How Retool saves thousands of hours and improves the user journey with Segment

Retool uses Segment to unify data, remove barriers, and scale growth

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“We’ve gone from 7-100 employees, spun up a new marketing and CRM system with Salesforce and Hubspot, switched our data warehouse, switched BI tools, onboarded a data scientist, started serving ads in many new places, hired growth and performance marketing teams, and only changed about 5-10 lines of code with Segment. That’s significant engineering time saved, bottlenecks removed, and efficiency created across the business.”

— Jane Kelly, Head of Growth, Retool

Retool is a platform that helps businesses build custom internal apps more quickly. Built for developers at fast-growing, operationally-heavy companies, Retool offers a drag-and-drop app builder where users can quickly assemble software from pre-built components such as tables, lists, charts, forms, and more. Users can then connect these apps to any database or API, and fully customize critical functionality with code. 

Like many fast-growing, product-led companies, Retool was looking to improve the end-to-end user journey and scale more efficiently. In order to achieve these goals, Retool’s internal teams needed to have ready access to a complete record of customers in all of their tools.

Retool selected Segment to unify and democratize customer data to empower its product, marketing, sales, customer success, and analytics teams to better understand customer behavior and optimize the user journey. Retool saw accelerated growth, while Segment saved the engineering team thousands of hours and empowered non-technical teams to scale and solve problems on their own.

Retool needed an enterprise data infrastructure that enabled scale.

After being founded in 2017, Retool grew at an impressive pace. In order to continue growing at an accelerated rate, the team needed data infrastructure that would help them scale. The key to this was removing technical bottlenecks, enabling technical teams to focus on building the best product, and making reliable data accessible to optimize the developer journey. Retool was faced with the decision to either build and maintain data infrastructure in-house or upgrade to Segment’s data infrastructure to help them scale.

Segment saves significant time and scales operations.

After weighing its options, Retool decided it was more valuable for internal engineering power to be focused on its product, instead of wrangling data. Retool chose to double down on Segment for its scalable customer data infrastructure instead of building and maintaining customer data infrastructure in-house. Jane Kelly, Head of Growth, explains how her team made the decision to rely on Segment’s enterprise customer data infrastructure:

”We considered building in-house, but ultimately decided to upgrade from Segment’s Startup plan to Segment Enterprise. After we looked at the costs of building the basic infrastructure, as well as the constant support required, Segment became a no-brainer. Connecting new tools, API updates, and general maintenance takes a lot of time, so all of a sudden, you’re at or above a full engineer salary. With Segment, we were able to switch a toggle and unify data sources. We continue to rely on Segment to onboard new tools in our stack with the click of a button.” 

Retool continues on a rapid growth trajectory (from 7 to 100 employees in less than three years), and, with Segment, can implement new growth strategies and onboard new employees and platforms quickly. Retool has successfully empowered non-technical teams to solve problems, access centralized data, and spin up new tools and strategies without relying on engineering. As a result, Segment’s enterprise platform has saved time, scaled operations, and enabled Retool’s team to stay focused on building the business and serving customers, instead of wasting cycles on building and maintaining data infrastructure. 

Democratized data enables a better understanding of user behavior.

As a product-led company, understanding how different developer cohorts behave and optimizing the trial experience are critical for Retool’s continued growth. With Segment in place to connect Retool’s stack and democratize data, teams have a better understanding of user behavior and the customer journey. Jane Kelly explains:

“Our Marketing team relies on Segment for attribution data, behavioral data, engagement and messaging tools. Our Engineering and Product teams rely on Segment to deliver data to Amplitude and our data warehouse to better understand user behavior. The Sales team uses Segment to provide more context about how leads are using the free trial to sellers. Finance relies on Segment to power our ETL tools. The Customer Success team relies on Segment to know about different customer actions in the product and better serve customers.“ 

The Product and Marketing teams have deeper insights into customer acquisition, user onboarding during the free trial, where users are spending the most time in the product, and how to better communicate with users across that journey. Jane Kelly describes how critical the collaboration between Marketing and Product is to optimize the end-to-end user experience:

“Segment helps us understand how we get new developers to start the free trial, and how we help them grow. The lines between Product and Marketing at a product-led company like Retool are increasingly blurry, and Segment allows us to share knowledge and make sure data isn’t siloed so we can constantly improve the end-to-end developer experience.” 

Personalized communications improve the user journey.

Retool now leverages granular event data powered by Segment to send personalized communications to improve developer success throughout the trial experience. Data from Segment goes into Retool’s CRM and email marketing tool, Hubspot, to send users personalized emails at key moments throughout the trial based on actions they have taken in the product. Jake Levinger, Marketing Operations Manager, describes:

“A very valuable event is when a customer connects a database to Retool. Being able to see that event occurring and being able to say ‘you’ve done this action, or you haven’t done this action, and this is what we recommend to help drive better results,’ is invaluable.” 

The ability to target communications based on product usage data is particularly helpful to amplify new features and products. For example, when Retool recently launched a new Chart component, personalized communications helped accelerate adoption.  Retool was able to pass product usage of their new product from Segment into BigQuery and use that data to send a hyper-targeted email invitation to a relevant upcoming webinar. One version of the email invite was sent to a group that had used the new Chart product, and a second email invite was sent to everyone else. Retool saw a significant lift in engagement, open rate, and click-through rate to users who were targeted using granular behavioral data.

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Segment helps Retool scale and improve the end-to-end user journey.

The benefits of using Segment:

  • Retool saved thousands of hours and enabled the company to grow faster:

    • Reallocated a full engineer’s salary and hours to focus on the product, instead of building and maintaining data infrastructure in-house.

    • Saved hundreds of hours onboarding new platforms and people.

    • Improved the speed to value of new platforms and new employees.

    • Streamlined operations by making centralized data accessible to all teams on a self-serve basis.

  • Retool personalized email communications to optimize the user journey and improve engagement:

    • Email click-through rate improved 5x with granular targeting based on product usage

    • Email open rate improved 2x with granular targeting based on product usage

What's next? Now that Retool has a more flexible stack, they are more agile and can continue scaling quickly. Retool’s marketing and product teams plan to activate even more granular targeting and personalization across the customer journey to optimize the developer experience.

Industry: B2B Tech
Location: San Francisco, CA