Enhancing Retention Strategies at SimpliSafe

Discover SimpliSafe's secrets to enhancing user onboarding and optimizing retention strategies. Explore valuable insights from our recent webinar.

September 29, 2023
Headshot of Lilli Clark
Lilli Clark
Manager, Retention Growth Marketing, Amplitude
Side-by-side headshots featuring Amplitude Manager of Retention Growth Marketing Lilli Clark and and Senior Product Manager at SimpliSafe Emma MacDonald

In a recent webinar, we spoke with Emma MacDonald, senior product manager at SimpliSafe, about the company’s retention framework and the different strategies it uses to reduce user attrition.

SimpliSafe, a pioneer in DIY home security systems, offers a comprehensive range of products, from burglary sensors to environmental detectors and cutting-edge cameras. Additionally, it provides monitoring services, ensuring an immediate response in case of an emergency.

As an organization that provides both software and hardware, SimpliSafe and its approach to retention offer useful takeaways.

Key topics
  • How to understand user retention when your user base has diverse goals
  • Whether to segment users based on goals or demographics
  • Why cross-functional teams are key to tackling retention challenges
  • Combining different types of data to understand users better
  • Using analytics to improve onboarding

Watch the full webinar—Cracking the Code on Retention Strategies with SimpliSafe—or read the recap below.

SimpliSafe's retention goals and "arming behavior" as a metric

For retention, SimpliSafe has a strategic focus on what it terms “arming behavior”—the frequency with which users arm an alarm. “We want people to be arming their system five days a week because we've seen that correlate with better outcomes down the line and reduced attrition."

SimpliSafe acknowledges that encouraging this behavior is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Its product includes hardware and software components for home security. Customers can arm their systems not only through the SimpliSafe app but also by using a key fob or a physical keypad—making the analysis of its data complex.

To address this issue, SimpliSafe is currently working on segmenting its user base into different cohorts to tailor its retention strategies accordingly. By doing so, it aims to balance encouraging its customers to meet the arming behavior benchmark while acknowledging the unique goals of each group.

Striking a balance between user goals and demographics in user segmentation

SimpliSafe's marketing segmentation primarily revolves around users' perceptions of the importance of home security in their lives. Its retention strategy centers on understanding users' motivations for purchasing the product, their goals, and their daily expectations. SimpliSafe tailors its marketing efforts to different user groups, acknowledging that motivations vary beyond home security.

Amplitude's segmentation also relies on understanding users' objectives and reasons for using the platform, both at an individual user level and an account level. Amplitude recognizes the diversity of its user base, ranging from power users to those who passively consume charts. Understanding users at multiple levels of complexity enables us to personalize the user experience effectively.

Ultimately, the choice between demographic and goal-based segmentation depends on the business's unique characteristics and goals. Understanding why people use a product or service remains a common thread, enabling businesses to align their strategies with user needs.

A collaborative approach to retention

Retention at SimpliSafe is a collaborative effort that crosses teams and departments, including the following:

  • The foundational experience team. With responsibility for the SimpliSafe app, the team plays a pivotal role in the retention strategy. It focuses on onboarding and addressing the factors that lead to low usage.
  • The marketing team. Playing a major role in SimpliSafe's retention efforts, the team’s focus is on re-engagement through email campaigns and exploring new channels like in-app messages, SMS, and push notifications to keep users engaged.
  • A cross-functional group dedicated explicitly to improving onboarding. This team includes members from the product, user experience (UX), and customer experience (CX) departments. Its primary responsibility is to reduce zero to 60-day attrition rates. The CX team, in particular, serves as a bridge between customers and the product and marketing teams. It collects valuable customer insights and works on re-engagement through channels like email, in-app messages, SMS, and push notifications.

This cross-functional approach has its benefits and challenges. On the positive side, it has increased visibility with the leadership team, leading to more significant resource allocation and involvement in the roadmap. However, it has also brought its share of complexity, particularly in decision-making, as multiple perspectives are considered.

SimpliSafe's collaborative approach ensures that the various facets of retention, from product improvements to customer engagement, are addressed comprehensively, ultimately leading to enhanced customer satisfaction and reduced attrition.

Optimizing the onboarding experience

A critical aspect of SimpliSafe's retention strategy is its approach to onboarding. The first days of a user's journey are a pivotal phase in retention. Emma describes it as "an attrition or an activation problem” since the customer’s experience during the product setup can make or break the entire experience.

User experience and analytics are crucial during this phase. SimpliSafe relies extensively on Amplitude to analyze the onboarding flow. It involves various steps, such as connecting the base station (the system's hub), setting up monitoring, and configuring multiple devices.

Recognizing the diversity of users’ needs, SimpliSafe accommodates setups that range from a couple of devices to as many as 40.

A lot of the work often involves identifying and resolving connectivity issues. Emma collaborates closely with engineers to pinpoint problematic flows and missed edge cases. Once identified, they use Amplitude to quantify the impact and prioritize solutions.

Product analytics in action

In the course of dealing with a Bluetooth connectivity issue, SimpliSafe analyzed user behavior and found that users who manually typed in the serial number were more likely to encounter errors. This led to a design change—prioritizing the QR code scan—which it anticipated would reduce errors.

SimpliSafe's approach to onboarding involves an intricate dance between technology and user experience. It addresses technical issues while also considering the user's journey, ensuring a smoother onboarding process. Emma observes that this approach is a continuous effort due to the complexity of the flow and the potential for diverse challenges to arise.

Balancing qualitative and quantitative insights for user onboarding

SimpliSafe previously gathered information through surveys and partnerships like Centercode's beta tests. These methods were useful but didn’t provide the full picture. They helped identify technical issues but failed to reveal why users dropped off during onboarding.

“People don't always identify what really makes them drop off,” says Emma. “That friction point that makes them struggle is not always the thing that they identify during the research.”

To bridge this gap, SimpliSafe uses in-person ethnographic research to witness users' experiences firsthand. By observing how users interact with its products in their environments, SimpliSafe gains invaluable insights into the onboarding process. And it complements those findings with insights from Amplitude, which it uses to track and analyze e its user event stream This enables the team to delve deeper into understanding its actions during onboarding. The SimpliSafe team uses Amplitude to investigate unusual or unexpected behaviors that may occur while users are setting up their SimpliSafe systems. The in-depth analysis helps it identify potential pain points, bottlenecks, or areas where users may encounter difficulties, even if the users don't explicitly mention them during research.

Product analytics in action

SimpliSafe’s analysis of user event data in Amplitude highlighted a crucial insight: Despite being a significant focus, the SimpliSafe app plays a smaller role than expected during setup. The insight helped SimpliSafe refine its onboarding strategies to better support users through their journey.

Delve deeper into SimpliSafe’s retention strategies by watching the full webinar, Cracking the Code on Retention Strategies with SimpliSafe.

About the Author
Headshot of Lilli Clark
Lilli Clark
Manager, Retention Growth Marketing, Amplitude
Lilli leads the Retention pod in Growth Marketing where she focuses her team on building programs that support Amplitude customers through the entire customer lifecycle. She enjoys partnering with Product, Go-to-Market, and other cross-functional teams to build a cohesive customer journey. Lilli loves talking all things PLG, lifecycle, and email marketing.