Computer screen

What is a CDP?

A CDP is a Customer Database Platform that collects customer information and interactions from multiple sources and organizes the data into a single and complete view of a customer.

It solves the siloed data problem that plagues most car dealers by making the clean and continuously updated customer data available to other systems through a secure real-time API.

Initially designed for marketers to create targeted and personalized marketing campaigns using first-party data instead of third-party cookies, which are being deprecated by Google in 2024.

A CDP is not just a marketing tool, it can be used by all departments to improve customer experiences.

Do car dealers need a CDP?

No, we don't...

We've been making due with disconnected systems and siloed data for a long time.

Systems that don't share data...
Systems that don't talk to each other...
Systems that don't play well with other systems...
Systems that don't have an API...

We've adapted with people-driven processes using single purpose tools to complete a task and then communicate with each other to get things done.

We've adapted with people-driven processes that break down frequently and are hard to execute consistently over time.

Disconnected systems and siloed data are the single biggest thing holding car dealers back from improving the car buying and ownership experiences.

Does your phone system tell you the customer calling has an open repair order? Or better yet, does it say the customer has an open repair order, the vehicle is completed and the bill is $500. With a click of a button the person answering the phone can charge the customers credit card on file, and notify the service to have it washed and out front by 4:30pm.

Does your CRM tell you that 20% of your active leads have already bought another vehicle?

Does your DMS know that 17% of the customer owned vehicles are no longer owned by that customer?

Does your marketing team automatically text an upgrade offer to the service customer that declined a brake repair last week and is now on your website looking at new vehicles.

In other words, does your technology stack enable a consistently exceptional customer experiences with very little effort from people-driven processes.

Probably not!

A CDP can't do that either.

A CDP is not a complete solution in and of itself.

A CDP provides accurate and timely data for other systems to solve those problems.

The true potential of a CDP lies in its ability connect multiple systems, resulting in highly integrated and connected experiences.

Does a CDP replace any other software?

Maybe some third-party cookie-based marketing solutions.

Google has plans to phase out third-party cookies in 2024, the data that allows marketers to track and target customers. Third-party marketing may be going away and is forcing marketing companies to find alternatives.

On top of that, increased privacy concerns have consumers opting out of third-party cookies altogether.

CDPs give marketing companies access to a dealers first-party data, which is a great alternative to third-party cookies.

Marketing may be driving this CDP focus, but its opening the door for other software to use a dealers customer data to improve customer experiences in all departments.

What is first-party & third-party data?

First-party data is information a dealer collects directly from its customers, if updated regularly it's highly accurate and reliable.

  • DMS
  • CRM
  • Website interactions
  • Service history
  • Text messages
  • Chat conversations
  • Phone calls
  • Social media
  • Advertising

As opposed to third-paty data, which is customer information collected by a data aggregators like Google. Original sources of the data are usually unknown and can often be inaccurate and unreliable.

What are the benefits of a CDP?

The CDP takes all of that customer data, cleans, updates and enhances it into unique customer profiles.

The real benefits of a CDP comes from how other software use the data.

When a dealer becomes data-driven, a CDP is a core element because it's the only source of accurate updated customer data that can be used in real-time to automatically trigger processes or help make informed decisions.

Marketing automation platforms use CDP data to automatically trigger targeted, segmented messages through multiple channels. Resulting in more leads closing at higher rates with strong gross profits at a lower cost per lead.

It's the right message, to the right person at the right time...

These marketers are showing the benefits as customer loyatly increases every year.

CDPs were initially design for marketers, so most of the solutions available today are marketing related. But that's changing as more departments will start using CDP data to improve customer experiences.

The benefits will compound over time, as you upgrade other software to use your customer data to improve customer experiences.

What does an exceptional customer experience look like?

I keep hearing about customer experience. Customer experience will be the main way dealers compete in the future. The dealers providing the best customer experience will win. As the manufacturer takes over pricing and inventory, all that's left for the dealer is the customer experience.

Assuming I agree with all that, what does an exceptional customer experience look like?

What does it look like for the customer?


I've been thinking about buying a truck.

Should I save money and buy used. Ahh, probs not.

Electric or Hybrids are a trend right now, what would that look like in a truck.

I don't want electric, too many charging issues.

But what about a hybrid truck? For better gas mileage... California's gas pricing are pushing $5 a gallon.

My son has a Tacoma, he loves it...

What about a Tacoma Hybrid? Do they make one?

I look it up online, Toyota's website shows they just came out. Nice!

That's when your marketing should kick in

The marketing platform knows I've started thinking about hybrid trucks and I read the dealers newsletter regularly, so it automatically includes hybrid truck content in next weeks newsletter that's personalized just for me.

A few days have passed, and I get an email with a link to your newsletter and it includes the benefits of the new Toyota Tacoma Hybrid.

Wow, that's great timing. I clicked on the link to learn more.

The Tacoma looks pretty cool, but your website says you don't have any in stock. In fact, they just came out and I don't see many reviews yet.

Maybe I shoud wait a bit, see how other people like it.

A few more weeks go by and the CDP hasn't picked up any more activety from me. But it knows a new Tacoma hybrid will be in-stock next week, it's pre-sold but available for other people to see.

The marketing platform kicks in once again and sends a short text...

"We have a pre-sold Tacoma Hybrid that will be here next week, should we let you know when its here so you can at least see it in person".

A few weeks have gone by and I haven't thought about a truck anymore. But I do want to see one.

I reply, "Sure"

The following week, another text comes in, "The Hybrid Tacoma will be here to see tomorrow, what time works for you to see it? Just to confirm it is pre-sold and only availible one day to see."

I reply, "10am"

The next day, I show up at 10am and the salesperson is waiting for me. He shows me the truck, it's exactly what I was looking for, but I wanted a different color.

The salesman showed me another truck that's being built right now in the color I want, so I put my name on it...

That's an exceptional customer experience. Nethier the dealer or I had to put much effort into that interaction. The automated marketing system automatically sent the right message at the right time.

This is realistic today using a CDP with a Marketing Automation Platform.

Personalized Websites


For a car buyer

Servicing a car

Other Questions

  • What is first-party data?
  • The first challenge for a CDP is identity resolution.
  • Start with a CDP intergrated with a Marketing Automation Platform
  • What are some other uses for a CDP?
  • What does a personalized message look like?
  • Who owns the customer data?
  • Data privacy is important, what changes are coming that'll affect car dealers.