Custom attributes and events: what's the difference?

When to use custom attributes and events to track customer actions.

Custom attributes are data that you track about your users or potential customers, for example, how many projects they have created in your product. That is a unique value about a piece of information.

For example, a user subscription is something you can track using custom properties. You can then filter and message all users in that package.

Events are information about what your customers do and when they do, for example, when they first created a project, and most recently, they created a project.

For example, when users change their subscription is ideal for recording as an event; It will allow you to filter all users who have changed their packages in the last 30 days.

Custom attributes are ideal for:

  • Descriptive information about the user, such as extended profile data, address, subscription options, or device data.

  • A unique updated value, such as the last activity date or a number of followers.

  • A unique value true or false, such as completing a tutorial.

Events record counts, first and last occurrences, so ideal for:

  • Activity, such as using a specific feature or the number of times a feature has been used.

  • When data changes, such as when the registration changes or the last time you place an order.

  • Data may only be needed for a period of time, such as using the original feature.

Use custom properties and events together

You can filter your customers by custom events and properties together. For example, if you want to know who has downgraded to your Starter pack in the last 30 days, your filters would be:

  • Plan = boot plan (a custom attribute).

  • Downgrade plan less than 30 days ago (an event).

Another example might be recording your customers’ purchase information. You could track the total amount a person has spent as a custom attribute, as it is a single value that gets updated over time. Whereas if you wanted to track the individual orders, you would use events, as they let you count the times a user has placed an order.

To include more detail about an event in your audience filters or message content, you could use a custom attribute to record the details of the most recent occurrence. For example, you might track an event whenever a product is purchased and you could track the name of that product as a custom attribute, “last_product_purchased”. This would allow you to send more targeted messages to customers after people who purchase a specific product.