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Why we rebuilt our CDP's segmentation tool on Snowflake

Simon’s re-platforming into a connected application is an innovative foray into using the Snowflake Data Cloud for marketing. Our approach here is dramatically different from that of some other customer data platforms (CDPs), and yet is straightforward in its architecture – and an almost obvious next step for our business.

Leveraging Snowflake’s connected app ecosystem has allowed us to achieve a simpler, more efficient architecture with various security and latency benefits as a result. Data leaders who support marketing understand the challenges of elevating their marketing teams with the data at their disposal.

In this post, we’ll outline how we leveraged Snowflake’s connected application model to build our segmentation tool and “Activate” capabilities on our client’s Snowflake infrastructure, with the ability to deploy audiences directly into their Snowflake instance.

As a quick intro, my name is Asher Woodbury and I lead the data team here at Simon Data. I’m passionate about building data tools that are simple and composable – especially when they have a less technical user base. I love making complex problems easier to understand, and the best way you can do that with your products is to architect them to be straightforward and logical. For the past few months, my team has been building a tool that is built in just that way: “Connected Segmentation.”

Snowflake + Simon Data = The evolution of marketing

Simon’s mission has always been to bridge the gap between marketing teams and their data. Our platform is one of the most powerful CDPs out there, unlocking the hidden value of our clients’ data and allowing them to leverage it in highly personalized experiences. That power, however, has come at a cost. As we’ve expanded the set of functionality our product supports, our platform has become complex and our data pipelines to centralize that data into our optimized infrastructure have become heavyweight.

Platform complexity presents a real roadblock to bringing marketing teams closer to their data. Many of our clients have their own intricate data models under the hood. To be their window into that data requires a platform that simplifies, not complicates. A tool that can solve difficult marketing problems isn’t enough. Our clients need to be able to use that tool in a self-serve manner, communicate the contours of the solutions they’ve built internally, and – most importantly – evaluate their success to inform future solutions. 

And this is happening within a macroeconomic environment that requires our clients to do more with less – and so they expect the same of their CDP. This puts a primacy not only on the capabilities or elegance of our product but also on its efficiency. Our clients need our platform to be more powerful, faster, and simpler all at once. 

That left us with some big questions: How can we provide an even more powerful tool for our clients, but deliver it to them in a dramatically simpler way? How can we do it in a way that allows marketing organizations to not only use the data assets of departments across their business but also contribute their expertise back? And how can we do it efficiently and securely?

We’ve rebuilt our best-in-class marketing segmentation tool on Snowflake, such that it:

  1. Deploys audiences as views into your Snowflake instance
  2. Can sync these audiences at low latency to downstream marketing channels.

Customer segmentation enabled by a no-code, marketer-first UI

Our Connected Segmentation tool offers a no-code, marketer-first UI so non-technical users can easily create audiences. This allows marketers to leverage customer attributes and their event histories to build highly-specific audiences quickly and easily – all powered directly by tables and views in your Snowflake instances. Because Connected Segmentation doesn’t depend on replicating data out of Snowflake, you (and, more specifically, your security teams) can maintain full control over your data.

Centralized segmentation logic in your Snowflake instance

Audiences created via this segmentation application are then deployed back to your Snowflake instances as views. This serves to centralize business logic back into your Snowflake instance rather than having it live solely within Simon’s application. You can manage, own, and share that business logic however you see fit. Simon becomes the vehicle for your marketing teams to contribute to their business’ data mesh, by defining and socializing audiences business-wide, rather than solely utilizing those audiences for marketing.

Downstream activation of customer data

Our “Activate” product enables marketers to sync those audiences to downstream marketing channels. Where Connected Segmentation defines those audiences directly on your data, Activate can sync any changes to those audiences as fast as the underlying data changes. 

Given the macroeconomic climate and the focus on efficiency, fast moving data needs to be acted on quickly to maximize each marketing dollar spent and re-processing slow moving data repeatedly needs to be avoided. Thus achieving not only low latency, but also latency flexibility across use cases, is critical. By executing on top of Snowflake (which already provides several layers of caching to increase performance), you can determine the frequency with which you want each audience to be evaluated. 

Why Snowflake was the obvious choice for Simon

Simon and Snowflake have worked in close partnership – operating with a shared vision of enabling data-driven organizations by making the Data Cloud the central source of truth. 

“Simon’s Connected Segmentation feature offers the best of both worlds in CDP implementation: data teams get the composability they need, while marketing teams benefit from a no-code Segmentation UI that’s built with their workflows in mind. The benefit to Snowflake clients is clear: With Simon on board, Snowflake customers can more widely access and use the data in their own Snowflake account along with data from other parts of the business, and activate it in their desired marketing channels.”

Lourenco Mello – Product Marketing Lead, Solutions @ Snowflake

Additionally, Snowflake’s separation of storage and compute allows us to operate on our clients’ infrastructure with no risk of our platform sideswiping their production systems, and gives our clients granular control over the resources dedicated to our platform. 

Critically, that separation also allows Simon to operate directly on our clients’ data – we don’t need to ingest or store that data internally, so clients’ security teams’ have complete control over our access to their data.

This symbiotic relationship between Simon and Snowflake platforms enables our organization to serve the needs of both data teams and marketers. Thus, empowering companies to usher in a new standard of highly personalized customer experiences at scale. 

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