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Supergrain: a warehouse-native approach to customer engagement

Supergrain is a customer engagement platform that is built natively for your cloud data warehouse.

A few weeks ago we launched Supergrain, a customer engagement platform (CEP) that enables marketers to perform customer segmentation and run cross-channel messaging campaigns directly from data in their data warehouse. Today, we want to share why we’re building a new CEP, what makes us different, and where we’re going.

Why today’s customer engagement platforms fall short

While marketers have been sending email, SMS, and push notifications to customers for decades, what distinguishes CEPs from other communications products is the use of customer data to personalize how, when, and to whom messages are sent. Most CEPs use data to power several key features: segmenting users, automating workflows, personalizing messages, and reporting on performance.

There are dozens of products that could qualify as CEPs, but even best-in-class solutions have major shortcomings:

  1. Long implementation times. Integrating a new vendor is time-intensive. It takes months (even quarters!) due to the enormous effort required to migrate customer data. Data must conform to specific formats and schemas, SDKs must be installed, and event data must be backfilled. It’s a project that involves heavy coordination between marketing, data, and engineering teams.
  2. Data engineering bottlenecks. Marketers are highly dependent on data engineering teams to get the data they need. Tickets for data and engineering teams to add custom attributes pile up into giant backlogs that can take days or weeks to prioritize.
  3. Inflexible customer segmentation. Businesses have complex data models, but most segment builders only support user and event properties due to rigid schemas. This makes even slightly more advanced use cases (like filtering on multiple business entities or basic aggregations) difficult or impossible. Marketers resort to asking their data team for custom SQL queries and manual CSV uploads.
  4. Poor reporting experience. Marketers need to analyze campaign performance, but they rarely trust the built-in reporting features in their CEPs. They lack flexibility, access to source-of-truth conversion data, and generally live in a black box. As a result, campaign reporting is usually out-sourced to data teams and custom dashboards in BI tools.
  5. Unreasonable costs. Many CEPs charge based on event volume or MTUs, which are not value-aligned and can be costly at scale. In addition, data overage costs force marketers to make uncomfortable choices on what data they want to store versus delete.
Traditional customer engagement platforms are convoluted systems that create fragmented product experiences for marketers and data governance headaches for data teams.

Why data teams are also unhappy

Marketers are not the only ones complaining. Their data engineering partners responsible for building and maintaining integrations have their own challenges:

  1. Brittle data integrations. Onboarding a CEP usually requires data pipelines to move data back and forth. Besides the cost of building the pipelines, data teams end up dealing with another moving piece, another potential dependency for breakages, and another set of (often clunky) APIs to wrestle with.
  2. Poor data observability. Managing data inside CEPs is hard, if not impossible. There are no easy ways to view version history, audit data lineage, or even clean up bad data that accidentally made its way into the hands of marketers.
  3. Customer data silos. Because CEPs rely on copies of your customer data rather than the original source, they cannot provide source-of-truth analytics for decision-making. This can lead to situations where reporting between BI tools and CEPs become inconsistent, creating confusion and distrust in data.
  4. Data compliance risk. CEPs consume sensitive customer data which oftens contains PII. Many businesses are uncomfortable sending this information to 3rd party vendors where it can be misused, leaked, or abused. Data teams with marketing stakeholders are forced to make tradeoffs between compliance risk and marketing efficiency.
  5. Vendor lock-in. CEPs are closed, proprietary systems where core datasets, business logic, and metadata are locked behind gates and only accessible via limited APIs. We’ve talked to many data teams who feel trapped maintaining their current solutions due to high switching costs and the lack of better alternatives.

How we got here

Under the hood, CEPs are data platforms that store and process massive amounts of customer data to enable analytics, intelligence, and operational workflows.

But over the last few years, companies have realized it’s easier and more cost-effective to build the same data platform internally by adopting cloud data warehouses like Snowflake and BigQuery. Today’s technology companies consistently make their data warehouses the single source-of-truth for customer data.

Companies wind up managing two parallel data platforms: an internal analytics platform built on top of cloud data warehouses, and a marketing data platform that enables marketing campaigns and workflows. Every major shortcoming in CEPs today (for both marketing and data teams) is caused by the cost and complexity of keeping these two systems in sync.

To hold their data warehouse and CEPs together, companies resort to a patchwork system of custom pipelines, internal tools, and additional 3rd party software to cover gaps. In practice, it creates more fragmentation and more problems: we recently spoke to a customer who integrated 5+ separate pieces of software – for reporting, data enrichment, data ingestion, data exports, and campaign management – to create a bloated, expensive system that neither the data team nor marketing team was happy with.

In the end, duct-taped systems satisfy neither the marketers who want an all-in-one solution, nor the data teams who are left to manage even more complex webs of dependencies.

We deserve better.

Supergrain's warehouse-native approach unlocks an all-in-one product experience for marketers and first-class data management for data teams.

How Supergrain is different

We’re building Supergrain to deliver the true all-in-one product experience marketers have always wanted, through a transparent and open data platform that data teams will love. Our unique warehouse-native approach flips the traditional model on its head. Instead of moving your customer data to a 3rd party data platform, we bring the marketing software to your data warehouse, unifying source-of-truth customer data and marketing product experiences into one cohesive system.

Built for marketers

Marketers will see immediate benefits from our warehouse-native approach:

  • Super fast setup. By connecting directly to your data source instead of copying data into a separate system, integration time drops from months to days. Some of our customers have been able to get up and running in hours. Best of all, new data is automatically available to you at the same time it’s available to data teams. Truly self-serve, no engineering favors needed.
  • Advanced segmentation. We believe we’ve built the most flexible and advanced customer segmentation product for marketers. It’s a familiar no-code UI backed by the full flexibility of SQL, which allows you to create filters and aggregations that you’ve haven’t been able to create before. And there are no attribute or event limits.
  • Comprehensive reporting. We let you analyze your campaigns using the real conversion metrics you care about, with all the flexibility you need to make decisions in one product. There’s no need to build custom campaign reporting in another tool.
  • No data limits or overage fees. Because we run on your existing data platform, we don’t incur the additional data storage and processing costs of existing solutions. This means we’re able to pass on the cost savings to you and offer a value-based pricing model with no overages or limits on data attributes.

Loved by data teams

Data teams can view Supergrain as “customer engagement for the modern data stack”:

  • No more data pipelines. We query directly from your data warehouse, and write back all the data you’ll need for reporting and analysis. There are no data pipelines for you to build, buy, or manage. We’re also schema-agnostic, so there are no predefined data models to conform to; we conform to your data.
  • Single source of truth. Since your data warehouse is the source-of-truth for customer data, you can be confident that all our native analytics and business logic will be consistent with your key dashboards and BI tools.
  • First-class data governance. We’re the only CEP that doesn’t create a copy of your customer data. We run on your infrastructure, which means you have complete visibility over what’s happening. Whether it’s understanding the downstream campaign dependencies or masking data for compliance reasons, you’re in control.
  • Open ecosystem. We integrate deeply with the modern data stack: all the major warehouses, dbt, and familiar tools for observability, metadata management, and analytics. We offer developer experiences that make Supergrain feel more like an extension of your existing toolkit rather than traditional marketing software.

Where we’re going

Our goal for Supergrain is to power all of your company’s customer engagement workflows. We envision a world where marketing and data teams can collaborate through a single cohesive platform, rather than by sending data back and forth. A world where marketing teams can focus on marketing strategy and understanding customers rather than battling data issues, and where data teams truly operationalize their data while also sleeping well at night. Where brands can harness the full potential of their data to deliver amazing customer experiences.

We have an exciting product roadmap and are partnering with a group of early customers who share our vision. Reach out to us! If you’re a marketer, we’ll show you how to start running better campaigns today with Supergrain. If you’re a data professional, we’ll show you how marketing software can be integrated with a modern data stack.

And if you want to build the future of customer engagement software with us, we’re hiring!