CRM vs. CDP: Understanding the Differences for Your Marketing Goals

Gathering customer data improves business’ marketing efforts. It enables you to create targeted campaigns and unlock otherwise hidden customer insights that lead to sales. However, many businesses need a better way to process that data. 

A customer data platform (CDP) is designed for marketing. It gathers customer data from several different sources to build a unified view of your customer so your team can precisely execute marketing strategies.

On the other hand, a customer relationship management platform (CRM) is designed for sales. It gathers prospect information through the direct contact customers have with your brand. 

Here’s a deeper dive into the specifics of both a CRM and a CDP, how they differ, how they work together, and for whom each type of platform is best. 

What are the benefits of a B2C CRM?


Marketing is tough, and competition is fierce. A sales team would have a hard time keeping up with the complexities of modern marketing without a good customer relationship management platform in place. 

Let’s look at the most significant benefits of using a CRM:

More consistent customer interactions

Have you ever received a newsletter that you only vaguely recalled signing up for eight months earlier? Chances are, you hit the unsubscribe button and moved on to your next task. 

A CRM helps you stay at the front of your prospects’ minds by constantly staying in touch with them—whether by email, direct mail, or targeted campaigns. With CRM automation, salespeople stay on top of each account, communicating with leads at optimal times and anticipating objections. 

Improved customer loyalty

No customer likes feeling like a number, and a CRM ensures that you treat every customer as an individual. A good CRM will help marketing teams track details about their interactions with each customer, so they can build better relationships.

With a CRM, marketing teams can track customer interactions, preferences, and histories, and use that information to deliver a more personalized experience. By understanding each customer’s unique identifiers, you step up your customer experience. 

Improved decision-making

A customer relationship management system offers reporting and analytics features for improved, data-driven decision-making. Good CRMs often include near-real-time data capture, guiding your customer journey with a better-informed sales process. 

What are the benefits of a CDP?

Using a customer data platform for your marketing campaigns determines whether you reach your key performance indicators (KPIs) or fall short. 

A CDP offers several benefits: 

Removal of data silos 

Data becomes harder to use when it’s siloed inside different sources and applications. For improved messaging and more proactive marketing campaigns, a CDP works to unify this data—whether it’s zero-, first-, second-, third-party, online, and offline data. 

Deeper customer insights

A customer data platform enables marketers to build comprehensive customer profiles that offer insight into real pain points, interests, wants, needs, and even firmographic data (the equivalent of demographic data for B2Bs). With unified customer profiles, marketing teams can execute new marketing strategies and create hyper-segmented and personalized campaigns. 

Savings through automation

In a data-driven world, automation is your best friend. It takes repetitive yet critical tasks off your to-do list, saving you time and resources so you can focus on higher-ROI initiatives. Automation also allows marketers to establish evergreen strategies that bring in a consistent, predictable stream of new leads and more data, all while building brand awareness.

Increased personalization

Today, marketing is all about personalization. About 75% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a business that offers them a personalized experience. According to McKinsey, even B2B customers prefer an ongoing omnichannel experience that’s personalized to them. Personalized experiences are so powerful that customers are willing to switch to providers that offer them. 

Yet you can’t launch fully personalized marketing campaigns without a platform that gathers, cleans, centralizes, and organizes your data to make it usable. With a CDP, marketers draw data-driven insights about customers’ wants and needs. 

Better prediction

The ability to predict the wants, needs, and, in some cases, actions of their customers takes any brand’s marketing efforts to the next level. Brands gain a competitive advantage by using predictive analysis to find new marketing opportunities, customer lifecycle, and better manage resources. 

CRM vs. CDP: Key differences

While both platform types process data for the best sales outcomes, they have some key differences.

CRMs shine in the following use cases:

  • Increasing customer lifetime value
  • Increasing cross-selling and upselling
  • Improving customer service
  • Gaining insights into customer behavior

On the other hand, here are some ideal CDP uses: 

  • Executing data-driven marketing campaigns
  • Managing the marketing lifecycle
  • Unifying and segmenting your customer data
  • Use by marketers

Another significant difference is in how CRMs and CDPs collect data.

CDP and CRM data collection methods

Every business ingests some form of first-party data (data that is provided directly by the customer). This may include contact information like phone numbers or emails, job titles, names, purchased products, subscriptions, or even addresses. 

CRM data is usually gathered manually. This means sales development representatives (SDRs) gather contact information through sign-up forms, emails, social media interactions, or surveys. 

On the other hand, CDP data is collected automatically through avenues including web tracking, mobile apps, APIs, and integrations. 

Who should use a CRM? 

Are you a sales or billing team? Do you offer customer support? You’re the best candidate for the features and tools offered by a CRM. 

If you send quotes or work with outbound marketing strategies to contact potential customers who require direct interaction, a CRM is designed for you. CRMs enrich customer-facing roles by arming them with data, automation, and a single view of the customer. 

It’s important to note that CRMs and CDPs can work in tandem. In fact, depending on your marketing goals, it’s often best to integrate both into your workflow. As an example, Simon Data provides a list of all the platforms it integrates with in case you want to connect it to your existing CRM.  

Who should use a CDP?

CDPs combine zero-, first-, second-, and third-party data for more effective behind-the-scenes marketing. Marketing channels like social media, email marketing, and pay-per-click (PPC) make CDPs ideal for marketing teams who want to grow company revenue, expand market share, and market new product initiatives.

CRM example

One of the best examples of a CRM is Salesforce. As the leader in the CRM industry, Salesforce helps sales, service, and marketing teams deliver an exceptional customer experience through automation and features that speed up the lead outreach process.

It enables personalized messaging that meets prospects where they are. As a CRM, Salesforce offers a more organized approach to selling that ultimately drives revenue. 

CDP example

Simon CDP is a no-code customer data platform designed to help marketing and tech teams deliver results in the form of new customers and better retention. With the automation and tools needed to create a true omnichannel experience, Simon Data’s customer data platform enables teams to establish ongoing marketing funnels that are hyper-personalized and built with the customer in mind. 

Simon CDP’s invaluable features provide the functionality to meet all your marketing team’s needs: 

  • Audience management
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Customer identity
  • Predictive modeling
  • Data unification
  • Cross-channel orchestration
  • Customer data segmentation

Let’s say you’re trying to build a recurring workflow that sends email messages to specific customer segments about special deals or seasonal offers. Simon Data’s dashboard simplifies the automated workflow creation process by enabling you to set your desired frequency, maximum period, date and time, and messaging. 

Simon CDP combines the automation and detailed data you need to execute highly personalized campaigns that won’t fall flat. Plus, it eliminates the need to work with siloed apps by unifying data collection with robust go-to-market tools. 

Do more with Simon CDP

Gathering business intelligence is easier with a robust CDP built for data management. Once onboarded, it’s easier for marketing teams to create personalized campaigns across channels that drive results and increase revenue. Simon Data bridges the gap between brands and their customers. 

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