Admin Fridays Are Happy Fridays

Rita Caetano

Does your to-do list keep getting longer even though you check things off? Do you struggle to manage your calendar? If you’re nodding along, then you’ve probably experienced similar challenges as me. Whether you’re in a customer-facing role or not, staying organized and in control of your schedule is essential for productivity.

I’m Rita, a Customer Success Manager (CSM) at Customer.io, and I want to share my experience in hopes it will help you as well. 

The Challenge: Keeping Customers Happy While Maintaining a Balanced Calendar

My goal as a CSM is to keep my customers happy and looked after, but it is sometimes very challenging to juggle everything. 

I have weeks where my calendar is full of customer meetings that I do not even have the chance to check my inbox. I need to send a follow-up email with every meeting, which adds another task to my ever-growing to-do list. And on top of that, I need to stay current with the latest updates and features being made in the product so I can share with my customers and provide them with the best possible service. After all, we are a tech company and are constantly changing, evolving, and innovating! This means reading articles, watching videos/meetings, and doing online trainings. 

The backlog quickly becomes massive, and two main problems arise—customers do not get what they need when they need it, and you get stressed out about it.

The Solution: Admin Fridays

And then, suddenly, an obvious solution came to mind—Admin Fridays! After weeks of feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, I decided to block my next Friday to make sure I closed all matters for that week. 

Admin Friday Goals:

  • Complete my task list for that week: product updates, trainings, etc. 
  • Make sure the follow-ups sent to customers were personalized, clear, detailed, and valuable.
  • Reduce my stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed to start Monday fresh rather than play catchup from the week before. 

The Outcome: A Happier, Less Stressed CSM

Fridays are now uninterrupted focus time. Whether it’s for diving into a complicated customer use case, building a presentation, or even writing this blog post! Admin Fridays are the equivalent of professional me-time days, and the activities I focus on are sometimes different tasks that need my undivided attention.

Both myself and, surprisingly, my customers got used to Amin Fridays. Most of them already know that they will get whatever they need (troubleshooting/investigating an issue, advice on strategy, account analysis) by Friday to continue with their project. They no longer feel the need to remind me, and I no longer feel like I am not meeting our customer’s expectations. Overall, the health score of the relationship is the one that wins!

Tips on Decreasing Stress and Implementing Your Own Admin Friday

  • No meetings on Fridays. This time is for everything else that needs undivided attention. 
  • Structure your day. Schedule the day with the several tasks you need to complete and stand by it.
  • How about some music? Most people really benefit from a soundtrack when focusing on a project. 
  • Turn off Slack notifications. Schedule two times during the day where you will spend 15 minutes checking notifications.
  • Check it off. Tick all the boxes on your to-do list and enjoy the satisfaction!

Customer Success Manager Rita Caetano

Rita is based in Portugal and oversees customers all over Europe. When not at work, Rita enjoys travel, all things food-related, and candlemaking. Fun fact: Rita is also a trained makeup artist and led the team in a session on how to get the perfect skin during our last virtual retreat.

Customer.io is hiring! View our open positions and apply today. 

How Spotahome became 5x more efficient with Customer.io

Lucy Wen

Spotahome is an online platform where people can book short-term and long-term home rentals. Working in 28 countries across Europe, they meet renters in the digital age by enabling every step of the process to be done 100% online. They offer in-person verifications on properties to ensure that each listing is up to their standard and provide a secure checkout experience for their tenants.

Spotahome doesn’t just use Customer.io to send messages in their customer lifecycle journey. Their primary business goal, which they use Customer.io for, is to increase engagement on both the landlord and tenant side to increase revenue. With Customer.io, they have seen that about 50% of all their bookings (and therefore revenue) happen after a customer has opened an email from them. Through Customer.io, Spotahome is able to run tests on their processes to improve operational efficiency.

Engineering Team, We’re Breaking Up With You

One of the biggest goals Spotahome wanted to accomplish by moving to Customer.io was to decouple the engineering team from the marketing team, while also enabling other departments to generate value. Previously, every change had to go through the engineering team because everything was hardcoded. They wanted to give marketers the freedom to change things without the assistance of an engineer. By gaining autonomy with campaign creation in Customer.io, they knew other teams would also be able to self-service themselves when they needed to communicate with the end-user. 

And that’s exactly what happened when they moved all their communication to Customer.io. Now, they have 20% of their entire organization actively using Customer.io, spanning marketers, product managers, engineers, designers, and their operations team. With so many teams empowered with the ability to create complex campaigns with webhooks without having technical knowledge, they have seen business operations improve immensely. 

“One of the biggest successes I’ve seen with Customer.io is being able to have multiple teams use the platform to generate value. Because the UI is so intuitive, anyone can go in and start building complex campaigns.”

Jorge Alonso, Marketing Manager

So…How is Having More Cooks in the Kitchen Beneficial?

An operational challenge Spotahome used to have was not knowing whether a property was still available to rent or not. Because landlords could have rented out their properties on other platforms without notifying Spotahome, this posed a huge challenge when trying to keep accurate and up-to-date listings on their platform. 

Armed with a mixture of time-based and event-based triggers, Spotahome’s operations team was able to deploy campaigns to solve this problem. One of these campaigns entails sending landlords an email 45 days before their property is set to become available. In the campaign, they ask landlords to validate that their property will still be available with just a click of a button. For properties that are already listed on their site as ‘currently available’, they send a similar campaign to landlords who have not refreshed their listing in the past 7 days to make sure it’s still available. This effort has been an easy and low-effort way for landlords to stay engaged with Spotahome while keeping inventory hygiene clean.

To Automate or not to Automate?

Another innovative way Spotahome uses Customer.io is to determine the best strategies for automated communication via our A/B testing functionality.

Spotahome’s general approach has always been to lean on personalized and human touches to deliver the best customer experiences. Much of their communication during a tenant’s booking process was personally done by one of their Customer Experience Agents.

Spotahome started to wonder whether certain touchpoints along the checkout funnel could be more automated, or if they really needed a Customer Experience Agent to drive the highest conversions. They began testing this hypothesis in Customer.io by creating one path where a customer received automated messages and one where the Customer Experience Agent reached out personally. After spending some time funneling users down both paths at random, they found no significant difference in conversion between customers who received the automated messages versus customers who received a personalized touch. 

Because there was no significant difference, Spotahome keeps that touchpoint as an automated message to save time and resources of their valuable agents. 

The impact of this test has been a huge win for efficiency. By freeing up their agent’s time, each agent is now able to manage 5x more bookings than before without sacrificing conversion!

Verifying Properties

In addition to testing best messaging automation practices, they’ve also enabled automation byways of webhooks and event triggers to streamline the way they verify properties.

Recently, Spotahome had decided to let their tenants request which properties they want to be verified. Since Spotahome has tens of thousands of properties listed, it made sense for the tenants tell them which properties they wanted to be verified first instead of Spotahome making the guess.

At first, the process went something like this: users would request verification of a property, and a Spotahome associate would manually reach out to the landlord to start the verification process.

Now, thanks to Customer.io’s webhook actions, Spotahome can cut out the middle (hu)man. When a tenant requests to verify a property, Customer.io uses that event as a trigger to enter the landlord into a campaign to arrange for the verification of the property. This webhook and campaign logic allows renters and landlords to interact with one another in a controlled environment, increasing efficiency and moving things along faster.

Results

Through these learnings and changes, Spotahome has seen their customer retention rate increase from 5% to 7%- a 40% incremental increase! These retention and engagement practices have contributed to 15-20% of Spotahome’s revenue, which has all been made possible by Customer.io’s ability to enable testing and enforce operational efficiency with messaging practices.

8 Tips To Successfully Set Up an Account

Shannon Nishi

Congratulations, you’re opening a brand new account with Customer.io! We know first hand the excitement that must be brewing to have the world of Customer.io right at your fingertips and a blank slate to make all your marketing automation dreams come true.

Before you begin to build mind-blowing campaign workflows and click-worthy newsletters, take a look at some of the top tips from our Customer Success team on how to lay the foundation for an optimal Customer.io workspace.

1. Put Your Plans to “Paper”

Well-thought-out integrations tend to start on whiteboards and spreadsheets. Aligning with internal stakeholders on what campaigns you will be building and what data points you need will be essential to your success early on. Being able to see this visualization on a piece of paper, whiteboard, spreadsheet, or equivalent will help make sure everyone is on the same page.

Once you’ve outlined the intended outcomes, work backwards to first identify what user attributes and event data you need. Once you have those mapped out, you’ll naturally arrive at the requirements for your integration. 

2. Standardize Your Attributes

An attribute is generally a singular piece of information that is related to the customer profile (think first name, plan type, subscription start date) and an event is an action or behavior that a user performs either one or many times over the course of their lifecycle (think payment completed, call scheduled, or plan upgraded).

While there are reserved attributes in Customer.io accounts such as ’email’ and ‘ID’, the large majority of attributes will be custom and based on the data you send in through integrations.

When naming your attributes, we advise using all lowercase characters and avoid using spaces. Instead, replace them with underscores (e.g. first_name or plan_type). When attribute formats are standardized, it’ll be easier for your team to reference these attributes when segmenting and personalizing content using liquid in the future.

3. Don’t Forget about created_at

Speaking of reserved attributes, the ‘created_at’ attribute comes highly recommended by our Customer Success team. This attribute should be sent in UNIX format and reflect when the profile was created in your database. It’s important to note that this is not necessarily the same as when the profile was created in Customer.io.

This attribute comes in handy down the road to identify audiences that joined at specific times or when troubleshooting any issues that may arise regarding your data integrations.

4. First Things First, Campaigns and Transactional Emails

While it can be tempting to start sending large volume newsletters as soon as your workspace is configured, this is not something we recommend because it can have detrimental impacts on your domain health and overall deliverability reputation.

Focus on campaigns and transactional messages first so you organically ramp up the volume of your sent emails in the beginning. This will give your sending domain a moment to settle into the new environment and give you a pulse on deliverability health before you begin sending newsletter-style blasts.

5. Leave your Baggage, but Bring Your Engagement Data

One of the benefits of moving to a new platform and starting with a blank slate is getting to fix all the things that drove you bonkers about your previous setup! That said, grabbing any data on how your contacts have engaged with your messages before you migrate will give you a leg up when it comes to your deliverability strategy with Customer.io.

We recommend that you pull any lists from your existing platforms of people who have opened an email from you in the last four months. This list will serve you well as it’ll include users who you can build engaged audience segments with and reduce the risks of damaging your domain reputation.

Sending emails to people that have not opened an email in over four months presents higher risks of ISPs dinging your sending reputation and also poses an increased chance that your emails will be reported by users as spam.

6. Build an Engagement Filter and use it Forever

When it comes to a great deliverability strategy, we know that nuance is the name of the game. If you’re on our Premium Plan, your dedicated Customer Success Manager and our Deliverability team are here to help you strategize every step of the way.

We have tried and true best practices that we recommend for all our customers. One of the best and easiest things you can do to benefit your deliverability health is to use a data-driven segment to capture people that have opened an email in the past four months. This will become an engagement filter that should be applied to all of your newsletters and non-transactional campaigns so you’re not messaging people who are unlikely to engage.

7. Configure Google Postmaster Tools

Google Postmasters Tool is a reporting tool from Gmail that provides insights as to how audiences are interacting with your emails within your domain and translates it into deliverability health. Because Gmail is one of the largest ISPs used industry-wide, this can be an excellent resource to help evaluate the sending reputation of your domains and IPs as you begin sending emails through Customer.io.

Google Postmaster Tools is free to set up, though you may need some assistance from a colleague that can verify the domain in the DNS. When setting up your domain in Postmasters, you’ll need to authenticate your Customer.io subdomain. From there, you’ll be able to see additional insights into your email performance and have access to tools to troubleshoot if you run into any deliverability hiccups.

8. Don’t Underestimate the Power of the Sticky

Sticky Notes were built as a hack in one of our virtual retreats and having them now leaves us wondering… how did we ever get by without these? There are a lot of moving pieces when it comes to migrating your high-impact campaigns to Customer.io. Use Sticky Notes to write reminders for yourself on items to come back to, detail specifics for other collaborators on the workflows, and jot down questions along the way.

These Customer Success-approved tips will pave the way for you to focus on building a personalized messaging experience for your audience so that they can benefit from everything you have to offer. For more detailed articles and best practices, check out our getting started docs. We can’t wait to see what you build!

How Olivia Doubled their Onboarding Activation Rate

Lucy Wen

Olivia helps people spend smart and save more. Powered by AI, this financial advisor app analyzes their customers’ spending habits and delivers personalized recommendations on how to live well for less.

The Challenge Operating on a marketing messaging platform with less-than-ideal testing capabilities, workspace configurations, reporting, and customer service.

The Fix A platform and partner with cohort testing capabilities, flexible segmentation, accurate real-time reporting, and a Customer Success team who proactively collaborates to drive results.

The Result 2x increase in customer onboarding activation, 2 full days won back per month due to efficiency, and a treasure trove of features and analytics that drive optimization.

Outgrowing A Limiting Email Provider

With a rapidly growing customer base, Olivia needed a more feature-rich messaging provider who would also partner with them. Their existing provider, Mailchimp, just couldn’t keep up with their evolving needs.

That’s when Marketing Manager, Heloisa Assis, went on the hunt for a solution that would enable Olivia’s small-but-mighty team to consolidate their separate systems and work more efficiently together. She had used Braze at a previous company, but ultimately decided to go with Customer.io for our ability to not only scale with their growth, but for how cost-effective our solution was for a growing business.

Backing up Theories with Cohort Testing

Getting customers to connect their bank account after signing up is Olivia’s primary activation step. While on their previous messaging provider, they had a hunch that they could increase their activation rate by sending reminders to connect their bank accounts one day after signing up, instead of 3 days after. Without having the ability to test timing differences in Mailchimp, their hands were tied. 

Once Olivia implemented Customer.io, they got to testing their time-based theory right away. It turns out they were on to something – asking customers to connect their bank account one day after signing up yielded a 5.4% conversion rate, compared to their previous 2.2% conversion – a 2x increase in conversion!

With the solid evidence Customer.io is able to equip Olivia with, they can test and back up their hypothesis on best strategies to drive the highest results. Now, Olivia is taking a deeper dive into testing content including experimenting with subject lines, content, and more. Their latest experiment includes testing whether channel, push notifications, or email return the highest activation conversion. 

Multiple Workspaces are Safe Spaces

With audiences around the globe, Olivia requires a high degree of complexity in segmentation across multiple languages and differentiating between their B2C and B2B products. 

On their previous provider, they weren’t able to keep their Irish and Portuguese audiences separate. With no clear delineation between the two customer bases, they once accidentally blasted their Irish audience with an email in Portuguese. 

“Human error is a part of life but if we can avoid it, that’s ideal. With separate workspaces, I can keep our users’ information separate to avoid errors, and avoid having to send apology emails.”

Heloisa Assis, Marketing Manager

While there is never fully escaping human error, Customer.io’s multiple workspaces greatly reduce the likelihood of a mixup. Olivia keeps their Irish, Portuguese, and B2B audiences separated into different workspaces with their corresponding data and associated API calls in Customer.io. Now, Olivia can confidently send emails without fear of mishaps.

Not only do they separate out their workspaces by countries and products, but they also created a ‘Dev Workspace’. They dedicate this workspace to sending transactional messages that transcend their whole user base, regardless of country or product.

Data Access: The Fuel to Segmentation 

The Olivia marketing team was limited by the time it took them to request and manually create segments. This process previously took up to 2 weeks due to the multiple teams involved and security compliance in pulling users’ email addresses. 

Thanks to Customer.io’s ability to create manual segments through a user’s unique ID instead of by email, segmenting only takes a click of a button and a few seconds to generate. Olivia’s marketing team no longer has to rely on a member of their data team and be tied down with these long security protocols. 

Now with accessible segmentation, they’re able to easily compile lists of customers who have asked for a specific feature to be developed and message them when it launches – helping to drive personalization and the 1:1 feeling the brand aspires to have with their customers. 

“Recently, I created a segment for people who had asked for a feature we were launching. Those emails perform really well because people know that we’re paying attention to what they’ve asked for. With Customer.io, it’s really easy and saves me a lot of time.”
Heloisa Assis, Marketing Manager

A True Partner

When things go wrong, you need to know your vendor has your back. Reaching a real person when things were going sideways with MailChimp was nearly impossible. As a team that needs to move fast, waiting days for an issue to be resolved was bottlenecking their marketing efforts. That’s why Olivia has loved their dedicated Customer Success Manager (CSM) at Customer.io, who not only responds quickly, but proactively surfaces and resolves issues before they even have the chance to become apparent. 

In one instance, their CSM spotted an individual sender who was bringing down their deliverability rate in their shared IP. Before Olivia had the chance to notice the effects of this, their CSM had already moved them to a better-performing IP. 

Additionally, while Olivia knew that warming up their IP during implementation was going to be a process, it was a big reassurance when their CSM validated that they should send a consistent flow of emails so the IP could warm up to them (though it seemed counterintuitive). While this is a tactic they originally hesitantly had in mind, it was nice to have confirmation that it was the right move. 

Final Thoughts

As Olivia’s marketing team evolves to move faster and more accurately, Customer.io is there with them to help them along the way. With the power to test their theories for optimal results, separate their workspaces, make segmentation accessible, and benefit from the guidance of their CSM, their team is able to more than double their onboarding activation rate, create a more personal relationship with the customers, and get valuable time back.

Restructuring and Rejuvenating the Sales Team at Customer.io

Chris Parker

I joined Customer.io in June of 2021 as the VP of Sales. Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside and collaborate with excellent sales leaders who brought unique leadership styles and perspectives to their respective teams. Through this, I’ve learned that there’s no silver bullet when setting up the proper structure for your sales team—there are many effective strategies, and the right approach is situational.

In 2020 Customer.io saw record growth, over 70% year-over-year, after introducing its Premium offering to the market and establishing its first true sales team. Customer.io primarily relied on inbound leads but was in the process of growing an outbound sales team to help accelerate growth. The structure was there, and the goal for 2021 was to double down on a tremendous year and continue the massive year-over-year growth.

With a rapidly growing sales team, I saw opportunities to improve our sales process and make the team more efficient to maintain our year-over-year growth. 

Reasons for Restructuring

Setting the team up for continued, scalable success was the ultimate goal when I joined the company, and to do that, there were some immediate adjustments to be made. By working alongside several amazing colleagues, we set these primary goals:

  • Unify the Sales organization as one connected team.
  • Lay a foundation for career enhancement and upward mobility.
  • Enable a culture of prospecting and self-accountability.
  • Increase time spent on high-value tasks to improve productivity.

6 Changes We Made to the Sales Org in 2021

With those goals in mind, we made these immediate changes within my first three months leading the team. 

1. Combining Inbound and Outbound Sales Development

The Challenge: The addition of an Outbound team created two separate teams with different goals, leading to gaps in communication and collaboration.

The Solution: We combined inbound and outbound responsibilities into a single role, Sales Development Representative (SDR). By doing this, we were able to maximize our coverage for inbound prospects while having the team primarily focus on outbound prospecting. This also allowed us to level the playing field for all SDRs to expedite career progression for top performers.

2. Sales Pods

The Challenge: We had a significant separation between our SDR team and Account Executives (AEs), where it felt like they had different goals and disjointed targets.

The Solution: We wanted to drastically change the structure to get everyone out of that mindset and become a connected team. I introduced Sales Pods consisting of two AEs and three SDRs for each industry we serve. This fosters collaboration and allows the team to help each other better understand what drives those customers and what features help their companies be successful.

3. Prospecting-First Mentality 

The Challenge: The SDRs did all the outbound prospecting and fed the leads to the AEs. 

The Solution: To become a collaborative team using the Pod structure, we adopted a prospecting-first mentality. We arrange our Sales Pods by industry vertical (EdTech, FinTech, etc), which aid for repeatable prospecting and subject matter expertise! By having the entire team source their own outbound leads, everyone becomes accountable for their results, giving them direct control over their success. 

4. Focusing on High-Value Activity

The Challenge: Lack of cross-team collaboration led to many internal discussions siloed from the rest of the sales team without any resolutions. 

The Solution: In sales, it’s crucial to spend time on “high value” activities directly related to obtaining your quota. For example, sales reps should maximize time spent with clients directly, advance new business opportunities, and limit time spent in non-selling activities such as process discussions and internal meetings. When joining the team, one of my main objectives was to reduce the amount of time that reps were spending on operational tasks and pave the way for hitting quota across both the AE and SDR teams. To do this, we developed a Sales Operations team, improved collaboration with Marketing Operations, Billing, Customer Success, and other internal departments to clarify roles and responsibilities and create efficiencies every step of the way! 

5. Career Pathing

The Challenge: We were laser-focused on hitting quota that we didn’t have a defined and documented career path, leading to decreased trust and a lack of confidence in career advancement at Customer.io. 

The Solution: We first needed to find a way to continually hit the quota. The previous five changes helped us achieve that. Career progression wouldn’t come off as genuine until we could repeatedly attain quota. There’s a big difference between showing a set career path and just talking about one. We couldn’t talk about it without showing the team an actionable plan and career ladder they could easily understand. We’ve developed a sales career pathing plan for SDR to Sr. SDR or SDR Manager to AE to Sr. AE. Each role is clearly defined and eliminates any confusion around career advancement opportunities. 

6. Performance-Based Promotions

The Challenge: We grew a large SDR team but didn’t have any guidelines set around when they’d get promoted.

The Solution: The SDR team is the engine that powers the sales machine. When firing on all cylinders, opportunity creation is up, deals are closing, and life is good. Top-performing SDRs need not only to be celebrated but also allow for advancement within the team and company. Following the sales career pathing we set, SDRs are eligible for promotions based upon their individual quota attainment over a six-month rolling period. Since the SDR can either go down the AE path or SDR Manager path (among other options), we try to have these conversations early on and make sure we’re setting them up for success and are aligned with their personal goals and aspirations. 

These six changes have allowed our Sales department to overcome immediate challenges and create a sustainable foundation for growth as we continue to scale our team and bring in more customers.

If I can say one thing with certainty, change is constant for a growing sales organization. We’ll continue to iron out our process, tighten up areas that need improvement, and optimize the buying experience for our customers as we enter 2022 and beyond.  

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford

Chris Parker

Chris joined Customer.io as the VP of Sales in June 2021. He lives north of Boston with his wife, two children, and dog.

Before Customer.io, Chris spent two years in Sales Leadership at Zaius, an Activated Customer Data Platform (CDP), recently acquired by Optimizely. Prior to Zaius, he spent nearly a decade at ownerIQ, a Second Party Data Marketplace for Retailers & Manufacturers. 

Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

Where in the US is John B?

Lacey Budd

For Outer Banks fans, we’re not talking about that John B but rather Customer.io’s very own John B, Controller by day and RV-lifer, well, all the time. 

John joined the company almost four years ago and decided to take to the road soon after. His travel companions include his wife Yvonne, dog Clancy, and friends and co-workers they meet along the way.

John answered a few of our burning questions about what it’s like to live and work from an RV. 

John B and his dog Clancy

“The best part of RV life is seeing so many wonderful places around the US, and seeing friends, family, and co-workers who we possibly would never have had the opportunity to visit outside of this lifestyle.”

When did you start working from your RV?

Traveling and living in an RV had never even crossed our minds until I started working for Customer.io in January 2018. We started toying with the idea, and before we knew it, we had purchased the truck and trailer and set a start date of June 1, 2018, to be full-time on the road.

Why did you choose RV life?

In 2017 we sold our home in Florida and moved to Nashville, intending to stay there. When I started working for Customer.io six months later, we realized we could live anywhere we wanted. We are not sure where the idea came from, but we love to travel and camp, so when combined with the flexibility provided by my new job, it just seemed to make sense.

What’s the best part of living and working in an RV?

Being able to see so many wonderful places around the US and seeing friends, family, and co-workers who we possibly would never have had the opportunity to visit outside of this lifestyle.

What’s been the biggest challenges you’ve faced working from an RV?

Finding adequate workspace is tricky in an RV. We sacrificed our dining table to put a desk in its place. It is not ideal, but I have had to adjust from my previous home office. Finding a good internet connection is always a concern. I have a primary and a backup hotspot, but sometimes the signals are still weak. We have to plan our stays in places not too far off the beaten path.

What have been your favorite places you visited?

  • My personal favorites were Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks in Utah. 
  • Yvonne’s favorites are Glacier National Park in Montana, Dead Horse Canyon State Park in Utah, and Harris Beach State Park in Brookings, Oregon.
  • Other highlights include Quebec City in Canada, White Sands National Park in New Mexico, the Luray Caverns in Virginia, and Yellowstone / The Grand Teton National Parks.
John's RV in Montana
John’s RV in Montana

Who from the team have you visited on your travels?

We recently visited Zack N (former Account Executive) in Tennessee and Aaron R (Technical Support Engineer) in South Carolina. A couple of years back, traveling through Portland, Oregon, I spent time in the (former) Portland office where I saw Colin, John A, Sonja, Bill, Joe, and others. With the team growing and expanding, I look forward to more opportunities to connect with fellow Amis around the US.

How has Customer.io helped enable you to travel from an RV?

  • The flexibility to both work remotely and in different time zones.
  • The support and encouragement from leadership and co-workers.
  • The generous PTO benefit allows us to work, travel, and explore.
  • The assurance that we have excellent health benefits wherever we go.

What are some future places you want to visit? 

Our 2022 plans include the Grand Canyon, Craters of the Moon National Monument, San Luis Obispo, and the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Festival.

Do you see yourself staying on the road?

We go back and forth on this, but we are still undecided as of today. We are definitely on the road for 2022, but beyond that is still to be determined. A likely scenario is that we will buy another home in 2023 but continue to RV at least part-time for several more years.

What are some tips for someone wanting to start their RV journey?

  • Do your homework! For some, keeping it simple yet spontaneous is the best way to enjoy this life. We spent countless hours researching (books, YouTube, blogs/forums) types of RV’s, places to stay, equipment needed, etc. 
  • Test the waters. Borrow or rent an RV or even a few different types to see how you like it short-term before committing to anything full-time. 
  • Don’t try to do too much at once. Our first six months nearly burnt us out as we tried to travel too far and see too many places in a short period of time. Now our pace is more relaxed, and we find ourselves enjoying things more.

You can follow along with John’s RV adventures on Instagram, and while you’re at it, follow Customer.io to stay up to date on all things #lifeatcustomerio!

Is the remote life for you? Learn more about what it’s like to work at Customer.io and check out our open positions. 

Starting My Dream Job at Customer.io

Aman Kaur

Before Covid, I never considered working anywhere but in an office. Post-Covid, I realized there are many benefits to working remotely, including giving me more time to spend with my family,

Being from India, I was concerned it would not be easy to find a remote job with a global company. I was happy to discover that Customer.io has everything I desire, including a well-connected team. From my first initial interviews with Russell, an Engineering Manager, and Natalie Leon, the Technical Recruiter; I felt that they were so happy and proud of their work and what they do as a team. 

I enjoy writing poetry in my free time. I thought this would be a good way to express my onboarding experience and what I have already learned about this great company.

“My Poetic Experience Joining Customer.io”

What once was like a dream, turned true when I had an offer from Customer.io. 
With happy tears in my eyes, I told myself, how can I ever say no.
						
One fine day, the bell rang, and it was a surprise for me.
The box had the latest MacBook and accessories.
						
Another good day, the bell rang with another surprise at the door.			
SwagUp goodies and an Oculus—I excitedly opened everything on the floor.
						
Then it was the day of joining the team, 
which was no longer a dream.
						
Everyone there is so happy and helpful.
Felt like God gifted my professional life a jewel.
						
But what about the feeling of missing out on an office.
I learned I could make my own space without worrying about my pocket.
						
I could also opt for a co-working space. 
I could work at my own pace.				
						
Time zone difference was another concern. 
"We respect it," they told me in return.
						
I smiled while setting my working hours.
It felt then like I had superpowers.
						
'Over-working is not encouraged,' said one of the docs. 
It was a surprising, delightful shock.
						
Here I realized that falling sick is alright,
and I can work in the dark or sunny bright.
						
Other good things here—motivation, inspiration, and appreciation.
It makes a person strong in any situation.
						
I thank God again and again.
Hard work never goes in vain.
			
I wish to see Customer.io grow in a positive trend.
I wish my journey never ends.
I wish my journey never ends. 
https://www.instagram.com/p/CW52T08JPj2/
Aman Kaur

Aman joined Customer.io in 2021 as a Software Engineer on our Mobile Squad. She lives in New Delhi, India with her husband and in-laws. 

“I recently accepted that I have a superwoman in me. I might not be Gal Gadot, but I am me, Amandeep Kaur, and I want to keep that confidence. Every woman is a superwoman, and it just takes some time to find oneself.”

A Note From Customer.io:

The pandemic changed the traditional concept of working in an office. Many companies have realized their employees do not need to work in a physical office environment every day. Customer.io pioneered this idea in 2013 when we chose a remote-first culture; Aman’s poem speaks to some aspects of this.

Our engineering team is always hiring. Check out our open positions!

The Engineering Team’s Fall 2021 Cleaning

Brian Sensale

Whenever I go on vacation, I like to spend a little time tidying up the house before I leave. There’s something to coming home to a messy house that just kills the relaxation you get from a bit of time away. That same principle applies when it comes to company retreats!

Customer.io recently held our Fall Virtual Retreat. But, before we slipped on our VR headsets, fired up our tiny campfires, and readied our kitchens for a baking competition, we spent a week doing a little Fall Cleaning. 

What is Fall Cleaning?

Fall Cleaning is an opportunity for the Engineering team to focus on group sharing, education, and, most importantly, taking care of the little tasks that never seem to bubble up the priority list. Our goal for the week was to connect better as a team, learn from each other, and do things that would make it easier to do our work by reducing the technical burden (sometimes referred to as tech debt).

Fall Cleaning Sessions

Twelve different engineers gave talks, including one who recently joined the team. Sprinkled throughout the week, and recorded for folks in different time zones, our team held several talks on a wide variety of topics, such as:

  • Introductions to technologies like React Native and Machine Learning.
  • Architecture discussions around our front and back end.
  • Discussing our engineering process and strategy at Customer.io.

Additionally, we held a separate Lightning Talk session, where folks spent five minutes or less on a topic. They introduced some internal tooling, gave debugging tips, and talked about interface design patterns. 

We didn’t just spend the week on a Zoom party, though. Our UI Developers spent a good portion of the week upgrading older components in anticipation of an upcoming major library upgrade. We got stuff done. Including:

  • Cleaned up tests, retired old test helpers, and reorganized files.
  • Fixed a bunch of warnings in our codebase and updated some of our dependencies.
  • Fixed an issue with our API clients.
  • Started a couple of hack projects we finished during the retreat—check out Sticky Notes if you haven’t!

What’s Next?

Did we fix everything? No, but that wasn’t the point. Fall Cleaning isn’t the only time we spend on learning or reducing the technical burden–we share throughout the year. When we work in an older area of code, we take time to tax the project and refactor if the opportunity presents itself. But having this dedicated time to take a thoughtful approach is helpful, as is the focus and energy of having the whole team working on it together. I cannot wait to see what the team tackles when it’s time for Spring Cleaning before we head to Athens, Greece in April 2022!

Engineering Manager Brian Sensale

Brian recently joined Customer.io as an Engineering Manager. He lives north of Boston, Massachusetts with his wife Megan, kids Celia and Audrey, their cats Lewis and Clark, and Celia’s goldfish Goldy and Feisty.

Our engineering team is always hiring. Check out our open positions!

5 Things I Learned From My Staycation Sabbatical

Kate White

When the operations team announced the new sabbatical benefit, I was only about a year away from being able to take advantage of it. My mind immediately envisioned a fantastic international traveling adventure. Then Covid hit. My travel visions were dialed back to an RV, cruising around the United States with my husband and kiddos. But as my planning continued to become more realistic, I realized that the most vital thing to do for my sabbatical was nothing extravagant at all—I craved a staycation. With four-year-old twins, nothing sounded more appealing than keeping them in their usual school routine and getting full, quiet days to myself at home.

I’m a planner. So even this me-time needed to have some structure. I planned to spend three days a week on purging and re-organizing various rooms in the house. The other two days, I’d allow myself to nerd out on side projects and learn fun, new tech things. 🤓

My last Friday before four weeks of work-free life felt like that moment in college when you walk out of your last final. When Monday arrived, after taking the girls to school, I popped headphones in my ears, cued to some podcasts I’d been waiting to listen to, and went after the toy closet and playroom.

Most of the four weeks went much like this. I kept my mind active and thinking as I love to do. I logged more steps than my usual desk-sitting days and satisfied my need for structure by organizing the house. I even published my first website and application from scratch using a no-code tool I’ve wanted to explore. I was able to genuinely devote my evenings to my husband and kids instead of house chores after a full day of work. And my relaxed mind allowed me to sleep better than I had in years!

Highlights from my sabbatical

  • Several hours on the phone with my best friend helping her through the stress of a cross-country house purchase.
  • Breakfast. Alone. At a cafe in a small town I happened upon while running errands.
  • Planning a fireplace remodel.
Kate White with her family.

What I learned

Aside from the fun tech knowledge I gained, I realized many things about these refreshing four weeks that I should carry into my life from here on out.

  1. All vacation days don’t need to be used for an actual vacation. Taking time for yourself is so important.
  2. It’s ok to take a few minutes away from my desk to actually eat meals at the kitchen table.
  3. To-do lists still motivate me, and that’s also ok.
  4. Evenings are far less stressful when spent enjoying time with your family.
  5. Lunch with a friend during the week(!) is not a sin.

Kate has been with Customer.io for five years. She joined the team as a Front-End Engineer and is now a Product Manager working on our Core Platform Squad. She lives outside Denver, Colorado, with her husband, twin girls, and dog, Liam.

Sabbaticals at Customer.io

After every four years of working at Customer.io, employees are eligible for a four-week paid sabbatical. During the sabbatical, you’ll receive an additional month of salary as a bonus to go somewhere nice or spend it on whatever you want.


Learn more about our company culture and benefits as well as view open positions here. Follow Customer.io on Instagram to see all the cool things people on our team are doing.

Why Demand Curve Trusts Customer.io Over Anyone Else

Lucy Wen

Demand Curve is dedicated to teaching companies, from startups to enterprise-sized businesses, the best of modern marketing techniques. They are on a mission to equip companies who don’t have the traditional resources by designing tailored growth programs that teach their clients everything from content marketing, landing page creation, market research, acquisition strategy, and more. Demand Curve is inspired by the marketing agency model but puts a spin on it by crafting strategic digital courses for all of their customers’ marketing needs. With Customer.io, they found the platform they could trust to deliver their marketing wisdom to help their customers grow.

Demand Curve has developed a sophisticated email program composed of several different messaging types within Customer.io:

  • A bi-weekly Growth Newsletter
  • Top of funnel conversion, i.e. follow-up emails for leads who expressed interest or requested a demo
  • Educational onboarding campaigns
  • Transactional receipts and confirmation emails
  • Re-engagement for inactive users
  • Emails soliciting feedback from customers

By building various messaging campaigns in one platform, Demand Curve can easily see and control all the messages they send their customers.

But it wasn’t always that simple.

The Journey

Before Customer.io, Demand Curve tried many different messaging platforms, including MailChimp, Intercom, Active Campaign, and Rejoiner. When they found Customer.io, a weight was immediately lifted off their shoulders. Finally, a platform they could trust with all the logic and flexibility needed to achieve their messaging goals, packaged in an easy-to-use user interface.

As seasoned marketers themselves, they already had a clear vision for their messaging approach. They knew which events they needed to send into Customer.io, which messaging features were crucial, and which integrations were required.

Unlimited Events, Limitless Possibilities

Rich event data can make or break campaign aspirations. Demand Curve knew that to achieve the engagement and re-engagement results they wanted, they needed a platform that could process vast amounts of user activity data.

Some platforms, including Intercom, limit you to only 10 attributes on any event, with any additional attributes automatically dropped. That hard limit was a hard-pass for Demand Curve. Customer.io has an event attribute limit of 100,000 bytes.

Deliverability You Can Count On

Deliverability was also an ever-challenging battle for Demand Curve while they were with other messaging providers. With Intercom, they had to be on a shared IP, with no option to be on a dedicated IP. Since switching to Customer.io, they’ve seen a drastic improvement with their deliverability because they can be on their own dedicated IP with fewer restrictions on who they are able to email their newsletter to – which now has a 40-50% open rate. 

With previous providers, Demand Curve found their analytics to be inadequate for what they needed. Customer.io provides analytics on performance and delivery on both a high-level and campaign-specific, which gives Demand Curve the ability to pinpoint what is working and where they need to pivot based on actionable insights within their dashboard.

Ease

Customer.io tries to make the road as easy as possible for customers to migrate their data into the platform, so that they can get started right away on building out complex campaigns with multiple event triggers and conditions.  

“The onboarding experience at Customer.io was so great. Segment has the ‘replay’ feature, so it was super easy to switch over. Other companies claimed to have easy integrations with Segment but we found out the hard way that it wasn’t true.” 

Neal O’Grady, Co-Founder of Demand Curve

In the past with other messaging providers, they found that implementation wasn’t as easy as advertised. With ActiveCampaign, for example, they were never able to actually hook up Segment, rendering the platform unusable to them. 

With Customer.io, Demand Curve estimates they save at least 4 hours a month on manual work, such as uploading CSVs. 

Another one of the reasons Demand Curve moved to Customer.io was how easily they could customize emails in the platform.  

“With Intercom, you have to do everything in HTML and we don’t always have a technical person for that.”
Neal O’Grady, Co-Founder of Demand Curve

With Customer.io’s easy-to-use platform, anyone within Demand Curve can create complex campaigns, without a dedicated employee.

Takeaways

Trust is at the core of everything Demand Curve does. Because of the nature of their consulting business, it’s crucial that they be able to communicate their expertise to their audience to foster trust. They’ve loved using Customer.io to push out newsletters that provide value to their audience, make announcements, collect feedback, and show their audience that they are a reliable source of knowledge.

Knowing what you want your messaging strategy to do is only half the battle when it comes to performing. Having a messaging partner that enables that vision is an underrated challenge to accomplishing your goals. With Customer.io, Demand Curve has been able to send messages to over 1.5 million profiles and rests easy knowing that those messages are delivered.

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