How Reverse ETL Can Improve Data Driven Decisions

Photo by Sai Kiran Anagani on Unsplash
2 years ago

A large number of businesses manage massive volumes of data every day as part of the modern data stack and are searching for data solutions that meet their business needs. Big data is frequently organized, analyzed, transformed, and moved in several different ways, which all lead up to the final step in the modern data stack-data activation. Unlocking the power of your data and getting a 360-degree view of it is essential to a business’s success. Reverse Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) is a relatively new form of technology that enables easy data activation and gives business leaders the ability to make more intelligent decisions. This may be a confusing process for some, but we’ll explain how Reverse ETL can improve data-driven decisions below.

What is Reverse ETL?

Reverse ETL is the process of moving your data from a data warehouse to an operational system of record such as a Software as a Service (SaaS) that has been around since the 1970s. Valuable data is stored inside your data warehouse such as subscriptions, demographics, pages viewed, products most frequently purchased, lifetime revenue, and links clicked. Reverse ETL has the ability to automate several different processes such as data integration, which makes data synching and transfers much more reliable. When businesses synch their data with popular software systems such as Snowflake, Bigquery, or Salesforce, data activation can come into play. Data activation helps businesses get the most out of their data by unlocking the full knowledge residing within the data warehouse and empowering business leaders with customer insights.

How Does Reverse ETL Work?

Reverse ETL is known as the ingestion phase of the modern data stack and is comprised of three key steps that enable data integration. The first step is extraction, where data is extracted from a diverse range of data sources such as customer relationship systems, data warehouses, mobile devices, sales applications, cloud environments, legacy systems, and more. This is done via ETL tools or it can be accomplished manually by a team of data engineers. The second step is transformation, where data goes through several different sub-processes. These include cleansing, standardization, deduplication, verification, and other potential tasks. The final step is loading, where newly transformed data is loaded into a new destination such as a data warehouse. This is accomplished through full loading or incremental loading depending on your business needs.

The Benefits of Reverse ETL

Operational Analytics

A highly attractive benefit of Reverse ETL is the operation analytics that can be conducted. Business leaders and data teams can make smarter business decisions through operational analytics. Data teams have the ability to increase sales leads based on these analytics and can pull from multiple data sources to create more reporting options with Reverse ETL. Data teams can build more comprehensive customer personas and create more effective campaigns for their advertising needs. With this key information business leaders can fulfill customer needs more effectively and engage with customers on a more intimate level.

Increased Efficiency

One of the biggest benefits of Reverse ETL is the increased efficiency across the board when it comes to data teams. With Reverse ETL, data teams are free from having to spend time building and managing pipelines manually. They’re able to shift their focus and time towards more high-impact work such as building data models. Support teams save time as well by having tickets sorted automatically via the Reverse ETL process. Sales teams can find all of their information inside the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and no longer have to click through multiple tabs in search of specific information. Marketing teams have the ability to create more personalized email campaigns that are relevant and better targeted at their customers through Reverse ETL.

Data Automation

Taking advantage of data automation is a huge benefit of Reverse ETL and for good reason. Reverse ETL is commonly used by data teams to help create more efficient and streamlined workflows via automation. Basically, Reverse ETL feeds metrics as well as data points into operational systems, which automates several different workflows within said system. Data teams also use this automation to help keep track of valuable information embedded within the sales funnel such as expired subscription notifications or new sign-ups.


In the past, data teams had to manually move data from a data warehouse to a destination, but this could take an exorbitant amount of time. Thanks to relatively recent developments in technology, tools such as Reverse ETL can help data teams save time, energy, and resources. Reverse ETL is more than moving data from one place to another. It has the ability to unlock valuable knowledge within your data and leads your team to data activation. Reverse ETL has several different benefits such as valuable operational analytics, increased efficiency, and data automation. Learning how to leverage Reverse ETL and gain insight into your customer’s behavior is probably the most effective aspect of the process. Business leaders can take this information and make more intelligent decisions, become more aligned with their customer’s needs, and become more efficient overtime.

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