Data-driven messaging is the cornerstone of reaching customers with personalized, engaging messages in the right channel at the right time. To make it happen, you might need a marketing automation platform (MAP) that allows you to segment your audiences, trigger targeted campaigns, and put your data to work. When you’re comparing MAP options, two popular platforms might be on your list: Iterable vs. Braze. Read on for an overview of how they stack up, as well as why you might also want to consider Customer.io to support your multi-channel messaging strategy.
Here’s what you’ll find in this article:
What is Iterable?
Iterable is a cross-channel marketing platform built for personalized messaging across email, SMS, push, and in-app messages. Marketers can use it to segment users based on their demographics and behaviors, build messaging workflows, and test marketing strategies at scale. The platform also uses Iterable AI to automate the creation of segments, interpret customer sentiment, optimize send time, and more. Iterable’s typical users are mid-market and enterprise companies in e-commerce/retail, entertainment, delivery, education, and recruiting.
Top Iterable features
- Segmentation and event-triggered campaigns
- Drag-and-drop campaign builder
- Centralized storage of brand data
- Email, SMS, push, and in-app messaging
- AI tools for audience management, send time optimization, and more
What is Braze?
Braze is a customer engagement platform that helps businesses ingest customer data and deliver personalized cross-channel messaging, much like Iterable. The platform also features some AI capabilities, which are focused on predicting purchasing and churn behavior. Braze is known for its mobile capabilities, which may explain why most users are digital-first mid-market to enterprise-level businesses with a strong mobile presence.
Top Braze features
- Segmentation and action-triggered messages
- Real-time analytics and in-depth reports
- Mobile-focused messaging, plus email
- Anonymous user tracking
- AI tools for lead scoring and churn prediction
Iterable vs. Braze: feature comparison
Iterable and Braze feature similar functionality in a number of key areas, but their differences are important to consider when finding the right MAP for your needs.
Iterable allows you to create segments based on customers’ attributes, (like demographic information) or behaviors (like their interactions with past campaigns). Behavioral, demographic, and location segment analytics are being rolled out incrementally. Iterable AI’s Predictive Goals feature can also automatically create segments.
Like Iterable, Braze allows you to segment based on user attributes or behaviors via the platform’s segment filters. Braze also offers location targeting based on detecting a customer’s location when they last used your app.
Data and integrations
Iterable and Braze have very similar data models, which define strict data types for all data fields; the rigidity inherent in this approach can make it difficult to manage messy or broken data. Both platforms support objects, arrays, and arrays of objects within nested data, as well as nested data on both profile and event attributes. That said, neither allow users to create custom objects with custom names and attributes, and the depth of nesting is limited. If your data doesn’t align with the objects in the platform, it can be a struggle to integrate it and make the best use of it. Both Iterable and Braze also limit the amount of data you can store and use without incurring upcharges.
Getting data into Iterable and Braze is also similar. Both have the same options for ingesting data: an SDK, an API, webhooks, and CSV uploads. (Objects and arrays, however, can only be updated through the API.) Iterable and Braze each have a handful of built-in integrations with customer data platforms (CDPs); while there’s not much overlap between the two, they both offer integrations with two of the most popular CDPs: Segment and mParticle.
Multi-channel automations and workflows
Both Iterable and Braze support email, SMS, push, and in-app messaging. Iterable also features a mobile inbox that allows customers to re-engage with in-app messages, while Braze offers content cards as an optional feature.
Using Iterable’s API, you can automate event-triggered campaigns with dynamic content across multiple channels. A drag-and-drop workflow editor allows you to define events, messages, time delays, and send time optimization.
With Braze, you can create triggered campaigns that include more than one messaging channel, but they’re limited to one-off messages, which can make it more difficult to craft a holistic customer journey. And you can’t edit active workflows or zoom in and out of workflows to see the big picture. Braze does offer more robust feature for building multi-channel automated campaigns with its Canvas Flow feature, though it’s only available to users on an annual plan.
One frustration some marketers experience with Iterable is the inability to track anonymous users and events. That can leave some gaps in data, since marketers can’t tie anonymous behavior to customers once their identities become known.
Braze, on the other hand, captures anonymous user data, but brands should be aware that ingesting that data can wind up costing extra due to Braze’s pricing structure. Another challenge is that anonymous users retain a separate ID in the platform even after they’re identified, which leaves you with duplicate IDs.
A/B testing and experimentation
Iterable’s Experiments feature allows for robust A/B testing. In addition to testing a variety of elements within one channel, you can test channels against each other for specific messages.
Braze supports both A/B and, unlike Iterable, multivariate testing as well. Braze also features some AI-assisted testing options. Some users, however, find the A/B testing metrics overwhelming and struggle to make the data actionable.
Metrics and analytics
Iterable offers campaign analytics, which can be exported, a configurable dashboard, a send calendar, and custom reports.
Braze offers an analytics dashboard plus custom reports and KPI tracking. It also offers an add-on feature that allows data exports to enable analytics on a limited set of BI/analytics platforms.
Customer.io: an alternative to Iterable and Braze
Finding the right MAP for your needs doesn’t have to be limited to choosing between Iterable and Braze. There are a lot of contenders on the market, and Customer.io has some distinct benefits that might fit your needs. These three seasoned contenders have all been around for over a decade (Braze since 2011, Customer.io since 2012, and Iterable since 2013), but have taken different paths toward delivering on the promise of data-driven, personalized marketing at scale.
What is Customer.io?
Customer.io is a multi-channel customer engagement platform built to scale with your business. With a data-first approach, the platform allows you to build sophisticated workflows and campaigns, create precise segments, and engage customers at every stage of their journey. The true value of Customer.io comes from having all your data, messaging, and channels in one place — where you can get the most out of every feature without worrying about upcharges for using your data or losing access to it.
Top Customer.io features
- Direct and third-party data integrations, multiple options for ingesting/exporting data, and Transactional and RESTful APIs
- Powerful segmentation engine with no caps on messages, attributes, triggers, and more
- Intuitive workflow builder for sophisticated automated campaigns triggered by segments, events, dates, forms, and webhooks
- Flexible data model with integrated data warehouse sync, batch updates, and complex nesting
- Email, SMS, push, in-app, and webhooks, easily integrated within a single workflow
- Best-in-class customer support with chat, email, and dedicated success managers
Customer.io vs. Iterable
Customer.io and Iterable share the goal of enabling personalized cross-channel marketing at scale. But there are a few key areas where Customer.io does things differently, enabling more flexibility and ease of use.
- Flexible data model. Customer.io’s data model makes it easy to ingest and update your data. In contrast to Iterable, Customer.io doesn’t require specific data types, so you don’t have to worry about losing data during an integration, and you can easily change the value type of data fields. Plus, you can update information through any data source (including doing batch updates); Iterable only allows updating through an API. Customer.io also empowers you to do more with your data through native data warehouse sync, data campaigns, and unlimited API calls — with no upcharges for any of it.
- Anonymous user tracking. Unlike Iterable, Customer.io tracks the behavior of anonymous users, then merges that data with individuals when they make themselves known. This gives you a holistic view of a customer’s entire journey, helping you separate leads from customers and deliver personalized, relevant content at the right time.
- Cross-workspace workflows. One of the features that customers most appreciate in Customer.io is the ability to copy campaign workflows from one workspace to another, something that can’t be done in Iterable. This enables brands managing multiple products to leverage the most successful workflows across workspaces without rebuilding them from scratch.
- Uncomplicated implementation. Implementing Iterable tends to require significant engineering team effort, and the onboarding/setup process can be lengthy. Customer.io is built for straightforward implementation, even if you don’t have engineering resources available, with thorough documentation and no onboarding or set-up fees.
- Excellent customer support. While Iterable users can find support from others in an online community, getting help from a live support person isn’t always easy. At Customer.io, support is front and center, which is reflected in our 99% CSAT. In addition to community support, customers can get immediate help from our experts through live chat and receive responses to support emails within two hours during business hours. And you have the option for a 90-day onboarding plan or a dedicated customer success manager, depending on the pricing tier you choose.
- Inclusive pricing model. Iterable’s price point is relatively lofty, and you can expect frequent upcharges for fundamentals like events, API calls, adding attributes, message sends, data storage, and more. Users don’t have the option of a free trial to get a feel for the platform, and there’s no option for monthly plans. With Customer.io, on the other hand, base pricing includes unlimited events & attribute data, SMS, connected forms, deliverability monitoring, and more. Customer.io also offers a free trial, and you can choose monthly, annual, or multi-years plans.
Customer.io vs. Braze
Customer.io and Braze both enable targeted mobile and email messaging. A few key differences, however, make Customer.io a particularly valuable tool for effective multi-channel strategies.
- Robust, multi-channel workflow builder. The limitations of Braze’s campaign workflows present challenges for strategic multi-channel marketing. Customer.io’s intuitive drag-and-drop workflow builder allows you to include multiple channels in a single campaign — including email, SMS, push, in-app, and webhooks — with multiple messages, paths, and integrated A/B testing. And, unlike with Braze, you can edit active workflows, create multiple workspaces, and copy workflows across workspaces.
- Deep and flexible data model. While both Customer.io and Braze support nested data, Braze is limited to one nested level, while Customer.io offers unlimited levels. Braze also limits data sources for object and array updates; Customer.io does not. And while Braze’s rigid data model defines strict types for all data fields, Customer.io doesn’t require data types, which reduces the chance of losing data in integrations and enables more options for using data in your campaigns. Finally, getting your data out of Braze so you can work with it in other tools can also pose a problem; you’ll need to pay for an add-on, which limits data export options to just a few partners. Customer.io places no limits on exporting your data to any place you want it to go and, unlike Braze, features native data warehouse sync to send out information without a third-party tool or coding required.
- Integrated multi-channel messaging. Braze was and still is a mobile-first platform, and it has advanced in-app messaging and mobile SDKs. That said, their frameworks rest on aging infrastructure that slows innovation and a narrow focus on mobile. Customer.io started with email and expanded its focus to include mobile as part of a multi-channel messaging approach, giving it stronger cross-channel orchestration.
- Anonymous user tracking. While Braze and Customer.io both track anonymous user data, there’s a major downside to Braze’s approach: anonymous users get a unique ID that cannot change, meaning that those same people get a new ID once identified, with no deduping functionality. That leads to duplicate profiles and an inability to seamlessly integrate a customer’s entire journey in one profile. Customer.io, on the other hand, easily merges anonymous data with known IDs; once a customer provides their email address, their previous behaviors are automatically associated with their profile. Customer.io’s pricing plans also don’t put a cap on data use, whereas anonymous user actions (like interacting with your website) take up the limited data storage space in Braze, which can lead to upcharges if you exceed your plan’s cap.
- Intuitive reporting & analytics. Braze’s reporting options are somewhat flexible, but can require a lot of manual labor to clean up and interpret compared to Customer.io’s user-friendly dashboards and reports. A/B testing results are more intuitive in Customer.io, too, with an easy-to-use interface that shows you exactly what’s working and what’s not. Braze’s testing features produce a flood of data that can be hard to interpret.
- Ease of implementation. Braze’s architecture and interface require a fairly heavy lift from an engineering team, and marketers need extensive education to use the platform. With Customer.io, set-up is simple even without tapping into engineering resources, There are no with no onboarding or set-up fees, and you have the option for a dedicated customer success manager to assist from implementation and beyond.
- Inclusive pricing model. Braze’s pricing is based on data consumption, or “data points.” Just about anything you do with your data uses up data points, including indispensable functions like changing attributes and data warehouse sync; API calls and event triggers are also capped. Tracking anonymous users also eats up data points. The complexity of their pricing can leave users uncertain about how much they can do with their data without incurring extra charges (and lead to billing surprises). Customer.io’s transparent pricing model is designed to ensure you can leverage all your data without worrying about increasing your spend, and there are no limits on attributes, segments, API calls, events, or triggers.
Iterable vs. Braze vs. Customer.io
Ultimately, the MAP you choose needs to align with your business goals and marketing strategy. As you’re comparing options, consider questions like:
- What channels are you using now, and which ones are you under-utilizing or missing out on?
- What do you know and not know about your complete customer journey, and how are you reaching customers at every milestone?
- How much time does your engineering team have to support implementation and maintenance?
- How much would limitations on your data use slow down innovation and optimization of your messaging strategy?
Your data can unlock the power of personalization. That’s why we’ve built a platform that ensures you can easily access and use all your data with no limits: bringing it into the platform, incorporating it into your campaigns in real time, and sending it out into other parts of your martech stack. We’d love to walk you through how Customer.io could help you harness the power of your data and set you up with a free 14-day trial so you can see it in action yourself. Book your demo to get started!