Francisco Alberini on October 30th 2019
It should come as no surprise that data quality issues are a growing concern among organizations today, both large and small. A recent Forrester report quantifies the impact. It found that, on average, 32% of marketing teams' time is spent managing data quality, while 26% of their marketing campaigns suffered due to the quality of that data. It’s no wonder executives are starting to take notice, with 82% of companies making data quality a top priority.
So how do companies improve data quality? A well-defined tracking plan that maps business objectives to user actions is a great start. Segment’s Tracking Plan feature was launched as part of our Protocols product last year to proactively help customers improve data quality. Since then, it’s helped hundreds of companies do just that.
However, it’s a simple fact of life that mistakes happen.
Even the most exacting data collection processes are subject to human error and organizational complexity, and a single implementation error on a business-critical event, like
Lead Captured, can cost your business hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Previously, the only means of fixing bad data was to ask engineering to fix the instrumentation code, a lengthy process that could take weeks if not months.
For example, let’s say you’re an e-commerce retailer and have followed the Segment e-commerce Spec to track
Order Completed events. In your latest app release, a new engineer changes the event name to
orderCompleted, a naming convention they used at their previous company.
This casing change seems innocuous, but it sends your organization into a tailspin as funnel reports, marketing campaigns, and attribution models all break. After a brief moment of panic, you create a JIRA ticket, beg engineering to push the fix, and wait patiently for your customers to update their app version. If you’re lucky, a month later, your data collection has returned to normal.
We’ve heard cases such as the above repeatedly over the past year, so today we’re excited to announce the launch of Transformations, now included in Protocols, to help customers fix bad data immediately.
With Transformations, you can change data as it flows through Segment to either correct bad data or customize the structure of an event. The next time you see an event come through with the wrong event or property name, instead of waiting for your next app release, you can immediately apply a fix. And if you find yourself needing a way to change an event to satisfy a destination requirement, transformations provide an easy way to map event and property names.
Transformations opens up a slew of interesting new use cases for our customers. Let’s dive in!
Tracking plans can be a somewhat new concept for teams to become acquainted with, so we've developed sample tracking plans for a variety of industries and use cases.
These specs also allow Segment to map key events to the unique requirements of each Segment destination. For example, if a video analytics destination expects to receive
Video Content Started with a specific set of named properties, we can build out destinations to format the payloads accordingly based on the video spec.
For many businesses, there are often situations where events don’t conform to a Segment Spec, which in turn causes issues with your destinations, Transformations makes it incredibly easy to update those events to conform with the spec. To reuse our earlier example, with Transformations you can change an event name from
Order Completed to conform to Segment’s e-commerce spec.
Example transformation for Order Completed event
Segment currently integrates with 300+ destinations – business tools or apps that you can connect via Segment with the flick of a switch. Each tool expects to receive data in slightly different formats, which our integrations handle gracefully.
However, there are unique scenarios in which a destination requires a specific property key or event naming convention to function properly. When multiple destinations require different conventions, customers are forced to send the same property or event twice, with different destination-relevant names.
With Protocols Transformations, it’s now easy to align your event collection with your business model, and use transformations to map event and property names to satisfy the unique requirements of destinations like Google Analytics, Sailthru, and Iterable.
If you’ve used data transformation solutions before, you may have noticed that transformations can quickly become unmanageable as individuals look to solve their myopic problem. When researching transformations, one customer told us that in their current system they have a transformation that changes an event like so:
Order Updated >
Without strong controls and visibility, every individual will create transformations to suit their specific needs, even when those needs conflict.
In the example above, it’s reasonable to think that the Google Analytics owner might create a transformation to map all the relevant events to
Order Completed at the Source. That change would immediately break the analyst’s queries and limit their ability to analyze granular user activities.
To limit these issues and make transformations scale, we built in smart controls and high visibility. Specifically, each transformation rule must have a distinct combination of source, type, destination, and event name.
A single event can only be transformed once, preventing situations like
Order Updated from happening
Property level transformations are always grouped by the original event name which consolidates property-level transformations under a single event
Transformations can be sorted and filtered quickly across any of the distinct dimensions
To improve visibility, we’ve added advanced filters and sorting functionality so you can see all transformations for a source, destination, event, etc. We also will soon include Destination Filters and Privacy Controls in this view to minimize the risk of conflicting operations.
Protocols Transformations list view
At Segment, we believe that all businesses should be able to collect data once and be able to send it everywhere it needs to go. Transformations is a further extension of this idea – simply collect data to Segment once, and we will help get it everywhere it needs to go, and in perfect shape for your business needs.
Ready to transform your data? Click here to request access to Protocols. Or if you’re a Protocols customer, visit your workspace to give Transformations a test drive.
Doug Roberge on October 1st 2019
Last week, over 1,000 of the industry’s most talented engineers, analysts, product managers, and marketers gathered in San Francisco to discuss key trends touching all things data at Segment’s annual user conference, Synapse.
From data quality to privacy to activation, we heard from 50+ world-class speakers about the techniques, tools, and strategies they use to leverage their most critical asset: customer data. We also had the opportunity to shine a light on some of our most innovative customers through the inaugural Segment Data Momentum Awards.
We could list hundreds of takeaways, but as the saying goes, the plural of anecdote is data, so we’ve narrowed it down to five themes and lessons that came up across several talks over the two days.
Consumer privacy was a theme that was top of mind for many folks at Synapse. Apart from a few notable sighs of relief when the Privacy Portal was unveiled, the theme of proactively addressing customer privacy was reflected in several sessions throughout the day.
With new data privacy regulations popping up all over the world, respecting customer privacy takes more than just reactive remedies. Companies everywhere need to take a proactive approach to privacy.
Fatemeh Khatibloo, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester presented some insightful consumer statistics that added color to the privacy conversation. She shared that the percentage of US online adults who are concerned about their online or mobile behavior being tracked has grown from 52% in 2016 to 70% this year. Meanwhile, the percentage who are concerned their data could be permanently recorded and accessible to anyone has grown from 58% in 2016 to 74% this year.
If we continue on this trajectory, nearly every American will be concerned about their data being accessible to companies in three years.
Fatemeh Khatibloo, Forrester, on stage at Synapse
This imperative was echoed by Daryl Bowden, SVP of Technology at Fox, who argued a centralized data infrastructure is the best way to ensure that private user data isn’t shared with tools in your stack that don’t require it. Privacy was also referenced by George Jeng, Head of Internal Product at Vice, who explained how Vice is using privacy regulations like the CCPA and GDPR to spur more user-centric product development.
“We shouldn’t look at these changing times and think about how to circumvent or bypass these restrictions. We need to take this opportunity to be transparent and do what’s right for our users.”
- George Jeng, Vice
Another common thread throughout the sessions was on the tension with regards to data flexibility—what you can do with your data—and data quality—how reliable and accurate your customer data is.
To adapt quickly, your business needs a complete set of customer data flowing into each of your marketing and analytics tools. However, without protective measures to make sure your data stays high quality, that effort you’ve invested in new integrations and data pipelines becomes wasted.
Brian Healey, Principal Engineer at RetailMeNot, shared his experience with Segment Functions and how it made his data infrastructure more flexible.
“With Functions, Segment has given us the flexibility to redesign our marketing stack with minimal impact to our engineering team. We managed to change the tires of our car while we are driving into the holiday season, where we see a 35% increase in traffic and events captured.”
-Brian Healey, RetailMeNot
Similarly, Ethan Kaplan, GM of Fender Digital and long-time Segment user, shared his story about joining the Fender team. Ethan took on the job of digitally transforming Fender with new interactive learning experiences for users. They needed a flexible data infrastructure to build new digital products that would eventually reach 8.8M users and a platform that would give them confidence in the data being collected. This all helped generate user insights—like how 90% of first-time buyers stop using their instrument in the first three months—and make the best product decisions possible.
“When I got to Fender, Segment was one of the first things we put in place. I wanted to establish a robust data architecture even before our first app launched.”
-Ethan Kaplan, Fender
Another hot topic at Synapse this year was the application of machine learning to both improve customer experiences and boost revenue. The sessions led by IBM, Warner Brothers, Norrøna, and Sun Basket tackled a common issue: how can we help customers navigate our extensive product catalogs more quickly and effectively?
Simply put, the answer was data (go figure)! They all needed a complete and reliable data set to train models and make real time decisions about what to highlight for each user based on their past experiences and current context, like the time of day or season.
“There is no artificial intelligence without information architecture.”
-Maia Sisk, IBM
Thomas Gariel, Product Manager at Norrøna, a Scandinavian outdoor retailer, shared his story about building a machine learning engine to power personal and relevant e-commerce experiences for its customers. The challenge he faced was recommending the right gear from their extensive catalog of products that varied dramatically season-to-season. They used Segment to implement the data infrastructure that made recommendations on their product pages possible. Over 16 weeks, they compared manual recommendations to ones delivered algorithmically. The results were incredible (see below)!
Snapshots from Thomas Gariel’s presentation at Synapse
Lex Roman, former Senior Product Designer at The Black Tux, framed this problem extremely well during her Synapse session. Here’s the setting: Lex enters a tense conference room. She’s asked to design a new product experience that will increase signs-up by 50%. She asks what the baseline is. Silence.
Unfortunately, the case Lex outlines is all too common. The best experimentation frameworks are rooted in good data. Setting baselines and accurately measuring each experiment is critical to making sure you’re picking up the right signals. Without the right data foundation in place, it’s impossible to determine the success (or failure) of the experiments you run.
Gustaf Alströmer, Partner at Y Combinator, took the stage and shared learnings from his five years leading growth at Airbnb. He explained the critical mistake that most make — assuming customers will flock to you just because you’ve built a shiny new product. While that’s not true (sadly), what is reliable is setting metrics that represent the value that users receive from your product and experimenting aggressively via paid search, SEO, referral programs, and A/B testing to see what moves those metrics.
Similarly, Patti Chan, VP of Product and Engineering at Imperfect Produce, stressed the importance of aligning around a key metric and strong internal feedback loops when it comes to experimentation. Her take: companies need to communicate learnings broadly across product and marketing so each team can internalize and benefit from learnings. Experimentation is useless if it happens in a silo.
Jacob Singh, CTO at Grofers, India’s largest grocery delivery service, shared some of his team’s findings. They originally assumed a larger product assortment would drive the biggest boost to the business. In reality, customer satisfaction and repeat purchases more closely correlated with value. So, instead of increasing their catalog of products or investing in same day delivery (like their competitors), they invested in technology and a product assortment to maximize the savings they could offer to customers. The results was a massive uptick in customer retention.
Jacob Singh, Grofers, on stage at Synapse
The last hot topic covered at Synapse was the concept of data democratization, or making data universally accessible across an organization. Data democratization enables data-driven decision making across all teams and individuals — from the marketing teams deciding what channels to invest in to the product teams deciding what products to build next.
According to the experts that spoke at Synapse, getting to a place where your data is successfully democratized requires two things: 1) data accessibility and 2) data understanding. Essentially, your data needs to be accessible in the right tools and easily understandable. Poor data hygiene and inconsistent event naming are the primary blockers of this ideal end state.
According to Brian Donaldson, Sr. Manager, Development Engineering at Docker, a tracking plan is the key to their success with data democratization. It enabled his team to stay consistent when it came to tracking events, while ensuring everyone at Docker could easily understand what each data point represented.
“The tracking plan was the single most important part of our process at Docker. Building a data dictionary was key.”
-Brian Donaldson, Docker
As the curtain falls on Synapse 2019, we’d like to thank our speakers, customers, partners, and friends for making the event such a success. If you missed it, we’ll have videos of the sessions available soon on the Synapse website.
We’ve got plenty of exciting events planned for the coming months ahead. Watch this space!
Joseph Zuniga on September 30th 2019
Today we’re very excited to announce the date, location, and ticket availability for Synapse—Segment’s third annual user conference! Similar to past events, this year’s will strive to connect you—our customers, partners, and friends—with thought leaders, influencers, and each other via thought-provoking sessions and lots of networking opportunities. Save your spot today!
This year we’re doubling-down on what matters to you most. We’re making it easy to connect with the best people, hear the right talks, and walk away with new connections that empower your data journey. We heard from past attendees that networking and high-caliber sessions are what keep people coming back, so this year we’re spreading out our action-packed agenda over two days so you have more time to walk around, meet people, and learn data best practices from everyone around you (and not just the people on stage).
Similar to last year, we’re going to structure our content around two tracks: BUILD and GROW.
In the BUILD track, we’ll dive into how cutting edge companies ensure their data is collected, distributed, and monitored with accuracy and privacy. They’ll reveal their tech stacks, selected partners, and engineering approaches to customer data.
Once you trust your data, the next step is using it to grow your business by engaging your customers. The GROW track will focus on how growth and analytics teams can use data to delight customers with helpful, contextual experiences that are aligned with their interests.
Guests are welcome to mix and match talks that interest them from either track. Last but not least, the after party will definitely be one for the ages. However, we’ll save those surprises for the event.
As frequent conference attendees, many Segmenters have experienced being the only woman, person of color, or LGBTQ+ attendee in an otherwise packed event. Therefore, Segment is offering a special ticket price for attendees who identify with any underrepresented group to encourage and foster diverse conversations at our event.
Use code ‘synapse4all’ at checkout for $500 off of the full ticket price.
Aliya Dossa, Andy Schumeister, Niels Tindbaek on September 25th 2019
With new data privacy regulations popping up all over the world, respecting your customers’ privacy takes more than just reactive remedies. You need to take a proactive approach to privacy. Even if your company isn’t subject to data privacy regulations, respecting your customers is a moral imperative. We believe data privacy is a right, and your customers probably do, too.
To give you the visibility and controls you need to respect your customers’ data privacy, Segment is launching the Privacy Portal. The Privacy Portal enables you to:
Automatically detect and classify your customer data to create a dynamic customer data inventory
Monitor changes to your inventory with real-time alerts
Enforce your company’s data privacy policies with privacy controls
Streamline regulatory compliance with Segment’s existing tools for user deletion and suppression
The Privacy Portal is now available to all Segment customers. Workspace owners can log in to the app and visit the Privacy Portal to get started.
To prepare for regulations like the GDPR or the CCPA, most companies have created a data inventory with details on what personal information they collect, where they collect it from, where it is stored, and who has access to it. A data inventory not only makes it easier to comply with data subject access requests, but also enables you to quickly assess the impact of incidents so you can take action.
The bad news is that creating an inventory is typically a long, arduous process that never accurately captures the current state of data at your company.
At Segment, we created our first inventory when we were preparing for the GDPR. It took us four months, multiple surveys, countless hours of manual mapping, and a task force. Even worse, by the time we created our inventory, it was already out of date.
If you’ve ever been asked to compile this information for your company’s data inventory, you likely know it’s no easy task. And if you haven’t, it’s only a matter of time before your privacy team asks you to help with one.
That’s why we built the Privacy Portal. The Privacy Portal arms our customers with the technology they need to automate this process for Segment data and address the shortcomings of static data inventories.
The Privacy Portal automatically detects and classifies personal information as it’s collected in real time. This means you can create a dynamic data inventory for all of your Segment data—no surveys required!
Here’s how it works:
Automatic data detection: The first time you access the Privacy Portal, we’ll scan the sources connected to your workspace to give you an instant snapshot of what personal information you’re collecting on your website, mobile app, servers, and cloud apps. We use both exact and fuzzy matching to detect both the key (property name) and value. That means if an email address is hidden in a property called
username or if an IP address is sent in a field called
ip adrs, we’ll still be able to detect it.
Risk-based classification: From there, each data point is matched against common PII fields and assigned a risk-based classification of red, yellow, or green. To align with your company or industry, you can also configure your own custom classifiers to match your data against. This classification gives you and your teammates the context you need to assess and manage risk effectively.
With the Privacy Portal, all you have to do is review your data assets, confirm or modify the classification, and then click “add to inventory.” And just like that, you’ve quickly and easily created a data inventory of your Segment data.
Automatically detect and classify PII.
The data inventory is your single source of truth for every data point you’re collecting with Segment. It’s organized by classification and provides you with the visibility you need to answer questions like “Which sources are collecting the most restricted data?” or “Which destinations are we sending IP address to?”
Workspace owners can even export their inventory as a CSV to share with their privacy or legal teams. Having a one-stop-shop for all this information will give these teams confidence that you are respecting your company’s privacy guidelines, without slowing you down in your day-to-day work. This inventory also arms both data owners and risk managers with the necessary context to have productive conversations about what’s risky in order to align on your company’s approach to data privacy.
To make sure you’re never caught off guard when new data points are collected, we can send you a Slack notification with helpful context like the name of the data point, where the data point was collected from, and a recommended classification of red, yellow, or green. From there, you can click “visit inbox” to classify it and add it to your inventory.
If you don’t use Slack, you can forward privacy alerts to any destination your team uses or configure a webhook to send alerts to tools like PagerDuty.
Receive Slack alerts when new data points are detected.
Chances are your company has guidelines around what type of personal information you’re allowed to collect and what information is off limits. For example, Segment does not collect social security numbers (SSNs) from our customers. SSN is one of many data points that our internal policies prohibit us from collecting.
While visibility is helpful when it comes to respecting your customers’ privacy, knowledge alone isn’t enough. Traditional data inventories only tell you what personal data your company has collected. They don’t help you prevent restricted data from being collected or sent along to the wrong analytics tools.
Because the Privacy Portal sits on top of your customer data infrastructure, your inventory is actionable with Segment. Privacy controls enable you to prevent restricted fields from being collected at the source. This turns your reactive data inventory into a proactive privacy management solution. These standard privacy controls are available to all customers.
Set privacy controls to block restricted data.
We recognize that not every marketing or analytics tool you use needs to receive all of your customers’ personal information. Customers with access to Protocols, Segment’s data quality product, can also configure advanced privacy controls to hash or selectively route customer data to specific destinations based on their classifications. This granular control enables Protocols customers to:
IP address field before sending it to analytics tools
Protect customer data by only sending
Give your privacy team confidence by only sending yellow data to approved destinations
From the very beginning, Segment has been committed to helping our customers respect their customers’ privacy. This includes our commitment to first-party data, our ongoing investment in products to help customers comply with the GDPR and CCPA, and now, the Privacy Portal.
On the roadmap, we’re excited to build solutions for consent management and will be giving you more options to run Segment in your own environment.
Or if you’re new to Segment and want to learn more, you can request a personalized demo.
To learn more about how you can use the Privacy Portal to automate your data privacy program, sign up for our upcoming webinar here.
Vishal Rana, Megan Guy on September 25th 2019
Companies that use customer data to generate insights end up outperforming their peers by 85% in sales growth and more than 25% in gross margin. With that data point in mind, it’s clearer than ever that customer data is critical to the success of any business—but unfortunately, the majority of companies still struggle to use data effectively.
That’s why we launched the first-ever Segment Data Momentum Awards.
The Data Momentum Awards were born out of the inspiring stories we hear from our customers on a daily basis—stories of accomplishments that fuel the entire success of businesses—but too often happen in the background where the work is felt but not seen. By sharing these stories, our goal is to shine light on the various ways companies have found success in applying customer data to change their company trajectories. We hope you can be inspired by their results to drive similar impact in your organizations.
This year, we opened up four award categories: Data Impact, Data Culture Transformation, Data Creativity, and Data for Good. Each of these categories aligns to Segment’s own core values, Drive, Tribe, Focus, and Karma, which we live every day here at Segment. We regularly celebrate Segment team members who embody these values, so it was only natural to extend this honor to recognize our customers for their accomplishments.
On behalf of the entire Segment team, we’re honored to announce the following 2019 Segment Data Momentum Award winners:
The Data Impact award recognizes an organization that has modernized its infrastructure to unlock data that powers innovative customer experiences and drives business impact.
With more than 400,000 employees worldwide and a growing product portfolio, IBM is the leader in enterprise services, security, and systems. To keep up with surging customer expectations, the Growth & User Engagement team set out to improve IBM’s customer data infrastructure. They knew they needed to better understand user engagement and unify the customer experience across multiple product offerings when their data was previously siloed.
Segment served as the infrastructure standard and data governance platform to accelerate IBM’s growth across its cloud product portfolio. With Segment, IBM now enables different product teams to easily collect data and share with downstream tools, getting visibility across all cloud products for the first time. IBM now uses Segment data and integrations for in-depth data science, iterative product improvements, and hyper-targeted event-based communication—all of which drive customer adoption, retention, and conversion.
By rolling out a modern data architecture across 130+ global product offerings, IBM has achieved:
10x ROI on its instrumentation investment
4x increase in trial-to-paid user conversion rates
30% increase in product adoption
17% increase in billable usage
The Data Culture Transformation award recognizes an organization that has revolutionized the way it elevates data in order to build a culture focused on data-driven insights.
With well over 500 brands and a myriad of beer varieties, AB-InBev—maker of Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois—is the leading global brewer. While working to digitize its merchant buying experience, AB-InBev recognized an opportunity to enhance its B2B e-commerce platform with real-time data and analytics. The team turned to Segment to provide a data infrastructure that would help AB-InBev save its merchants’ time and resources to better manage their own businesses.
With Segment implemented, more well-established business units such as customer success, trade marketing, and promotions can now take advantage of enhanced targeting and engagement campaigns. For example, the customer success team can use the data from ‘Rate my Delivery’ or ‘Order Cancellations’ to directly contact and address merchant needs through proactive engagement messaging. This ultimately saves merchants’ time and resources and allows them to better manage their own businesses. By building a strong global customer data infrastructure with Segment, AB-InBev has unlocked a culture focused on enabling better visibility into customer trends and insights at a global scale.
AB-InBev has onboarded 16 global markets to this new data infrastructure and has driven:
Improved sales performance through stronger customer success offerings and more personalized business development strategies.
New business capabilities, like algorithmic selling, loyalty programs, and personalized customer engagement campaigns.
Stronger connections with merchants and the communities they serve.
The Data Creativity Award honors an organization using data analytics to solve business challenges in a unique and innovative way.
Proposify, a leading online proposal software company, was beginning to see significant uptick in growth but had lean and nimble sales and development teams to convert incoming leads. With a major new product release on the horizon, the company worried it did not have the proper tracking plan in place nor data parity across its various systems to effectively turn interest into happy, paying customers. To streamline this process and bring scale to teams across the organization, Proposify chose Segment.
Since implementing Segment, Proposify was able to creatively implement a new, more sophisticated lead scoring model in Marketo and Salesforce that accounted for new and enriched customer data from Clearbit on business firmographics, as well as how customers interacted with their website. With this additional context on customers, the sales team was able to shorten the sales cycle significantly, and the support and success teams were able to provide better assistance to customers faster through Gainsight and Intercom.
With Segment, Proposify has realized:
152% increase in sales pipeline
312% increase in sales velocity
New Customer Success tool implemented in one month
Negative net MRR churn almost every month
The Data for Good Award celebrates an organization that is applying data towards the greater good.
Upsolve is a non-profit helping 20 million low-income Americans in financial distress get a fresh start through Chapter 7 bankruptcy at no cost. The organization relies on data to improve and automate a process that typically involves months of working with expensive lawyers and filing extensive paperwork. Upsolve has helped thousands of people who have experienced everything from domestic violence and homelessness, to unexpected medical emergencies and predatory loans. In order to continue to provide best-in-class service for a fraction of the price, Upsolve needed to iterate on its platform, moving toward full automation.
Having an incredibly small development team, Upsolve implemented Segment to help augment its business model and find new pathways to growth and self-sustainability. Spanning across Connections and Personas, Upsolve’s Segment implementation afforded the team in-depth analytics for a better understanding of its users, expanded metrics around anonymous visitors and content efforts for SEO growth, and personalized lifecycle marketing.
With Segment, Upsolve has:
Achieved 24% month-over-month growth
Helped 1,800 US families clear their debt
$100M of debt cleared
Congrats to the winners of the inaugural Data Momentum Awards, and to all the data innovators who share your stories with us.
We can’t wait to see how next year’s entries evolve as companies continue to find new and interesting ways to drive meaningful business impact with data.
Want to learn more about Segment? Get in touch for a personalized demo.
Madelyn Mullen on September 24th 2019
In less than ten years, the ecosystem of marketing and analytics tools has grown nearly 50x. As a result, our customers are adopting a larger mix of best-in-breed tools within the Segment catalog to unlock new, creative applications of customer data. But as new use cases and tools arise, they are left with the difficult choice of spending valuable resources on new integrations or missing out on powerful applications.
The Segment catalog today has 300+ integrations to help you activate your first-party data in the tools you use every day. And now, for the first time, infinite integrations are possible. Functions offer a way to create custom sources and custom destinations directly within your Segment workspace.
Custom sources help you collect your first-party customer data across any data source. See the docs →
Custom destinations allow you send customer events—like completing an order, entering an audience, or interacting with a marketing campaign—to your favorite tools or internal services. See the docs →
These custom integration options make Segment the most extensible and reliable infrastructure for your customer data, and enable you to use Segment to capture all of your customer-facing interactions. You can rest assured that the custom sources and destinations you build with Functions are:
Fast: Don’t require engineering resources to maintain infrastructure—80% of early beta participants get Functions built and deployed in the same day
Simple: Takes less than ten lines of (serverless) code for many Functions and zero time configuring networks, gateways, and IAM
Scalable: Each function supports hundreds of thousands of events per second with built-in monitoring and alerting—all backed by our API-first approach
In order to adapt quickly, your business needs a complete set of customer data flowing into each of your marketing and analytics tools. Functions help you get the right data into Segment by transforming webhooks generated from any tool or service to the Segment spec as a custom source.
For instance, you can use Functions to unlock first-party data from tools that exist outside the Segment catalog, like Typeform, Pipedrive, and Shopify. But that’s not all. Here are just a few things you can do with Functions, inspired by our early beta participants:
Start an onboarding campaign in your email marketing tool when a customer opportunity is marked “Closed Won” in your sales crm
Create a life-time value (LTV)computed trait using subscription data from your data warehouse to prioritize ad spend in your advertising tool
Combine mobile revenue with web revenues across multiple properties from your payment service for tailored product offerings in your e-commerce platform
You can build a custom source using one of our pre-built templates, writing your own, or by using the handy webhook event catcher to get you started.
No matter your preference, the Functions editor helps you along with Typewriter—our powerful autocomplete and spec spell check tool—so that you can capture, transform, and send data into Segment with confidence.
By combining our existing sources and libraries and your own custom sources, your customer data collection becomes streamlined, trusted, and actionable across every team in your organization.
You can also use Functions to create custom destinations that transform and map events collected by Segment to other APIs, tools, and services. Here’s how some of our early beta participants have used custom destinations to unlock new use cases:
Trigger notifications in your messaging platform on important events like Signed Up or
Sync subscription information in your data warehouse by sending events like Subscription Started, Subscription Updated and Subscription Removed
Send out a user survey on in your customer experience platform when a user uninstalls your app based on anApp Uninstalled event fired
In just minutes, you can combine your Segment data with your own internal applications and services, as well as tools like Follow Along, RequestBin, Airtable, and more. Just like custom sources, you can use the Functions editor to create a custom destination—either starting from scratch or by modifying a pre-built template.
No matter your approach, you can configure exactly how your Segment events and objects get sent to your downstream tool or service. If you’d like to enrich an event, you can look up identity details with Personas or bring in data from your other cloud application source.
When you build a custom destination, you can take advantage of existing developer features in Segment, including destination filters, notifications, visibility, retries, and data replay—no additional infrastructure required.
Early beta participants have already saved weeks, and even months, of engineering time by bringing new types of data into Segment and building incredible customized experiences with Functions. Here are a few highlights:
Test for product market fit using survey data tied to product usage. At Ailo, the product team wants to move fast to collect and respond to critical customer feedback as they build out their property management platform. Functions helped them build out a survey with a custom source for Typeform, combined the response data with SQL traits generated through Personas, and sent that complete view of the customer to a custom destination that extended Mixpanel capabilities. Adapt existing tools for marketing campaigns and support programs. At Printed.com, the marketing team uses Functions to accelerate their journey of creating a single customer view across all key channels—website, email, and support. Custom sources allow them to unify web, Mandrill, and Zendesk details to deliver relevant and effective customer email campaigns. Bring key customer events to life in the office. When good things happen for their customers, the team at visitor management app OnSide Technology wants to know. They created a custom destination using a Segment event so that every time a visitor checks in or out of an Onside managed property using their app, funky lights trigger in the office. What event could you use to trigger lights that could motivate your office? Many customers like Franksmile and Nordgreen, and solutions partners like Funnel Ventures and Juan Gonzalez, have used Functions for more than just saving engineering hours. Additional savings included the time not required going through vendor reviews, signing contracts, and on-boarding new tools.
Are you ready to join great engineering, product, and data science teams using Functions to build a new source or destination or adapt existing ones for your workspace? Click here to request access to the developer preview for Functions. We can’t wait to learn about the experiences you’ll build for your customers with Segment!
Kevin Garcia, Doug Roberge on September 18th 2019
As a technology leader, it’s your job to make sure you have the right data available and infrastructure in place to support new requirements as they pop up. We’ve recently shipped several features to help your team stay prepared with the right insights, tools, and customizable account setups.
We’ve added spaces in Personas, more insights into Segment usage, and more events in our audit trail to ensure that your team has visibility and control over your work. We’ve also added and refined integrations with Salesforce, Adobe, LaunchDarkly, and more to help you continue to innovate and grow.
Here are the latest features, product updates, and integrations launched at Segment.
You can use Segment to connect event and object data across a huge ecosystem of tools. When you collect both, it can be critical for your business to have visibility into how much data, and what mix of data, is flowing through Segment on a monthly and annual basis. Now all users have access to data volume insights directly within the Insights section of the app. Check it out now →
Here are a few more Connections updates:
New flexible Salesforce destination: With our improved Salesforce destination, you’re in control! You can now map any
Track event or
Identify call to any standard or custom object in the Salesforce destination. You can find this new ability in the Salesforce destination settings under
Updated Adobe Analytics destination: It’s now easier to map Adobe properties and variables to Segment events. We’ve added support for merchandising events, custom delimiters for list variables, and other fine-grained controls. You can find these updates in your Adobe Analytics settings.
New CustomFit destination: CustomFit.ai is an ‘App Experience Engine’ for B2C apps. It helps apps craft hyper-personalized experiences and intelligent user journeys for each of their users with zero code.
New LaunchDarkly source: LaunchDarkly empowers development teams to safely deliver and control software through feature flags. You can collect and export raw user event data into Segment for in-depth analysis.
New FunnelEnvy destination: FunnelEnvy helps personalize website experiences and optimize conversion across the entire customer journey. Leverage our new integration to use your existing data to power campaigns, track goals, and create more effective audiences.
We’re excited to announce that all Personas customers can now create multiple Personas spaces. Each space is like a separate Personas environment. For example, you can create a dev space to connect non-production test data and build test audiences. And, you can create a production space for your live data. You can even create spaces separated by business teams or by regions.
Each space can be assigned to specific roles, so you can build the environments you for any scenario you need with Personas. To start building your spaces, check out your Settings in the app.
In order to make sure workspace admins are able to identify which users are making changes to traits and audiences, and viewing user profiles, we’ve also incorporated actions taken in the Personas UI into our Audit Trail feature.
Now you can understand exactly who is doing what in Personas for your own internal monitoring and security purposes. To see your Personas events in the Audit Trail, check out your Settings in the app.
*If you want to incorporate these events into an internal monitoring system, you can write a bit of serverless code using a custom destinations (currently in beta) to get alerts in your reporting tool of choice.
Here are a few more Personas updates:
Multi-destination support: You can now send the same audience or trait to multiple accounts from the same partner tool. For example, if you have regional instances of Adwords accounts, you can now send the same audience to those different accounts.
Google Display & Video 360 beta: We’ve kicked off a beta with Google’s Display & Video 360 platform to help you send web and mobile audiences to the DV360 suite for targeted advertising. Please reach out to your CSM if you’d like to join the beta.
Here are a few of the betas we’re actively recruiting for:
Create destination filters for client-side destinations on analytics.js
Send Segment data to Google Cloud Storage
Spin up a data lake using Segment
Reach out to email@example.com to join a beta today!
We’re always making updates to Segment! To see everything for yourself, log in to your workspace.
New to Segment and want to learn more? Request a personalized demo.
Vishal Rana on September 9th 2019
As Segment’s VP of Customer Success, I get the chance to interact with a lot of our customers. I’m continually impressed by their drive to move their companies forward toward a better data infrastructure, and by the remarkable things they are able to accomplish with creative applications of data.
Segment’s annual user conference, Synapse, is coming up on Sept. 25-26th in San Francisco. It’s one of my favorite times of the year because it’s when Segment gets the opportunity to let our customers shine by sharing their stories.
Plus, this year the Segment team will unveil two new products we’ve built to give customers unprecedented control over how data flows across their entire technology infrastructure. You won’t want to miss it!
Below is a snapshot of some of the customers we’ll be highlighting across our Build and Grow themes, but I encourage you to explore the full Synapse lineup to get a taste of what this year’s conference has to offer. We hope to see you there!
Every company needs to put a data foundation in place that can scale with them. As a builder, it’s your job to make sure the data foundation you implement is primed to grow with your company into the future — scalable, reliable, and resilient.
Sessions aligned with our Build content theme are perfect for engineers, product managers, and analytics professionals. These sessions will be led by technical experts and will give detailed advice on how to modernize your data infrastructure and create a data-driven company culture.
Our speakers will share stories of how they:
Approach the process of unifying behavioral analytics
Improve the accuracy, reliability, and timeliness of their customer data
Streamline the technology evaluation and implementation process
Build systems that leverage data for machine learning and AI
Prepare their companies for the GDPR & CCPA
Once a data foundation is in place, your company can start improving internal processes and powering remarkable customer experiences on top of it.
Sessions aligned with our Grow content theme are perfect for product managers and data-driven marketers who want to walk away with ideas for new growth strategies. These sessions will be led by seasoned growth and technology professionals who will share their experience using data in unique ways to acquire, engage, and delight customers.
In these sessions, our growth leaders will explain how they:
Use first-party data to improve advertising effectiveness and reduce wasted spend
Drive ongoing engagement through advanced personalization
Build loyalty programs that improve retention
Operationalize recommendations from data science teams
At Synapse, you’ll also have plenty of opportunities to learn from and engage with the Segment team. Have questions about Segment generally? Great, ask anyone. Want to get hands on help in your Segment account? Also great, take a seat at our Segment genius bar.
For more structured learning, we’re running four sessions called Analytics Academy Live. The session title is based off a very popular digital program that Segment has created called (you guessed it…) the Analytics Academy.
In these sessions, Segment product experts will explain how to:
Setup analytics for new product launches
Use analytics to make smarter product decisions
Setup processes to protect data quality as you scale and at scale
Acquire, engage, delight customers with personalized and relevant experiences
There will be plenty of opportunities for impromptu learning as well. You’ll have ample time during the event and at the Synapse after party to talk with speakers, peers, and members of the Segment team.
Synapse is a great opportunity to learn best practices, connect with peers, and be inspired. We hope that you can join us and be a part of the experience!
Register today with the code “LearnatSynapse" for a 50% off of a full price ticket.
Calvin French-Owen, Kevin Garcia on August 26th 2019
For the past five years, nearly every company on the market has tried to become ‘data-driven’. You don’t want intuition and gut feelings driving company strategy. You want hard facts.
The unfortunate reality is that being ‘data-driven’ is incredibly hard to achieve in practice.
You need the relevant data from hundreds of different systems at your fingertips. You need to know where it lives, how it’s generated, and how to analyze it. And if you’re missing a key insight, you might be taking your company in the wrong strategic direction, costing you months of wasted effort and millions in spend.
Today, we’d like to share the story of one of the most data-informed companies we’ve seen amongst our thousands of customers: Houseparty.
In this post, Jeff Needles from Houseparty, shares how they’ve killed 40% of their experiments, increased signups across the board, and continuously focused on metrics and engagement. It’s a masterclass in using data to power your business.
Houseparty makes it incredibly easy for groups of up to 8 friends to get together and hang out in a video chat room. Over the years, the app has grown to host tens of millions of users, who on average, spend more than an hour per day chatting with their friends. In total, their users are generating more than seven billion data points every single month.
In order to make an impact, Jeff has scaled both the way they collect data and the way they experiment, so that he is able to provide the value of a much bigger team without doing extra manual work. These efforts have helped them reliably collect billions of events, run over one hundred experiments in the last year, and improve iOS invites-sent by 64%.
Jeff knew Houseparty needed to invest in data collection from the start—but he had one problem.
Houseparty operates at a massive scale. Finding tools which would scale to billions of incoming events was one of the top requirements.
The search wasn’t easy. After testing to find the perfect combination of cost-effective tools that provided the deep insights he needed, he decided on the following architecture:
Collect user events via Segment
Send those events into Taplytics and Amazon Redshift
Analyze the Amazon Redshift data in Periscope.
With this simple setup, Jeff can quickly analyze the terabytes of data Houseparty is storing. His entire team can use Periscope to put together ad hoc reports and explore their data, while Jeff can query Amazon Redshift directly to get deep answers to his questions.
With his data infrastructure in place, Jeff focused on helping his product team iterate fast and easily understand their results.
Experimentation is part of the Houseparty DNA. At their weekly team meeting, anyone is able to propose new ideas to test—ranging from app features to ideas for push notifications. The product team then decides to take some of these ideas and turn them into real experiments—fast.
Every experiment they ship is paired with a specific hypothesis to test. The team states which metrics they hope to move and how much they hope to move them. Then, they actually roll out the change to a cohort of users to see the results.
In the last year, Houseparty has run more than 100 different experiments, each backed by their own SQL query. Each experiment is analyzed using a consistent set of SQL queries running against the warehouse based on metrics that Houseparty team members can select using a simple UI.
Because the data is standardized in the warehouse using Segment’s schema, looking for statistical significance in a wide array of metrics is easy.
Every experiment has a default set of global metrics (retention, online-ness, and time in conversation) as well as additional local metrics unique to the experiment.
Results are calculated and stored every few hours for all active experiments.
While the results are continuously being calculated, the team reviews results at their weekly meeting to enforce solid practices. The team only look at results for the experiments that are statistically significant, have had enough time lapsed, and have a full cohort of users. Once all of those pieces are in place, the team makes a decision: ship it or kill it.
This weekly cadence helps the team stay laser-focused on user engagement. If an experiment is actively hurting their metrics, they kill it. No questions asked.
Last year, Jeff and team have run more than 100 experiments and have decided to fully roll out 60% of them.
In the above graph, his team modeled their growth rate if they had shipped 100% of all experiments (the red line) vs the just the set of experiments they decided to keep (the green line).
Shipping all experiments would have created a 40% drag on the business!
This shocked us. We can only wonder about how many areas of other businesses are being actively harmed, just because the team behind it isn’t measuring the impact.
One of the most exciting aspects of constant experimentation is that it allows you to discover really powerful insights that don’t seem obvious at first. One of those insights for Jeff is that Android users behave very differently than their iOS counterparts.
Regarding a redesign the team undertook last year, Jeff noted…
We tested everything. No matter what experiments we launch to unify the iOS and Android app experiences, they always perform worse.
The bright side is that these same insights have helped them optimize the user experience for each set of users. Depending on the operating system, the user will receive a very different UI. Android users get a dark, translucent theme, but for iOS, it’s a light flat theme.
The differences don’t stop there. One of the biggest drivers of new Houseparty users comes from invites from friends. One friend will text another asking if they’d like to join them on the app. This text invitation is the single most important factor driving the company’s growth.
The team experimented with 16 different variations of the invite text, ranging from the mundane to the bizarre.
The winning entries? Well… they were different. iOS and Android each got their own text message. On iOS the text read “let’s (house)party”, on Android: “we need to talk ”.
This slight tweak increased the number of invites sent by 64% on iOS and 27% on Android! A massive improvement for overall viral growth.
After talking with Jeff, it’s pretty clear that using data has revolutionized Houseparty’s business. Even as a small team, they’ve been able to use their metrics to achieve:
a 64% increase in invites sent on iOS
a 27% increase in invites sent on Android
certainty in the 60% of experiments which drive growth
avoiding the 40% of experiments which hurt engagements
separate tailored experiences for ios and android
These tools are just one tiny example of how Houseparty has used great data to power experimentation, which powers personalization, which in turn has inflected their growth curve.
With a product team that can test any idea, and get to statistical significance within the shortest possible window, the sky's the limit for where Houseparty can go.