This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Autopilot and load it into Snowflake. (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 Autopilot?
Autopilot is a visual tool that allows marketers to track their prospects' customer journeys. Some of the information stored in Autopilot is valuable input for business analytics.
What is Snowflake?
Snowflake is a cloud-based data warehouse implemented as a managed service running on Amazon Web Services EC2 and S3 instances. Snowflake separates compute and storage resources, enabling users to scale the two independently and pay only for resources used. It provides native support for JSON, Avro, XML, and Parquet data, and can provide access to the same data for multiple workgroups or workloads simultaneously with no contention roadblocks or performance degradation.
Getting data out of Autopilot
Autopilot exposes data through a REST API, which developers can use to extract information. For example, to retrieve a batch of 100 contacts, you could call
The call returns a JSON object with two or three properties as a reply:
total_contacts: the total number of contacts
contacts: the current batch of 100 contacts
bookmark: if there are more contacts on the list, the bookmark allows you to access the next group of contacts via another GET call.
Each Autopilot contact may have any or all of 26 standard fields, along with any custom fields you may have defined.
Preparing data for Snowflake
You may need to prepare your data before loading it. Check Snowflake's supported data types and make sure that your data maps neatly to them.
Note that you won't need to define a schema in advance when loading JSON or XML data into Snowflake.
Loading data into Snowflake
Turn to Snowflake's Data Loading Overview for help with the task of loading your data. If you're not loading a lot of data, you might be able to use Snowflake's data loading wizard, but its limitations make it unsuitable as a reliable ETL solution for some use cases. As an alternative, you can:
- Use the PUT command to stage files.
- Use the COPY INTO table command to load prepared data into an awaiting table.
You’ll have the option of copying from your local drive or from Amazon S3 – and Snowflake lets you make a virtual warehouse to power the insertion process.
Keeping Autopilot data up to date
At this point you’ve coded up a script or written a program to get the data you want and successfully moved it into your data warehouse. But how will you load new or updated data? It's not a good idea to replicate all of your data each time you have updated records. That process would be painfully slow and resource-intensive.
Instead, identify key fields that your script can use to bookmark its progression through the data and use to pick up where it left off as it looks for updated data. Auto-incrementing fields such as updated_at or created_at work best for this. When you've built in this functionality, you can set up your script as a cron job or continuous loop to get new data as it appears in Autopilot.
And remember, as with any code, once you write it, you have to maintain it. If Autopilot modifies its API, or sends a field with a datatype your code doesn't recognize, you may have to modify the script. If your users want slightly different information, you definitely will have to.
Other data warehouse options
Snowflake 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, Google BigQuery, or PostgreSQL, 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 BigQuery, To Postgres, 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 Autopilot data via the API, structuring it in a way that is optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Snowflake data warehouse.