CRM or CDP: Which One Does Your Business Need?

August 21, 2023

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Customer Data Platform (CDP) are terms that are used frequently among marketers, and while they have similarities, they each serve diverse purposes.

CRMs and CDPs both collect and manage data, but they do so very differently. CRMs involve a lot of manual data entry & management each time there is a customer interaction, whereas CDPs use automated data collection and hygiene engines to create a holistic view from multiple systems and data sources. The following breakdown is designed to help you determine which solution is right for your business.

What Is a CRM?

CRMs are designed to help primarily B2B companies’ sales teams and marketers manage individual interactions with existing or potential customers and nurture leads one-to-one. CRMs are used often by sales teams to centralize contact information and other details they’ve learned about a specific customer to help lead them down the sales funnel. This allows teams to manage each account, track phone calls, 1:1 emails, and add pertinent information for future touchpoints with each customer.

However, CRMs can make it difficult to track an entire customer journey across channels and attribute multiple interactions to the same customer. This includes things like making a purchase, interacting with the company’s website, clicking through your ads or emails, and more. A CRM is also unable to track an in-person transaction from a customer unless it is manually entered, which can make it difficult to keep track of in-store purchases and match them to a known customer in the CRM.

What Sets CDPs Apart?

The primary differentiator of a CDP, primarily used by D2C companies, versus a CRM is its ability combine multiple data sources into one tool, which includes point-of-sale, eCommerce, in-store, website activity, and even CRM data. This provides teams with an all-encompassing view of their customers and their behavior along the entire customer journey. In addition to collecting the data, a CDP can enrich and de-dup it, meaning that customer records will be scrubbed to eliminate errors, duplicates, and inconsistencies. In addition to data cleansing, a CDP also ensures all your messages are compliant with CAN-SPAM, CASL, and GDPR regulations which not only improves your marketing performance and overall retention, but your customers also win when you send meaningful one-to-one communication (at scale) that they’ve elected to receive.

A clean, comprehensive view of each customer provides teams with a more accurate picture of their entire audience and their behavioral patterns. With this information, marketers can identify unique customer segments based on their individual needs and build tailor-made automations for hyper-personalized communication across email, social media, Google, and direct mail. This type of direct omnichannel marketing is designed to create authentic, lifelong customer relationships and drive repeat purchases.

Watch this 2-minute explainer video to learn more!

Create Customers for Life

Many companies start with a CRM to strengthen the customer-brand relationship and manage their sales pipeline but investing in a CDP will provide an even deeper understanding of their target audience and help build long-term customer retention, increased engagement, and better manage customer behavior and trends. At Ascent360, our CDP functionality helps companies easily ingest all forms of customer data from varying systems at once, identify their most valuable customers, bring lapsed customers back to your store or website, and create a truly unique, personalized experience.