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How Vista delivers personalized experiences and runs 9x more experimentation with Twilio Segment

With Twilio Segment, Vista is able to create compelling personalized experiences for customers and embrace a culture of experimentation across its business.

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“Bringing in Segment has had a huge impact on the quality of our customer data and this is enabling us to push the boundaries when it comes to personalization and experimentation. But what’s really exciting is the fact that there are still so many untapped opportunities for us to go after. This really is only the start in terms of what we can achieve with Segment.”

Lukas Vermeer, Director of Experimentation, Vista

Challenge

Vista needed to move beyond its transactional approach to customer engagement and develop deeper, ongoing relationships with customers. To realize this vision, Vista needed to introduce a more sophisticated data strategy which would enable it to deliver the personalized experiences required to become trusted partners to customers. 

Solution

Vista turned to Twilio Segment to centralize its data, create personalized experiences and embed a culture of experimentation within the company to increase customer retention and lifetime value.


Vista is the design and marketing partner to millions of small businesses around the world. As a global, remote-first company, Vista has a growing footprint with team members working in more than 25 countries.

For more than 20 years, Vista has been inspired by small businesses and work incessantly to deliver solutions to meet their evolving needs. Together, VistaCreate, 99designs by Vista and VistaPrint represent a full-service design, digital and print solution, elevating small businesses’ presence in physical and digital spaces and powering them to achieve success.

Vista focuses on building deeper, long-term relationships with customers. This will enable it to provide a more holistic range of products and services to customers, thereby increasing retention and customer lifetime value (LTV).

To realize this vision, Vista needed to introduce a more sophisticated data strategy which would enable it to deliver the personalized experiences required to become trusted partners to customers. 

Twilio Segment provides Vista with a centralized, single source of truth for customer data, so they can continually test new messages and offers to engage customers with enhanced personalized experiences. 

Enabling customer-first decisions with unified customer data

Historically, Vista’s tag management set-up made it difficult for teams to connect data sets and bring together multiple customer touch points. At the same time, the company was using its own internal tool for experimentation, which meant it was often time-consuming to test new offers and incentives. 

As Vista moved from a monolithic platform to a microservice platform, they placed Segment at the core of their data technology stack. The initial deployment and vision of Segment was led by the Technology teams, as a platform to connect together multiple data sources in a scalable way. Working together with the Data and Analytics team, they quickly realized how Segment aligned with Vista’s strategic shift towards becoming a data-driven, customer-centric business. The company also recognized the strengths and flexibility of Segment’s API-based model, which matched the company’s wider digital transformation objectives. 

Vista leaned into Segment as its Customer Data Platform (CDP) to integrate its data sources and manage its data across all tools.

“With many people involved in building the website and tracking the results, we initially had to clear out our integration with the data warehouse multiple times because of data in very strange shape. During the implementation of Segment Protocols, we realised just how much value it adds to our work. We are actively using Segment Protocols to have clean and consistent data.” - Peter Kutnik, Personalization Squad Lead, Vista

With a CDP in place, Vista is now able to record every customer interaction in detail – for example, page views, user clicks and purchases - into a single standardized repository. The company uses a number of different web analytics tools, including Google Analytics and Facebook Conversions API, and it uses Quantum Metric as its product analytics tool. All of this performance data is now collected and managed using Segment Connections and Protocols products.

By investing in Segment, Vista has created a single source of truth for customer data, establishing the foundation for its strategic-shift towards becoming a data-driven, customer-centric business.

Segment is deployed widely across the business. Technology teams use it to track customer interactions on the website, whilst always remaining compliant with industry standards around security and privacy. Data analytics teams use Segment for deeper data processing and customer personas. And the marketing team is now deploying Segment for multi-channel distribution, including on its email platform, Iterable

“Working with Segment has enabled us to develop a better understanding of our customers and provide them with personalized experiences which genuinely help them to grow their businesses. Having access to high-quality customer data allows us to continually test new tools and approaches and be genuinely innovative in how we engage each individual customer.” - Drew Forster, Director of Site & App Analytics, Vista

Optimizing the homepage through experimentation

A good example of how Vista is benefiting from having access to trusted Segment data is the way in which it has been able to run experiments around homepage performance. 

Having launched a new website in the UK, Vista was encountering some resistance from customers, with reduced levels of satisfaction around the re-ordering process and a steep decline in customers feeling they were receiving a personalized experience. 

Using centralized data in Segment, Vista set up an experiment to expose key moments within a customer’s account lifecycle, specifically around orders and projects. This involved rolling out A/B testing across a series of instances where Vista could provide more personalized experiences and increase the proportion of customers completing and ordering products. The experiment looked to reduce friction around simple tasks such as finding information about orders and, in turn, reduce the volume of incoming customer care calls for these types of inquiries. 

Making the website feel more personalized would make it easier for returning customers to restart a previous project, get shipping and delivery status faster, get ideas for new projects that match their business and find new, relevant products that inspire them to start something new. 

In order to achieve this, Vista tested a new, visually-engaging dashboard at the top of the homepage for returning customers which allows them to easily access ongoing projects and previous orders, as well as seeing personalized recommendations for other products. 

The experiment saw Vista improve performance across several key metrics: ‘MIR (Made it Rate - where a customer completes a stage in the funnel) to Studio’ increased by 3.28%, and ‘MIR to Studio Review’ rose by 4.27%. Most importantly, customers encountering the new experience were almost twice as likely to click on the dashboard than those still encountering the old experience. And they were more likely to spend time browsing new products, as opposed to looking for information around existing orders.

“This experiment was key in boosting our homepage performance across a number of key metrics, but also in underlining our strategic shift from fast acquisition to longer-term customer retention and lifetime value. Working with Segment is enhancing and accelerating this transition and providing a platform for us to change the way we engage our customers and meet their evolving needs.” - Sandra Tierno, Digital Product Lead Analyst, Vista

Creating a culture of experimentation

Prior to Segment, it could be challenging and time-consuming for Vista to deploy tests, because teams didn’t have easy access to centralized, high quality data. Teams were also hampered by increasing levels of complexity and interdependencies across IT and data infrastructure, as the company continued its rapid growth. 

But with the move to microservices, and the introduction of Segment, the company can now test more easily, and implement fixes more quickly. 

“Segment has allowed us to decentralize our measurement of digital product experiments while not impacting our agreed upon business KPIs. This inversion of control is fundamental to the evolution of Vista and we now have an agreed upon way for Digital Product teams to measure, run and evaluate experimentation.” - Hasnene Goulam, Site & App Tracking & Enablement Lead, Vista

Vista is now able to test ideas in a production environment to know which products and services offer most value and help to customers, and therefore which initiatives to proceed with and prioritize. Segment is enabling Vista to create an infrastructure and culture where teams across the business can be up and running with experimentation very quickly. 

Already, Vista has been able to run seven experiments simultaneously in different markets around the world, the previous Monolith structure made it difficult to run one in just a single market. 

“Being able to collect all of our event data in Segment is enabling us to deliver a far higher level of experimentation than before. Already we’re seeing significant benefits from the experiments we’ve run around personalized recommendations. Our goal is to use experimentation across all site features and then to make any site feature completely customizable.” - Karel Jakubec, Personalization Squad Lead, Vista

Importantly, because Vista uses the same Segment Workspace across all of its markets, it can conduct tests simultaneously across multiple countries, or alternatively, it can run a test in one market and then, if the test proves to be successful, it can roll out the new experience across other markets. Similarly, because teams share a container within Google Tag Manager and a property in Google Analytics, everything is in place for them to run tests quickly and easily across different markets. 

“Bringing in Segment has had a huge impact on the quality of our customer data and this is enabling us to push the boundaries when it comes to personalization and experimentation. But what’s really exciting is the fact that there are still so many untapped opportunities for us to go after. This really is only the start in terms of what we can achieve with Segment.” - Lukas Vermeer, Director of Experimentation, Vista

The ambition now is to expand this new approach to experimentation across all areas of the business to eliminate costly mistakes and ensure that teams are always focusing on the things that matter most to customers. 

A new level of performance and personalization

As part of its commitment to becoming a data-driven company, Vista is re-defining its business metrics and KPIs across the organization. Every conversion KPI that is measured now goes through Segment and then flows into relevant conversion APIs. This approach to measurement will enable the company to track improvements in customer retention KPIs and customer LTV as it delivers more personalized experiences to customers. 

By deploying Segment to centralize its data, Vista now has whitelisted standard metrics flowing into Google Analytics, Quantum Metric and Snowflake. This means that teams always have immediate access to data so there is never a need to delay tests to wait for data to become available. Where there is a need for a deeper dive into data, teams can go into Quantum Metric and add a CSS selector to plug the gap. And there are now also plans to open up the ability to whitelist more event data into Google Analytics so people can also leverage this data in those applications. 

“Looking ahead, our teams will be focusing on how we can better centralize data across all of our systems and use that to create more personalized experiences. We want to move from more transactional to meaningful relationships. From a technical enablement standpoint, Segment will play a pivotal role in us meeting these goals." - Cate Baker, Product Manager, Personalization Tribe, Vista

Vista is also looking to further increase its use of Segment Personas to deliver even more personalization to customers. This is particularly important as the company builds out its service offering and adds greater complexity into its marketing funnel.

In particular, Vista sees massive potential to do more with the data it is collecting in Segment, from a wide range of sources, its order management system through to its customer care. With everything centralized in Segment, the company can start to do far more tailored personalization based on real customer data rather than just web data. 

THE RESULTS - LAST 6 MONTHS

  • 121% Increase in click-through rate (CTR) from homepage dashboard

  • 3.28% Increase in traffic to Studio stage (MIR to Studio)

  • 4.27% Increase in traffic to Studio Review stage (MIR to Studio Review)

  • 9x more experiments on the new platform using Twilio Segment

  • 23% increase in NPS promoters since replatform

“Deploying Segment is laying the foundations for us to thrive in a cookie-less world. We’re building up a wealth of real, actionable customer data and starting to understand our audiences in granular detail.” - Drew Forster, Director of Site & App Analytics, Vista

Results

121%

increase in click-through-rate from homepage dashboard


9x

more experiments on the new platform using Segment


23%

increase in onsite satisfaction in NPS promoters

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