CRM vs CDP Comparison: What`s The Difference?

While both customer relationship management (CRM) and customer data platform (CDP) gather customer data for enterprise use, they are fundamentally different from one another. CRMs chief users are not marketers; however, they sometimes had to contend with it for managing customer data and to perform analysis. Also, CRMs were built for the B2B environment but later evolved into the B2C space. CDPs, on the other hand are specifically built keeping the needs of marketers in mind; and were also categorically built for a B2C environment. Here are certain key differences between the two enterprise technologies that business leaders and decision-makers should be aware about.

Comparison Table

According to Gartner, a CRM is a business strategy that optimizes revenue and profitability while promoting customer satisfaction and loyalty. CRM software provides functionality to companies in four segments: sales, marketing, customer service and digital commerce.
According to Gartner, a CDP is a marketing system that unifies a company’s customer data from marketing and other channels to enable customer modeling and optimize the timing and targeting of messages and offers.
The Need
CRM, since their inception have been used for building, tracking and strengthening customer relationships to drive customer loyalty and retention. As a user-interface for collection of data, they directly impact enterprise revenue and growth. Therefore, CRMs are part of a broader management strategy that supports enterprises in interaction with customers, to fuel scalability.
Enterprises are in need of a web-based interface exclusively built for marketers; something which is more analytical than a CRM in nature. Something that can facilitate data collection, profiling, segmentation, and assist in taking actionable steps. It is necessary because marketing is expanding and multichannel campaigns and data integration, are becoming an integral part of it.
Built For
CRM applications are primarily designed for sales teams to seize, track and handle the details about new prospects and customers in a sales process. Marketing activity is brought into the fold of CRM via data integrations with marketing automation platforms, or by capturing sales activity from sales representatives and their tools. Besides this, all the transactional information is included with the help of financial systems, and the customer support system lends all the service activity.
CDPs are data hubs created primarily for marketers; they’re used for in-depth analysis of customer behavior and gathering business intelligence about newer ways of engaging with the customer. CDPs have become the primary source of every minute detail about customers, as it centralizes customer associated data from a range of applications, systems, and channels. Besides, modern CDPs come equipped with features like data quality, data modeling, real-time personalization, and automation.
Data Ingestion & Management
There are limits to the channels or data sources a CRM can consume data from. CRMs are typically used for tracking transactions, managing customer data, examining sales pipeline, and keeping customer records. CRMs mostly deal with 1st party data which are sourced by sales and marketing.
CDPs can ingest customer data from all kinds of offline and online sources. They can create a rich view of customers through data from various separate customer data sources, including historical background and behavior, to generate a 360° view of the customer for creating personalized experiences. It stores the intent, behavior, and preferences of customers through tracking their activities. It also includes de-duplicating customer identities, profiling and segmenting.


CRMs are used mostly for execution purposes. CRMs are best suited for creating customer support dashboards or email automation systems. They facilitate direct interaction with customers and are often designed primarily for optimizing one kind of customer interaction. They’re used by companies in the following ways:

  • Analyzing pipeline and forecasting
  • Front-office related sales
  • Mining for acquiring customers
  • “Hit/Miss” scrutiny for a go-to-market strategy
  • Customer service (post-sales)
  • Marketing automation via performance analysis and campaign tracking
  • Ease of purchasing through quote-to-cash processes


CDPs collect, consolidate, organize and present customer data for further execution by various marketing systems or personalization engines. CDPs can integrate with CRMs and other such customer-facing systems to accumulate information about customers like location, age, purchases, page views, clicks, etc., for further segmentation and modeling. Companies use them in ways like:

  • Data management, which includes integration, validation and cleaning.

  • Identifying and classifying customer attributes and behavior across online and offline systems
  • Defining customer profiles and their management for future use
  • Customer behavior analysis to improve segmentation
  • Analyzing customer purchasing history and other behavior for further recommendations regarding content or eCommerce
  • Exporting segmented customer lists for deriving business intelligence or executing campaigns
  • Predictive analysis for guesstimating customer behavior.

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