Defining Activation at Snyk
Activation is the most important lever at your disposal to improve usage retention.
We spent a lot of time at Snyk thinking about and working on improving activation.
In this post, I’ll cover how we approached defining our activation metric, and in a follow-up, I’ll look at the Snyk onboarding changes designed to better connect new teams to the product's core value.
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In previous posts, I advocate for the utility of a product state model.
We can use a product state model to visualise how users and teams move through our product during their lifetime.
As a quick recap…
New users and teams will sign up.
We want to activate them so they build habits around using the product.
And we then want to keep them engaged.
At any point, they might stop using the product and go dormant.
Some dormant users might later be resurrected - they come back to using the product.
We can describe retention as a function of our efforts to activate, engage and resurrect users/teams.
Retention is a lagging indicator that you don’t try to move directly.
Instead, you focus on those three input levers.
Activation. Engagement. Resurrection.
But typically, your highest point of leverage will be in improving activation.
And that is the subject of today’s post.
Tip: It’s also a critical signal for scoring PQAs
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So credit to Reforge for this setup-aha-habit framework - it remains the most useful way I’ve found to think about and model activation.
To give a quick overview of it, you define setup as the steps your users or their teams need to take in order to get to the point where they can experience the core value of your product.
The aha moment is when they first experience that core value.
The habit moment is when they build a habit around the core value.
In B2B SaaS, you’ll almost always want your activation, engagement and retention metrics to be team-based, not individual user-based.
You’ll still drive behaviour at the end user level, but you’re trying to influence aggregate-level behaviour across a team and company, as that’s what you’ll ultimately be monetising.
Note: reaching the ‘aha moment’ is not enough. Activation is about establishing habits.
Here’s how we applied the framework at Snyk.
The Setup involved three steps for a team.
Connecting an integration - for example connecting Snyk to their GitHub account.
Importing a project - for example, importing a repository from GitHub
Taking action to see a non-empty project list.
The Aha moment was when they’d interacted with the project and had seen the details of at least one vulnerability that Snyk had detected in their application.
The Habit moment was when the team had taken action to fix a vulnerability, all within the first 30 days of signing up.
The Habit moment is the milestone that defines activation.
We called it F30D - Fix in 30 Days.
Note: The Snyk terminology for a team is ‘Org’.
Compared with the previous activation definition (a user-based product activity milestone called ‘success level 3’ or ‘S3’ for short), we saw that F30D was roughly twice as strong a predictor of retention and a slightly stronger predictor of monetisation.
Interestingly, we found that just getting teams to fix a vulnerability just once was a strong predictor of significantly increased mid-term retention and a solid proxy for habit formation.
We also looked at teams fixing more than one vulnerability in their first 30 days and also at teams fixing vulnerabilities on more than one day in their first 30.
While we did find these to be slightly more predictive of mid-term retention, it was marginal, and we favoured F30D due to its:
Ease of influencing
In a future post, I’ll look at the Snyk onboarding journey and some of the decisions made in the context of improving F30D.
This post was presented by Sprig.
PS: I’m hosting a webinar with Sprig this Thursday at 5pm UK / 12pm ET / 9am PT - it’s all about ICPs in PLG, and I would love to see readers of the Product-Led Geek there - if you can make it, register here.
Until next time!