Customer Data & Analytics

The Inside Story: Launching Segment's Unify and Profiles Sync

Discover the journey of launching Profiles Sync and Segment Unify, from the initial goal of winning over Data teams to achieving product-market fit.

May 22, 2023

By Gandhar Tannu

It was a few days before the launch of Profiles Sync and Segment Unify. After months of hard work, my team and I were excited to release Segment Profiles Sync and Segment Unify to the public for the first time. Our team added product improvements to the Beta (was adopted at 5x times our estimates) by addressing critical customer feedback. It was time to open the product we were working on to the entire world. As the lead Product Manager of these launches, I was stressed. In this blog, I’ll outline the steps my team took, the roadblocks we encountered, and how we overcame them before the product launch.

The initial goal of Profiles Sync and Segment Unify was clear: to win the hearts and minds of Data teams. Data teams want to build machine learning models to personalize content for their customers. With a stronger emphasis on privacy, data teams are looking for tools that help them leverage first-party data easily with their existing infrastructure. 

Customers needed a solution that could build reliable profiles at a petabyte scale and could easily integrate with tools of their choice. Segment Unify creates Profiles, recognizing individual people, in real-time, by connecting identifiers across devices and touchpoints. Profiles Sync makes Segment Profiles accessible directly in the warehouse. Profiles Sync datasets allow data teams to build propensity models - such as likeliness to convert, lifetime value of the customer, potential loyalty program. Thus, Segment Unify and Profiles Sync allow businesses to optimize their marketing campaigns and increase sales. 

We broke down the Segment Unify and Profiles Sync launch into release phases - Pilot, then Beta, and followed by General Availability. Each release phase added new capabilities and was accessible to a larger customer base when compared to its predecessor. The thought behind breaking down the launch into smaller release phases was to allow us to iterate on the product based on customer feedback faster. 

To inspire customers to use Profiles Sync we provided sample queries to address common questions customers we had uncovered in our research. The pilot release phase was successful - customers were happy to adopt Profiles Sync for production use cases. This was a key moment for the launch. Customer usage conformed to most of the product hypotheses with which we built the Pilot. 

My team provided bespoke service to Pilot customers, helping them successfully implement their use cases. Such close customer partnerships helped us better understand customer goals, challenges faced by our customers, and the value offered by the products to them. To scale the pilot, we needed help from the go-to-market teams. Our goal was to work with our marketing team to build a compelling narrative, the sales and customer success teams to pitch the products, and the post-sales teams to answer technical questions and perform complex implementations. 

To achieve this goal, our Product Management team educated Segment’s internal teams. We packaged learnings from our customer interactions to present at several forums including All Hands, Sales and Technical training, and ask-me-anything sessions. Our go-to-market partners up-leveled the training to create a repository of real-world use cases and benefits. In all, we presented a product that provided significant business value to our customers and had a supercharged go-to-market team ready to support the customers. And then, the moment our team was eagerly anticipating for the past several months arrived – Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson announced Profiles Sync Beta at Twilio's Signal conference. 

Customers signed up in a hurry as soon as we launched the Profiles Sync beta release. We also gave them the first look at Segment Unify, and customers liked what they saw. And our internal teams again set out to work. Our marketing team educated the market on the business value provided by the capabilities. The sales team was bringing in new customers daily who wanted to use the products. And, our post-sales teams were busy solving more complex use cases with the product. Within a few weeks, customers had synced over 400 Billion rows translating to petabyte-scale data.

Our internal dashboards showed a hockey stick growth for adoption and usage. GTM partners were excited to ship the product to more customers. Our internal Slack channel was filled with customer anecdotes. It was clear that Profiles Sync and Unify resonated with our customers. Or, in tech jargon, we had found a "product-market fit". 

We wanted to be absolutely certain that we were ready for the general availability release. To do so, we established a Tiger team who worked tirelessly on improving product resiliency at scale. This time though, we set a target to be ready to handle 100x of the expected traffic. We knew this was an ambitious goal to take on as we were working against ambitious timelines.

Right before our general availability launch announcement date, we heard the news we were eager to hear. Our scale test results met the anticipated general availability adoption numbers. We had done it. Profiles Sync and Unify were ready to launch!

Personally, I feel grateful to lead Profiles Sync and Unify launches. It was an enormous effort from a wide variety of stakeholders including engineering, analytics, design, research, marketing, sales, solutions architects, professional services, docs, and product teams to build and ship these 0->1 products.

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It’s free to connect your data sources and destinations to the Segment CDP. Use one API to collect analytics data across any platform.

Get started

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