Glossary and Definitions

  • Updated

Because being pedantic is a good thing: we've included below a list of terms and definitions that aren't covered in detail elsewhere.

To search this page for a specific term, use your browser to find your search term on this page. If you need help with this, it's covered in our Learn and Get Help article.

If you are looking to understand a specific Customer Attribute, then head over you our dedicated article on Attributes.

Note that key concepts and sections in the user interface are likely to have their own articles (and so won't be include here, to avoid duplication).

If you're looking for help or information, we'd suggest that you use the Search in the first instance to look for an article that covers your topic. If you need help with the help, then there's a helpful guide to using our helpful guides.

If you're really stuck or can't find what you're looking for, please get in touch, we'd love to help.

Key Concepts


An Account is an organisation that uses the Distil platform to manage and action its data.

If you've come to us via our Shopify App, then we will have created an Account for you.

An Account is at the top level of our hierarchy. Each Account is entirely separate from other Accounts. When you link data sources to Distil, you are linking them to a specific Account within Distil. This is important because data cannot be shared between Accounts.

An Account is also linked to one of our subscription plans. Each Account can be accessed by multiple Users.


A User is a a set of login credentials (username and password) used to access Distil.

Some actions and settings in Distil can be specific to an individual User. These include:

  • Created Segments: when creating or updating a Segment, a User can mark the Segment as visible only to themselves (see the article here).
  • Views in the Data Panel: Views are only visible to the User who created them (see the article here).

Typically a User would access just one Account, however a single User can manage more than one Account. If you need this capability then please get in touch and we will set it up for you. 


A Customer is a person or organisation whose buying decisions we wish to influence ('we' being the organisation behind the Distil Account).

We know that may sound a little vague, but there's a good reason for this: we use the term 'Customer' to refer to people or organisations regardless of whether or not they have made a purchase. We're pointing this out here because some may argue that if someone hasn't made a purchase then they are not yet a customer. So, you can see 'Customer' as a partly aspirational title: if they are not currently a customer then we would like to make them one.  

More technically, a Customer is the primary object in Distil. Each Customer has a unique Tracking ID and a range of Attributes. The purpose of Distil is to support analysis of Customers and their Attributes to reveal actionable insights. So, Customers are key!

Data Concepts


Connections are the means by which data is transferred into and out of Distil. Each Connection may have one or more Data Sources. There are three Connection Types:

  • Database Sync: links to your back end analytical databases

  • Integrations: with third-party application such as Mailchimp and Shopify

  • Tracking: of Customer interactions with web pages and apps.

Database Sync Connections may be created and accessed via the Distil API.

A Connection may support one-way data transfer (as either a Data Source or a Data Destination), or two-way data transfer (as both a Data Source and a Data Destination).

Data Sources

You might think of Data Sources as tables within a database or spreadsheet. Each Data Source is linked to a data Connection. So, a Connection might make multiple Data Sources available within Distil.

You can see all of the Data Sources active for your Account by navigating to Customer Data Studio > Segments > Data. Each tab in the table on the right represents a Data Source.

The first few tabs, starting with Core Data, show Data Sources within Distil. These can be easily identified by the Distil logo. If you have added Database Sync or Integrations, the Data Sources for these will be shown to the right. Note that some of these Data Sources will only be enabled once you have completed some set-up (for example: Customer Tracking).

Data Categories

The key types of data used by Distil. There are four Data Categories:

  • Customer: the key data type in Distil, these are your Customers!

  • Product: the Products available for your Customers to purchase

  • Purchase History: a record of when a Customer purchased one or more Products from your business

  • Content: information and articles that can't be purchased, but help drive Customers towards an Order


Note that we have a separate Article covering the detail of Attributes.

Core Attributes

These are Distil's standard or default Attributes. For Customers they include basic information such as name and email address.

Custom Attributes

These are extra Attributes that you have created in Distil, either directly or by linking a Data Source that contains Attributes that Distil can't map to one of the Core Attributes.


Other Concepts


A collection of Customers who have completed an activity within a specific time period.

For example, June's New Customer cohort is a collection of Customers who were first seen during the month of June.

This concept is relevant to Funnel Analytics and and Daily Insights.

Identity Resolution

Identity resolution, also known as entity resolution or record linkage, is the process of identifying and matching records that correspond to the same real-world entity or individual across different data sources or within a single dataset.

How this is used in practice within Distil is covered in more detail in our articles on Customers in Distil, and also Tracking.

Leading Purchase

The first Product purchased by a Customer from your store.

Leading Purchases are significant because they serve as a gateway to establishing a long-term customer relationship. A Product that is successful as a Leading Purchase really helps grow your customer base, and ultimately leads to increased revenue.

If a Customer has several items in their first order, then all of those Products are considered to be Leading Purchases for that Customer.

Lifetime Value (LTV)

Lifetime value (LTV) is a critical metric for online businesses that measures the total revenue a customer is expected to generate over the course of their relationship with the business. The importance of LTV to online businesses lies in the following ways:

  • Helps with customer acquisition strategy: Knowing the LTV of customers can help businesses determine the maximum amount they can spend to acquire new customers. This information can be used to create more effective and efficient marketing campaigns, as well as to determine which channels are best suited for customer acquisition.
  • Guides product development: LTV can provide insights into customer behaviour and preferences, which can be used to guide product development. Businesses can use LTV data to identify which products or services are most profitable and which ones are not, and then make strategic decisions about how to allocate resources to improve their offerings.
  • Improves customer retention: LTV can help businesses identify which customers are most valuable to their bottom line. By focusing on these customers, businesses can develop retention strategies that improve customer loyalty, increase repeat purchases, and reduce churn.

There is no standard method of calculating LTV. Your organisation may have its own calculation method. Distil uses AI and machine learning to calculate LTV. If you're looking for a definition of an LTV value that you've seen in Distil, read the documentation related to that specific section.


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