How Simple Habit Launched and Grew Their New Sleep App With Braze
Founded in 2016, Simple Habit offers a set of wellness apps that aim to empower humans to stress less, achieve more, and live better. I spoke with Head of Product Marketing Katherine Kramer, CTO Michael Xia, and Product Manager Charles Craig about their new app, Sleep Reset, and how they used Braze to drive retention and adoption of their recently launched product.*
Tell us about Simple Habit as a business and how you’ve been growing over the past few years.
Katherine: Our founder, Yunha Kim, launched Simple Habit in 2016 based on her own experience struggling with stress and anxiety. When the team first implemented Braze—which I think at the time was called Appboy—in April 2017, the company had just three full-time employees. Fast forward to today, we have 25. And now we also have two products. We still have the Simple Habit meditation app, but also now Sleep Reset, which is our newest program and is really focused on helping people sleep better.
Additionally, when we started with Braze in 2017, we just had 400k users. Now we’ve grown to 7 million users in 2022!
Congrats on the new app! I’m in week 5 of my Sleep Reset program, so you’ve got a fan here. Can you tell me more about the background of this new product?
Katherine: It really was born out of looking at our own customer data within the meditation app. This was around 2020. We found that the top reason that users were coming to the meditation app was actually for help with sleep, but only 10% to 30% of the meditations within the app were sleep-related. So we did some research and soon found that this problem went way beyond our users—up to 60% of adults suffer from sleep issues.
So we decided to pivot and build this new product. Sleep Reset is basically a digital personalized sleep clinic. It improves sleep and reduces sleep anxiety using science-backed methods that are typically only available at a sleep clinic. The design of the program was really inspired by our CEO’s experience. She had her own insomnia and it had gotten really bad during COVID, and she tried to get into a top-tier sleep clinic but found herself on a six-month waitlist. So instead, she was relying on melatonin. We found that's a very typical story. From there, we worked with sleep experts to create this program that brings those most effective methods to you, no pills or melatonin needed. 9 in 10 Sleep Reset graduates sleep better within weeks, without grogginess or side effects.
And how did you use Braze to help support the launch of this new app?
Katherine: We had a nationwide press release in June this year that got picked up by TechCrunch, which is really exciting. And then we announced it to our Simple Habit meditation users. And Braze has been really critical for that, since we use Braze for the meditation app as well as Sleep Reset. We sent out an email announcing the Sleep Reset launch to Simple Habit users. We also shared the TechCrunch article via email, and those campaigns were really successful in telling the meditation app users about another product from a brand that they trust.
We're currently experimenting with promoting Sleep Reset to the meditation app users via in-app messages. The idea being that if there are users we can identify who are using the meditation app to support their sleep, this is a really effective way to let them know that we have a program that's very specialized to what they are seeking help with.
I was really impressed by the onboarding process and how detailed it was. But I also realize that's a lot of friction for new users. How important is the lifecycle marketing in those early days of onboarding?
Katherine: It is critical because that's where we gather information about the user to better understand their sleep issues and, in particular, what might be the root causes of their sleep issues. It is a pretty thorough sign up process. It's also important to know that we operate in an industry where people are really frustrated. They've tried a ton of things to fix their sleep but nothing has worked. So, they're skeptical of new solutions and they have a lot of questions. What's been really effective for us is to use Braze to send emails to those customers who have dropped off during the process to answer those questions that we know are the burning questions in people's minds and help them understand why we're different. One of our top usages of Braze is to send that onboarding campaign.
What north star metrics are you working toward with Sleep Reset?
Charles: As a product manager, my north star metric right now is increasing trial sign-ups. So, essentially, increasing users' engagement with the product and their willingness to want to subscribe at the end of the trial. Another north star metric was also trial opt-in. So I’m using Braze to build these awesome Canvases and campaigns to drive more members to our onboarding flows and… not just drive more members, but drive very specific, targeted segments that we wanted to hit towards improving our opt-in rate.
I noticed the Sleep Reset trial has a sliding scale payment option. Is that something that you had experimented with to figure out those right price points?
Katherine: We've experimented with that and we found that having a paid trial is key. Our program requires commitment. It's not a program where you can just sit back and let it happen. You really need to engage with it every day and talk to your sleep coach. I think asking for that paid commitment upfront, even though it is on a sliding scale and you can currently pay as low as 50 cents for a trial, it still helps ensure sure that the users who come on board have that level of commitment, they're ready to work with their coach, that kind of thing.
Any other Braze campaigns you’re proud of or that have helped Sleep Reset grow?
Charles: The Canvas that I'm most proud of is one that I collaborated with our team to set up. It's what we call the trial abandonment campaign. Essentially what we did was we set up this Canvas where we split our audience into two branches. We were able to use that split to determine which variant led to higher trial opt-in. We started to experiment a bit with each send. Maybe we’d send seven messages to one variant vs. one message to the other variant, and see what happens. Over time through weekly tests, we were able to finally put together the strongest campaign we possibly could to drive more engagement and awareness about our trial and get people to actually go through the in-product onboarding flow.
Katherine: Braze has helped us make sure that we're targeting members who really have that sleep pain point and are committed to the program. It’s also helped us to keep those members engaged with the program by sending them push notifications when they have a sleep log to do or they haven't done their daily lesson yet. We can drive that engagement and make sure they commit to the program and continue with it. And ultimately, that's what makes our program actually effective at helping people sleep better. So Braze has been really important for driving the user behaviors that we need in order to get to that efficacy.
Charles: At another point in time, we had set up a Canvas for weekly broadcasts. We're really trying to maximize our SEO presence as a new domain and brand, so we were using a weekly broadcast to trialists and subscribers to do that. And we did some really fun segmentation where we would send basically the exact same campaign to trialists vs. subscribers but with slightly different content. For example, a subscriber would get some fun or interesting article we have in our blog as their main call to action. Trialist dropouts would get the same message, but with a section in it that prompts them to give their Sleep Reset another try.
Such creative use cases that span the whole funnel! But let’s switch gears and talk about the more technical side of things. Michael, were you a part of the initial decision to buy Braze?
Michael: Yes, it was pretty early on and we were nimble and trying to move fast. We were evaluating different potential solutions and Braze was recommended to us by other companies in our community. And at the time we were very much mobile-focused because we were doing meditation and people were not going to sit in front of the computer and meditate. It was a more on-the-go app. So we wanted a solution that was very much focused on engagement on mobile devices. And Braze stood out there. And we just wanted to build something that allows you to send push notifications and to send lifecycle email, so we started with Braze from there.
Braze has also the functionality to allow us to continue to evolve. It’s been great to see all the features being added to the platform. Initially we were very much just about email and push. And now we're also using a lot of additional features like in-app messaging. It’s been a pretty quick process to get a new feature and then try it out and go from there.
Were there any resources that were helpful for you and your team in that integration process?
Michael: The Braze support response and the documentation has always been very prompt and helpful. They’ve helped us figure out where functionality, how to use Liquid, how to use all kinds of personalized things that Braze provides. We haven't run into any issues where we weren’t able to resolve our questions and we couldn't get answered by support or the documentation.
What’s your involvement with the marketing and product teams in connection with Braze now that it’s integrated into both Simple Habit and Sleep Reset?
Michael: I think what’s great about Braze is how we’ve been able to free up the engineering resources around things like personalization. We just need to discuss what kind of events we need to send Braze and send them. And then the marketing team can take over and set up their campaigns and be able to deliver the right message to the user at the right time.
Before Braze, we had to hard code those things in—where we say, okay on day three, we want to show this push notification, or if they finish a sleep meditation we want to send them this. We had to do a lot of the personalization ourselves. All of that logic was built by the engineering team in the code.
With Braze, we're able to remove ourselves from that role. Our main involvement with Braze now is just about maintenance of events, attributes, etc. Braze provides a very good set of tools and features that allows the marketing team to run autonomously.
Using Braze has helped Sleep Reset drive a 3X increase in trial opt-in rate and grow the thousands of subscribers. They’ve also found that users who opt-in to push notifications are nearly 2X as likely to engage in key user behaviors that drive retention and adherence to their program.
Thanks, for the perspective, Michael! So then what's next for Sleep Reset?
Charles: Right now, we're in this really healthy space where we're trying to increase our content library. And we're also trying to find new ways to engage members with our content and lessons. And so one way in which we'll continue to use Braze to grow is by leveraging push notifications and email to prompt members to continue to do the activities that we think will lead to higher engagement. I see a lot of different ways that we'll continue to use our email, push, and SMS channels to further increase the level of engagement with the product, which should lead to higher and better performance in all our north star metrics.
Katherine: And we're just continuing to grow and bringing on new members at an accelerated rate. We're also testing out new channels to reach them. And then, of course, continually optimizing on the product. We talk to our users all the time. We're always looking for new ways to gather quantitative data from our customers, too. We use Braze to send our NPS emails or we send surveys to our members via Braze. So it's a really important channel for us to get user feedback, which is a critical part of my job. Plus, we're growing our team, hiring more sleep coaches, hiring right now across product, engineering, and operations. We're a startup and move quickly, though. So next week, it could be something else that we need!
And what advice would you give a small business that's considering implementing Braze?
Charles: Work closely with your account manager and also technical support at the onboarding stages to ensure that they walk through every use case, edge case possible to get set up even quicker. I think that's something that I really appreciated and that it's been really fun working with Braze. You have a very clear, crisp and awesome onboarding process. I would tell any new Braze customer to really embrace the level of support that Braze offers.
Hundreds of innovative small and growing companies like EarlyBird and Thursday are using Braze to disrupt their categories and achieve success. See for yourself why Braze is the secret weapon startups turn to to gain a competitive advantage, engage thoughtfully with their users, and ultimately drive business outcomes like user growth, conversions, revenue, retention, and more.
*This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Ashley Christiano is a Principal Customer Marketing Manager, Global SMB based out of Los Angeles. When she’s not helping customers get more out of Braze, she’s probably sorting her books by color, writing horoscopes, or hanging out with her cat Gracie and dog Louise.