Spring 2022 Product Release: New Ways to Reach Customers, Additional Partner Integrations With Shopify, Heap, and Microsoft, Plus Next Generation SDKs for Developers
Now that 2022 is in full swing, the team here at Braze is hard at work delivering key product updates and optimizations designed to improve workflows and outcomes for our customers. That means new and enhanced messaging channels, new technology partners, and new ways to drive stronger performance.
Starting now, we’re also placing a greater emphasis on developers, starting with the Spring Product Release. Going forward, our Quarterly Releases will include updates and announcements specifically for developers. So if you’re a developer, check out our new “For Developers” section—and if you aren’t, make sure you pass this along to relevant teams within your organization and encourage them to keep an eye out for future releases.
No matter your role, our Spring Product Release is packed with significant updates and new features for you to check out. So read on for more details on new ways to reach and understand customers, integrate Braze with other technology solutions, and much more. (In the retail and eCommerce space? Make sure you also check out our recent Braze for Commerce launch for additional announcements about new and updated features designed for your specific needs.)
New Ways To Reach and Understand Customers
In today's digital-first world, brands need the ability to send effective, responsive messages at scale on all the different channels that their customers engage with. To make that vision a reality, Braze continues to add fresh functionality to our existing messaging channels while also adding exciting new channels that broaden your outreach options.
The video streaming space came into its own in 2020, with the number of streaming services seeming to grow almost as fast as their audiences. Back in 2019, Braze made it possible to integrate streaming into your brand's customer engagement efforts with the launch of our Roku SDK. Now, we’re deepening our support for this platform with in-app messages on Roku devices.
These customizable messages let you easily reach viewers on Roku devices with relevant experiences as they browse—supporting personalized content recommendations, promotion of new collections and upcoming releases, and more. Learn more with our Roku in-app messaging documentation and check out our other TV and OTT integrations.
New SMS Enhancements: Improved Retargeting Based on Specific Campaign and Canvas Engagement
From its beginnings as a way for people to chat with family and friends, SMS has evolved into one of the most intimate and direct messaging channels for brands to communicate with their customers. To make it even more effective, Braze has added new SMS capabilities designed to help you better understand and engage with your end users on this key channel.
With this release, marketers can now perform more granular retargeting based on SMS responses to specific messaging campaigns, providing deeper insight into user engagement behavior. In addition, Braze customers can automatically create segments based on SMS inbound keyword responses sent by users. For example, marketers can create a segment of users who opted out of SMS campaigns and retarget them on different channels to keep the engagement alive. Check out documentation related to our new automatic segment creation and SMS retargeting capabilities to learn more.
New Email Capabilities: Link Aliasing and Email Engagement Dashboard
For many companies, email serves as the foundation of their customer messaging efforts. To make it easier for brands to understand and optimize the impact of their email programs, Braze has created two key email features that will be generally available for Braze customers this month.
Braze Link Aliasing allows brands to drive additional conversions by easily tracking and grouping links and link clicks associated with the email campaigns they send. For example, if a marketer sends an email with three different product links in the body, the end users can be grouped together for retargeting based on which of the three products they clicked on, even if the links lead to the same page. This feature also makes it possible to create marketer-generated, easily recognizable link names, supporting effective segmentation, retargeting, and campaign triggering based on user actions. For example if a user clicks "forgot password" in their email, a link click trigger can be set to send them a push notification or in-app message for a password reset.
With our new Email Engagement Dashboard, it’s now possible to visualize and analyze key aggregated email performance metrics at a moment’s notice, right from the Braze dashboard. This feature allows marketers to stay abreast of their email engagement numbers across both email campaigns and Canvas journeys, allowing them to respond effectively to changes in recipient behavior as they happen.
New No-Code Push Registration and Click Actions For In-App Messages and Content Cards
In-product messaging channels like in-app messages and Braze Content Cards make it possible for marketers to effectively engage with users within their brand's web or app experience. To help marketers make the most of these channels while minimizing the need for engineering support, we're pleased to announce the release of new click action options.
These expanded options include a “Request Push Permission” click action, which lets marketers create push priming campaigns without requiring developer support and allows brands to optimize their audience of push-enabled users in more scalable, sustainable ways. In addition, this update enables brands to log and trigger custom events and attributes based on in-app message and Content Card button clicks, making it easier to collect zero-party data and customize brand experiences to fit each individual user.
But while these new click actions can be a powerful tool to support your marketing efforts, only Braze customers who have updated to the latest versions of our mobile and web SDKs will be able to take advantage of it. For details on SDK compatibility for this feature and other information related to Braze click actions, check out our documentation page; for details about the next generation of Braze SDKs, check out the new For Developers section in this article below.
New Campaign Approval Workflow
It’s important for customers in highly regulated industries to make sure their campaigns are compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. Ensuring that each element of a campaign is approved and accurate before clicking the “Launch Campaign,” button can definitely be a nerve-wracking and important moment for any marketer. To help relieve some of that stress, we’ve added in a simple, light-weight approval button that must be changed from “pending” to “approved” before a campaign can launch.
This button will help you keep any errant messages from being sent before your campaign is truly ready to go—whether that means being appropriately tailored for applicable legal compliance or simply spelling “Happy Birthday” correctly in your subject lines. You’ll find this approval button on each section of the campaign builder: Messages, delivery, target population, and conversion events. There’s also the option to approve all steps in one click when hovering over the “Launch Campaign.”
Better Understand and Engage Users With Our New Heap and Microsoft Integrations (Plus an Expanded Shopify Partnership)
The Braze platform’s open approach to data management allows our customers to seamlessly connect their customer engagement efforts with the rest of their marketing technology stack. And these new or expanded technical partnerships from the Braze ISV program are designed to make that process easier and more effective.
Support optimized, real-time personalization with the Braze platform’s Heap integration
Brands can deepen their understanding of customer journeys by leveraging Braze in tandem withHeap, a behavioral analytics platform designed to automatically assess customer behavior at scale. This integration makes it possible for shared Braze and Heap customers to deeply understand their users across the entirety of their customer journey and then leverage an interactive feedback loop to deliver ever-more-impactful personalized experiences in real time.
Deepen your data agility with the Braze platform’s Microsoft Dynamics 365 integration
Building on the existing technical relationship between Braze and Microsoft, this new integration makes it possible to move data between Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, a leading customer data platform, and Braze. This new connection lets brands easily and continuously ingest customer data and insights into Braze via our APIs, allowing shared Braze and Microsoft customers to seamlessly act on that data in real time to segment, personalize, and optimize their messaging campaigns and overall customer journeys.
Take your online shopping experience to the next level with the Braze platform’s expanded Shopify integration
Last year, Braze and Shopify launched an official integration with the goal of helping brands grow their online shopping presences faster while strengthening customer relationships and loyalty. To build on the success of the initial version of the Braze/Shopify integration, we’re now expanding its capabilities, allowing our shared customers to:
Easily leverage order fulfillment data from Shopify to inform time-sensitive transactional message sent by Braze, ensuring that shoppers are always kept in the loop
Simplify the process of connecting Shopify purchases to the Braze campaigns that drove them by including Shopify Product ID codes or your own SKU as a product identifier within the relevant Braze purchase event
For Developers: Next Generation SDKs and Helpful Optimizations
Braze is a platform built to help companies achieve exceptional customer engagement outcomes, and we know that developers play essential roles in supporting that effort. That’s why every seasonal product release going forward will include helpful information for developers.
To kick things off, we’ll be taking a look at the next generation of Braze SDKs. We’ve made significant updates to our core web and mobile SDKs—including support for ES6 modules for web which enables tree shaking, migrating from Java to Kotlin on Android, and releasing a brand new Swift iOS SDK. Read on for details.
Web SDK: ES6 Modules and Tree Shaking
Our latest Braze Web SDK release (v4.0) has been rewritten in ES6 Modules. This allows modern web applications to use a "tree-shaking" technique to automatically remove unused SDK code. As a result, you should experience improved performance by automatically reducing the size of our library based on which Braze features you use—sometimes up to 50%.
Check out our v4 upgrade guide to learn more.
iOS SDK: Upgrading to Swift
We're excited to announce our investment into the future of iOS development with our new Swift SDK. This more performant and developer friendly SDK will have access to the latest Braze features, and will become our primary iOS SDK moving forward. Upcoming features—including Braze Click Actions (mentioned above)—will only be available for apps that have migrated to the new Swift SDK.
To start using our Swift SDK, visit our Github Repo.
Android SDK: Kotlin Update and Android 13 Push Priming
Braze is modernizing our Android SDK by migrating from Java to Kotlin and building in support for Android 13 which is expected to be released later this year. Because Android 13 recently entered beta, we wanted to highlight a major change to this version of Android that will affect your brand’s ability to reach users via push notifications.
Once the final version of Android 13 is released and users of eligible Android devices upgrade to it, Android apps will be required to ask users to enable push permissions before sending them push notifications. This means that when an Android 13 user downloads an app, their push permissions will now be off by default until they explicitly agree to receive messages, a change that may significantly reduce the number of Android users who can receive push notifications.
To reduce the impact of this shift, you will need to prime Android users to enable push at the right time and in the right manner to maximize opt-ins. That’s why Braze is launching a new feature, ahead of Android 13’s release, that will allow your organization to launch push primer campaigns that don’t require engineering work—meaning less time handling marketing requests and more time doing what’s important.
However, this will only work if your brand’s Android app is running the latest version of the Braze Android SDK. Keep an eye out for our Android 13-optimized SDK, which we plan to release at Android 13's Platform Stability Milestone.
To learn more about upgrading to Android 13, check out our Android 13 Update Guide, and for more information about the push permissioning changes in Android 13 and their implications, check out our blog post on the topic: “Android 13 Developer Preview: Push Opt-Ins Arrive for Android Apps.”
Friendly Reminder: Enable Braze SDK Authentication
SDK Authentication is like Two Factor Authentication (2FA) for your Braze SDK. It adds an extra layer of protection by allowing you to configure each Braze App to require proof that the currently logged in user is authentic and not being impersonated by someone else.
More information and how-to guides are available on the SDK Authentication documentation page.
As the leader in customer engagement, Braze is committed to helping our customers understand and build relationships with their users. As part of that effort, we're pleased to be adding new message channels like Roku in-app messages, strengthening our existing channels with new features and optimizations, and adding to our partnership options with new integrations with Heap and Microsoft and an expanded Shopify integration. On the technical side, we're making life easier for developers by introducing upgraded SDKs for iOS, Android, and the web, as well as key new capabilities that will help reduce the engineering burden associated with effective customer engagement.
To learn more about these new capabilities, integrations and updates, check out the Braze Spring Customer Webinar. Join our team as we discuss how these new and updated features can help you better reach and engage your customers and showcase our commitment to continuing to improve the developer experience and ease of use associated with our platform.
Michael Ludden is Director of Developer Marketing at Braze, based out of Austin. When he’s not building for developers in his day job, he’s hanging out with his newborn son Liam, his fur buddy Charlie the Golden Retriever, and his lovely wife Tanya. And when he’s not doing those things, he’s probably sleeping.