The Journey Designing Journeys

Kate Butterfield on June 16th 2021

Tune in to our discussion with industry experts, including the VP of Global Strategy and Transformation at Walgreens Boots Alliance, to learn how the most innovative companies are approaching next-level customer engagement, and how to design intelligent customer experiences with Journeys. Watch here.


We’re excited to introduce a new feature in Segment Personas, Journeys

As a company, Segment strives to be both data-driven and customer-obsessed. This means always listening to our customers, observing market trends, and evolving our product along the way to better suit their needs. 

In putting this mindset to practice, we heard one consistent thing: the demand for orchestration tooling for marketing teams. 

This led us to discover a journey orchestration-shaped opportunity in our product offering. We decided to invest in building Journeys with the intention of filling that gap by empowering our customers to better utilize their user data in Personas. 

So, what is a Journey? 

Journeys provides a way for marketers to personalize experiences through planning how and when to engage customers with the right campaigns and messages, all delivered through the right channel. The feature consists of an intuitive canvas with which Personas customers can build out conditional branching logic, then send profiles to various channels based on real-time interactions across all sources. Cart abandonment campaigns, trial conversions, and onboarding flows are great examples of common use cases.

Of course, materializing this feature was no simple task. It took a combination of multiple designers, engineers, product managers, and more to make our vision come to life. Some might even say the process of designing and developing Journeys was a journey itself (pun intended). 

Designed for Marketers 

Journeys was designed with the marketer in mind. In fact, throughout the process of crafting Journeys, our team was in constant contact with our customers, gathering insights from their marketing teams and even our own internal marketing team. The goal was to truly put ourselves in their shoes to understand motivations, use cases, and pain points when it comes to communicating with their end users. 

We uncovered a few key insights:

  1. Marketers are just as customer-obsessed as we are here at Segment – their aim is to create a smooth, tailored, and goal-oriented experience for end users.

  2. Whether that goal is to drive purchases, initiate subscriptions, or onboard new users, they tend to start with a conversion event in mind and compose their customer journey to meet that requirement.

  3. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Each organization has their own success metrics, workflow, and team structure. Meaning we had to build a flexible enough solution, but one that is catered towards a core set of use cases. 

  4. Orchestrating one experience across multiple channels and applications is extraordinarily powerful and should be a key element of the UI.

A Blank Canvas 

So how did we go about designing the user experience for a tool meant to design customer experiences? 

When tackling a design challenge at Segment, we tend to start with a metaphorical “blank canvas” and fill it with a wide range of ideas. Ironically, this particular feature includes an actual blank canvas, giving us plenty of room to be creative.

Zoom with margin

From here, we thought about what key actions a user may need to take based on the insights we gathered. These are things like: 

  • Adding time delays

  • Splitting users down multiple paths based on specified conditions

  • Sending users to destinations like Facebook and AdWords to activate communications

Building the Journey

The first prototype for Journeys was simply a string of multiple audiences with basic branching logic. As we iterated and tested this concept, it evolved past an MVP into a more robust feature set that was shaped by customer feedback. 

This involved moving away from our initial model, which used groups of users (which we called cohorts) as steps in the journey. We learned that our customers don't think of journeys as a string of cohorts, but rather a way to visualize steps in a users path. 

Zoom with margin

Along with changing our structure for journeys, we also added a series of improvements that took the “journey” from “moooom, are we there yet?” to “yay we’re here!“ These improvements were things like: 

  • Adding visible conditions in the canvas for easy parsing

  • More advanced branching logic 

  • Cloning Journeys 

  • Previews and counts of user profiles in each step of the journey 

  • and so much more!

After some fine tuning of the design, consistent feedback loops with customers, and a lot of magic from our team, we released Journeys into the wild. Even though it’s only been a short while since, we have been delighted to see customers starting to build all sorts of journeys– from new user onboarding journeys to winback campaigns.

For example, online consignment retailer The Vintage Bar has dual goals: drive repeat purchases and grow the number of sellers on the platform. With Journeys, they're designing sophisticated customer experiences designed to encourage buyers to sell (and vice versa) based on various customer behaviors coming into Segment. Check out the story here.

Start Your Own Journey

Journeys is now available for all Personas Advanced customers. You can get started creating your own Journey today by checking out our documentation and set up guide.  If you’re not a Segment customer or not on the Personas Advanced plan, contact us to us to learn more.

Need inspiration? Check out this winback campaign and more example use cases in our documentation.

Zoom with margin

Special thanks to Vanessa Ng, a talented Product Designer and my partner in crime for designing Journeys. Her incredible level of craft and attention to detail were instrumental in driving Journeys to the finish line. 

For more on our design process at Segment, you can find our design team over at https://medium.com/segment-design.

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