20 questions to ask customer data platform vendors during the demo

Once you've chosen a short list of vendors and scheduled demos, think about the questions to ask them.

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When it comes time to purchase or upgrade a customer data platform (CDP) for your organization, once you know the right CDP vendors to consider, the demo can be the best way to really understand what a particular vendor offers.

Which CDP vendors should I consider?

First, you have to find the right vendors. Here’s how to do that:

  • Inventory all your databases and martech applications and be sure all stakeholders weigh in on which data and system integrations are priorities. CDPs offer numerous out-of-the-box connectors and APIs to make the integration process faster and more seamless. Prioritizing the applications you want to integrate first, makes it easy to ID vendors with programs that already have native connections to them.
  •  Speak to your marketing peers to find out who is using which CDP vendor and why. (Many of the vendors also provide whitepapers and interactive tools that can help.)
  • Once you know which vendors meet your criteria, send them the list of capabilities you need and set a timeframe for them to reply.
  • Decide whether or not you need to engage in a formal RFI/RFP process. This is an individual preference. However, be sure to give the same list of integrations to each vendor to facilitate comparison.

The next step is setting up demos.

Why should I schedule a CDP demo?

Demos are an opportunity to assess both the systems and the companies behind them. The second part is every bit as important as the first. You want to see who responds well under pressure, who has a fixed way of doing things versus who can adapt to how you need it done.

Schedule all the demos relatively close to each other to help make relevant comparisons. Also, make sure all potential users and stakeholders are on the demo call. Ask them all to keep in mind these questions:

  • How easy is the platform to use? 
  • Does the vendor seem to understand our business and our marketing needs? 
  • Are they showing us our “must-have” features?

Looking for a CDP? Download our buyer’s guide today and learn everything you need to know.

20 questions to ask CDP vendors

To help you navigate the demo, here are some questions to ask each vendor:

  1. How does the platform provide identity resolution? How does it stitch data points together?
  2. How does the platform handle both structured and unstructured data?
  3. How does the platform ingest and manage offline data?
  4. Is a data clean room available?
  5. How does the platform monitor integration success and/or failures, and report on data
    variances or anomalies?
  6. How does the platform handle connectors and integrations with outside martech systems?
    Are your “must have” integrations rock solid?
  7. What is the CDP’s approach to integrating with the specific martech systems that your
    company uses? Just because a connector exists doesn’t mean it will necessarily work for
    your organization and how you use that third-party platform.
  8. How does the platform allow users to create customer segments based on behaviors and
  9. How does the platform employ machine learning for data analytics, such as predicting
    customer trends and patterns?
  10. How does the platform employ AI and ML? Is there an option to tweak or train the system to better meet your business needs, or is it more of a “black box”?
  11. How can we send personalized and targeted messaging from the CDP?
  12. How can we use the CDP to coordinate and track multi-step marketing campaigns?
  13. What data security regulations does the platform comply with?
  14. What data security certifications does the platform have?
  15. Will there be a price increase when I renew — if so, how much? Will the vendor commit tocapped increases over a period of years?
  16. What are the additional fees? (i.e., set-up costs, add-on features, API, quotas)?
  17. How long is the onboarding process typically? Will we have a dedicated resource? Who will be the day-to-day contact?
  18. What is the level of support included in the price? What support is available at an additional cost?
  19. Who pays if your system/team makes an error? Will the vendor compensate you for errorsthat result in lost revenue?
  20. Will our support team work with us to test new features and assess the results?

Our new report, “Customer Data Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide” is now available for free download.


About the author

Pamela Parker
Pamela Parker is Research Director at Third Door Media's Content Studio, where she produces MarTech Intelligence Reports and other in-depth content for digital marketers in conjunction with Search Engine Land and MarTech. Prior to taking on this role at TDM, she served as Content Manager, Senior Editor and Executive Features Editor. Parker is a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since its beginning. She's a former managing editor of ClickZ and has also worked on the business side helping independent publishers monetize their sites at Federated Media Publishing. Parker earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

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