Quick Start Guide

Welcome to Customer.io! While the platform offers plenty of features and options, this guide breaks down the basic things you need to set up to help you get started as quickly as possible. You’ll create a workspace, import people, and set up your messaging channels!

 Are you new to Customer.io?

This page follows the basic setup path in Customer.io, so you can get started and follow along in the product. If you’re not using Customer.io yet and just looking for more in-depth information about Customer.io, check out the other pages in this section!

How Customer.io works

At its core, Customer.io helps you send messages to people, so you can foster a relationship with your audience to achieve your goals. The diagram below shows in a very simple sense, how it works:

flowchart LR a[External system]-->|add/update
people|e e-.->|export data|a[External system] subgraph e [Your Customer.io Workspace] c[Campaigns, broadcasts,
newsletters]-.->|send message|b[People] b-.->|update people
and trigger messages|c end

Customer.io is incredibly flexible in helping you achieve your messaging goals. Before you begin, ask the following questions. Your answers can help you understand what you need to do to “set up” Customer.io!

  1. Where do your “people” come from—your website, mobile app, backend database, etc? These are the data source(s) you should connect to Customer.io.
  2. What kinds of messages you want to send? These are the message channels you need to set up.
  3. What goals will your messages accomplish? These can help you determine the types of segmentsA segment is a group of people in your audience that you want to target with campaigns, messages, etc. You can join groups of people manually, or by attribues and event data. and campaignsA series of actions that you perform for each person who matches criteria. Campaigns typically send people a series of messages, but you can also use campaigns to send webhooks, update attributes, etc. you build!

Get started

When you start setting up Customer.io, we provide you with a Setup List. You don’t have to do everything on the list, but you must do the following things before you can really take advantage of Customer.io:

  1. Create an account and at least one workspace.
  2. Add people to your workspace.
  3. Set up the types of messages you want to send.

Create your workspace

After you create your account, you’ll make a workspace. You can think of a workspace as a container for your people, data, messages, etc. You can have more than one workspace, but, in general, you won’t share information across workspaces.

If you’re new to Customer.io, we encourage you to use the default settings. They support most use cases and you can change them later!

set up your first workspace
set up your first workspace

Add people to your workspace

To get started quickly, you can go to the People page in your workspace and add a person with a few attributes to test with, or upload a CSV of people.

Set up integrations to add people and their events to your workspace
Set up integrations to add people and their events to your workspace

But, to get the most out of Customer.io, you’ll probably want to set up one or more of the following integrations to identifyThe Customer.io operation that recognizes a person. When you call the method or API to identify a person, Customer.io either adds a person if they don’t exist in your workspace, or otherwise updates/associates data with a person. Activities before a person is identified may be attributed to an anonymous ID. people and capture their events from different sources:

flowchart LR subgraph 1 [Your Customer.io Workspace] c[Send campaigns
& newsletters]-.->b((People)) b-.->c end d[(Website)]-.->i[JS snippet]-.->1 e[(Backend system)]-.->f[Segment]-.->1 g[(Database)]-.->j[database sync]-.->1 h((You))-.->k[Upload CSV]-.->1 h-.->l[Manually add people]-.->1

What is a person in Customer.io?

It might help to understand what we mean by a “person”. In Customer.io, you’ll represent a person with three major things: identifiers, attributes, and events.

 Before you add people, think about the attributes and events you want to track

You’ll use attributes and events to group people into segmentsA segment is a group of people in your audience that you want to target with campaigns, messages, etc. You can join groups of people manually, or by attribues and event data., determining who goes through your campaignsA series of actions that you perform for each person who matches criteria. Campaigns typically send people a series of messages, but you can also use campaigns to send webhooks, update attributes, etc. and who you send messages to. Plan out your “groups” of people and the types of messages you want to send to make sure that you gather the right data in Customer.io!

Add yourself as a test person

If you’re new here, you might want to add yourself to your workspace, so you can test a campaign against yourself and get a feel for Customer.io without using your customers or users. Later in this guide, we’ll use your test person in a live segment and campaign.

  1. Go to the People page, click Add People and select Add a Person.
  2. Set your ID and email address. To make it easy, you might assign your test user an ID of 1.
  3. Add attributes to your person, like first_name and last_name. These are the values you’ll use to target yourself and personalize messages!
  4. Click Save Changes when you’re done.
add yourself in Customer.io
add yourself in Customer.io

Set up message channels

Before you can send messages, you need to configure the types of messages you want to send: email, push, in-app, Twilio SMS, or Slack. You can start with just one channel and add new ones later by going to Settings > Workspace Settings and click Get Started on the channel(s) you want to add.

After you set up a message channel, you can start using it in campaigns!

Set up the types of messages you want to send
Set up the types of messages you want to send
  • Email: You can deliver email through us or use your own provider. If you’re new to email marketing, it’s easiest to use us to use default settings and deliver email through us!

    Customer.io is the default option when you sign up, you’ll just have to authenticate your domain before you can send a message. We ensure that all email sent from us is authenticated and meets industry technical standards. We have a no-tolerance policy towards spammers and diligently monitor our network for denylistings, problematic senders, and other factors that could negatively impact your messages’ deliverability.

    You can also use your own account with any of the following fully-supported platforms:

  • Twilio SMS: If you already have a Twilio account, you can add your Account SID and an Auth Token, to send SMS messages from your workspace.
  • Push Notifications: If you’re starting fresh, you should integrate with our SDKs! If your app is already set up to receive push notifications, you can simply add your Apple Push Notification Service (APNS) and/or Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) credentials to.

    Push notifications often require some development effort. Even if your app is set up to receive push notifications, you may want to set up your app to send eventsSomething that a person in your workspace did. Events can trigger campaigns, add people to segments, etc. You can access event properties in liquid with {{event.<property>}} to Customer.io so you can trigger responsive push notifications.

    If you’re a developer, you might want to check out our SDKs or our integration guide.

    When you’re ready, you can send a simple push notification or use a custom push payload to send a push notification that includes a deep link or an image.

  • In-App Messages: Integrate our SDKs and then enable In-App Messaging in your workspace. Then you’ll be able to send messages to your app’s users from any campaign or broadcast!
  • Slack: Just Enable Slack and authorize Customer.io to send messages to your Slack workspace.

 You can send webhooks too!

A webhook is a call to an external system. You can use webhooks to fetch additional data that you want to use in your campaigns, trigger actions in an outside service, and so on!

What’s next?

If you’re ready, you can start creating live campaigns and send people messages. If you’re curious about other areas of Customer.io, check out the rest of our Getting Started section to learn more about the platform.

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