Niels Tindbaek, Andy Schumeister on June 13th 2019
The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) goes into effect on January 1, 2020. Like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the CCPA will further raise the bar for honoring consumer data privacy rights.
As data nerds, we believe your business can’t survive without data. Given the new privacy landscape, we also believe your business won’t (and shouldn’t) survive if you misuse it. That’s because every person has a right to data privacy.
From the CCPA to the GDPR, and even the laws that have yet to be drafted, Segment is committed to helping our customers prepare for data privacy regulations.
In this blog, we’ll bring you up to speed on how the CCPA may impact your business and share how Segment can help you better leverage your first-party data while respecting your customers’ privacy.
In many ways, the CCPA is quite similar to the GDPR: both are data privacy laws that 1) outline requirements which impacted businesses must adhere to and 2) grant consumers key rights over their personal data. For instance, both the CCPA and the GDPR grant data subjects the right to disclosure (what’s called access in the GDPR) and deletion (also granted in the GDPR).
This means consumers are entitled to learn exactly what information a company has on them and have the company delete it if they so choose. The good news is that businesses already equipped to address the GDPR can use the same systems to honor many of the rights granted to consumers by the CCPA.
The CCPA also grants consumers some different rights compared to the GDPR, including the right to opt out of having their personal data sold. Businesses must not only make it easy for consumers to opt out, but they also cannot discriminate against any consumers that choose to do so. For example, a media company cannot say “if you opt out of the sale of your personal data, you can no longer read articles on our website.”
Keep in mind, the CCPA doesn’t just apply to businesses that are located in California. Instead, it applies to all companies who have information regarding California residents if the company meets one of the following criteria (Cal. Civ. Code section 1798.140(c)):
Annual gross revenue over $25 million;
Annually buys, receives, sells or shares the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households or devices for commercial purposes; or
Derives 50% or more of its annual revenue from selling consumer personal information.
While technically only California residents are protected by the CCPA, the law considers “every individual who is in the State for other than a temporary or transitory purpose” a California resident. As a result, businesses may be better off honoring requests from all individuals than spending the time and resources to evaluate if a consumer is a California resident.
Even if the CCPA doesn’t apply to your business, it’s only a matter of time before similar legislation is passed at the federal level or in another country that may impact your business. Nevada, New York, and Texas are a few of the many states we expect to follow with similar regulations. It’s impossible to know exactly how future regulations will play out, but it’s safe to assume that they’ll require businesses to honor at least a few core data subject rights, including: the right to deletion, the right to disclosure, and the right to opt out.
To meet both the legal requirements and customer expectations, businesses need to be prepared to honor data subject access rights. Even though the CCPA goes into effect in 2020, businesses are required to delete and disclose data that was collected during the 12 months leading up to the enforcement date (that means data that you’re collecting right now).
Since the GDPR went into effect in 2018, we’ve helped companies around the world honor data subject rights for more than 7 million users. Segment customers can rest assured that our data rights functionality built for the GDPR extends to support compliance with the CCPA.
Manage user deletion across Segment and supported destinations via our UI or API
When you request a deletion via Segment, we not only delete the data from our system and records, but we also delete it from your connected warehouse and forward that deletion request to supported integrations like Amplitude, Braze, and more.
Data deleted from Segment’s internal systems.
Deletion requests forwarded to supported integrations.
To help you manage large volumes of deletion requests, we now offer bulk deletion for up to 5,000 users at a time.
Respect your customers’ preferences with one-click suppression
If your customers no longer want you collecting their data, you can quickly honor their request via our UI or API. Once you add a customer to your suppression list, we’ll automatically restrict their data from being sent to Segment and cloud mode destinations. You can also use our open source consent manager to collect consent in the first place.
Compile user data for disclosure requests
Segment’s raw data integrations, warehouses, and Personas product enable you to analyze and export the information you have collected about a given customer.
Whether your customers want you to delete, modify, or disclose the data you’re collecting, or even stop collecting data entirely, Segment has you covered.
If the GDPR was the first real strike against third-party data, consider the CCPA the knockout hit. Unlike first-party data (data collected directly from the customer), third-party data is user data that companies purchase and/or share with other businesses. Third-party data is most often used to target new potential users for advertising, to personalize websites for net new visitors, and to monetize apps without another revenue stream. Given how often third-party data changes hands, it’s hard to determine if it was collected with consent.
If your business sells personal information, the CCPA requires you to provide a “clear and conspicuous link” titled Do Not Sell My Personal Information on your homepage. We expect many consumers to take advantage of this. Imagine going to a website you don’t completely trust, and the first thing you see is a link that says Do Not Sell My Personal Information. In just a few clicks, you’d be able to prevent them from selling your data. This will inevitably make it harder for businesses to rely on third-party data. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start to wean yourself off third-party data.
The good news is you can still use data to provide relevant experiences for your customers while also respecting their privacy and complying with these regulations. Here’s how: leveraging first-party data. First-party data is data you collect directly from your customers. For instance, this includes data on how your customers use your website or app, data from surveys you send out, and data from subscription or purchase information. Because it is data you collect from your customers, you can ensure it is collected with consent and trust that it’s high-quality. By using first-party data you can continue to drive growth for your business without forgoing customer privacy.
Wherever you’re at in your privacy journey, we’re here to help. Segment is committed to enabling our customers to use good data (and good data practices) to provide relevant experiences for their customers. At Segment, good data not only means high-quality, complete, and actionable data. Good data also means first-party data that respects consumer privacy.
Moving forward, we will continue to maintain our focus on first-party data, develop tooling to help you be ready for new regulations, and protect your customers’ data with a holistic security program. Stay tuned for new products that will give you even more controls to manage and audit personal data.
Want to learn more about the CCPA and the future of consumer data privacy? Join data privacy experts, Mark Kahn (General Counsel, Segment), Melissa Maalouf (Shareholder, ZwillGen), and Jeremy Greenberg (Policy Fellow, Future of Privacy Forum), for a webinar on June 26, 2019 at 11:00am PT/2:00pm ET.
Sara Thurman, Igor Krtolica on June 11th 2019
The ability to predict a customer’s needs, and provide proactive customer experiences based on this understanding, is reshaping how businesses interact with their customers.
As companies race to create real-time, personalized interactions, they are turning to machine learning to build sophisticated algorithms and models that will produce personalization at scale. But machine learning has traditionally required running complex data infrastructure to collect and centralize data across sources, and large in-house data science teams to train and productionize these models.
That’s why today we’re excited to announce the Amazon Personalize Destination, a machine learning service from Amazon Web Services that makes it easy for developers to create personalized recommendations for their customers.
With Segment and Amazon Personalize, developers can build ML-based personalization into their application and marketing journey, without building new data pipelines or standing up additional infrastructure.
Building a successful machine learning initiative requires both clean data and the right infrastructure to support complex models.
With Amazon Personalize and Segment, you have access to the models Amazon.com has perfected over the years—powered by your Segment data—to create accurate, personalized content at scale. With a few clicks, you’ll be able to send product recommendations into emails in Iterable, push notifications from Braze, or embed the recommendations directly into your app experience.
MylkGuys, an e-commerce vegan retailer who recently joined the Segment Startup Program, will be using Personalize to provide onsite recommendations for shoppers. “We have a huge selection of unique grocery products, and a bunch of different shopper personas, so personalizing the assortment to the right shopper is key to driving conversions and expanding basket size,” said MylkGuys CEO Gaurav Maken.
“Segment makes it easy to collect customer data across apps and devices, and now Personalize makes it easy to activate ML-based recommendations across our marketing stack,” said Gaurav.
Getting started with Segment and Amazon Personalize has three steps:
1. Preparing historical data (optional)- Prepare your historical data and upload your product or media catalog. (Alternatively, Personalize can be bootstrapped with an empty data set and then trained based on new event data sent into the service).
2. Creating a Personalize Solution - Select your algorithm and train a model or let Personalize select the best performing algorithm, or recipe as they are referred to in Personalize, based on the data you provide.
3. Getting recommendations - Use the Personalize API to stream customer data back into Segment to activate recommendations for each user.
You’ll need to be have access to an AWS Account, access to historical Segment data (from S3, Redshift, Snowflake, etc), and IAM access to deploy new services in your AWS Account.
Preparing historical data
For a more complete model to start with, we recommend you use historical data to train your Amazon Personalize models. If you’re already using Segment to load data to Redshift, Snowflake, and S3, it’s easy to load your preexisting data into Personalize in a format that Personalize can understand with a single SQL query.
Creating a Personalize Solution
Next, you’ll point Personalize to the historical dataset you created in the previous step by creating a dataset group, defining the necessary schemas, and initiating dataset upload jobs. Then you will create a Personalize Solution, which is where a machine learning model is trained. Personalize allows developers to use AutoML to determine the best algorithm to use. Finally, you will deploy your Personalize Solution by creating a Personalize Campaign.
Next, you’ll set up a destination in Segment and stream data into Personalize to gather real-time recommendations for your users.
Under the hood, we’ll be streaming customer events into a Lambda function that you’ll run in your AWS account. You can deploy this Lambda from from the Serverless App Repo or check out the Github repo.
With Segment and Amazon Personalize, you can now provide your customers with personalized ML-powered recommendations across your apps, emails, livechats, & sales & support channels. Recommend the right articles, products, videos, or music, in realtime, to drive conversions and increase engagement.
Andy Schumeister on June 10th 2019
Even with the strictest naming conventions for data and a battle-tested data governance strategy, it’s inevitable that your team will still run into data quality issues. Whether you’re waiting for customers to upgrade to the latest version of your app or you’re struggling to ensure all events are sent with a common set of properties for standardization, sometimes good data feels like a pipe dream.
To make it even easier to ensure good data at scale, we released new Protocols features that enable you to:
Validate multiple versions of your app with support for event versioning
Standardize event tracking across multiple sources with a shared properties library
Edit tracking plans with confidence using a new merge workflow
Protocols is Segment’s data governance solution the enables you to enforce standards at the source of collection and provide data that every team can trust. These latest features are now available to all customers using Protocols.
We’ve heard from customers that one of the biggest challenges they face is managing analytics rollouts across multiple mobile app versions. If version 1.2.1 of your app collects a property called `productId` and version 1.2.2 refers to that property as `product_id`, it’s nearly impossible to collect and QA both events. Until all of your customers upgrade to the latest version, you’ll continue to collect events with outdated properties which will generate distracting violations or even block important events.
Protocols now supports event versioning so you can dynamically validate your event stream against the relevant schema definition. This allows validation of both the old and new versions of an event at the same time. As soon as all (or most) of your customers have upgraded to the latest version of your app, you can delete the old event version from your tracking plan.
To create a new event version, click into the overflow menu for an event and select “Add Event Version.” You can then update any of the existing properties or even add new properties and associate them with a particular version of your app..
Multiple versions of the same “Order Completed” event.
You can create as many versions of an event as you like, but we recommend minimizing the number of versions to simplify the build and deployment process. Check out the docs to learn how you can get started with event versioning.
While properties typically vary from event to event, there is often a subset of properties that are relatively consistent across the board. For example, an e-commerce company will collect `product_id`, `sku`, `category`, `name`, and more across all of their core checkout events. Similarly, a media company may collect `session_id`, `asset_id`, and `title` across their content consumption events.
Previously, this required adding each property manually to every event in your tracking plan. That meant if 20 events shared the same 5 properties, you’d have to manually add those fields 100 times.
With the properties library, you can now define a group of properties once and then import that group into the relevant events in your tracking plan. This not only saves you time, but it also helps you ensure consistency across all of your events.
Standardize your tracking plans with the properties library
Check out the docs to learn how you can manage your properties library today.
Accidentally adding `Completed Order` to your tracking plan when you meant to add `Order Completed` is just as detrimental as making that same mistake in your code. Like deploying changes to your code, making edits to your tracking plan should be carefully reviewed to prevent any unintended event blocking.
To give you visibility into the changes you’re making and control over which changes to accept, we’ve released a new tracking plan edit workflow and added support for real-time collaboration. This means that any teammate with Protocols admin access can work on the same tracking plan at the same time in “draft mode.”
Once you’re done making changes, you can select “View Changes” to review all of the proposed updates. Any new events or properties will be highlighted in green, and any removed events or properties will be highlighted in red. From there, you can select any of the changes you want to approve and then click “Merge Changes.”
Approve a new version of the “Order Completed” event. Any other changes will remain in draft until you either approve them or delete them. Each tracking plan now includes its own changelog so you can quickly audit when your teammates make changes to it.
The new workflow gives you confidence to safely make changes on your own time without worrying about the changes immediately impacting what data is blocked by Protocols.
Good data is standardized, consistent, and representative of what’s actually happening across your business. With the latest Protocols updates, it’s even easier for you to achieve high-quality data at scale. Moving forward, we’ll continue to invest in solutions that enable you to enforce standards for data your entire company can trust.
Sasha Blumenfeld, Sudheendra Chilappagari on June 6th 2019
In the last month, the Segment partner ecosystem has been busy building several new integrations for you and your team. From predictive analytics tools to multichannel marketing platforms, we’ve added 19 new integrations, allowing you to activate your first-party data in even more of the tools that you use every day.
Check out the list of our latest partner-built integrations now available on the Segment catalog below.
Adtriba | Analytics
Who is it for: Growth Marketing
What is it: Cross-channel attribution tool that helps companies evaluate all marketing channels, optimize budget allocation and increase revenue.
How does it work with Segment: Connect the Adtriba Destination to instantly start feeding their machine learning attribution model with your high-intent behavioral data for programmatic campaign insights.
Auryc | Analytics
Who is it for: Product
What is it: ML-based customer analytics tool to give you granular insights into each step of the customer journey.
How does it work with Segment: By enabling the Auryc Destination, you can send your user engagement data alongside conversion events to quickly understand why users convert – and why they don’t.
ByteGain | Analytics
Who is it for: Growth Marketers
What is it: Predictive analytics and AI tool that leverages user behavior to automate processes including ad retargeting, real-time personalization, content recommendations, and more.
How does it work with Segment: Use Segment to feed your Bytegain models with high-intent user engagement events alongside information such as traffic sources and page viewed to power efficient and accurate ad optimization.
Callingly | Sales Operations
Who is it for: B2B businesses
What is it: Automated phone call follow-up tool to help route, call, and record lead calls quickly after a lead is created.
How does it work with Segment: Identify high-intent leads by sending user behavior data from Segment to Callingly to route the right leads to your sales team.
ConvertFlow | Personalization
Who is it for: Marketing
What is it: All-in-one marketing platform to personalize customer experiences across multiple digital touchpoints.
How does it work with Segment: By sending Segment data immediately to Convertflow you can personalize web visits and email content in real-time for each user.
CustomerSuccessBox | Customer Success
Who is it for: B2B SaaS
What is it: Customer success platform for B2B SaaS companies that provides account health, product adoption tracking, upsell alerts, and more.
How does it work with Segment: Enable the CustomerSuccessBox Destination to send product usage data directly to CustomerSuccessBox to monitor customer account health and send alerts automatically.
Emma | Mobile Analytics
Who is it for Mobile Marketers
What is it Mobile analytics and attribution tool that helps companies create, measure, and analyze mobile marketing campaigns.
How does it work with Segment: Start sending your users’ data to EMMA in order to see and manage user behavior directly within Emma and take advantage of tools for acquisition, analytics and communication to achieve your marketing goals.
Freshmarketer | Marketing Automation
Who is it for: Marketers
What is it: A complete marketing automation platform along with extensive conversion optimization features like heatmaps, A/B testing, Session Replay and more.
How does it work with Segment: Use the Freshmarketer Destination to send clickstream data to Freshmarketer to keep all your contacts in sync.
Kitemetrics | Mobile Attribution
Who is it for: Mobile Marketers
What is it: Provides tools to attribute iOS App Installs to Apple Search Ads keywords and associate them with In-App Purchases.
How does it work with Segment: Send your mobile events from Segment to the Kitemetrics Destination to automatically manage your Apple Search Ads campaigns.
Mprove | Business Intelligence
Who is it for: Analysts
What is it: Business intelligence tool for Google BigQuery where analysts can prepare SQL data models and reports using an intuitive interface.
How does it work with Segment: Pipe your web, mobile, CRM, email data, and more into your Google BigQuery warehouse with Segment. Use Mprove on top of your warehouse to start exploring your data for actionable insights about your customers.
Rakam | Analytics
Who is it for: Product Analysts
What is it: Product analytics tool that runs on top of your Segment Warehouse to let you analyze your user behavior with segmentation, funnel, retention, and SQL reporting features.
How does it work with Segment: Pipe your web, mobile, CRM, email data, and more into your data warehouse using Segment. Use Rakam on top of your warehouse to start exploring your data for actionable customer insights for product analytics.
Refiner | Lead Scoring
Who is it for: B2B SaaS
What is it: Lead scoring platform built for B2B SaaS providers with a free trial or freemium model.
How does it work with Segment: Use this Destination to quickly send your user and account traits as well as user events to Refiner to calculate lead scores and engagement levels.
Who is it for: Data Teams
What is it: Data Warehouse, with optional tools for ETL, Business Intelligence and Machine Learning, in a single solution.
How does it work with Segment: Send consistently formatted data, from your server, mobile apps and web applications alongside your cloud applications like CRM, email, and more to your SlicingDice Destination for easy data exploration.
Smartlook | Analytics
Who is it for: Product
What is it: Qualitative analytics solution that enables complete user journey & engagement analysis for websites and mobile apps.
How does it work with Segment: Send all Segment predefined custom events and data directly to the Smartlook Destination to visualize and analyze user behavior.
Survicate | Surveys
Who is it for: Customer Success
What is it: Complete toolkit for customer feedback that includes NPS, customer satisfaction, and website feedback.
How does it work with Segment: Combine qualitative & quantitative feedback with your Segment customer data to build more personalized surveys for each audiences.
Strikedeck | CRM
Who is it for: Customer Success
What is it: Customer Success platform which actively manages customer relationships.
How does it work with Segment: Add the Strikedeck Destination to automatically send behavioral data alongside data form your CRM, help desk, and billing for a 360 view of the customer.
Tamber | Machine Learning
Who is it for: Engineering
What is it: Deep learning recommendation tool that helps you build your own Google-scale recommendation features in minutes.
How does it work with Segment: Power your machine learning models in Tamber with high-intent and consistently formatted data from Segment so you can stream user actions as they happen to deliver real-time product and content recommendations.
Userlist | Email Marketing
Who is it for: SaaS Marketers
What is it: Behavior-based messaging tool for SaaS applications to onboard, promote, and re-engage users.
How does it work with Segment: Send Segment data to UserList to view user activity, build user cohorts, and deliver behavior-based campaigns.
Xtremepush | Marketing Automation
Who is it for: Marketers
What is it: Multi-channel marketing automation platform with drag-and-drop campaign journey builder and real-time engagement.
How does it work with Segment: Use the Xtremepush Destination to enrich user profiles to build more granular audiences for personalized campaigns and messages.
Don’t see the integration you’re looking for? Let us know directly within Segment.
Try our in-app wishlists to upvote the integrations you’d like to see built next.
Chris Sperandio on May 24th 2019
Three months ago, we launched the Segment Developer Center. It gives partners the ability to build their own Segment integrations just by filling out a checklist and writing some code.
Since launch, we’ve added over 40 new Destinations. Hundreds of Segment customers have enabled these new integrations to supercharge various parts of their business—from customer success to marketing attribution.
Today, we’re excited to announce several new, more powerful capabilities for our partners—allowing you to integrate with Segment in hours, not weeks.
The first are Segment-hosted functions. A consistent point of feedback across early partners was that setting up a new endpoint to accept Segment data could be complex, and that it required new infrastructure and monitoring.
Today, we’re solving that piece by giving partners the ‘serverless’ ability to upload their code directly to Segment. You bring your existing API and ten lines of code to adapt to it, and we’ll bring the infrastructure to run it.
These enhancements are part of our continued investment in providing an extensible platform for our partners. We want it to be easy—and quick—to build and maintain every Segment integration.
As an added bonus, for a limited time, we’re offering hackathons with the Segment Developer Center engineering team for new partners who want to build on us. It’s our mission to make integrating with Segment effortless, and we’re happy to work with you however we can. Learn how to get an invite at the end of this post!
Before today, partners only had one means of accepting Segment data—deploy a new endpoint that adheres to our Subscription spec. It meant running, scaling, and monitoring your own servers to accept Segment data.
Now, you have two additional ways to build Segment destinations - by running functions on either AWS Lambda or Segment.
Lambda offers a flexible, totally managed runtime for partners to ingest customer data from Segment. You don’t need to think about scaling servers, and you only pay for what you use.
To use Lambda with Segment, simply create a Lambda subscription, and reference your ARN (Amazon Resource Name). We’ll invoke that function anytime we receive new Segment data.
And we didn’t stop there. For partners who aren’t on AWS, or want to go full ‘serverless’ with their integration, we’ve made this even easier.
As of today, you can upload your code directly to Segment, hit ‘save’, and have your integration published live in a matter of minutes.
The only work on your side is writing some code to transform Segment data into the format accepted by your API. We’ll take care of the rest.
To show you how powerful this is, here’s what the code for a Segment to Slack integration looks like:
Even so, some integrations need a presence in the end users’ device or browser. Maybe they need to change the UI with an A/B test, send a notification, or route to a specific deep link.
Now, partners can write, update, and manage web plugins directly in our Developer Center. We’ll dynamically pull in your integration code and distribute it directly to the hundreds of millions of end users who load Analytics.js every month.
Customers using these integrations can now have a more ‘native’ experience, particularly when it comes to changing the behavior of the application in-browser.
Join dozens of other partners, like Refersion, who are leveraging these new capabilities to power their apps with rich customer data from Segment.
We’re excited about our integration with Segment! Empowering our merchants to automatically enroll new affiliates into their program is a huge advantage for both them and us.
Adrian Maynard, Marketing, Refersion
Here’s a few other companies unlocking great value by building on Segment:
SlicingDice—All-in-one data warehouse that provides tools to get data from raw to machine learning
SlicingDice collects Segment data via their native integration. Already an important player in the Data Warehouse space, Slicing Dice now can run custom analysis across Segment events in real-time, to answer whatever custom queries you might have.
Auryc—Journey intelligence platform to record users’ digital journeys, CSAT, NPS surveys, and feedback
We implemented the Segment/Auryc Integration under the partner built Device Mode Destinations initiative and it is truly a game changer! The instructions and samples were easy to follow, and the platform team was very helpful and responsive in answering questions. Most importantly, we were able to develop and test the logic independently at our own schedule. The submission, review and approval process was also very fast. Overall we were able to implement and deploy the Auryc integration within a few days.”
Feng Shao, VP Engineering and Co-Founder, Auryc
Trackier—Leading performance marketing tool that helps you manage campaigns and publisher relations
Introducing Segment to our business is a game changer for us! Being allowed to build and manage our own integration with Segment is wonderful! Highly recommended for those who are looking to build their own Integrations.
Mukul Kaushik, Marketing, Trackier
For a limited time, we’re offering personal hackathons with members of our engineering team. We’ll work with you for 45 minutes to walk you through the process of putting your integration live (and hopefully get it working then and there!).
To get an invite, just request access to the Developer Center and then schedule some time with our engineering team through our in-app chatbox.
Calvin French-Owen on May 23rd 2019
TL;DR: in the year since the GDPR, we’ve seen millions of deletion requests. In this post, we dig into the trends we’re seeing: more companies becoming increasingly privacy conscious.
May 25th, 2018 marked a completely unprecedented event: the enforcement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
For the first time in history, a major governing body (the EU) rolled out new privacy regulations that made hiring a data protection officer mandatory and controlling personal data a fundamental right for all citizens.
The new laws didn’t just stop with European corporations. A core tenet of the legislation was that EU citizens could request that any business around the world delete their personal data.
For companies running online banks, social networks, and e-commerce sites, the message was clear: honor the privacy rights of your users, or face a fine of 4% of your global revenue.
As it turns out, implementing a solution for the GDPR also turns out to be a fairly hard technology problem. Instead of reading and writing data, you now have to focus on purging and removing it. According to a recent report, only 4 in 10 executives feel ‘ready’ for new privacy regulations like the GDPR.
At Segment, we found ourselves in a fairly unique position: we already help thousands of businesses manage their customer data… why not help them comply with this new legislation as well?
As a result, we started building a product to automate user deletion and suppression of new data. We wanted to make it easier for companies to comply with the GDPR not only by deleting data in Segment, but also by having us federate those deletion requests to the other SaaS tools our customers might be using.
The question was… how many of these ‘requests to be forgotten’ would end users actually make? Would businesses receive tens of deletion requests… hundreds… millions? Would it all spike around the time of the new regulation? Or would everyone ignore it until the first lawsuits started cropping up?
One year later, we now have our answers.
We analyzed how hundreds of companies have made millions of user deletion requests to our GDPR product.
In this post, we’ll share the trends we’re seeing across the industry and the product improvements we’ve made to make it even easier to respect your end users’ privacy.
Here’s what really happened in the aftermath of the GDPR.
To give you some quick background, our GDPR product works like this:
A customer gets a notice from one of their users to delete or halt collection of their user data
The customer sends Segment a given userId for one of their users
Based on (1), the customer can suppress new data from being collected for that userId, delete existing data, or both
We purge and/or suppress that user’s data from our internal systems, the customer’s data warehouse, and forward it along to all GDPR-supported integrations
The end value for customers is that they can streamline GDPR compliance across supported integrations. Instead of managing data in half a dozen tools, they can make a single API call to handle GDPR data subject requests.
To date, we’ve helped customers delete nearly 7 million users from Segment and other tools. The magnitude of that number surprised us.
Translating that number to more concrete terms, it means that we helped delete the equivalent of nearly 1 out of every 80 EU Citizens’ data. Chances are that you know someone who has either requested that their data be deleted, or deleted their accounts on one of these services.
To put that in perspective: if the GDPR were a destination, it'd be one of our most popular tools (in the top 10% actually). Not bad for a tool which removes data instead of promising to give you additional insights.
A significant portion of these requests came from B2C companies who have large numbers of users visiting their site. Many of these companies offer a ‘one-click’ solution for customers to submit deletion requests directly, which translates to a high volume of deletion requests each week coming through Segment.
Surprisingly, not all of these requests were issued strictly due to the GDPR. We’ve also seen an increasing number of customers remove all data as part of account deletion flows.
It seems that this is an unintended benefit of the GDPR–it’s also encouraging companies to implement better data practices when it comes to privacy and data.
It’s clear that we’re seeing more GDPR requests coming from more customers, in both deletions and suppressions.
The overall request volume has grown by about 50% since the first few months after we released our GDPR endpoint. Not only that, but volume in April 2019 was about 3x higher than in June 2018 (the first full month after GDPR).
The increase in request volume wasn’t just driven by existing customers.
Below you can see a graph of the number of customers issuing deletion requests in a given month, from May 2018 through April 2019. Year over year, the number of customers making deletions has grown by 45%.
A second question we had was whether there would be an initial flurry of deletions just after the May 25th enforcement, followed by a period of relative silence.
Here, we’ve graphed the total number of user IDs deleted each month:
In July and August, we saw a number of large bulk deletions, followed by a lull. When we asked customers how they were using the deletion API, these early customers told us they wanted to purge all data from previously deleted accounts.
However, since then, we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of users deleted. The trend only seems to be continuing month-over-month, with a record 1 million users deleted in April 2019.
The growing privacy-conscious climate has clearly spurred more and more businesses to take action when it comes respecting their customers’ right to privacy. Not only that, but it appears that end consumers and companies are continuing to think more critically about their data as well.
In short… everyone.
Since launching a year ago, one in fifteen customers across both our business tier and self-service have made some sort of deletion request.
Interestingly enough, there was no correlation between the Segment customer’s plan and whether they made deletion requests. Customers who signed up with a credit card (typically smaller startups) and ones who had negotiated annual plans (typically bigger enterprises) both issued deletions at similar rates.
When we looked across customer’s geographies, we also started seeing more correlations. Europe and Australia lead the pack in deletions. Nearly 1 in 10 customers deleted data in both Europe and Australia.
Europe: 9.7% of customers have issued requests
Australia: 9.4% of customers
North America: 5.8% of customers
Asia: 0.63% of customers
Notably, Asian companies lag behind by a significant margin, less than one percent. We’ve graphed the raw counts below, split by country.
Of course, Segment is just one place which helps you gather and manage your customer data. We then help federate and adapt that data to more than 250 different downstream destinations.
Some of these destinations also support our deletion spec, where we forward deletion requests we receive to be automatically purged in the downstream tool.
To date, we’ve made more than 7.28 million deletion requests to other SaaS apps amongst our GDPR-supported destinations. For every individual user deletion request we’ve received, we’ve forwarded it along to roughly 1 other destination.
In the coming months, we plan to work with partners to further expand the number of tools supporting deletion requests.
Given these learnings, we’re continuing to build features that make it easier for our customers to comply with the GDPR and future privacy regulations such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and beyond.
At launch, users only had the ability to delete a single user at a time. After we saw the sheer volume of requests, we made significant product updates to make it easier for customers to manage their deletions at scale.
We now offer batching for all requests, where customers can submit up to 5,000 user IDs in a single deletion or suppression request. This helps customers more easily manage large volumes of deletion, as well as efficiently process deletions in batches for tools such as warehouses which are costly to scan if you’re only going one user at a time.
We’ve also added more visibility into the status returned by destinations to help when troubleshooting any issues that might arise when sending deletion requests to another tool. If your warehouse is unavailable for deletions, we will retry and update the status for the user with the reason the data hasn’t been deleted.
Additionally, these features are all supported via the Config API, which makes it easy for customers to programmatically control their deletion, suppression, and more.
Coming soon, we plan to give you the ability to set limited data retention periods for different sources of data right in the app. This will give customers direct control over how long their data is retained within Segment. Sign up here to be added to the beta for this feature.
Based on our role in handling the GDPR process for companies, here are our key takeaways:
The GDPR is here, and businesses are respecting it
The strict fines of the GDPR seem to be having their desired effect. This new regulation is fundamentally altering the privacy landscape.
In particular, the actual volume of incoming requests far exceeded our expectations. Originally we had scaled our deletion system to handle tens of thousands of deletion requests. Instead, we saw 100x that.
Upon seeing the count of deleted users climb to the hundreds of thousands, and millions, we invested even more work into creating bulk deletions, and further scaling our pipeline.
Business models are becoming privacy-forward
One popular refrain from our customers was that they weren’t using these GDPR endpoints for just compliance. Many of them were also using it to get their data to a more privacy-conscious, clean-room state.
Additionally, many customers were treating all account deletion (regulated or not) as a driver to purge data from their systems. Even without the threat of a fine, businesses have decided that handling removing unused data is the responsible thing to do.
Products must be built ‘deletion-first’
In readying ourselves for the GDPR, we spent six months updating our systems. We originally built Segment to accommodate terabytes of new incoming data, instead of focusing more on the sorts of ‘needle in a haystack’ searches demanded by the GDPR.
Going forward, every new part of our pipeline is designed to support GDPR deletion from day one.
The age of building data pipelines which are ‘write-only’ is dead. Instead, it’s clear that pipelines have to be engineered from the ground up not only to write new data, but to allow deleting old data as well.
It’s clear that the GDPR has fundamentally altered how businesses think about data. For any business operating at scale, one thing is now clear: we’ve entered a new privacy-first age of the internet, where every user will soon have the inherent right to manage their own data.
Lauren Reeder on May 15th 2019
From email marketing to business intelligence, every tool in your growth stack has one thing in common: they work best when they’re powered by clean, reliable customer data.
When you connect rich customer data to best-in-class tools, it opens a world of possibilities. Personalized marketing campaigns. Robust, cross-channel attribution. Structured and clean data warehouses.
However, you sometimes don’t want (or need) all of the data collected to flow into every tool in the same way. In fact, there are a few cases where filtering out data can help you save money, gain flexibility, or solve a unique business problem. Segment offers Destination Filters so customers can easily control the data flowing into each Destination. Here are a few of the most common ways customers use Destination Filters:
Internal employees usually engage with your website, app, or product a lot. But keeping their actions and behaviors in the mix can muddle your analytics and crowd your marketing tools with users you don’t really want to reach.
Segment makes it easy to remove internal users and even pattern match on email or user id to drop an event (i.e. don’t send the event if email property contains ‘@segment.com’).
_Destination Filters have definitely saved us a lot of time and money at Millicom/ Tigo. In the past we struggled to send only required data or would have paid more money to send unnecessary events to new destinations, but now we only send the events we want in an easy and simple manner.
Edwin Garcia, Regional Digital Architect at Millicom_
When you have a lot of users, that also means a lot of data flowing into your tools. You can make sure you’re getting the most value from those tools by reducing the number of API calls you make to just send the relevant to each tool.
You can do this in a few ways. You can send a selected set of events from a Source to a specific tool by whitelisting those events, only sending an event if a certain field is present.
As a fast-growing business, we are adding more and more tools to our stack to help us grow. Destination Filters are a simple and powerful way for us to filter the events we forward to these tools. This doesn’t just save us time—it also saves us money on the data we send to certain tools that are priced on event volume.
Candas Demir, Digital Marketing Lead at TicketSwap
You can also sample API calls to a Destination for high volume events, either with random sampling or on a per user basis. You’ll continue to track all events for each user, but you’ll send only certain users through. This helps manage the cost and performance of large amounts of data sent to each individual Destination.
While sending customer emails to your email marketing tools makes sense, that may not be the case for all of your different marketing and analytics tools. The same is true for a lot of customer data, whether it’s sensitive or not.
You can accomplish this easily with Destination Filters by stripping properties from events with blacklist or whitelist property filtering.
Destination Filters help us send only the most relevant data to each Destination—without needing a ton of engineering support to make it happen. It's a really simple way to ensure that the tools in your stack only have access to the information they actually need.
Avi Flombaum, Chief Product Officer at Flatiron School
This is only a taste of what you can do with Destination Filters, which are now available to all Business Plan customers. Destination filtering builds on our existing event filtering by adding the ability to partially filter events and setup conditional logic for filters. Check it out today!
If you’re a Team Plan customer looking to upgrade so you can access Destination Filters, request a demo!
Andy Schumeister, Doug Roberge, Sasha Blumenfeld, Kevin Garcia on May 9th 2019
It’s no secret that personalized marketing can make all the difference for your customers. Whether you’re creating new audiences or building the campaigns you want them to experience, you need the right data flowing and the right tools to get the job done.
Over the past month, we’ve launched new features that make it easier to request the tools you want and better connect the tools you already have. We’ve also updated Personas to give you more control over how you create audiences and offer more insights into how those audiences overlap.
Here’s the latest features, product updates, and integrations launched at Segment.
Our partners have added over 10 new integrations (see below) in the last few weeks and we want to hear from you about which integrations they should build next.
We recently launched Wishlists, which give you the power to add new integration requests and upvote existing requests directly from the Segment app. We’ll then work with partners to make sure the integrations you need come to life.
Here are a few other recent Connections launches:
Segment has expanded support for our Braze Source. Now we accept additional events such as `Campaign Conversion` or `Email Soft Bounce` that can be sent to your downstream tools for a unified view of the customer. Read our blog post →
Startup Program customers now have a new home screen in the app. It features a workspace setup checklist and completion score so that new customers know exactly what to do to achieve a complete setup. Check it out →
ByteGain—Predictive analytics and AI tool that captures user behavior, automates content recommendations, makes real-time predictions and more.
Callingly—Automated phone call follow-up tool to help route, call, and record lead calls quickly after a lead is created.
CustomerSuccessBox—Customer success platform for B2B SaaS companies that provides account health, product adoption tracking, upsell alerts, and more.
Kitemetrics—Provides tools to attribute iOS App Installs to Apple Search Ads keywords and associate them with In-App Purchases.
Survicate—Complete toolkit for customer feedback that includes NPS, customer satisfaction, and website feedback.
Tamber—Deep learning recommendation tool that helps you build your own Google-scale recommendation features in minutes.
Userlist—Behavior-based messaging tool for SaaS applications to onboard, promote, and re-engage users.
Xtremepush—Multi-channel marketing automation platform with drag-and-drop campaign journey builder and real-time engagement.
Emma— Mobile analytics and attribution tool that helps companies create, measure, and analyze mobile marketing campaigns.
Adtriba—Cross-channel attribution tool that helps companies evaluate all marketing channels, optimize budget allocation and increase revenue.
Recently, we shipped a new product feature for Personas called SQL Traits which lets you use customer data from your warehouse in your marketing and analytics tools.
Thanks to your valuable feedback, we’ve made a few improvements:
Added support for email and anonymous ids in queries so those identifiers can be used to pull groups of users for marketing campaigns.
Improved error handling so there is greater insight into why a query may have failed.
Added a timer that helps you track how long your trait has been running for.
In case you missed it, check out the blog →
We’ve also added the ability to see how specific audiences breakdown from an identity standpoint (e.g., matched on user ID, email, mobile ID) and how they overlap with other audiences that you’ve already built in Personas. This allows you to quickly get insight into a particular audience and see if it’s unique enough to build a new campaign.
Here are a few other recent Personas launches:
More activation options for Google Ads. You can now select to use either email or mobile ID when sending traits and audiences into Google Ads, giving you more flexibility and precision for ad targeting with Personas.
Responsys destination improvements. We’ve updated our Responsys destination so that it now supports batch updates from Personas, making it even easier to get your Audiences and Computed Traits into the platform while avoiding any rate limiting.
Added customizable track events for Computed Traits. You now have the option to configure a custom track call alongside Computed Traits that allows you to trigger an event when a certain user characteristic is met. For example, if you’re tracking ‘big spenders’ and someone new qualifies for that trait (e.g., they spend over $500), it will trigger an event that you can use to trigger automated messages or internal workflows.
Visibility into who created an audience and when. In order to help you better keep track of who is building traits and audiences within your organization, we’ve added a “built by” and timestamp on every trait and audience in Personas.
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.
Michael Dulle - Product Manager at Braze on May 8th 2019
This post is a guest submission by our partner, Braze. Michael Dulle, Product Manager at Braze shares what their latest updates to the Braze Source can unlock for customers. Braze helps leading brands create live views of their customers that stream and process historical, in-the-moment, and predictive data in an interactive feedback loop, so immediate action on insights can be taken with relevant messaging across mobile and web.
Marketers are awash with data. Data is flooding them from many disparate and often siloed tools with incompatible data formats. Traditionally, wading through this information for nuggets of insight has been a Herculean task. It is often required to get help from data or engineering teams, each with their own timelines and competing priorities.
The result? Many times requests are pushed back, having teams wait days, if not weeks, to get the data they need to build relevant customer messaging and campaigns. However, data is a perishable good, and each day that goes by it becomes stale and the value is diminished or even lost entirely.
We’ve made it easier for marketers to access their engagement data when they need it with Segment’s support of Currents. )The updated Braze Source gives marketers access to their customer data in milliseconds, allowing them to create hyper-personalized campaigns without having to wait.
Currents streams event data continuously in near-real time. Allowing customers to take immediate action based on their users' experiences as they unfold.
From tracking conversions on marketing campaigns that trigger a workflow in your CRM tool to tracking mobile or e-commerce purchases and connecting that information with your point-of-sale or inventory system–Segment’s support of Currents unlocks the ability to create complex campaigns using your high-intent first-party data.
View inside Braze’s data configuration page
Streaming conversion events, for example, through Currents into Segment allows users to understand how their marketing efforts are affecting their desired outcomes. The power of Segment really shines when users need to join Braze Currents events with data from other sources, such as a CRM, to get a fuller picture of their customers' journeys.
Segment now supports new Braze events for additional insight into customer behavior:
Campaign Control Enrollment
Email Soft Bounce
iOS Foreground Push
By piping all of this information through Segment, customers can easily load a unified dataset into any number of Destinations, allowing them to experiment with data, discover patterns and trends, and reveal insight that would otherwise be hidden.
As Braze continues to develop our Currents stream, we will be adding new events to help Marketers gain deeper insights into their users’ behaviors.