Segment Gets Ready to Unleash Its Super CRM in 2018

Personas can serve as the central record of an entire relationship with a customer and create personalized experiences everywhere the company interacts with its users–whether it's in email, advertisements, social media, push notifications, in-app or even inside the store.

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Today we're talking about a different Segment, a name that signifies a customer data platform company--not a piece of any market.

The San Francisco-based startup has introduced something that may someday displace your standard CRM (customer relationship management) app. Personas, which uses analytics liberally, is a new product in the works (coming out early next year) that allows businesses to synthesize massive amounts of customer information into useful traits that signal user intent.

After all, determining user intent is basically what marketing and selling online is all about. If a marketer can determine and then influence a user's intent, then nine times out of 10 the seller will be successful.

Companies can use Personas as the central record of their entire relationship with a customer and use the platform to create personalized experiences everywhere they interact with their users–whether it's in email, advertisements, social media, push notifications, in-app, or even inside the store. Without getting too creepy, it centralizes customer tendencies so that marketers can do their thing.

Sort of a 'Super CRM'

"You can think of Segment as sort of the customer data infrastructure for about 15,000 companies now," CEO and founder Peter Reinhardt told eWEEK. "We pull in all the customer data across all the different channels in the company, pull it into one spot--sort of like a super CRM, if you will--and then we fan that out to all the different tools as they need it--to an email marketing tool, an analytics tool, a data warehouse, et cetera."

Segment, which has 180 employees and is 6 years old, now is processing about 140 billion end-user actions--all those customer touch points--each month, Reinhardt said.

It's a big order, but in order to achieve omnichannel personalization, businesses need to understand the complete history of each user across all channels, in one centralized record, Reinhardt said. They also need to make these records available in the tools that their company uses to interact with customers.

However, most existing solutions cannot understand, connect and contextualize customer history from every device and channel, nor can they provide the specificity needed to customize user segments to businesses' unique needs. This is a massive data and infrastructure problem, Reinhardt said.

Identifying a Customer's Tendencies

Personas helps companies drive loyalty and revenue by adding the context necessary to enable personalization in every customer interaction, Reinhardt said. For example, with Personas, a retailer could identify a customer's favorite categories and average order value, then automatically sync this data to tools for the channels noted above.

In doing this, a retailer can offer the right product recommendations at the right price at the right time to that customer--and on every channel. Personas reruns these calculations any time a user interacts with the company, updating its Computed Traits database in real time.

Consumers are expecting personalized experiences no matter where they are or what device they're using. According to Segment's 2017 State of Personalization Report (registration required), published Oct. 25, 54 percent of consumers expect a personalized discount within a day of identifying themselves; 32 percent after just an hour. In contrast to these expectations, only 22 percent of consumers feel their shopping experiences are highly personalized.

There are more data points here. Almost half of shoppers surveyed (49 percent) have purchased a product that they did not intend to buy after receiving a personalized recommendation from a brand, and 85 percent were happy with that purchase. Twenty-three percent of those shoppers have spent more than $50 on a single purchase, and 44 percent of consumers will likely become repeat buyers after personalized experiences.

Key Features in the Upcoming App

The three key feature inside Personas are:

  • Identity Resolution: The Segment Identity Graph resolves a user's identity across different channels into one profile. It uses a deterministic matching algorithm to add any ID fragment with a common link to the right user profile.
  • Trait and Audience Building: On top of these profiles, marketers can build Audiences, like high-value users, or Computed Traits, like favorite product category, to calculate important signals from their historical customer data.
  • Activation: Segment syncs Computed Traits and Audiences to each company's marketing integrations, so they can tailor their campaigns. Developers can build custom in-app experiences with the Personas Profile API.

Personas, which is the next generation of Segment's platform, will be rolling out over the next few months, Reinhardt said. Companies can join the waitlist for the beta, which includes core features for identity resolution, trait and audience building, and activation. Segment will make Personas generally available in 2018 and add more functionality throughout the year, Reinhardt said.

To join the waitlist, go here.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...