Segment vs RudderStack

As a SaaS company, you should be familiar with Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) by now. As I had mentioned in a previous article (where I compared Segment to mParticle) CDPs are essential for large businesses that want to have accurate and consistent data, and for businesses that don’t want to build an in-house warehouse from the ground up.

However, choosing the right CDP is as important as using one. While Segment may be one of the more popular choices for SaaS companies, there are several alternatives you should consider, such as RudderStack. Though RudderStack is less than four years old, it has proven itself to be a trustable and affordable tool for various businesses.

In this article, I’ll outline both Segment’s and RudderStack‘s advantages and disadvantages so that you can make an informed decision.

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Pro Tip:

If you are not satisfied with both tools, click here to see a better alternative 🙂

About Segment

Founded in 2011, Segment helps businesses understand, analyze and manage customer data from various sources. Segment is made to serve B2B service providers’ data analytics needs while helping them to get a holistic view of customer behaviour on different platforms. By using this data, businesses can measure and work on important SaaS marketing metrics. For this reason, Segment is one of the most popular CDPs for cloud-based apps.

Segment’s features are categorized based on three needs (marketing, product, and engineering) and four product types, which are:

  1. Connections: include the features designed to collect, unify and analyze data from multiple platforms. This category includes features such as Data Debugger, Replay and Functions.
  2. Protocols: include the features designed to ensure data accuracy, such as the Automatic Data Validation feature.
  3. Personas: include the features designed to create customer profiles and personalize interactions, such as the Journeys and Identities features.
  4. Twilio Engage: similar to personas, this category includes features that can customize marketing campaigns according to the channel and customer base. It’s the result of the combination of the Customer Engagement Platform Twilio and the CDP Segment.

Note that some of these features are only included in Segment’s Business plan, which is the most expensive of the three plans that it offers.

If you are considering Fivetran as well, check out Segment vs Fivetran article!

Segment’s Features

Though Segment has a long list of features, the most popular ones are:

  • Functions: this feature allows you to connect new platforms with the minimal amount of code, transform data in the form of webhooks into events, and use built-in templates to make custom integrations faster.
  • Journeys: this feature lets you create customized journeys for your customers. This is especially useful when you’re tyring to optimize customer engagement for your platforms.
  • Privacy: the controls under this feature make it possible for you to make a risk assesment based on data safety, making GDPR compliance easier.

The rest of the list includes these features:

  • Account Based Marketing
  • Data Capture, Transfer, Integrations and Masking
  • Data Connectors
  • Engagement Tracking
  • Experience Management
  • Match & Merge
  • Recommendations
  • Relationship Mapping
  • Reporting/Analytics
  • Target Account Identification
  • Website Personalization

Segment’s Reviews

Segment has 53 reviews and an average of 4.6/5 on Capterra‘s review page. This tool was rated 4.4/5 based on its ease of use and 4.3/5 for its customer service.

Reviews from customers state that:

The ability to centralize all data in the same tool is the best. You can forget about setting so many different tracking tools and pixels in your web or app.

“It takes the burden off of our own teams to manage a slew of API integrations.”

…third parties implementation sometimes lack some essential feature that would become a hard blocker during the integration.”

Segment Pricing

Segment offers three different pricing plans, including a free plan for up to 1000 visitors per month. The other two plans are called Team and Business: the Team plan includes a free trial and starts from $120 per month, and the Business plan, which has customized pricing, includes a demo.

Screenshot from segment.com

About RudderStack

A customer data infrastructure founded in 2019, RudderStack is a new data management solution in the industry. This CDP only needs to be integrated once and afterwards it’s possible to route data from different platforms with ease.

RudderStack is also open-source and self-hosted, meaning that developers and data engineers can see how RudderStack is working behind the scenes. While Segment is UI-based, RudderStack is API-based. This makes it a more attractive solution for data managers who want to integrate this tool into their existing workflow.

Similar to Segment, RudderStack was designed for large businesses with the aim of helping with scalability. The features of RudderStack have one of these three functions:

  1. Collect: RudderStack has real-time event streaming. It’s also possible for businesses to create their own data pipelines and collect data from their cloud based tools and data bases.
  2. Transform: one of the problems Segment’s customers dealt with was working with bad data. RudderStack enables businesses to manipluate their data as necessary, which includes masking and blocking data for privacy purposes.
  3. Activate: This label is for the integrations of Rudderstack, which include Google Analytics, Android SDK, HubSpot, Zendesk, Heap, and more. Similar to Segment, RudderStack has a long list of integrations.

RudderStack’s Features

The features of RudderStack that really make it a good Segment alternative are:

  • The transformations feature: Segment requires an extra fee for the data transformations feature, but RudderStack provides users with this solution for no additional payment. The custom JavaScript functions of RudderStack help customers ensure that events go to the right destinations, and let them improve customer profiles once they’ve been created.
  • Elegant dashboard: you can view your real time event stream on the dashboard, and this is possible even for large businesses that work with countless different platforms and destinations. However, you have to have some data engineering knowledge to fully grasp all of the information on the dashboard.

A list of RudderStack’s features includes:

  • Event Tracking
  • Segment API Compatibility
  • Unlimited sources and destinations
  • Docker/Kubernetes Install
  • Community support
  • Event replay
  • Multi-node Cluster
  • Live Debuggers
  • Multiple Hosting Options (Self/Managed)
  • Grafana dashboards

RudderStack’s Reviews

Since RudderStack is a fairly new data management tool, there aren’t many reviews from long-time users, though there’s an overall positive look on this new tool due to its budget-friendly pricing plan. Small businesses prefer RudderStack for this reason, as I will also point out below in this tool’s advantages.

RudderStack’s Pricing

RudderStack has three different plans, one being free. The free plan includes up to five million events/month, and the Pro plan includes a demo. For the prices of the Pro and Enterprise plans, you’ll need to contact RudderStack directly.

Screenshot from rudderstack.com

What are Segment’s Advantages?

Minimizes the Amount of Code Needed

Most of the features of Segment are easy to use because of the minimal amount of code that’s needed. For example, the visual tagger, which enables you to track customized events on your different sites, requires no code. Another example is the Debugger tool, which saves businesses time that would be spent looking through code by quickly identifying problems with the UI. Certain features do require code, but Segment makes it possible for customers to write the code once and use it for other integrations later.

Wide Range of Integrations

Segment has a long list of integrations. Thanks to this list, integrating Segment to the data platforms you’re using takes little to no time. When compared to RudderStack, Segment also has more marketing tools included on its list of integrations. Since many analytics SaaS vendors are on this integrations list, this is a big advantage for large SaaS businesses that do not have dedicated data engineers.

Requires Little Maintenance

You can just set up Segment and let it do the data validation and accuracy control for you. Since Segment is able to collect and send data to downstream destinations automatically, it doesn’t require you to consistently check on it. Also, historic data is easy to include, so you don’t need to worry about checking the tool every time you make changes with your platforms.

What are RudderStack’s Advantages?

Higher Sync Frequency

If it’s important for your warehouse to be up-to-date at all times, RudderStack is a good tool. While Segment syncs data daily on the Team plan, RudderStack is able to update your data as often as every thirty minutes. This is useful if you’re looking for a tool that’ll help you build campaigns that use real-time data.

Event-based Pricing Plan

One of the main differences between Segment and RudderStack is in their pricing plans: Segment charges customers based on their monthly tracked users while RudderStack scales based on the monthly tracked events. For businesses with a small but active customer base, Segment may be a more affordable plan, but for most small businesses this is not the case. These businesses usually attract more visitors with time, but they struggle with customer engagement and don’t have a high number of monthly events. For these businesses, RudderStack is a more affordable option.

Data Governance and Privacy

Different from Segment, RudderStack does not store customer data on its servers. While this makes intermediate event storage impossible with this tool, it also means that you have complete control over your business’s private data (you can also self-host RudderStack’s open-source services.)

Image from SHERPA project

What are Segment’s Disadvantages?

Steep Learning Curve

Just like many other businesses with a wide range of features, you need to be prepared to spend a few weeks understanding this tool. The initial implementations will take time, and since the UI and “functions” features are a bit complex, making the best use of them is hard at first.

Pricing

If you’re on the Team or Business plan, the price increases based on the number of monthly tracked users on your sites. This means that the price can increase very fast, and it’s hard to keep track of it if your site gets a lot of anonymous users. This is also the reason why Segment is not used by small businesses or individuals.

Custom Integrations Are Hard to Work With

If the integrations you need are not on the list, they may require client-side app installation, and if you add more third-party integrations, management can become complex.

What are RudderStack’s Disadvantages?

Onboarding Documents and Guides are Not Very Helpful

While both tools have some sort of learning curve, RudderStack is less mature in terms of the onboarding experience. Segment’s user guides and UI-based software make implementation a bit easier, but RudderStack users will need data engineers to navigate the tool.

Supports Fewer Services

Segment offers more than three hundred one-click third-party integrations: when compared, RudderStack has fewer integrations. RudderStack’s integrations especially lack when it comes to supporting tools used by sales or marketing. However, as a newer customer data solution, RudderStack is often adding new services and integrations onto their list.

Requires Maintenance and Data Engineering Knowledge

One of the downsides of having API-based software is that it makes the tool more understandable to those involved in data engineering. Segment’s UI makes monitoring simpler, and its documentation makes debugging and problem-solving easier. For RudderStack, although you have the ability to view live event streams, understanding blocks and problems requires dedicated data engineers.

A Better Alternative: HockeyStack

HockeyStack is an end-to-end analytics tool for SaaS companies. With HockeyStack, you can track and analyze data from the product, sales, subscription revenue, and marketing in one tool and get access to hidden insights, such as the LTV of a piece of content, or the churn rate of each marketing channel along with users’ reasons for churn.

You cannot get these insights with Segment or RudderStack as you still need to use different tools for different departments and these tools don’t send each other critical metrics.

HockeyStack’s Features

HockeyStack offers these features with no code:

  • Step-by-step user journey
  • Custom dashboards
  • Funnels and goals
  • Insights
  • Surveys
  • Revenue analytics
  • Segments

and more

HockeyStack Pricing

HockeyStack has a free forever plan and 3 paid plans. Paid plans have a 14-day trial with a 30-day refund guarantee.

You can check out the pricing page here.

HockeyStack Integrations

  • Paddle
  • Stripe
  • Hubspot
  • Crisp Chat
  • Salesforce (coming soon)
  • Zapier (coming soon)

HockeyStack Pros and Cons

I might be biased, but this is an objective evaluation of HockeyStack’s pros and cons 🙂

HockeyStack Pros

The unique benefit of HockeyStack is its ability to unify your marketing, revenue, sales, and product data using no code. This allows you to uncover unique insights that you wouldn’t be able to by using multiple tools as they cause you to have fragmented data.

  1. You can integrate with Stripe, Paddle, and Hubspot and build every single dashboard that you can think of, using all sales, marketing, revenue, and product metrics.
  2. You can create funnels, goals, and surveys, which are rare to get with other tools on this list.
  3. You don’t need any developers, tracking is cookieless, and the script is small, so it doesn’t increase your site loading time.

HockeyStack Cons

HockeyStack generally lacks reporting features as it’s not focused on agencies and other reporting-based businesses.

  1. HockeyStack doesn’t have weekly e-mail reports
  2. The tool lacks some integrations, such as Salesforce, Mailchimp, and Zapier. (which are on the roadmap)

Conclusion

If you’re trying to make a decision between the two tools, the important differences that you have to keep in mind are:

  • Segment’s pricing plan is more reasonable for large businesses with a stable and engaged customer base, while RudderStack’s pricing is more affordable for smaller businesses that have a fluctuating number of monthly visitors who are not as active.
  • Segment requires less coding knowledge, and businesses that do not have dedicated data engineers will have an easier time using this tool. However, for businesses with data engineers that are looking for an open-source tool that can be self-hosted, RudderStack is a better option.
  • RudderStack does not store customer information, which is a plus in terms of data privacy. Segment also protects data, but still stores customer information.
  • Both tools have learning curves that take time and effort, though Segment provides more guidance.

In the end, both tools have similar functionality in terms of collecting and unifying data. However, if you’re looking for a no-code tool, neither Segment nor RudderStack will do. For that, you may look into HockeyStack, which doesn’t take time to set up like other tools.

FAQ

What is RudderStack?

RudderStack is a customer data platform that can unify and transform customer data from multiple sources. It’s an open-source tool for developers and provides real-time data that are updated frequently.

What is RudderStackgood for?

RudderStack is good for customers who don’t want to spend time building their own data warehouses, and for businesses that are looking for real-time data that’s synced frequently.

What is the main difference between Segment and RudderStack?

The main differences are: the pricing plans (Segment charges based on MTUs, RudderStack charges based on monthly tracked events,) onboarding experiences (Segment has a more mature one,) and a number of integrations (Segment has more integrations but RudderStack often adds new integrations and services.)