Bluecore provides marketing automation services to retailers by tracking real-time activity on e-commerce sites and delivering highly personalized emails and display advertising for customers such as Staples, Cabelas, New Egg and Express. To deliver these services, Bluecore relies on its ability to serve up custom analytics and visualizations to customers as quickly as possible. So when it came time to build analytics into their core product, Bluecore Co-Founder and CTO Mahmoud Arram turned to Keen.
We use Keen for pretty much everything related to analytics. When we first started, we needed to provide analytics dashboards to our customers. To do that ourselves, I just didn’t even know where to start. Keen is core to our product. From day one, we needed to be able to show customers how many emails we sent, how many were opened, how many were clicked, how did those do, etc.
Choosing an Analytics Provider
On top of that, Keen gave Bluecore a single platform for all their analytics: from customer-facing visualizations to internal company metrics. “Our client success managers use Keen to pull data to answer questions from our clients,” Arram explained. “It also powers the analytics dashboards that our clients see, but also a lot of our internal debugging dashboards. At the same time, we’ve built what we call like ETL pipelines - data extraction pipelines that can actually go into Keen, extract some data, and then pump it out into storage for our clients.”
Driving Modern Digital Marketing With Data
Modern marketing organizations are increasingly turning to analytics to understand customers and make better business decisions. However, customers and the Internet move too fast for traditional analytics software. It takes a real-time platform like Keen to provide the custom analytics companies need, while also giving non-technical marketing teams access to straightforward tools they can use to move quickly and iterate.
When Arram approaches customers with the Keen implementation he knows he’s giving them flexibility and speed that was not possible with legacy analytics. “For our customers, there is a challenge to get teams to use new technology because they need their technical teams to test and deploy for them. With us leveraging Keen, they don’t have to do that. They can just try things out and they can iterate really quickly. That just wasn’t possible before,” Arram said. “Most of our customers already have old school analytics dashboards that aggregate data once every twenty four hours, if that. With Keen, our dashboards are in real-time. That is something that they just haven’t seen before that makes our product much more attractive.”
Delivering Data to Customers
The Keen platform allows Bluecore to leverage caching to ensure Bluecore’s customer-facing dashboards load fast, displaying the exact revenue generated by different emails the company has sent. “For each one of the emails, we show them how many were sent, what are the opens, clicks, and revenue per email. We show them all of these charts - basically show them our product and marketing performance,” Arram stated. “With Keen you can dig into each one of those metrics.” This helps Bluecore differentiate with data and prove the value of their offering on an ongoing basis.
Another key differentiator for Bluecore is providing clients with metrics they can take action on immediately, allowing retailers to run A/B tests with multiple variants. For example, if a customer is changing a subject line and testing more than 10 variants running at the same time, Bluecore’s decision engine periodically pings Keen to visualize the performance of those variants. “Now we know when it’s statistically significant,” Arram explained. “Once it is, we just kill the variants that lost, and basically allow the one that won. We automatically know that it is outperforming, and we allow that one to run. The goal is to be able to sell more products.”
When a customer wants to run their own analysis that goes beyond Bluecore’s standard dashboards, Keen’s flexibility makes that possible, too. As Arram explained, “We just straight-up give customers access to Keen and say, ‘Well, you have this Data Explorer, just go and look. Explore!’” With Keen, Bluecore can provide customers access to their own unique data without exposing the data of other customers.
Empowering Employees Through Analytics
Keen makes it easy for client success teams to keep tabs on customer analytics as well. In fact, as a critical component of the Bluecore platform, Keen is now part of their standard employee training. “Our teams are always watching the analytics of our customers, so we provide a management service essentially. We need to be able to tell that email volumes went down, or all of a sudden we’re not generating as much revenue as we used to. It’s like alerting infrastructure on top of Keen that sections the data for this week, plus last week, and if they are not within a certain threshold, then it notifies our client success, who then talk to our clients.”
Bluecore embedded Keen’s open source Data Explorer right inside their internal system, so employees can access and run queries at any time.
With Keen we have a democracy. Now everyone on client success, integration, and product can pull reports and extract data. We don’t have to have an analyst that people have to go to and ask, “Hey, can you run this query?” Everyone can do their thing without being bottle-necked.
Leveraging Keen Internally
In addition to analytics related to customer data, Bluecore uses Keen a wide range of internal analytics, including debugging engineering integrations and monitoring infrastructure costs. “Keen allows us to basically see how much are we spending every day,” Arram said. “Are we spending more on databases or is this machine time, or a combination? We even use it for internal billing.” In this way, Keen provides a single platform for Bluecore - and its customers - to make faster, better decisions with easy access to the real-time data they need.