Four truths of resilient tech stacks

Madelyn Mullen on June 30th 2020

COVID-19 didn't come with a playbook. It's a market shift that no company has seen before. In this environment, data is what allows resilient organizations to identify and adapt to changes in the market. 

To thrive in times of uncertainty like we see today, rather than just survive, businesses need the power to act with confidence. Leaders in the market are demonstrating this by adapting or augmenting their tech stacks to set themselves up for long-term success.

David Raab, the founder of the Customer Data Platform (CDP) Institute, provided a framework for how organizations achieve resilience in the session, Navigating Times of Uncertainty: Building Resilience with a CDP

Resilience as a process

David shared a resilience framework that builds upon what many Segment customers already have in place today. He highlighted how a CDP equips companies to connect and leverage their data to thrive in the face of continuous, unpredictable change. 

The process to support a resilient stack highlights four required steps:

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David Raab presenting at Navigating Times of Uncertainty: Building Resilience with a CDP

Segment's STACKED Events bring together data enthusiasts from marketing, product, analytics, and engineering. Experts share how their companies live and breathe each step of this resilience process. Depending on where you are on your resilience journey, jump right to a step, or read through the truths of all four:

  1. To assess a situation, you want engagement and performance results from across your customer channels. STACKED speakers from Staples Canada and G-Loot highlighted their approach for this first capability. 

  2. For uncovering opportunities, analytics tools and ad-hoc analysis help uncover emerging behaviors that influence priorities for short- and long-term goals. STACKED Austin heard a story from Under Armour Connected Fitness about how to approach this process.

  3. When it’s time to execute new activities—such as campaigns, media, brand efforts, and loyalty programs—marketing and analytics data must fuel your tactics. Mejuri presented at STACKED Toronto how its marketing approach tackles the next opportunity.

  4. As you continually evaluate and adjust, customer data influences what success looks like and where you invest for future success. Ritual spoke at STACKED Direct-to-Consumer in light of adapting to COVID-19. 


Assess the situation

COVID-19 radically changed the needs of the customers your business serves overnight. You must assess the impact of those changes against available resources like product capabilities, messaging channels, budget, or staff. Are customers using a different set of channels? Do they need different product features that are better suited to a “remote” existence? Is your support function set up to handle a shift in the requests that come in?

CDPs like Segment help assess the situation making your customer data readily available for analysis. By collecting data across all of your touchpoints and unifying it into a single customer profile, you can make fast, data-driven decisions about how your current stack is performing under new market conditions.

Staples Canada assessed its situation by empowering self-serve analytics

At the STACKED Toronto event, Aaron Carter, Data Science & Digital Analytics Manager at Staples Canada shared their e-commerce digital transformation story. It started with enabling self-serve analytics for the entire organization. Once each team had accurate and timely customer data available, they could collectively understand the customer sentiment of now—not yesterday, not last year. Aaron wrapped up his talk with the impact this data assessment had on each individual team:

It keeps our marketers happy. We're able to build a comprehensive customer model through Personas. We're able to keep it powered with timely information from a number of disparate sources.

We're able to keep our product teams happy. We haven't experienced any downtime on Segment since the platform launched. It's extremely fast and easy to onboard new sources and destinations, especially now that Segment Functions is in a public preview. 

It keeps our data team happy, especially when we talk about our Looker implementation, which keeps small requests off our plate and lets us focus on bigger projects.

And most importantly, once internal teams have a handle on the changing situation, it's time to delight customers.

It keeps our customers happy because it helps put the right product in front of the right customer at the right time, and it lets us listen to them when they have something they want to tell us.

Watch Aaron's full talk to see how the Staples Canada e-commerce stack evolved to achieve business resilience. 

G-Loot assessed its situation with a complete toolkit

At STACKED London, Jamie Dunbar Smyth, Chief Intelligence Officer at G-Loot, shared what resilience looks like for a leading esports platform. 

For Jaime, his first problem to address was helping the team get access to data. 

There was incomplete data. There was almost no ownership of the tech stack. Things were set up incorrectly, and we were always playing a guessing game. We were never experimenting. We were just changing things on gut and then not even understanding what impact that had on our player base or the general experience across the platform.

Jaime walked through their new “G Stack” that benefited from Segment Replay functionality loading historical customer data into newly added tools. He highlighted how they now assessed their situation.

Segment ensures data quality and then continues to send that data downstream to the various tools we have put in place. We see it as the toolkit for our autonomous teams. It enables them to do advertising, to investigate and conduct analytical activities, to communicate with our end users, to A/B test, and finally, to have all of our data in one place.
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View Jaime's session to see more how insights and data-driven actions drove teams forward at G-Loot. Resilient stacks like G-Loot's and Staples Canada's highlight this first truth, assessing the situation by providing real-time customer engagement and performance results from across channels.

Uncover opportunities

Deciding what opportunities you pursue requires tradeoffs between short-term and long-term benefits. You need to consider customer needs and go-to-market capabilities. Opportunity analysis can help determine the potential results of pivoting to make something new like face masks and improving an existing product line. When a shift in the market changes your customer’s needs, you have two approaches: 

  • Offensive: Acknowledge the market change and focus on acquisition by tackling new markets or targeting new customers 

  • Defensive: Double down on existing customers and focus on retention

Both approaches demand a significant understanding of your customer data. Building a resilient stack relies on CDP capabilities to prep and analyze data in near real-time to support your pursuit of new opportunities, especially when you take on both approaches.

Under Armour uncovers retention opportunities using app experimentation

At STACKED Austin, Katie Carpenter, Sr. Manager, Run & Fitness Product at Under Armour focused her session on uncovering retention focused opportunities to reduce churn. 

We started with a simple question that doesn't always have a simple answer. How can we improve retention? To begin answering that question, we surveyed our users and discovered that the number one reason that our athletes stop using our app is due to injury.

The core of her uncovered retention issue resided outside of the app. Working off of real-time, unified app data and athlete data, the product team and exercise scientists designed programs and experiments to keep users engaged with the app throughout that real pain point, injuries. 

The data's there. It's clearcut, it's at our fingertips, and it enables every member of our team to conduct their own analysis and ask and answer their own questions. We now feel empowered to make informed decisions about what the next step should be. When you empower one team, you free up another, which is a great problem to have. That meant that product analytics had a lot more time on their hands to think bigger thoughts, and we love that.

Katie's talk details how the user engagement data from MapMyRun and MyFitnessPal flows into Segment, enabling automated audience flows and integration with their CRM. Watch the full session to hear more how Under Armour retention focused experiments and tactics benefit when automated audience flows set up in a single day versus weeks.

Execute new activities

Without good data, poor execution leads to bad customer experiences, brand embarrassment, and lost revenues. Determining what to do first depends on reliable data supporting your expected results. For marketers, “do” looks like designing the right content, buying the right media spots, or improving product descriptions. Then, you have to ensure teams and tools can track results.

Especially in remote work environments, marketers need to build out new customer segments and engage existing ones without engineering or analytics support. With a CDP, marketers get to focus on understanding their customer base, building new customer segments, and running experiments, rather than waiting around for access to data.

Mejuri improves customer acquisition cost by 8% while decreasing investment

Peter Cheung, Director of Performance Marketing & Analytics at Mejuri, presented at STACKED Toronto. As a digitally native brand focused on fine jewelry, Peter shared how a savvy marketing dashboard supported new activities for online and in-store marketing.

Since implementing Segment, we're able to build this live, real time dashboard that gave us a sense of what our revenue tracking was at the time, at any given point in the day, and whether there were new or new or returning customers. It gave us a sense of how we were balancing our investment across existing remarketing efforts. It told us which products we're moving and how they were bundled with other products. This allowed us to optimize our ad creative, in real time, to feature certain products over others.

For successful marketing efficiency execution, people and process requirements include collaboration, self-service, and reuse across teams. For Mejuri, these include marketers and adjacent teams like product and analytics. 

Importantly, it gave us a sense of what our customer acquisition costs were in the moment so that we can manage our unit economics. We can make sure that we are not over marketing, and that's where we had room to grow from our actual customer acquisition costs to what our target was. If we were below that target, then we could invest even more and try to push for additional growth.
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See more from Peter on how Segment provided the resilient stack to make the 8% improved customer acquisition costs, over 100% increased revenue, and 30% repurchase rate increasing LTV results all possible.

The truth of a stack ready to execute new activities depends on technology and the ease of collaboration across teams. When informal collaboration cannot happen by wandering by somebody's desk, using a CDP like Segment that encourages collaboration becomes critical.

Evaluate and adjust

To restart the resilience cycle, you first assess what you learned and validate whether it's still working. Teams need reliable data to keep tabs on business results and confirm customer satisfaction. You rely on experienced marketers to keep up with engagement and spend—even when not in a pandemic. 

Now, with many channels unavailable, such as out of home, previous assumptions no longer work. Using customer profiles that include messaging and content engagement history helps you optimize marketing spend based on new baselines. With a CDP providing the real-time engagement information, responses become actionable at scale.

Ritual looks across the customer journey to adjust messaging

At STACKED Direct-to-Consumer (DTC), Laura Brodie, Director, Customer Lifecycle & Growth at Ritual, highlighted adapting marketing messages and spend in light of COVID-19. Laura had a thoughtful position for consumers currently interested in Ritual's DTC vitamins and wellness offerings. 

It's important to think about the customers that you're acquiring right now differently than the customers that you would have acquired six months or a year ago. Being mindful of the journeys you're enrolling people in and the types of messaging you're sharing, it's going to be potentially a very different type of customer.

An advantage of having Segment in the Ritual stack allowed Laura and her team to view their business holistically, and then target the best opportunities.

A huge area of focus is on older audiences. As subscription businesses, we have a tendency to throw everything at our newest customers, give them all the content and a really intensive onboarding flow. Subscribers that have been around for six months, a year, two years, are not necessarily receiving a ton of content. We're not running a lot of tests towards those audiences. Especially now, as some businesses are scaling down their customer acquisition, it's the perfect time flip the switch and focus on those older audiences who are potentially very happy customers who have the ability to spend a lot more with your brand if you just engage them.
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Watch Laura's session to see how to pick the right analytics and growth tools while keeping a close eye on the potential costs. Whether it's acquisition or retention, leveraging a resilient stack helps teams serve Ritual customers the products they truly want, faster.

Boost your resilience with a CDP

Resilience means thriving on the unexpected, now and in the future. CDPs are the only system designed to capture that complete, unified, and shareable customer data. Segment CDP fuels the resilience at G-Loot, Staples Canada, Mejuri, Ritual, and Under Armour as heard in their STACKED event stories.

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David Raab presenting at Navigating Times of Uncertainty: Building Resilience with a CDP

Where are you in the process of building business resilience? Chat with the Segment team about adapting your tech stack in a time of change or start assessing your situation by signing up for a free Segment workspace here.

Thanks to David Raab for his webinar used to support this article. Register to watch the full session, Navigating Times of Uncertainty: Building Resilience with a CDP

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