What is a Customer Engagement Platform?

Feb 03, 2023
Will Devlin

What is a Customer Engagement Platform (CEP)?

A customer engagement platform is a software command center that integrates, tracks, and manages potential and current customer interactions. Marketers use a CEP to keep their cross-channel workflows in one place. This allows for efficient communication and ensures that customer experiences are relevant and consistent. CEPs are an important tool for creating an ongoing relationship with customers. They ensure customers are getting a unified but personalized message so that businesses can acutely interact with them, discover exactly what they want, and be the first to provide it. 

What is a cross-channel customer engagement platform?

A cross-channel customer engagement platform is different from the way traditional customer engagement has always operated. Instead of constantly reaching out to the customer using one outlet, such as email, SMS, mobile push, or social media, a cross-channel CEP allows you to communicate with them on multiple channels. Behavior and intent vary across channels, therefore we must tailor our messaging based on channel, time of day, previous behavior, and a vast list of other important factors. 

How Did We Get Here?

Modern CEPs sprang up from other precursors of customer engagement systems, like customer data platforms (CDPs). CDPs use inefficient marketing clouds to collect and synthesize data from various platforms and send it off via customer profiles to the necessary parties, like marketing and customer support. However, here’s the rub, CDPs may fulfill the needs of mid-size level brands, but enterprise-level messaging pushes the capabilities of CDPs to the limit, and thus marketing efforts feel constrained when relying on a CDP. Forrester even wrote a report with this conclusion back in 2020.

While there are technical reasons for this conclusion, many of the problems revolve around speed, identity management, data privacy, real time personalization, and scale. This is where customer engagement platforms come into the picture.  

How does a Customer Engagement Platform work?

A customer engagement platform interacts with customers at different moments through a variety of channels, like email, in-app messaging, or SMS. CEPs create cross-channel workflows where one user action (or total lack thereof) triggers another event with a different tactic. Instead of using a handful of apps to make it happen, a customer engagement platform integrates each of these channels and lets you work your magic all in one place. Marketers can run massive campaigns across channels, analyze performance, evolve messaging, and repeat all in one place. 

What are examples of customer engagement? 

Let’s say Suzy uses her computer to sign up for an account on a restaurant reservation app. You send along an email encouraging her to download the app. She makes a reservation online for a restaurant that evening using her computer, adding in her phone number so the restaurant can call, but she doesn’t download the app. 

The next day you send an email asking her to rate her experience with the website, and she gives you five stars because she didn’t have to wait for a table and loved the food. You send her another message recommending a few other similar restaurants in the area.

Suzy doesn’t make any reservations for a couple of weeks, so you send her an SMS encouraging her to download the app. She does this time and makes a reservation that same day. 

In this example, you’ve gotten them to do exactly what you wanted by pushing them along in the cycle by using a variety of channels to engage with the customer based on their habits and preferences.

What to Look for in a Good Customer Engagement Platform

There are several must-have features when it comes to choosing a solid customer engagement platform: 

Cross-channel Tracking and Attribution 

Cross-channel tracking allows you to see how customers interact with your company across multiple channels throughout their journey. Tracking helps you accurately understand what’s working and what isn’t. A solid customer engagement platform then attributes the data to those specific interactions on each channel.

Data access 

Of course, actual access to this data is crucial, particularly real-time access. Quick access to the customer data you are collecting is the only way you can make timely data-driven decisions and build the best possible customer experience. 

Data Security (PII Marketing)

Working with PII (Personally Identifiable Information) data can make or break your choice of platform. It’s not just financial data, industries collect sensitive data from customers all the time. Brands need to combine data protection with the ability to run agile marketing campaigns using ALL of their data. This combination is only possible with a data warehouse-native solution. 


Personalization is far more than adding the customer’s first name to the top of the email. It’s about customizing your messaging based on the customer’s needs and wants— nudging them to do what they already set out to do.  

Single Customer View & 360 Customer View

You want to be able to recognize your customer across every channel and see their behavior from a 360º perspective. This view allows you to develop segmentation and design relevant and personalized campaigns. 


With various channels running and producing customer data, you need all of this valuable information to seamlessly integrate. In other words, your channels need to talk to each other to help reduce friction between you and the customer. If a customer has to explain an issue various times and on multiple channels, they won’t be happy. 

How does MessageGears differ from the rest?

By utilizing a direct connection to your modern data warehouse, MessageGears enables you to build more profitable and loyal customer relationships through personalized, real-time interactions across every channel and make it easy to adjust to ever-changing consumer needs and expectations. Unlike inefficient marketing clouds and other traditional tools, MessageGears eliminates friction by leveraging your existing data investments without mapping, moving, or storing any information inside our platform.

How do we make it simple? 

Because MessageGears is a warehouse-native solution, once our application is set up within your data warehouse environment, you can easily and seamlessly build audiences and activate marketing campaigns with real-time data rather than waiting for your data to be queried by IT or synced to a cloud-based solution. While we have a laundry list of advantages over other customer engagement solutions, here are the favorites from our brands:

  1. Enable real-time personalization on messaging without multi-day data syncs
  2. Massive cost savings for high volume, enterprise-level messaging
  3. Unmatched data privacy (including PII) due to our data-warehouse native operation
  4. High deliverability standards
  5. Take I.T. out of marketing, allowing marketers to run their campaigns and freeing up I.T. resources

Unhappy with your current CDP or CEP? You won’t believe how quickly you can switch and onboard with MessageGears. Learn how MessageGears can meet your cross-channel marketing needs!

MessageGears Consumer Engagement Report 2023

About the Author

Will Devlin

A 20-year email marketing veteran, Will has focused on marketing strategy and execution for MessageGears since 2014. He has extensive experience on both the retail customer and service side of email marketing, and he’s interested in helping businesses better understand how they can make the most of the work they put into their email campaigns.