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How does an destination work?

Segment allows our mutual customers to collect customer data from many different sources, and leverage that same data in a broad ecosystem of tools spanning analytics, advertising, marketing automation, CRM, BI and more.

The first step is collecting data. Our customers can send data from the client (browser/mobile) and from the server. We support over a dozen languages and platforms. Here is the latest list of all of our sources.

This data is sent according to the spec that we have defined in our API. Our API is focused entirely on customer data:

  • Who is this? .identify(userId, traits)
  • What are they doing? .track(userId, event, properties)
  • Where are they doing it? .page(userId, pageName, properties)
  • What group are they part of? .group(userId, groupId, groupTraits)

If your service runs on this kind of data, you can integrate with Segment. Learn more about our API methods.

Customers can also use Segment Warehouses to send their raw event data and data from cloud sources like Salesforce, Zendesk, and Stripe to a Redshift or Postgres data warehouse. If you offer a data warehouse solution or tool that connects to one, you can apply as a Warehouse Partner.

How does a customer enable an destination?

Segment’s core feature is our destinations control panel:

destinations page

Customers enter the destination settings that are necessary for sending data to your service. Then they press “enable”, and we’ll start sending their data to you within a minute or two.

For Warehouse partners, customers will need to enter their credentials in our Warehouse setup flow. For any analytics partner that connects to Segment Warehouses, customers will need to follow your usual onboarding flow to enable your tool.

What kinds of destinations can I build?

There are three different ways to integrate with Segment: Direct, Packaged, and Warehouse.

Direct

The recommended, easiest way to get integrated with Segment is to build a Direct destination. With this destination, Segment will forward all of the incoming data for our mutual customers to your service’s HTTP endpoint in realtime.

A Direct destination gives you complete control over how you want to store, transform and process the data. It means that our customers can immediately start sending you data from any one of our sources—from the browser, from their mobile apps, or from their servers—with no added work. Segment Business plan customers can also replay historic data, which means you can demonstrate the value of your tool rapidly.

This type of destination works well for analytics tools, email marketing tools, attribution tools, CRMs, raw data tools, helpdesks, customer success tools, etc.

Build a Direct destination

Packaged

This is the appropriate destination method if your application relies on third party cookies (Advertising pixels), needs to modify the UI (e.g. A/B testing, Push Notification, In-App Messaging and LiveChat), or needs to collect ambient data in the client (Heatmapping, Error & Performance Monitoring tools).

On mobile, this is the destination method if you need to embed your SDK with the Segment SDK.

Build a Packaged destination

At the moment, Segment is only onboarding packaged partners for our mobile platform via iOS and Android destinations. Browser based packaged destinations, i.e. an destination that is embedded in the browser, are up next! If your tool falls in that category, fill out the partner application and we will let you know when we are ready to support you! We’re hard at work investing in the infrastructure to make adding these types of tools seamless.

Warehouse

This is the appropriate destination method for new database connections for Segment Warehouses or business intelligence tools that read from a SQL database, like Tableau or Chartio. Customers can use these tools to analyze their raw event data and data from cloud app sources like Salesforce or Zendesk.

Build a Warehouse destination

Once you are accepted onto the platform and build your destination, Segment will make your destination live once you have ten customers testing the destination. From there, we’ll monitor your growth and provide guidance around maintaining and improving destination quality. If there is a mutual customer who is doing something exciting with your destination, let us know! You can check out our co-marketing page for more information.

I need immediate access to a Segment customer’s data stream.

Often companies get referred to Segment by current Segment user’s who are trying to avoid integrating an additional third party service. If you need immediate access to a mutual customer or prospect’s Segment data stream you can ask them to send you their data stream via the Segment Webhook destination. This destination will make HTTP(s) POST requests with JSON objects that represent their user behavioral data stream as implemented in with the Segment API on their website, mobile app or server. Please note, the structure of the Webhook data stream is different from the Direct Partner destination data stream but is very similar.


If you have any questions or see anywhere we can improve our documentation, please let us know or kick off a conversation in the Segment Community!