SIGNAL Day 1: The Future of Customer Engagement

In addition to keynotes, product demos, and some very special guests, SIGNAL featured over 100 sessions exploring the intersection of technology, innovation, and the future of customer engagement.

By Jim Young

From October 20-21,  Segment joined SIGNAL, Twilio’s annual customer and developer conference, alongside 50,000+ developers, product leaders, enterprises, and startups. View all the sessions on-demand here.

The big story of the Day 1 was the launch of our latest product, Twilio Engage, a brand new omnichannel marketing tool built right on top of Segment’s CDP.  

But there was so much more than that.

In addition to keynotes, product demos, and some very special guests, SIGNAL featured over 100 sessions exploring the intersection of technology, innovation, and the future of customer engagement. 

For those of you who could not attend, or simply need a refresher, we put together a rundown of highlights from the first day of the conference. 

Deeper customer relationships require the right data foundation

When you need to make tough technology decisions for your business, it can often feel like you're at a fork in the road. These decisions are critical for the long-term success of your business, but they're not easy and require a number of factors to consider. 

In this session, Martin Brummerstedt, Data Scientist at Stylepit, and Outschool Engineering Manager, Erwin Alberto, share how they navigated these very decisions at their respective companies. By starting with the right data foundation, they were able to successfully build deeper customer relationships at scale with a customer data platform (CDP). 

We heard first from Martin, about how e-commerce retailer, Stylepit, evaluated the decision of buying a CRM or CDP to more effectively manage customer relationships.

They needed a tool that was available on every channel and allowed them to personalize customer interactions at scale, while respecting privacy. With these requirements, a customer data platform was the logical choice for their business. 


With Segment, Stylepit can better run personalized email campaigns, enjoying a 41% increase in open rates, and a 4X higher return on email campaigns.

Next up, Erwin covered the classic build versus buy dilemma and shared how his team uses Twilio Segment to move faster and increase customer engagement during Outschool's high-growth period.


With nearly a million students in 170+ countries, Outschool needed a platform that allowed them to personalize the user experience, recommend classes that are relevant to each user, and understand their customers on a deeper level.

Ultimately, their decision to partner with Segment — rather than build a home-grown platform — centered on allowing teams to self-serve as much as possible without consuming valuable engineering resources. 

As a result of implementing a CDP, Outschool increased operational efficiency with personalized email campaigns and improved class relevance in search results. 

Growth automation: the future of customer engagement?

Jeff Lawson

Twilio CEO, Jeff Lawson, brought the energy to kick off the first keynote presentation at SIGNAL. He began the session by highlighting a few public service efforts throughout the pandemic. 

Incredibly, more than 7,000 nonprofits have used Twilio to build for good, including the Norwegian Refugee Council, which built a digital contact center to help displaced people find safety in more than 40 countries around the world. 

Philanthropic efforts aside, Jeff continued with a surprising fact — the average companies’ digital roadmap was accelerated by six years (yes, six years!) during the pandemic. This rapid digital acceleration brought an explosion of customer data, requiring businesses to act swiftly in response. 

Best-in-class enterprise companies like Amazon have a head start on this front. With mountains of first-party data, they can personalize in real-time and deliver authentic customer experiences that continually improve over time. 

Jeff then presented a vision for all businesses to deliver on the promise of digital-first customer engagement. With the power of Twilio and Segment, businesses of any size can now engage their customers on the digital channels of their choice, while delivering real-time personalization at scale. 

Soon after, Marianna Tessel, CTO at Intuit, joined the stage to discuss how consumer expectations for personalization have evolved. As a long-time Segment customer, Intuit relies on a CDP to personalize by delivering real-time data across the business. 


Tessel shared key insights into their customer data strategy before highlighting some impressive results. During last year’s tax season, Intuit created 400+ different audiences for their customers. By targeting and personalizing messaging across these audience segments, they were able to increase engagement by 30%. 

Segment Founder, Peter Reinhardt, was the last special guest to join the keynote with an exciting announcement. He unveiled Twilio Engage, a complete, integrated, and extensible growth platform built natively on Segment’s CDP and Twilio’s communications platform.


As a growth automation platform, Twilio Engage can create self-service, real-time audiences, based on behaviors and traits across all customer interactions, and aggregate this data into a single customer view. 

The power of customer data and digital channels 

Jason Lambert, VP of Product at AB InBev, led a session to discuss how his team transformed the customer experience for millions of small businesses in their network. 

As a leading local distribution and logistics network, AB InBev works with 6 million small and medium-sized businesses worldwide to supply its portfolio of 500 iconic brands.

Throughout the pandemic, trends emerged that accelerated the need to develop digital channels to help their customers thrive in a rapidly changing world. In response, AB InBev was able to build BEES, a platform that empowers retailers to run their businesses on their own terms through the power of Segment. 


Jason illustrated how the BEES platform provides their customers the digital tools needed to help manage inventory, provide real-time visibility into orders, and offer automatic recommendations to drive sales.  With customer data at the core of their platform, the AB InBev team has been able to consistently solve real problems for the businesses in their network.

The ability to send real-time messages and maintain customer dialogues without in-person transactions has vastly improved the customer experience for ABInBev’s SMB partners. As Jason explains:

Utilizing all this data allows us to build rich experiences for our customers and deploy a commercial strategy that helps our customers really grow and really thrive


There's no one-size-fits-all solution for customer data

As a developer, it's important to manage customer data in a simple, custom, and scalable way. Out-of-the-box tools will rarely deliver exactly what you need — you need to implement a solution that gives you tools to build your own customized solution. 

Led by Andy Yeo, Tyson Mote, and Oliver Han of Twilio Segment, this live, interactive demo covered the basics of the Segment platform including sources, tracking plans, and destinations. 

Their interactive tour highlighted how Segment can help you build a unified view of your customers, streamline data collection, and customize integrations (or build your own!). 


The trio wrapped up with a new offer from the Twilio Segment team. The Twilio Developer Plan gives you access, free of charge, to a limited version of Segment’s platform allowing you to get started building right away. 

Sign up here to access the plan, and create a free workspace. 

The data privacy landscape continues to evolve

It’s safe to say that the data privacy landscape has rapidly evolved in recent years. In fact, by 2023, 65% of the world’s population will have its personal information covered under modern privacy regulations, up from 10% today. 

Adapting to industry changes and regulations isn't just about reacting, but securing customer trust. 

In this session, Daniel Alvarez, Chief Product Officer at Quartz, explained how first-party data, managed by a CDP, can help build a proactive, customer-first approach to data privacy and securing trust. 

As a digital-first media publisher, Quartz is at the center of data exchanged between advertisers, readers, and their own business. With the end of 3rd party cookies, they had to rethink their advertising revenue model in a future-proof, customer-centric way. 

First party

According to Daniel, the greatest thing you can do to advance your business with data while maintaining user trust is to actually deliver on the promise of better customer experiences. 

This begins with first-party data — or data about your customer’s interactions with your own business. Unlike third-party data, first-party data is extremely accurate, making it much more feasible to provide highly relevant, contextual experiences for customers. 

First-party data is also collected with user consent, allowing companies to build customer relationships and deliver personalization based on trust.

By using Segment, Quartz can create increasingly tailored experiences for its customers. With a single view of the customer across their email platforms, mobile app, and other touchpoints, they can easily use customer preferences to deliver the personalized experiences their readers have come to expect. 

Stay tuned for more...

Craving more SIGNAL content? Stay tuned for a recap of Day 2 featuring insights from leaders at FOX and Allergan, plus highlights from our discussion with former First Lady, Michelle Obama. 

Or register for free to watch all videos from SIGNAL here

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