XO Group’s family of brands guides millions of couples who are looking for helpful information and services as they get married, move in together, and start a family. XO Group’s brands, The Knot, The Nest, and The Bump, gives couples access to an exhaustive array of vendors and lifestyle content to help them plan ahead as they move through major life events.
To keep up with a growing customer base, XO Group used Segment to unify their data across the diverse toolsets each team uses, giving the analytics team more time to run powerful new models and analyses.
That’s no small feat, and it requires a lot of people handling a lot of data. Each brand has its own set of teams and business stakeholders, managing 250,000 vendors and a daily influx of new content. XO Group also maintains five mobile apps—each with an iOS and Android version. "Our users are going through pivotal changes, and they need to be able to access content whenever they need it, be it on desktop or mobile," said Jon Hawkins, Director of Analytics and SEO at XO Group.
In the process of trying out multiple analytics tools, XO Group was losing too much time creating integrations, undoing them, and resetting their event tracking. They needed a service that could bundle these tools and make testing and changing tools easier.
Being in the business of providing life advice to nascent families, Hawkins deeply understood the value of finding the right partner. He wanted to try out multiple analytics tools in order to avoid getting locked into long contracts with less-than-optimum vendors. "I wasn’t looking for anything in particular," he said. "I was trying to get hands-on experience with the pros and cons of new analytics tools."
But going on dates with a new company for each new solution was taking a toll on the engineering team. "We were trying out platforms like Mixpanel, Kissmetrics, Woopra, and UserVoice, and tons of different integrations, just to see which one our teams liked the best," Hawkins said. "It became too much work to keep putting these SDKs in and then ripping them out, and then resetting our event tracking for each one. We needed a wrapper or service that would bundle these packages together."
Their mobile apps posed a particularly large problem for trying new tools. "We would have to load each of the SDKs independently and then build some sort of abstraction layer within the app to track one event and then properly map it each integration," Hawkins said. "That would take a lot of time and it wouldn't be consistent across apps."
With Segment, trying new tools was simple. Teams across the business could test new integrations with their own data, as if they’d had them turned on the whole time. Having data in a central place also made it possible to answer questions that an out-of-the-box solution couldn’t.
We love being able to dig into the raw data with Segment's Redshift integration and visualize what’s causing users to come back on a daily basis.
Suddenly, integrations were easy because Segment put all of their data in one place. "We started using Segment libraries for iOS, Android, the web, and server environments." Hawkins said. "We quickly had over half of our web and native properties tracked to Segment, and within a few weeks, we tracked every single one of our products and brands. Segment pushed this data out to multiple tools, helping us test analytics services and get started faster."
Having data in a central place also made it possible to answer questions that an out-of-the-box solution couldn’t. Segment stored XO Group’s customer data in a Redshift warehouse, allowing teams to run SQL queries to learn complicated things about how their sites and apps are used. "We love being able to dig into the raw data with Segment's Redshift integration and visualize what’s causing users to come back on a daily basis," he said. "Now we can figure out if new features are being used. Was that feature great? Or is it not being used at all?".
Segment data gave them surprising insights about their product. They dug into raw data in Redshift and discovered one of the most popular features was one that they had believed was unremarkable: the wedding countdown timer in The Knot Wedding Planner app. "We found that a lot of our users were actually coming back just to see their wedding countdown, see how many days were left until their wedding," Hawkins said. "There are so many great features of the app that are used day in and day out, but we were able to spot that one little important retention-building feature, which was the wedding countdown. We wouldn't have been able to see that without Segment."
Now that every team has access to the tools they need, data informs every decision XO Group makes. Every product development, every customer interaction, every sales call, and every marketing function is data-driven, because every single team in the company can use data in a way that works for them. And when a question can’t be answered with a SaaS tool, teams query the raw data in Redshift to get the answers they need.
"We use Segment data to understand where our couples are in their journey and we try to match the right vendor with the right couple at the right time," Hawkins said. "Our teams are always thinking about the next cool way to use that information, and nine out of ten times, that becomes very meaningful to our couples. We use that to change the experience, to make it a little more personalized or a little more efficient. It's just been a great partnership."