Written in conjunction with Human37, a Segment and Mixpanel business partner, this blog dives into the reasons to pair Segment and Mixpanel, and the value this combination brings to data analysis.
Where in the last decade or so the marketing landscape was mostly dominated by suited solutions, the increasing availability of (marketing/data) technology solutions have pushed the industry in a new direction. There have never been more alternatives to any one tool than there are today.
This shift pushed brands to venture into the world of marketing and data technologies and find the best tools in each category rather than sticking to the classical one-in-all monolithic approach. With this desire to pick and choose individual tools, the concept of best-of-breed was born.
The benefits of a best-of-breed approach vs. a suited or monolithic stack have been widely documented. So have the challenges. However, as time passes on, products evolve, the ecosystem matures, and some winning combinations appear.
This post zooms in on the combination of two of these products – Twilio Segment as a Customer Data Platform and Mixpanel as a Product Analytics solution. We’ll explore the reason why these solutions lead in their categories and why using them in tandem is a winning combination.
Segment – collect, govern, unify, and activate data
In order to understand the true strength of Segment in the Customer Data Platform (CDP) landscape, we need to understand one of Segment’s core features – its ability to forward data. We like to think of Segment in terms of a “Lord of the Rings” analogy.
Where LOTR is about the one ring to rule them all, Segment has one SDK (Software Development Kit) to rule them all. The Segment SDK is used to track data once in order to then dispatch it to multiple destinations. This can replace over a dozen SDKs and libraries with a single SDK.
Segment also ensures that the data is the quality it is expected to be. Data that does not adhere to the expected standards is not allowed in the system. As a result, users only have to maintain one standard of quality that is centrally managed in order to safeguard all the destinations of corruption.
Segment’s strengths span the entire scope of what you expect of a CDP:
Strong data collection layer that includes data governance
Powerful and customizable (!) unification engine to compile your customer 360 degree overview
A trait, audience, and journey builder that’s actually marketer friendly
Countless destinations to get your data activated and actionable
Adding Mixpanel to Segment adds another level- the ability to analyze and visualize this data in new ways!
Mixpanel – in-depth analytics democratized
Mixpanel focuses on building the best product analytics tool on the market, meaning that Mixpanel’s teams are focusing on creating an intuitive and accessible user interface (UI) that enables non-technical profiles to derive insights from their data in just a few clicks.
Mixpanel does this by offering a number of ways to slice and dice data using multiple report types that turn what would otherwise be very complex SQL queries into interface-driven drop down, filters, and breakouts. Users with no technical knowledge can skip the scary and time-consuming learning curve that other tools or languages like SQL require and allow organizations to open up the data to more people.
In essence, Mixpanel is facilitating analysis and insight democratization. The result? A higher likelihood organizations will actually get value out of their data.
All the benefits, none of the friction
When building your stack, it’s all about comparing benefits and drawbacks. What are these exactly when combining Segment as your CDP of choice and Mixpanel as your analytics platform?
Customer journey insights delivered, at scale
While Mixpanel’s go-to-market strategy talks about the platform as a product analytics tool, combining it with Segment essentially supercharges its capabilities. Why? Because it can be used to analyze any datapoint that Segment is able to capture.
Moreover, Segment is able to unify these profiles to a great and flexible extent. The result is an analytics platform that – thanks to Segment’s data collection, data quality, governance, and unification capabilities – is able to not only democratize insights across the organization, but is able to do so throughout the entire customer journey.
In addition, the in-depth analytics capabilities of Mixpanel can be used to build a cohort of users, which in return can be shared with Twilio Engage to interact with users through owned or paid channels.
The combination of Segment and Mixpanel allows for a two-way interaction that lets organizations understand the customer journey in detail and engage with those users in a very personalized and automated way.
A supercharged best-of-breed stack at the flick of a switch
So far, we’ve focused on the value add of using Segment in tandem with Mixpanel. But what about the drawbacks?
Traditionally the drawbacks of a best-of-breed stack are found at two levels - (1) integration and (2) pricing.
Integration level – Even though the story of plug-and-play is every vendor’s default unique selling proposition, the reality is often way more complex. From experience, the Segment and Mixpanel implementation is actually close to absolutely frictionless. The methods used in the SDK are fairly similar, meaning the data moves seamlessly from Segment into Mixpanel. If you would like to build a more complex tracking plan, Segment's Actions framework is able to cater that by allowing you to map your data points, as captured in Segment, manually and intuitively, to Mixpanel.
Buyer level – While a platform like Segment will allow you to pipe the same unified data to multiple different point solutions simultaneously, there is a certain operational efficiency that comes with buying tools that come in a consolidated package. The great news in this case is that Segment and Mixpanel now have a joint offering for exactly this purpose.
In conclusion, using Segment and Mixpanel is a wonderful combination. Together, they provide better insight on customer behavior, consumable by many teams, and encourage a culture of data driven marketing. The bonus? Their joint offering makes it easier than ever to get started.
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