Iterable to BigQuery

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Iterable and load it into Google BigQuery. (If this manual process sounds onerous, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)

What is Iterable?

Iterable hosts a growth marketing platform that provides omnichannel customer engagement through email, SMS, web push, and other channels. Marketers can use a drag-and-drop interface to set up campaign workflows.

What is Google BigQuery?

Google BigQuery is a data warehouse that delivers super-fast results from SQL queries, which it accomplishes using a powerful engine dubbed Dremel. With BigQuery, there's no spinning up (and down) clusters of machines as you work with your data. With that said, it's clear why some claim that BigQuery prioritizes querying over administration. It's super fast, and that's the reason why most folks use it.

Getting data out of Iterable

Iterable exposes data through webhooks, which you can create at Integrations > Webhooks. You must specify the URL the webhook should use to POST data, and choose an authorization type. Edit the webhook, tick the Enabled box, select the events you'd like to send data to the webhook for, and save your changes.

Sample Iterable data

Iterable returns data in JSON format. Here’s an example of the data returned for an email unsubscribe event:
{
   "email": "sheldon@iterable.com",
   "eventName": "emailUnSubscribe",
   "dataFields": {
      "unsubSource": "EmailLink",
      "email": "sheldon@iterable.com",
      "createdAt": "2017-12-02 22:13:05 +00:00",
      "campaignId": 59667,
      "templateId": 93849,
      "messageId": "d3c44d47b4994306b4db8d16a94db025",
      "emailSubject": "Welcome to JM Photography at {{now}}",
      "campaignName": "Test the NOW handlebars",
      "workflowId": null,
      "workflowName": null,
      "templateName": "Sample photography welcome",
      "channelId": 3420,
      "messageTypeId": 3866,
      "experimentId": null,
      "emailId": "c59667:t93849:sheldon@iterable.com"
   }
}

Preparing Iterable data

If you don't already have a data structure in which to store the data you retrieve, you'll have to create a schema for your data tables. Then, for each value in the response, you'll need to identify a predefined datatype (INTEGER, DATETIME, etc.) and build a table that can receive them. Iterable's documentation should tell you what fields are provided by each endpoint, along with their corresponding datatypes.

Complicating things is the fact that the records retrieved from the source may not always be "flat" – some of the objects may actually be lists. This means you'll likely have to create additional tables to capture the unpredictable cardinality in each record.

Loading data into Google BigQuery

Google offers an overview document that covers loading data into BigQuery. Use the bq command-line tool, and in particular the bq load command, to upload data to your datasets and define schema and data type information. You can learn how to use bq from the Quickstart guide for bq. Iterate through the process as many times as it takes to load all of your tables into BigQuery.

Keeping Iterable data up to date

Once you've set up the webhooks you want and have begun collecting data, you can relax – as long as everything continues to work correctly. You'll have to keep an eye out for any changes to Iterable's webhooks implementation.

Other data warehouse options

BigQuery is great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Amazon Redshift, PostgreSQL, or Snowflake, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax, or Panoply, which works with Redshift instances. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading data into one of these platforms, check out To Redshift, To Postgres, To Snowflake, and To Panoply.

Easier and faster alternatives

If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be alarmed. If you have all the skills necessary to go through this process, chances are building and maintaining a script like this isn’t a very high-leverage use of your time.

Thankfully, products like Stitch were built to solve this problem automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Iterable data via the API, structuring it in a way that is optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Google BigQuery data warehouse.