How MessageGears + Snowflake Reshaped OpenTable’s Marketing

Jun 07, 2021
Jeff Haws

It’s always great to learn more about how customers are putting MessageGears to use to improve their messaging strategy, and at Snowflake’s recent Marketing on the Rocks event, OpenTable Senior Technical Engagement Marketing Manager Joseph Lee discussed their transition over to our platform and how it’s quickly changed the way their marketing and I.T. teams operate.

Here’s a look at the story he told, showing the positive impact of MessageGears + Snowflake on their marketing strategy. To get an even deeper dive into the conversation, check out the full case study.

They could see their data, but they couldn’t use it — Enter MessageGears

OpenTable was facing massive data issues that were never going to be resolved as long as they had an ESP and CDP that both forced them to work with aging copies of their data. They had worked out a workaround process to allow them to at least limp along with all the challenges, but it was very clunky and slow:

  1. They would load data into Snowflake, where their data warehouse team would centralize it and make it ready for export
  2. After data processing, they would transfer data to their CDP, who then took hours to ingest the data
  3. The CDP then had to calculate fields for the marketing team to use to match their ESP’s format
  4. Once the data was ready, it would be deployed to the ESP, another process that took up to half a day

“Across those three channels, there was a huge data lag because of just the amount of syncing that we had to do,” said OpenTable Senior Technical Engagement Marketing Manager Joseph Lee. “And because of those lags, we were limited on the amount of tests that we could send. If the data sync takes 4-6 hours, it’s already around noon. Which means we can’t really optimize for send-time optimization, which a lot of marketers are really eager to see. And it’s very hard for us to be flexible with our data. It was hard to explore what was going on in our user engagements to see what other opportunities were available for us.”

Creating multiple copies of their customer data over and over again was monopolizing too much time for the team, and broken/out-of-sync data feeds took I.T. away from other important work to get everything working again. Putting new programs in place took far too long due to overnight — and sometimes longer — data lags, frustrating team members across the board due to all the “Hurry up and wait.” It wasn’t just time or frustration either. Between the opportunity cost of a worse customer experience and the waste of paying to store the same data twice, they also saw money flying out the door.

They were constantly having to create multiple copies of their customer data, which ended up — surprisingly to no one — taking a lot of time. If a data feed got broken or out of sync, it required hours of technical work to get them completely synced again. They also had a great deal of difficulty implementing new programs, because the data was lagging significantly. That generated frustration on every team because it was really hard to have to wait on things all the time. Not to mention, the constant duplication and distribution ended up costing them a lot of time and money.

Getting access to their live data in Snowflake

After getting MessageGears set up, the direct data access into Snowflake made a huge impact on the way OpenTable approached their messaging strategy because it allowed them to work inside Snowflake, do any necessary data exploration. Once they had a completed dataset, it was available to use right away.

“There’s no more data syncing from an old system into another system,” Joseph said. “All of our marketing channels sit on top of Snowflake. MessageGears does the deployment. So all of our personalized emails can then trigger off of this Snowflake data set. It goes out, and then it stores right back into Snowflake — which is also a huge plus. It essentially has a baked-in sync system, so that we know who received Google ads immediately. We know what data partners we were able to send data segments to and we know immediately who received which emails so that we can exclude one from the other as far as channels go.”

With a more personalized approach to messaging established, OpenTable was then on board with MessageGears Segment to duplicate the functionality of their CDP but with that same direct data connection into Snowflake. Plugging directly in provided OpenTable with a marketer-friendly interface to build custom audiences with their live data.

“We knew right away that their CDP had to be a problem for them because they couldn’t connect to Snowflake,” said Taylor Jones, SVP of Customer Success at MessageGears. “OpenTable simply wasn’t getting the value out of the CDP that had been promised. That made MessageGears Segment a perfect fit for them – we put together a plan to get them working with Segment and it was such a smooth transition, the results were pretty much immediate.”

Reduced costs and processing time with an enhanced customer experience

One of the biggest changes for OpenTable once they got on board with MessageGears was that they were able to bring the ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) process entirely within Snowflake. That resulted in much faster data processing times across the board. And because they were able to see their data live and in real time, they could execute on all sorts of new ways to personalize messages to customers and deliver a better customer experience. The entire experience was a positive one for them, and they can understand the results much better now too.

“Migrating platforms was just a lot faster,” Lee said. “And now we’re able to run a lot more tests because data is available to us. And so it really opens us up to a lot more opportunities from an email and push perspective.”

In addition to time savings and personalization enhancements, MessageGears + Snowflake helped OpenTable to cut significant costs because they weren’t copying and shifting data around or paying double to store it in multiple places. That meant the end of so much frustration on the team, and they didn’t have to give up any of what they needed either.

“I felt like that was a huge game changer for us,” Lee said. “And on top of that, MessageGears has all of the features that a lot of these other ESPs already have. So there’s nothing that’s being missed ”

Want to see how MessageGears can help your team with a similar transformation? We’ve got you. Get in touch today, and we’ll put together a personalized plan for you. What do you have to lose?

About the Author

Jeff Haws

As MessageGears’ Senior Marketing Manager, Jeff is focused on producing engaging and thoughtful content that resonates with enterprise marketers, helping them to better understand how MessageGears makes their jobs easier. He’s passionate about understanding the way data impacts messaging, and he’s also hopelessly obsessed with baseball.