CDP Vs. Marketing Automation Platforms


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Both Customer data platforms (CDPs) and marketing automation software collect customer data. Both aim to automate processes and increase efficiency. But they have different capabilities.

What is a CDP, and what is an MDP ?


  • Marketing automation tools automate tasks, streamline procedures, and personalize experiences at scale.
  • CDPs combine customer data from various sources and offer a single customer view.

CDPs and marketing automation software share common features. Both help with customer data collection, process automation, and productivity gains. However, they also have their own unique capabilities.

Marketers need to understand the difference between the two to decide which suits their martech stack.

Customer Data Platform vs. Marketing Automation Platforms

Businesses can improve communications and campaigns with the help of marketing automation tools.

Marketing automation offers many advantages to businesses. According to the Ascend State of Marketing Automation report,  

State of Marketing Automation report

Customer data platforms (CDPs) help organizations with customer insights across many data sources.

Here are the most significant differences between CDPs and marketing automation systems:

  1. Data source:  Marketing automation software gathers customer information from a single source- CRM systems. CDPs collect user information from the web, online channels, customer profiles, and contact centers.
  2.   Insights:  Marketing automation systems aim to drive campaigns; they don’t produce insight for marketers. CDPs provide marketers with actionable insights to fuel campaigns.
  1. Leads:  Marketing automation tools assist marketers in planning customer journeys. They nurture leads, attract more clients, and foster client loyalty. The tools work with other MarTech and AdTech systems, using data and insights to power campaigns.

However, marketing automation systems do not implement omnichannel campaigns. This is where CDPs work.

  1. Data collection:  A CDP is a smart data source powering consistent customer interactions across various channels. It provides complete 360-degree customer profiles. Marketers can target the right customers and optimize their automated campaigns at the right time with the right message. A marketing automation platform doesn’t do data collation; it only automates marketing processes and activities.
  2. Focus:  Marketing automation platforms help businesses design targeted campaigns and send tailored messages. They automate processes like lead generation, customer segmentation, and email marketing. They focus on delivering marketing processes faster and more accurately, helping marketers save time and effort.

CDPs’ sole focus is data management; they don’t deliver any processes. They must help collate the customer data for use in marketing strategies.

  1. Data integration:  CDPs collect and unify customer data from various sources such as CRM, social media, and website analytics. They produce a single customer profile that marketers can use to tailor the customer experience at every touchpoint.

Marketing automation platforms do not integrate data. They only use this data to gain insights and deliver strategies based on them.

  1. Purpose:  the purpose of a marketing automation platform is to reduce the time and effort spent on running campaigns across multiple channels. The focus of a CDP is to get a single view of all customer data used to build these campaigns.
  2. Flexibility to innovate: CDPs can be identified as a product improvement since they collate and analyze customer data. This is market intelligence. MAP uses AI and automation tools and becomes part of the marketing process.
  3. Data Privacy: CDPs digest both structured and unstructured data. So, they need to comply with strict data privacy regulations. Marketing automation does not need that kind of regulation in place.

Limitations of CDP and Marketing Automation Platforms

MAP: Data quality is the most critical limitation of a Marketing Automation Platform. The costs outweigh the advantages if the MAP uses insufficient, too complex, or inaccurate data. This works if the tool’s use cases correspond to the system’s use cases.

The system restricts teams if they need the flexibility of data. It limits structure assets or campaigns (cue frustration for more experienced marketers).

CDPs:  The lack of consensus on common rules, definitions, and taxonomies poses the greatest risk to CDPs. Marketers need a solution that enables them to use their data as a driving force for their company. They do not want merely another storage platform.

Also Read: Factors to Consider while Calculating the ROI of a Marketing Automation Platform

Combining marketing automation and CDPs to improve the customer experience

A strong tech stack should start with a Customer Data Platform that integrates with a Marketing Automation Platform.

The CDPs provide data that enables businesses to offer customized experiences at scale. MAP uses this data to develop and deliver truly personalized experiences. It powers the efficient and effective execution of campaigns. So, a CDP integrated with a MAP helps with personalization, organization, and better insights.

This integration can help develop a thorough marketing strategy that makes the most of the advantages of each tool.

Clearly, one is useless without the other. No wonder, then, the adoption of CDP is skyrocketing. According to the Global Consumer Data report by Research and Markets,

Global Consumer Data

The CDP unifies all customer data from the marketing automation platform and other systems. It is instrumental in allowing a MAP to create personalized marketing strategies.

The growing importance of providing a personalized CX across an omnichannel customer journey does not diminish the significance of marketing automation.

With enriched data from the CDP, marketing automation becomes a step toward orchestrating the entire customer experience.


CDPs and marketing automation are complementary tools that assist companies in managing sophisticated marketing plans. While CDPs are focused on data management, marketing automation is focused on execution based on that data.

For enterprises to deliver personalized experiences at scale, both tools are critical. Therefore, consider integrating a CDP and marketing automation platform into the tech stack to add value to the marketing strategy.

Swapnil Mishra
Swapnil Mishra
Swapnil Mishra is a global news correspondent at OnDot media, with over six years of experience in the field. Specializing in technology journalism encompassing enterprise tech, marketig automation, and marketing technologies, Swapnil has established herself as a trusted voice in the industry. Having collaborated with various media outlets, she has honed her skills in content strategy, executive leadership, business strategy, industry insights, best practices, and thought leadership. As a journalism graduate, Swapnil possesses a keen eye for editorial detail and a mastery of language, enabling her to deliver compelling and informative news stories. She has a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex technical concepts into easy-to-understand language.


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