Person standing in front of large body of water holding a pool float in swim gear smiling at their phone

Sync or Swim: The Practical Benefits of Integrating Your ESP with a CDP

By Kara Trivunovic, GVP, CX Studio. “We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom.” This quote by E.O. Wilson speaks perfectly to the plight of being a marketer today. Martech has advanced leaps and bounds over the past decade, granting marketers access to a treasure trove of customer data. But having a wealth of information is no good when it’s locked in silos and can’t be applied effectively.

A recent report by CMO Council revealed that only 6% of marketers believe they can glean a 360° view of their customers from all accessible data sources, and a staggering 43% reported that they aren’t able to transform data into real-time action.

The key to unlocking your data and using it to create valuable insights lies in the CDP. It’s not enough to just have an ESP anymore. In this article, we’ll examine why more and more marketers are integrating their ESP with a CDP, and unpack how integrating can help enable better personalization, improved targeting, and increased ROI.

What Does a Customer Data Platform Actually Do for a Marketer?

Before we dive into the benefits of integrating your CDP and ESP, let’s quickly level set on the measurable business value that a CDP delivers. The right CDP enables you to deeply understand your customers, thereby activating successful marketing campaigns. This requires a handful of key capabilities.

Ingest and Integrate Data

To create a unified customer view, your CDP must be able to seamlessly process, integrate, and share data across your tech stack, including event-level behavioral data (from websites, apps, customer service, etc.), demographic data, transactional data, and offline and modeled data (such as RFM models and propensity scores).

Ingesting data across different sources comes with a margin for error and inconsistencies, which is why data cleansing and normalization are mission critical. If these steps aren’t executed correctly from the beginning, it’s unlikely you’ll realize the true value of your CDP. Top CDPs address this problem by storing both structured and unstructured data in a scalable, secure, and compliant central repository, where AI can process it to unlock new layers of intelligence. It’s important to note, however, that the available data must be properly aligned as it informs the AI. It’s a vicious cycle of inputs and outputs— if you feed AI bad data, it will return bad results.

Identify Customers and Manage Profiles

The value of a CDP lies in its ability to connect disparate identifiers from scattered platforms and devices to their real-life counterparts, in real-time. They then apply deterministic and probabilistic matching to consolidate customer profiles, solving the identity crisis.

When consolidated with an ESP, the CDP can recognize when individual consumers interact with your brand and further enable engagement. Top CDPs enrich these profiles with interests, behavioral, and demographic data, coalescing first-party data into a unified view that can be used for better marketing — on- and offline.

Complete Real-Time Analysis and Segmentation

Your CDP uses out-of-the-box data models to understand your customers’ behavior, preferences, and needs. This informs patterns that segment your audience based on demographics, buying intent, purchase history, and lifetime value.
Real-time segmentation then allows you to define and manage rule-based audience segments on the fly. By instantly adapting to changing customer behaviors, you can create real-time, rule-based campaigns that deliver relevant and timely interactions.

The latest CDPs go even further, allowing you to craft custom data models through machine learning. This unlocks an unprecedented level of enrichment and analysis, allowing you to create hyper-individualized campaigns.

Activate Data and Execute Campaigns

Leveraging real-time data from your entire tech stack, you can understand customer behavior and preferences at scale — and execute campaigns accordingly.

For example, your CDP can analyze a customer’s purchasing history, social media activity, and website browsing behavior to create customized product recommendations, promotions, and content. Rinse and repeat for every customer in your database.

The Value of ESP and CDP Integration

Customers are fickle. They love to change their mind, often on a dime, yet expect the brands they care about to know what they’re thinking and respond accordingly.

According to PwC, 1 in 3 customers would leave a brand they love after just one bad experience, while 92% would completely jump ship after two or three negative interactions. Those are serious numbers, and they underscore why sending relevant, timely messages is more important than ever.

For most brands, email still has the highest ROI of any channel, meaning you can’t afford to miss. Integrating your ESP with a CDP can give you a much more holistic view of your customers and what they value, so you’re able to execute campaigns that are timely, relevant, and engaging. Here’s how.

Streamlined Marketing Workflows

By creating one unified interface for data management, email, and omnichannel campaign execution, you cut out a lot of friction and latency from your marketing workflows. Rather than platform hopping and exporting and importing multiple CSVs, you have a single, accurate source of truth for your customer information. This helps align internal stakeholders and keep campaigns pacing efficiently.

Cost Efficiency

In combining multiple point solutions under one hub, you can reduce the total cost of ownership for your marketing technology stack. Merging ESP and CDP functionality into one platform, such as Zeta, streamlines operations and yields substantial savings.

Unified Customer View

A siloed ESP only handles email lists or data sets, campaigns, and campaign performance data. A CDP fuses data from multiple sources, creating a single, real-time view of each customer. By deploying CDPs and ESPs in tandem, you have a complete understanding of customer behaviors, preferences, and engagement across all channels—not just email. What does this mean for your brand? More relevant campaigns and greater customer affinity.

Better Personalization and Segmentation

A CDP creates detailed customer profiles that help construct precise audience segments. Merging this capability with campaign execution allows you to tailor your messages to the individual needs, interests, and behaviors of different customers, resulting in higher engagement rates, improved customer satisfaction, and increased conversion rates.

Tighter Execution Across Channels

ESPs are great at what they do, but they often operate in a silo. Enter a CDP to coordinate and align customer engagement data across all channels, helping to inform what the customer will do next and reach them with relevant messaging. They also eradicate negative byproducts of using multiple platforms, like data leakage and latency.

Predictive Analytics and Modeling

CDPs often include advanced analytics capabilities, allowing you to extrapolate historical data and predict customer behavior By plugging these insights into your ESP, you can unlock a suite of new and insightful use cases, keeping you one step ahead of your customers’ needs and competitors’ efforts.

Real-time Data Activation

Unlike traditional ESPs, CDPs have the capability to process and activate real-time data, enabling you to unify customer behavior across channels. In lieu of triggering a campaign based solely on a customer action, you can aggregate data from all channels to ensure timely and pertinent messaging. Modern CDPs can also leverage data from physical stores, competitor information, past purchases, market data, even weather conditions, to build individualized messages that prompt action.

Improved Compliance and Data Management

With data privacy regulations changing by the day, managing customer data correctly is more important than ever. CCPA, GRPR, and CPRA (to name a few) have an indelible impact on how brands operate. CDPs can keep brands in compliance when collecting, storing, and activating customer data. Integrating your ESP and CDP helps safeguard your business and ensure that your campaigns are not only compliant but trusted by your customers.

It All Comes Down to Delivering Better Experiences

By Integrating your ESP with a CDP, you can deliver experiences that are:

  • More personalized: Tailor content and offers to individual customer preferences and behavior.
  • More consistent: Ensure cohesive messaging across all channels.
    Timelier: Respond immediately to customer actions with relevant messages.
  • More efficient: Reduce wasted efforts on poorly targeted campaigns.
    More effective: Drive higher engagement, conversion rates, and customer loyalty.
  • More cost-effective: Reduce total cost of ownership and increase ROI.

Zeta’s AI-Powered Marketing Cloud Helps Marketers Drive Profitable Customer Growth

Zeta is the only platform comprised of a CDP, ESP, DSP, and the largest private, unwalled, data cloud which gives marketers the tools they need to succeed. The ZMP is designed with marketers in mind, with the unique flexibility to wrap around and augment your tech stack, providing speed to intelligence, deeper analytics, and activation to deliver greater return on investment.

Whether the ZMP is the single-platform environment replacing multiple point solutions, or it’s connecting the dots to extract more value from current tech investments, the AI-powered ZMP is at the forefront of the next generation of marketing technology.

Want to see Zeta in action?

The Zeta Marketing Platform empowers businesses to offer highly tailored experiences driven by AI.
Zeta Marketing Platform


Thanks for your interest in Zeta. To see a demo please complete the form.

Thank you!

Your request has been sent. We will be in touch with you shortly.