In one of his thought provoking articles, Nir Eyal, the author of “Hooked,” talks about the existence of a dogmatic camp that has arisen within the tech world:
“Some prioritize user growth and accept low user engagement, while others believe a company needs to nail user engagement before focusing on user growth. I believe this is a false dichotomy.”
He later states
The fact of the matter is, if you are aiming for growth, you can’t ignore user engagement.
With a plethora of SaaS products out there, what really differentiates one from another is the ‘stickiness’ that the product offers its users, without which an engagement strategy is not going to work. That’s the real challenge for Product Marketers.
Why is Engaging a Customer Important?
This may seem laughable, but it’s a question that needs to be addressed. Engagement as a metric gets thrown around a lot, and every business has a different approach and ‘understanding’ of engagement.
Lincoln Murphy states:
“Engagement is when your customer is realizing value from your SaaS.”
Ensuring that your users continue to get value from your SaaS product is difficult, but not impossible, to achieve. It requires a clear strategy that that runs through each and every level of your product.
Let’s dive deep and evaluate the various approaches that can be used to amplify your engagement strategy.
How to Apply Engagement Strategies at Every Stage of a User’s Lifecycle
Product Marketers are responsible for driving the demand, adoption and overall strategy for the product. A good product has a perfect messaging strategy, provides users with umpteen communication channels to voice their concerns, and aims at building an experience that isn’t just internal.
For example, a product like Buffer not only provides a superior engagement to its users via the product (internally) but also invests in building a thriving community, which in turn acts as an external engagement driver for the brand.
Let’s examine the various ways in which Product Managers can improve their engagement.
#1 Elevating the Onboarding Experience
Everyone in the SaaS business knows the significance of onboarding – a good one can elevate your user’s experience, while a bad one will break it. Your team’s efforts around onboarding will determine how long a user chooses to engage with your product.
A good onboarding and a frictionless flow ensures that a user is able to start engaging with the core product right away.
“Your onboarding should equip people to get something done as quickly as possible, no matter what context they have. Determine the key tasks you need a user to accomplish in the first 30 seconds of interacting with your app, and design your onboarding to help them get it done.” This is from the team at Slack, a product that has become an industry favorite due to its amazing onboarding experience.
Slack continues to perfect onboarding and significantly improve the way people use their app.
Sujan Patel, one of our Co-Founders, speaks about Product Marketing and a few onboarding tricks that he’s used with another SaaS product that he runs (check the video from 1.51 to 3.30)
While perfecting onboarding may look like a Herculean task, it is essentially about small wins.
#2 Enticing Users via Video Tutorials
As a Marketer, you want your users to understand your product the minute they land on your website for the first time. A robust strategy can ensure that. However, an effective SaaS engagement strategy calls for constantly educating the customer about the products, its features and the ways in which they can benefit from it. With attention spans dwindling, videos are a great way to engage a user and instantly provide them with necessary information.
“We use a couple of typeforms to help us better understand the challenges our clients are trying to solve. One is a tutorial to instruct our users on the basics of our software using videos and quizzes.”
There are umpteen examples of SaaS companies using video tutorials to boost engagement. For example, Hubspot used to onboard its users via long webinars, but switched to videos as they ‘establish intuitive learning, and demonstrated precisely what customers required quickly and effortlessly.’
Mention uses video tutorials to educate users on the basics of their products.
#3 Pumping Up User Chat
Most SaaS companies invest in chat integration, but only a few are able to deliver value to their users via this channel. Most forget that it is a real-time communication tool, much like text, and therefore there’s a necessity to engage with users instantly.
Live chat is a boon for engagement as it has the ability to close issues and address a user’s pain point almost instantly. A happy customer is the best audience for upselling.
Here’s an example from KlientBoost, which shows how happy users can be targeted with informative articles, posts and even courses to further elevate how they engage with your brand.
Aligning live chat with targeted messaging can help brands bring the right conversation at the right time.
#4 Amplifying Triggered Responses
Triggered responses are a powerful way to engage with an audience. With thousands of emails, messages and other communications that hit a user every day, triggered messages are by far the best. That’s because they are tied to a user’s behavior, profiles or preferences. They are personal, and therefore more effective.
Triggers made up just under 7% of total campaigns marketers sent, yet generated almost 5 times the click rate, according to Yes Lifecycle Marketing’s latest benchmark report. One of the reasons behind the failure of an effective triggered responses strategy is the lack of sufficient data and behavioral insights.
Segment.io is an amazing tool that’s been lauded within the community for helping Marketers make sense of their data and build a better-triggered marketing strategy. Guillaume Cabane, Ex-Growth Head, explains it in this video below:
#5 Increasing Engagement via Web Push Notifications
Sometimes communication channel, such as email, can show a decline. This can impact a brand’s overall engagement strategy. That’s where web push notifications come in. For example, Jumia, an online E-commerce website in Africa, experienced a 9X higher conversion and a 38% open rate using web push, compared with emails.
Since web push is aimed exclusively at website visitors, it can be used in many different ways. A few engagement avenues that can be explored via web push include transactional web push, updates, and product-related announcements, sharing promotional content, and building an overall relationship with the user.
Web push is criticized in a few circles. However, if used intelligently, it is an incredibly effective way to boost user engagement.
#6 Implement Off-Website Tactics
For many Marketers, engaging a visitor is just an ‘on-website’ activity, and they don’t invest much in building engagement with users outside that sphere. That’s where brands like Buffer, HootSuite, Drift, and others have excelled.
All these companies offer users a lateral platform to connect with them. These brands have invested heavily in building a robust community of supporters (active and engaged users). While Buffer believes in hosting community-driven meetups and sharing incentives such as ‘Buffer swag’ with its community, Drift offers its users an exclusive ‘Slack community.’
— Buffer (@buffer) August 31, 2017
All these off-the-website strategies have helped amplify constantly spinning engagement.
It’s Time to Bring The Focus Back on Engagement
Engagement and retention are often cited by SaaS Product Marketers as two key challenges which are often interlinked. Without a strong engagement strategy, it is difficult to retain users. However, what’s also needed is a wee bit of experimentation to really understand what clicks with your users and what doesn’t.
What kind of challenges do you face while engaging with your users, and what strategies have worked for you? Do share your insights with us in the comments below.