools (CRM, BI, customer service, etc.) with unified data that can be manipulated by the marketing teams. Your CDP must therefore offer easy-to-access output formats, or connectors to your various tools. Check in particular which BI software is compatible.

  • Setting up

Depending on the number of people in your organisation who will be using the CDP, check the access rights management that each vendor offers. The language offer can also be an added value if you have subsidiaries abroad, for example.

  • Hosting

It is up to you to decide which type of hosting is best suited to your needs. With a SaaS solution, your customer data will be in the hands of the CDP publisher, which can cause security problems. On the other hand, with Cloud or On-premises hosting, you will have more control over your data.

Preliminary” or organisational criteria

  • Implementation and adoption: the ideal CDP must be able to connect to the Internet.

The ideal CDP should be able to easily connect to your internal tool ecosystem and workflows, to reduce deployment time and costs. Once the initial configurations are made, marketers should be able to access the tool quickly. So ask yourself: do you need to use programmers to develop connectors or features that are not native to the CDP solution?

Then assess the familiarity of your internal staff: does my team have the capacity and technical expertise to use this CDP? Will the software require training? Will it be adopted quickly by users?

  • Organisation

In terms of organisation for your company, you will need to assess the risk of internal burden for customer support.

In addition, if you are concerned with distributed marketing, check the quality of service and ease of use of these options offered by the CDP publisher.

Finally, check whether the CDP vendor offers reliable, high-quality support and strategic consulting services to help you get the most out of the platform once it is implemented.

  • Budget

You can start by calculating the annual licence cost for each CDP publisher. The rates vary mainly according to the number of contacts you have. There are upgrade costs of around 20-30% of the licence fee.

CDP projects generally involve a significant investment in the setup of the solution, which is more difficult to estimate than the licence cost. Indeed, setup costs differ greatly between CDP vendors and the level of complexity of the projects.

Finally, do not forget the cost of any options. For example, for large projects, an AMOA support may be required.

    • Estimate of the cost of deploying a new CDP.
Type of costPME / ETILarge company
Software license20 to 60k€ / year70 to 200k€ / year
Setting up10 to 40k€40 to 200k€
Cost developments5 to 20k€ / year30 to 100k€ / year
  • How to estimate the cost of deploying your Customer Data Platform

See our dedicated article on how to estimate with maximum accuracy how much a CDP can cost you depending on your needs and your business

Understanding the CDP market to make the right choice

There are nearly a hundred players offering CDP platforms, some of which have very different functional scopes. The market is therefore very dense, and it is sometimes difficult to find your way around. However, choosing the right CDP solution also requires a minimum understanding of the market and the main families of players.

To help you decipher the market, here is an overview of CDP publishers according to their positioning:

Martech SuiteEngagement-oriented CDPData Management oriented CDP
CDP offerings from leading martech tool vendors are integrated within a suite of tools, rather than being an independent software layer.CDP's "pure players" focus more on activation and/or engagement (self-service segmentation, journey orchestration, personalisation, marketing campaigns, etc.).CDP editors who focus more on data management aspects (ingestion, profile unification, data cleansing, stewardship, identifier resolution, etc.)
Salesforce, Adobe, Microsoft, SAP, ...Segment, Tealium, Blueshift, CrossEngage, etc.Octolis, mParticle, NG Data, Treasure Data, etc.

Discover the different types of CDP.

To find out more about the different types of CDP solutions on the market, see our dedicated article.

6 steps to follow to successfully choose your CDP

#1 Include the right people

Before you even decide which CDP vendors you will evaluate, you need to bring the internal stakeholders into the process. This is because the data that the CDP will handle comes from different departments in your company. It is therefore important that everyone is involved from the start.

The question you need to ask yourself at this stage is: Who else is collecting the data that your CDP will handle? As you can see from our template specification, the most common stakeholders in a CDP implementation project are the IT department, marketing and the data teams.

It is not necessary for each stakeholder to individually evaluate the selected CDP vendors. However, it is important to gather their requirements, and communicate the purpose of a new CDP, and what you hope to gain from it.

#2 Define your business use cases

It’s easy to want a new CDP to consolidate your data into one unified, centralized database, but what do you really want from this new tool? Consolidating your data is just one step in a more global approach to customer data management. To choose the CDP best suited to your needs, you must define your use cases in advance.

To do this, ask the different stakeholders to define their optimal business use cases. From this, try to identify three priority use cases. This will make it easier for you to evaluate which CDP vendors best meet these three needs.


We offer a downloadable CDP specification template and its annex listing the business use cases.

Once you have defined your use cases, you can start listing potential CDP vendors. You can check their websites, read reviews of their products, or try to get feedback from professionals who use these tools.

#3 List the tools that will be impacted

The next step is to list all the tools used by your company that will be connected to your CDP. To start, focus on your use cases. What tools do you need to achieve the specific use cases you defined in step 2?

Next, list all the applications that interact with your customer in some way. These could be web tools (Google Analytics, Tag management…), CRM tools (Salesforce, SAP…), messaging platforms, business intelligence tools (Looker…), or customer management and live chat tools (Intercom…).

Once you have determined the tools you need, make sure the CDPs you are evaluating already have these integrations. This step can significantly reduce your shortlist!

#4 Prioritise your expectations

Functional requirements are different from your use cases: they are more like functionalities than results. To define them, start with your use cases and list the functional specificities they require. You can then prioritise them, and check that the chosen CDP offers and masters these functionalities.

For example, let’s say that one of your functional requirements is that the CDP allows you to get a complete view of the customer journey. In this case, make sure the vendor you are evaluating offers some form of identity resolution, which helps identify users across different channels.

The pricing web pages of CDP solutions usually list the detailed features of the tool. You can use these to see if your functional requirements are covered by the solution.

#5 Compare solutions

At this stage, you should have a list of a few CDP vendors, 3 maximum, that match your use cases, have the necessary integrations and meet all your functional requirements. Before we get into the details of pricing, there are a few more parameters to consider.

Start by considering your sector of activity: which CDP tools are most popular with companies in your sector? Which solutions are favoured by organisations of your size? For example, if you work in a start-up, make sure that the CDPs you are evaluating have experience in this field. If possible, check whether the CDP publisher has a track record on the use cases you defined in step 2.

Next, make sure that each CDP evaluated offers a solution for data compliance. This is an increasingly controlled topic. CDPs deal with customer data and therefore have to comply with current regulations, such as the RGPD.


This comparison grid lists the different criteria that come into play in the choice of the CDP. It allows them to be rated individually from 0 to 3, depending on whether the functionality is covered by the solution being compared. It is then possible to calculate scores, which will allow the solutions to be compared, for each sub-category and in total.

The “Comparison – Debrief” tab allows you to structure the collection of feedback from the different stakeholders during the RFP.

#6 Measuring the expected ROI

The return on investment of the CDPs you are evaluating is the last element you need to take into account when choosing your solution. It should allow you to know which option will bring you the best added value, by comparing the project costs with the estimated benefit.

The ROI is calculated mainly on the working time of your data teams. Indeed, this cost is one of the main reasons to use a CDP. Without CDP, your engineers have to spend hours creating and maintaining integrations for each of your internal tools. These hours add up quickly, which can result in significant costs for maintaining a single integration.

The ideal solution should reduce the amount of time your data engineers spend building these integrations, which can result in significant cost savings.

Beware, it is the strategy that accompanies the use of CDP that will generate a return on investment. The ROI does not only depend on the chosen solution, but also on the means you give yourself to use it in an optimal way!

  • Do you want to measure the ROI of your CDP?

We have written a comprehensive article on the subject, find out all the aspects to consider when looking to evaluate the ROI of your Customer Data Platform

Download our CDP comparison grids

To download our CDP specification template and its annex, simply click on the link below.
You will find the link to the annex on page 8 to qualify your use cases and functional requirements 😊 Create a copy of the original document to make it your own!

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