Context Data and Engage have similar uses. Both options access auxiliary data, but do so through different methods. This article compares both options and describes common use examples.
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Comparing Context Data and Engage
Context Data is an extremely versatile option within Accelerator. Context Data allows access to additional data source information within Templates and Campaigns. Context Data is often used to access non-customer information (store information, product information, coupon deals).
This data can come from any data source. It does not have to exist within the same data source as the customer information.
Context Data gathers information through a query to the external data source in the same way that an Audience processes data.
Engage serves a similar purpose to Context Data. Engage also allows a Template to access additional data source information. Engage is commonly used with both customer information and non-customer information.
Engage data can come from any data source. It does not have to exist within the same data source as other customer information.
Engage gathers information through API calls to access a data source. This, paired with open-time rendering, ensures up-to-date information whenever the customer opens an email.
There are two major differences between Engage and Context Data.
First, Context Data has a limit on how much data can be processed. It is recommended that the information processed by Context Data be limited to 5mb of data.
While there is a limit of data with Context Data, it is rare for that limit to be a problem.
Engage does not have a limit for the amount of data it can process.
The second major difference is when the data is processed. Context Data is processed and used when an email is sent out, similar to Recipient Data. Engage is commonly used with MessageGears partner MoveableInk for open-time rendering.
For more information on open-time rendering, read this article.
Context Data is often used when accessing information that is not customer specific. Commonly, the information that Context Data accesses is fairly static. Below are two common uses of Context Data in email contacts:
- City & Glory is a retail establishment with hundreds of stores across the nation. Within the City & Glory Audience data, each customer has a field called “preferred_StoreID”. Context Data is used to access another table within the City & Glory data source populated with store information. Each store is identified by a “StoreID”. Using a customer’s preferred store, any data about the customer’s preferred location can be included in the email contact to the customer. This separation of customer data and store data helps keep information organized. Creating a setup like this requires knowledge of FreeMarker.
|For more information on using FreeMarker, refer to the official FreeMarker documentation.|
- The Weekly Sprout is a grocery store that specializes in healthy eating. A weekly newsletter goes out to customers with coupons. In the Audience data, The Weekly Sprout stores each customer’s loyalty level and days_since_last_visit. Another table, accessed by Context Data, stores the coupon codes, images displayed within the email, and text that appears next to the coupon in the email. Use FreeMarker, the loyalty level and days_since_last_visit are used to determine which coupons to display in each email.
For more detailed examples of Context Data, follow a step-by-step User Guide of configuring Context Data or Examples of Context Data.
Engage is often used when needing to display up-to-date information with open-time rendering or when a lot of information must be processed. Below are two common uses of Engage:
- Chicken Hut is a fast food restaurant that rewards customers with points for each dollar spent. The Audience data accessed by the Campaign processes basic customer information like name, address, and account number. The rewards points are not stored and processed by the Audience data. When a customer opens an email, Engage makes an API call to receive the number of rewards points that a customer has and displays it in the email. By using Engage, any purchases made by the customer between the email being sent and the email being opened are reflected accurately because the information was processed at the time of the email being opened.
TableForTwo is a company that helps people get restaurant reservations. The Audience data holds basic personal information including fields for the customer’s top 10 most visited restaurants. Normally, to access store information, Context Data would be used. In this case, TableForTwo has such a large amount of records for restaurants that it exceeds the 5mb limit for Context Data. Engage is used instead of Context Data to handle the larger amount of data.