How Braze & Segment Work Together to Improve Customer Engagement

Martech (and technology in general) has evolved substantially over the past couple of decades, and even over the past few years. We’ve experienced the introduction (and pending depreciation) of cookies; seen the evolution from companies making major investments in their legacy ‘all-in-one’ marketing cloud solutions, to then unbundling these platforms in favor of stitching together more focused, best-in-breed technologies; and even now, are navigating the introduction of new tools and technologies like AI and web3. 

We have also evolved as consumers, with ever-increasing expectations for frictionless customer experiences and seamless cross-channel engagement.

Now more than ever, marketers need to be empowered to move quickly, prioritize digital experiences, and do more with their first-party data. And they need tools that enable them to do these things. 

Enter: Braze and Segment.

Braze and Segment are two fast-growing technology solutions being adopted by marketers across industries to solve these very challenges. In this article, we’re going to dive into what these tools do, if you need them both, and how they work within your tech stack.

An introduction to both Braze & Segment

Braze and Segment are two different but complementary tools that together offer a powerful solution for marketers who are focused on delivering data-driven, cross-channel experiences for their customers. Let’s dive into what each tool does at a high level: 

Braze is a comprehensive customer engagement platform (CEP) that helps marketers orchestrate highly personalized campaigns across multiple channels, including email, push notifications, in-app messages, and more. It enables marketers to create and deliver dynamic messages based on user behavior, preferences, and real-time data.

Segment is a customer data platform (CDP) that simplifies the process of collecting, managing, and integrating customer data from various sources. It allows marketers to consolidate data from different touchpoints, such as websites, mobile apps, and third-party tools, and streamlines the flow of that data to other marketing and analytics platforms, among many other destinations.

Both tools put a lot of emphasis on putting marketers in the drivers seat through access to and activation of customer data. Where Segment offers a solution for capturing, centralizing, and distributing data from across the organization, Braze then offers a marketer-friendly platform to put that data to use to power omnichannel customer experiences.

Do I need both?

Braze and Segment present a solid ‘better together’ solution, but both are strong on their own, too.

Using both technologies together will drive the most value for 1. product-based companies (like where mobile or web applications are paramount to their business, or moreso, are their business), and 2. large enterprises that have historically been challenged by extensive data siloes.

For product-based businesses, it’s likely that your engineering, data, or product teams are already relying on Segment (it is the top CDP on the market, after all), and obviously, marketing would be wise to tap into the same data that’s already being used by other key groups across the organization. Plus, this can offer a smoother path to integration to ensure you’re pulling in customer data from as many places across the organization as you can. However, we’ve also seen that oftentimes, when Segment is already being used within an organization by one of these teams, the data being tracked does not align to marketing’s needs. To avoid this, marketing should be included as a key stakeholder in the implementation of Segment when possible. When marketing is tapping into an already-existing Segment implementation after the fact, it’s best to bring in a partner like Stitch to help figure out how to both 1. leverage what’s already being done, 2. introduce new use cases while helping manage the internal changes. 

For large enterprises, Segment exists to centralize and unify data from multiple sources, and send that data to the destinations where the data is needed. It’s a great solution to help break down those data siloes and give marketers more access to customer data from across the organization — enabling them to execute more effective, targeted customer engagement across channels.

However, some companies may simply benefit from integrating Braze directly into their data warehouse (like Snowflake) — where the data warehouse is used for data centralization and unification, and Braze is used for segmentation and activation. Because data warehouses are a more common technology across industries and act as a robust data source, and because customer engagement platforms are seen as a critical, revenue-driving tool, you can certainly start with just these two tools in place — but adding a CDP like Segment into the mix will only make each more powerful. 

It’s also worth reiterating that for companies where data ingestion from more custom sources is necessary (Segment offers over 400+ pre-built integrations, along with a flexible API), or where identity resolution presents major challenges, or where they fall into one of the buckets mentioned above (product-based or large enterprise), having Segment in place is a critical component of this tech stack. 

As with any technology investment, it’s important to know your use cases and what your goals are with each platform before investing. (Psst - that’s where a consultancy like Stitch can help.)

How should the integration be set up?

Braze and Segment have a very strong partnership, with a solid integration package between the two. The integration setup required ultimately depends on your use case.

These tools can be setup to be a bi-directional loop, or as more of a one-way integration. The most commonly needed integration has Segment feeding into Braze as a data source, sending data points such as custom attributes and events.

However, sending data back out of Braze into Segment (and then into the other destinations within Segment) can be valuable for robust data analytics needs, such as for companies who may want to use marketing channel engagement data in tandem with other data from across the organization for use cases such as product or funnel analysis.

When considering the best way to architect your integration between these two technologies, some things to consider are:

  • Will you use both the Segment SDK and Braze SDK on your mobile app or website, or will you only use the Segment SDK and feed that data into Braze? It’s important to note that both options may have differing use cases and ways to activate the data coming in via the SDK. 
  • Will you integrate Braze into both your data warehouse and Segment, or simply integrate into Segment and have it send data from your data warehouse into Braze? Make sure that you’re considering how ingesting data from both sources will affect your data point usage, which will affect billing costs. Similarly, Segment also charges based on MTUs (monthly tracked users) — so if you are ingesting data in both sources, this may result in duplicated costs.
  • Will the integration satisfy long-term use cases? As of May 2023, the Braze Classic destination within Segment is in maintenance mode — which means that it may not evolve as each platform does. The Braze Actions destination within Segment works great for sending events to Braze, but as of today, has no direct activation capabilities.   

Answers to each of these questions will come with their pros and cons — and it’s worth discussing your specific use cases and needs with a partner like Stitch before implementing.

What other tools might I need in my tech stack?

Data warehouses

As mentioned above, a data warehouse (like Snowflake) is a common tool that’s often included in a tech stack alongside Braze and Segment. Data warehouses offer extensive data storage — including historical data — from across an organization (ranging from finance to HR to marketing). Data warehouses are able to structure and unify large amounts of data, and many of the leading platforms are able to distribute data across multiple destinations. This differentiates from Segment, because Segment is specifically focused on unifying and activating customer data — ultimately serving as a powerful integration tool to connect a myriad of sources where customer data is collected, and sending that data to where it will be used. Segment can serve as both a source and a destination for data in and out of the data warehouse. 

Braze offers pretty different capabilities than a CDP or data warehouse, and ultimately serves most commonly as an activation tool leveraging the data — using customer data from these tools to power personalized cross-channel engagement. But, Braze can also send data back into both Segment and a data warehouse to continue enriching the existing data, especially customer data. It’s also worth noting that while Braze has strong segmentation capabilities, the platform is only made stronger by pulling in data from a CDP and/or data warehouse for even deeper segmentation. 

Analytics platforms

Analytics platforms, like Amplitude, are also a common technology you’d see alongside the likes of Braze and Segment.  While Braze alone offers great analytics capabilities through features like its analytics dashboard and Segment Insights (separate from Segment CDP), companies who want to be able to use customer engagement data from Braze for broader or deeper analyses across the customer lifecycle would benefit from a more robust analytics platform. Marketers can leverage Braze’s native integrations with their analytics technology partners, or use Segment to pull data from Braze and send into an analytics platform — both highly beneficial use cases as brands seek to become stronger in their data-driven decision-making. Segment can also directly send data from other sources into analytics platforms for a holistic view of the customer lifecycle.

Segment & Braze = Better Together

While there is no ‘one size fits all’ martech stack, Segment and Braze together offer a dynamic solution for companies that value data-driven decision making and want to be able to execute more personalized, effective engagement with their customers. 

As a Segment Select Partner and a Braze Flight Partner, we work with brands who use these tools to power customer engagement — rather you use one or both. If you are interested in learning more about if both of (or one of) these tools are right for you, drop us a line. 

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