17 B2B Customer Engagement Strategies That Drive Retention and Loyalty
Looking to try out new B2B customer engagement strategies to improve your product’s overall user experience and drive retention? We got you covered!
In order to acquire, convert, retain customers – and turn them into raving fans – you need to engage them first. Engagement is the sum total of all the ways you connect with your customers and foster meaningful relationships with them.
In order to do this successfully, you need to have a solid customer engagement strategy in place. Read along to learn how you can develop and implement this!
- Customer engagement is enabling customers to interact with your brand on an ongoing basis through any channel of their choice. These interactions focus on relationship building by providing customers with valuable content that helps them succeed.
- A customer engagement strategy is a detailed plan that includes all activities a company will employ to maximize CX and keep customers engaged throughout their journey.
What you stand to gain from successful customer engagement:
- Improved overall customer experience
- Increased retention and loyalty
- More revenue from upsells and cross-sells
- Customer experience is the customer’s perception of you, while customer engagement is how you interact with those customers. Both metrics work together to help you retain customers and keep them happy.
17 B2B customer engagement strategies for each stage of the user’s journey:
- Start developing your customer engagement strategy with user journey mapping
- Hyper-personalize in-app communication and customer experiences
- Drive customer engagement and strengthen relationships with customer loyalty programs
- Use gamification to increase in-app engagement
- Measure customer engagement KPIs and metrics across the user journey and make iterations
- Use social proof in your marketing materials
- Track product usage and in-app customer behavior to glean valuable insights
- Re-engage inactive users with email marketing
- Communicate product changes in a proactive manner
- Build virtual communities for your customers
- Collect customer feedback at multiple touchpoints and act on it
- Engage customers with in-product messaging
- Provide real-time engagement with a live chat or a chatbot
- Host virtual customer engagement events such as webinars
- Provide proactive support and ongoing education with a resource center
- Embrace video storytelling and embed it into your product experiences
- Share your company’s vision and gather user input with a public roadmap
What is customer engagement?
Customer engagement refers to the process of interacting with your users through a variety of channels and building a relationship with them.
Email, social media, community forums, and a company website are popular channels companies use for customer engagement.
What are customer engagement strategies?
A customer engagement strategy is a detailed plan that includes all activities a company will employ to maximize CX and keep customers engaged throughout their journey. A good customer engagement strategy has measurable KPIs and is always updated based on the performance data.
Why does customer engagement matter in SaaS?
Signing up to use your software is just one step you expect a SaaS customer to take. You want them to keep renewing their subscriptions and have a high LTV. The surest way to ensure that is by keeping them engaged with your product and brand.
Specifically, here are the reasons you should care about customer engagement:
Improve the overall customer experience
Good customer engagement strategies will lead to positive interactions and make customers feel good about your brand. This experience will, in turn, make them want to stick with you.
Repeated engagement results in increased retention and loyalty
Loyalty doesn’t just happen; it’s the product of ongoing engagement that builds emotional bonds between you and customers.
With this bond established, customers will keep renewing their subscriptions and stay loyal, provided your app continues to be valuable.
Boost revenue thanks to upsells and cross-sells
This is a consequence of the previous point.
Loyal customers are with you because your product satisfies their needs, which means this customer group is the most primed for upsells and cross-sells. They’ll easily upgrade with minimal push, leading to increased revenue for you.
Customer engagement vs customer experience
Customer engagement and customer experience are two sides of the same coin and are often combined to keep customers happy.
So what’s the difference between them?
For one, CX is more passive than CE: In customer experience, the user is the recipient of what the company does.
Customer engagement requires active participation from customers. You create the channels and content while users interact by sending emails, engaging with your social media posts, etc.
Another way to see it is that customer experience is the customer’s perception of you, while customer engagement is how you interact with those customers. As mentioned, CE and CX work together—People’s experience with your brand tends to improve over time as they continue interacting with you. And in turn, the positive experiences make them engage more.
17 B2B customer engagement strategies for each stage of the user’s journey
Our focus in this article is to help you improve customer engagement, not necessarily CX (although that’s often a de facto benefit).
Below are 17 strategies you can use to engage customers at different stages of their journey:
Start developing your customer engagement strategy with user journey mapping
It’s impossible to develop effective engagement strategies if you don’t know your customers or what they want to achieve.
A clear user journey map helps you visualize how customers progress through your product, the experiences they’re expected to have, and possible challenges. In short, you’ll gather insights into customer behavior and identify opportunities for engagement.
Here’s what a simple journey map built with Miro looks like:
Hyper-personalize in-app communication and customer experiences
Personalization is one of the most popular engagement strategies, especially for B2B customers. And for good reasons—it makes customers feel like you know them and makes it easy for them to get things done on your app.
Common examples of SaaS personalization:
- Onboarding flow personalization
- Sending emails to the right user segments
- Revealing features based on the journey stage—as against showing customers everything at once and confusing them
- Segmenting dissatisfied customers and offering personalized assistance
The key to hyper-personalization is properly segmenting users, and Userpilot helps companies with that.
Here’s segmentation in action on our software:
Drive customer engagement and strengthen relationships with loyalty programs
SaaS customers won’t buy from you every day. But you need to keep your product top of mind so you’re the one they go to when next they need something you provide.
You do that by adding value to every engagement a customer has with your brand. The experience will be memorable, and they’ll keep thinking about you.
Loyalty programs are great for building this kind of relationship. Rewarding customers for something they would have otherwise done for free keeps them motivated and gives them something to remember your platform about.
There are essentially three kinds of customer loyalty programs:
- Points-based: Customers accumulate points for performing key actions and can exchange those points for something valuable.
- Referral-based: Rewarding customers with money or freebies from your platform for referring others.
- Mission-based: Having a compelling social mission and telling customers every purchase they make equals giving a fraction to that cause. Ideally, your mission should be something customers can relate to—e.g., poverty alleviation, free education, climate change, etc.
Use gamification strategies for increased in-app engagement
Positive reinforcement is something we’re all susceptible to. It’s just our brain’s way of ensuring we keep doing the things that bring good vibes.
Use positive reinforcement by rewarding customers for reaching important milestones on your app (e.g., feature activation, renewals, etc.). Your reward will make them feel good and be tempted to keep engaging to get the same dopamine rush.
Gamification elements you can use include badges, certificates, celebration modals, etc. Example from Asana: a magical creature appears every time new users complete a task.
Track customer engagement metrics across the user journey
There are several KPIs that can tell you how well your customer engagement strategies are performing. You’ll be more successful if you regularly track them and iterate based on the results.
Metrics for measuring customer engagement:
- Customer engagement score (CES): This tells you how engaged your existing users are. This metric is measured by determining the most important events on your app, assigning engagement scores to each event, and calculating the sum of all the event values. CES varies for each customer based on the person’s engagement frequency.
- Retention rate: The percentage of customers retained over specific periods.
- Active users: The number of active interactions by your users. This is measured daily (DAU) or monthly (MAU).
- Number of Sessions per User: Tells you how frequently people revisit your product by calculating the average number of sessions per user.
- Sessions per day (Activation): Similar to the above metric, but measured per day and focused on user activation.
- Time Spent in the Product: Tells you the average time each visitor spends on your tool per day, week, or month.
- Onboarding Engagement: How engaged your new users are during the onboarding process.
- Feature Adoption: Tells you how many users interact with specific features over a given period.
- Net Promoter Score (NPS): An 11-point scale (0-10) that measures customer sentiment by asking them how likely they are to recommend your product.
Use social proof in your marketing materials
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people tend to conform to the crowd to feel among or achieve the same results as others.
It’s increasingly becoming a strong tool for engaging customers, especially as most B2B buyers rely on testimonials and referrals. Adding social proof to your marketing material gives users and prospects something to interact with when unsure of your brand’s capability.
The rise of third-party review sites means you can’t afford to joke with social proof. Whether you’re intentional about it or not, customers will always leave reviews about your product where others can find them.
So, why not be proactive and ask loyal customers for reviews and testimonials? That way, you’ll be more in control of what potential leads read and hear about you.
Track product usage and customer behavior inside the app
The in-app customer behavior is a gold mine you wouldn’t want to sleep on.
Tag features and set goals to see how customers interact with your product. Notice where they get stuck and where they are successful, then use the results to make data-informed changes to your customer engagement strategy.
Re-engage inactive users with email marketing
Inactive users are those who either stop using your product completely or no longer perform value-based actions.
You still have their emails, so reach out via that medium and provide a compelling reason to revisit your app/become more active.
Your compelling reason could be a new feature, FOMO by telling them what they’re losing out on the app, or discounts and limited deals.
Communicate product changes in a proactive manner
Product changes are inevitable. As your software and user base grows, you’ll often need to add new features and sunset others. But how you approach change can determine if customers are carried along or not.
General principles for being proactive and driving engagement with product changes:
- Use a mix of channels to announce updates so users don’t miss it: blog posts, website banners, in-app notifications, emails, etc. Your announcements should focus on the value users will get by adopting the change.
- Let users know in advance when sunsetting a feature. Avoid taking them by surprise for something that serious.
- Ensure users know when you launch a new feature that will deliver new or extra value. Many of them won’t find out on their own due to feature blindness.
You can use modals to announce product changes. Example:
Build virtual communities for your customers
Building digital communities is a great way to connect with customers and engage them at scale. Communities also allow customers to network, ask questions, and share ideas.
There are several ways to go about community building. You could go light by simply having active social media accounts where you post engaging content, create polls, and interact with customers in the comments section or the DMs.
And you could go beyond that to create exclusive digital communities like a Facebook or Linkedin group, Slack channel, an online forum, etc.
Collect customer feedback at multiple touchpoints and act on it
Feedback lets you know what your existing customers think and feel about your brand. Collecting and analyzing it will enable you to draft better customer engagement strategies.
Generally, you want to collect both passive and active feedback, and look out for two things:
- What’s causing frustration: Avoid this in your CE strategy.
- What’s driving customer satisfaction: Create more of it to improve the product experience and drive more loyalty.
Engage customers with in-product messaging
In-product messages come in different forms and can be used to drive free-to-paid conversion, trigger users to complete onboarding, promote special offers, etc.
These messages are best triggered contextually so the user can quickly take action.
Different forms of in-product messages include checklists, tooltips, modals, and microsurveys.
Provide real-time engagement with a live chat or a chatbot
Live chat helps you to engage customers and provide immediate assistance to their problems.
You can also implement chatbots as standalone or complementary support to your live chat option. This approach will save you money—fewer people from the support and sales team on the payroll—while ensuring customers get immediate help.
Host virtual customer engagement events such as webinars
Webinars humanize your brand because customers get to have face-to-face interaction with someone from your success team. They’re also opportunities for customers to ask you questions, share feedback, and even connect with other users.
Provide proactive support and ongoing education with a resource center
We mentioned live chat and chatbot earlier. They have their place, but building an on-demand resource center is another way to engage with customers. The good thing about resource centers is that customers can visit them anytime without worrying about waiting in line.
Content formats to consider having in your resource center include guides, video tutorials, access to chat and support, etc. Basically, everything customers need to engage with your product and get unstuck.
Embrace video storytelling and embed it into your product experiences
Instagram reels and Tiktok videos aren’t having higher engagement just because they’re social media platforms. It’s actually an indication that our taste is gradually moving from text to visual content—especially videos. Even B2B buyers aren’t left out.
And why not? Videos are easier to consume, and they tend to do a better job of breaking down complex concepts. That’s not to mention the humanization and increased likeability that comes with seeing a customer success agent or hearing their voice in brand videos.
The customer communication software Tolstoy understands this. They use videos with real people at key points in their onboarding to drive better engagement and shorten the time to value.
Share your company’s vision and gather user input with a public roadmap
Having a public roadmap means customers and prospects can visit at any point to have an idea of what you’re working on. It’s even more engaging when you make it possible for them to suggest ideas and vote for suggestions made by others. It’ll make them feel involved in your journey.
We’ve discussed 17 strategies; some complement each other while others are independent.
It’s normal to get confused when picking the strategies to implement. A few ideas to help:
- Start with the ones that stood out to you the most
- Don’t skip the fundamentals. You know them—user feedback, personalization, journey maps, etc
- Always track KPIs and make iterations until you’re satisfied with the result
Userpilot can help implement the customer engagement strategies you decide to focus on. Our product growth platform enables you to segment users and personalize product experiences, collect feedback with in-app surveys and track user behavior among many other things. Simply Book a demo and tell us what you want to experiment with!