Definitive Guide to Segment.com: Why You Should Use It and How to Start Collecting Data (2019 Update)

Definitive Guide for Segment.com

Definitive Guide for Segment.com

Two years ago, I found myself helping a new client implement Mixpanel. We had a good idea of what we wanted to track and it was now just a matter of writing the necessary code.

The client was excited. They were having critical issues converting users from a free account to a paid one and they knew this data would give them the clarity they needed to fix it.

Right before we started writing the Mixpanel code, the client asked me, “have you heard of a tool called Segment.io (now called Segment.com)? Should we use it?”.

I told the client that I hadn’t heard of this tool but I would look into it.

After some research, I concluded that there was no need for using Segment in this project. I didn’t see any benefits that would be worth the client paying double: once to Mixpanel and once to Segment.

We went ahead with our implementation and everything worked fine until 6 months later.

The Mixpanel data was incredibly useful but they wanted to start using another event-driven tool called Intercom. The client saw a lot of potential improvements in their messages with their users before and after they signed up. Intercom was the best choice for them.

As we started to plan the Intercom implementation, I realized that we needed to send that same data that we were already sending to Mixpanel. We were going to spend development time doing the same thing we did 6 months earlier.

This seemed so inefficient to me plus we would have to wait a few weeks before we had any meaningful data inside Intercom. I thought that there must be a way to implement data once and use it across multiple tools. That’s when I ended up stumbling back to the Segment.com website.

This is exactly what the tool did! I completely missed it 6 months earlier.

I talked to my client and told them about my mistake. Luckily, they weren’t mad or upset. They knew it was hard to predict the future and we had made an educated guess when we first implemented Mixpanel.

For me though, it was an error in judgment. I didn’t fully understand the value that Segment brought to the table.

Fast forward to today, and I now recommend Segment to almost every new client. The long-term benefits of owning your data far outweigh the short-term costs. I have also spent significant time understanding the problems that Segment solves.

This is why I decided to create this short video course.

This course will answer all of your pressing questions around Segment.com. We’ll start at a high level by understanding the strategy behind using Segment and then we’ll move to the tactical by looking at how to collect data today.

Related: If you’re ready to start implementing Segment.com, make sure to download our Segment.com Quickstart Checklist which will give you an easy to follow checklist to save you time and resources.

Here’s a table of contents in case you want to jump around to different parts of this video course.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    1. What is Segment.com and how does it fit into our strategy?
    2. What is the difference between Segment.com and Google Tag Manager?
    3. Should I use Segment.com with Mixpanel/Intercom/Google Analytics/etc?
  2. Getting Started with Segment.com
    1. Setting up an account
    2. Sources: SDK, Libraries and Cloud Apps
    3. Destinations: Integrations
    4. Destinations: Warehouses
    5. Understanding the MTU pricing model
    6. Protocols: Data Governance for Your Data
    7. Personas: Easily Manage Audiences for Your Product
  3. Real Life Examples on How to Use Segment.com
    1. Example 1: Sending event data to Mixpanel
    2. Example 2: Sending event data to Intercom
    3. Example 3: Sending data to Google Analytics
    4. Example 4: Loading pixels for Facebook and Adroll
    5. Example 5: Segment.com and Google Tag Manager together
    6. Example 6: Sending Adwords data to Amazon Redshift
    7. Advanced Usage of Segment.com

Introduction

What is Segment.com (or Segment.io) and how does it fit into our strategy?

Segment.com functions as a middle layer between where your data comes from and where it should go. In this video, we will talk about:

  • How does Segment.com work and why you should use it?
  • Understanding the strategic choice you’re making when you decide to use Segment.com
  • A brief overview of the different tools that Segment supports including Mixpanel, Google Analytics and Amazon Redshift.

What is the difference between Segment.com and Google Tag Manager?

If you see some overlap in functionality between Google Tag Manager (GTM) and Segment, you’re not wrong. However, there are different use cases for each tool and you can even use them together.

Should I use Segment.com with Mixpanel/Intercom/Google Analytics/etc?

If your team is debating whether to implement your analytics tool through Segment.com, then this video is for you. I’ll give you 3 use cases where you should use Segment and 3 use cases where you shouldn’t.

Getting Started with Segment.com

Setting up an account

Let’s cover basic Segment concepts including workspaces, sources, and destinations.

Sources: SDK, Libraries and Cloud Apps

SDK and Libraries is one of the most flexible ways to collect data. Let’s use the Javascript library to understand events, properties, traits and core methods like track(), identify() and page().

Cloud apps is a type of source lets you pull data from popular services like Stripe, Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. Learn why you would ever want to do this and how it works.

Related: If you’re ready to start implementing Segment.com, make sure to download our Segment.com Quickstart Checklist which will give you an easy to follow checklist to save you time and resources.

Destination: Integrations

After you collect data, you need to send it somewhere. Integrations will let us send our data to all kinds of tools including Mixpanel, Google Analytics, Intercom and 200+ others.

Related: If you’re in charge of marketing or product at your company, be sure to check out the 6 Reports That You Should Be Running to increase the growth of your product and company.

Destination: Warehouses

Warehouses is a special type of destination designed for more advanced teams. Learn why you should consider setting up a warehouse even if you’re just starting to collect data and the different options including Amazon Redshift, Postgres and BigQuery.

Understanding the MTU pricing model

A short video explaining the Monthly Tracked Users (MTU) pricing model for Segment.com.

Protocols: Data Governance for Your Data

In this video, I’ll explain how the Protocols work and how it can help you protect the integrity of your data.

Personas: Easily Manage Audiences for Your Product

We’ll take a look at how Personas work and how it can help you save you time when creating audiences for your marketing campaigns.

Real Life Examples on How to Use Segment.com

Example 1: Sending event data to Mixpanel

Let’s take a look at how to collect data using a Javascript library and send it to Mixpanel. We’ll send events and identify users, all within a few minutes.

Example 2: Sending event data to Intercom

In this example video, we’ll look at how to use Segment.com with Intercom. We’ll load the chat widget on a website and start tracking individual users so we are able to message them directly.

Example 3: Sending data to Google Analytics

Learn how to use Google Analytics alongside Segment.com. We’ll look at the basic setup for tracking page views and more advanced use cases including ecommerce tracking, userID and custom dimensions/metrics.

Related: If you’re in charge of marketing or product at your company, be sure to check out the 6 Reports That You Should Be Running to increase the growth of your product and company.

Example 4: Loading pixels for Facebook and Adroll

Segment can also be used to load marketing pixels for advertising platforms like Facebook Ads, Google Adwords and Adroll.

Related: If you’re ready to start implementing Segment.com, make sure to download our Segment.com Quickstart Checklist which will give you an easy to follow checklist to save you time and resources.

Example 5: Segment.com and Google Tag Manager together

While Google Tag Manager and Segment have similar functionality, you can actually use them together. We’ll take a look at two setups: loading Segment through GTM and loading GTM through Segment.

Example 6: Sending Adwords data to Amazon Redshift

Our next example is about collecting data from our Google Adwords campaigns and sending it to an Amazon Redshift database. This is an advanced setup that should only be tackled once you understand the basics.

Advanced Usage of Segment.com

Our final example is showing how a Segment account looks when you have multiple sources and destinations. You’ll quickly start to see the power of easily transferring data between your most popular tools.

Next Steps

That’s all for now! If you found these videos useful, leave me a comment below and tell me the biggest insight (or aha moment) that you had after watching the videos. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments as well! I’ll be glad to answer them there.

One more thing before you go! Are you getting the data you need to grow your company?

I find most companies are stuck with high-level metrics and they aren't able to properly understand what actually drives user growth for their web and mobile products. To do that, you need the right data and the right tools.

If this sounds like your situation, then you should download our free tracking plan (and tutorial video). This is the document that you should create before you ever implement tools like Mixpanel, Amplitude, Segment, and Intercom. Click the image below to download your own free tracking plan (and tutorial video).

Ruben Ugarte
Ruben Ugarte
I'm the founder of Practico Analytics and I created this company to help companies use analytics data to grow their web and mobile products. I love combining data, psychology, and systems in work and in personal projects.

6 Comments

  1. Jonas says:

    Awesome job!

    Just what I was looking for. Didnt see any goood guides and videos on gettting started with SEgment.

    Regards

    Jonas

  2. Julia says:

    Hi Ruben!
    Totally agree with Jonas, was looking for a Segment guide – nowhere to find. Thank you 🙂 !

  3. Maks says:

    Thanks Ruben, finally I’ve got why we need Segment and how to use!! Very useful videos.
    1 thing that I still didn’t get – how do I trigger originally an event to send to Segment (if I don’t use GTM for it).
    You showed how to do it via js console, but how does it work in real life, when button is clocked on website etc..

    • Ruben Ugarte says:

      Glad you found it helpful! If you don’t use GTM, then you would need to use one of their libraries like their Javascript one (https://segment.com/docs/sources/website/analytics.js/’ defer=’defer). The code you entered into the JS console would be the same one that you would have to load on your website. If we look at your button click example, you would also need a way to trigger that which could be done with something like jQuery. The full code sample would look like this:


      $( "#buttonID" ).click(function() {

      analytics.track('Article Completed', {
      title: 'How to Create a Tracking Plan',
      course: 'Intro to Analytics',
      });

      });

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