6 Customer Engagement Marketing (CEM) Strategies for SaaS
Is your customer engagement marketing strategy bringing in expected results? If the answer to that question is ‘No’, then it might be time for a change.
As the user experience is becoming increasingly important (even more so than product and pricing for many brands), improving user engagement is crucial.
If executed well, a consumer engagement marketing strategy not only increases your revenue but also maximizes the customer lifetime value.
In this article, we’ll look at the top 6 customer engagement marketing (CEM) strategies for SaaS and how you can leverage them to provide a personalized experience to your customers.
- Customer engagement marketing is essential to personalize communication with the user to ensure success.
- SaaS companies have access to a plethora of data banks that can be essential to build an excellent CEM strategy.
- Using the right metrics to measure customer engagement success is as essential as measuring customer engagement itself.
- User onboarding never stops, and most businesses make the mistake of not engaging with the user after activation.
- Celebrating customer success is an engaging way to move the customers through the sales funnel and drive revenues.
- Don’t forget to keep the right tools ready to build and execute your customer engagement marketing strategy.
What is customer engagement?
In its literal sense, customer engagement is all about the ongoing interactions between the brand and its customers.
Customer engagement is the measure of a customer’s interaction with the brand across all touchpoints over the customer lifecycle, where the interactions are offered by the company but chosen by the customer.
These interactions are unique for every business and can be done through various channels, such as email, website, feedback, purchase, and much more. A quality customer engagement rate may mean a solid brand-to-customer connection, resulting in customer retention, increasing revenue.
What is customer engagement marketing?
With the rise of social media and the digital realm, brands need to move beyond plainly displaying messages and build a unique experience for their customers. This is where customer engagement marketing (CEM) comes into the picture. CEM is defined as the marketing strategy that personalizes customer engagement across touchpoints to increase the customer experience (CX) and customer success.
Through CEM, a brand uses personalized messaging to move its prospects through the sales funnel, encourage them to move forward, and finally convert them into customers.
Since the user is the driving force of all personalized communication developed by the brand, CEM can convert these customers into loyal evangelists for the brand, further cementing the brand-consumer connection.
Why is customer engagement marketing important in SaaS?
Customer engagement marketing not only helps brands close sales but also helps build better customer relations. An increased number of customer interactions means they are moving through the sales funnel and are more likely to end up purchasing, leave positive feedback, and recommend your brand to others.
Moreover, customer engagement marketing is ideal for transforming one-time customers to repeat users, either through repurchasing or upgrading to a higher plan.
Retaining a customer is easier, as the probability of selling to an existing customer is nearly 70%, while the same reduces to 5-20% for new leads.
In addition, compared to new customers, your current customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend over 30% more. Therefore, making the customer feel connected with your product emotionally through engagement will increase your retention rate and future revenue.
In today’s data-driven environment, SaaS companies have access to sizeable data that can assist in creating CEM strategies. This data may include who your users are, their demographics, their interaction behavior with your product, points at which they drop off, and purchases.
This data can be used to create highly personalized engagement strategies that can shrink the activation time.
For example, gathering customer feedback is important – this can be done through chatbots, surveys, live chat, and emails. But collecting feedback is redundant if the data is not used.
So, much like all other essential user data collected through the product, you should analyze the feedback and ensure that all customer complaints, especially repetitive ones, are acted upon.
This will result in an increased customer engagement and satisfaction. In this way, customer engagement marketing is a crucial way of helping customers stay ahead of the competition.
How do you measure the success of customer engagement marketing?
If your customer engagement with your product is increasing, it means that your customer engagement marketing strategy might be working. However, it is essential to measure your success using the correct metrics. Using the wrong benchmark may not help you understand what your customers want.
There plenty of customer engagement metrics that a company can use. However, in a survey conducted by Userpilot where we evaluated the responses of product managers (mostly working in the software industry), the results were rather surprising. Nearly 80% of them voted the product usage statistic as their primary metric.
The problem with metrics such as the number of sessions, session time, average users, and the number of sessions is that they provide incomplete information.
What if the user is repeatedly returning to the product because they can’t solve a particular problem?
The point is, customers who visit your product may not be satisfied with the offerings and might leave never to return. Therefore, using the correct metrics is highly beneficial in understanding the user perspective.
Here are some other metrics you can use:
- Net Promoter Score (NPS)
- Feature Adoption
- Onboarding Engagement
- Customer Lifetime Value
- Bounce Rate
Therefore, stop relying on the metrics that create the buzz and start using actionable and reliable data, as offered by Userpilot.
Source: Userpilot Feature Engagement Analytics. See how Userpilot can assist you with measuring and increasing customer engagement. Get a demo today!
On top of using the right metrics, you should understand that when a user logs in, their engagement journey starts. Therefore, it is imperative to stop counting logged-in users as part of your engagement metrics.
To become an engaging user, they need to interact with your best features frequently and renew or upgrade their subscriptions, or at least be open to it.
Therefore, while executing your customer engagement marketing strategy, you should measure the success through metrics such as onboarding engagement, feature adoption, and qualitative survey results. This will give you a far better picture of customer engagement than using the bland metrics mentioned above.
6 customer engagement marketing strategies for SaaS
Marketing a SaaS brand often poses some unique challenges. One such example is customer retention, which is more critical, and, in many cases, way more complicated than it is for other businesses. While customer engagement marketing can happen outside the application through social media, loyalty programs, and text/video resources, it is the in-application CEM that consistently drives growth.
As discussed above, a good customer engagement marketing strategy, especially for SaaS businesses, is predominantly data-driven. Therefore, you must track the user journey across your product and the in-app behavior using product analytics. Using these data points, you can start building your CEM strategy.
To help you get started, here are six customer engagement marketing strategies recommended for SaaS businesses.
Customer Engagement Marketing Strategy #1: Personalise user onboarding using data
Do you believe that user onboarding is completed once you acquire the user? Well, contrary to popular belief, user onboarding is never-ending. Once the user is activated, the product goals of onboarding simply change, and we move on to the next stage.
The user onboarding process contains three stages:
- Primary onboarding: At the primary stage, the user gets to know about your product and is considered activated.
- Secondary onboarding: Once activated, at the secondary stage, the user purchases or upgrades the product.
- Tertiary onboarding: At the tertiary stage, the user becomes a brand advocate and helps spread the word.
One of the best user onboarding practices is to personalize engagement at each stage. Therefore, it is crucial to track the user journey, and using user journey analytics, send personalized and timely messages to drive the user to the next stage. Hence, the onboarding process begins the first time a user interacts with your product and never ends after that.
But what’s the first thing the user sees while interacting with the product? The welcome screen! Unfortunately, the welcome screen is usually the place where SaaS businesses face challenges in engaging with their customers.
Welcome screens help users understand their role and what they expect the product to deliver. Building a monotonous welcome screen can be extremely off-putting and may even reduce the chances of subsequent customer engagement.
However, to make things exciting for the user and provide a personalized experience, you can include a micro-survey to get to know the customer better. These details can be used to customize the onboarding process as per the persona and may even help retarget the customer. Moreover, the more engaging and personalized the onboarding process is, the shorter their time to value.
The user segmentation can also be tracked right from onboarding to the whole user journey, building a personalized experience along the way and engaging with the right messages at the right time. With Userpilot, you can extensively segment your users to send highly personalized communication.
If you want to learn how to boost your customer engagement with exceptional welcome screens, get a free Userpilot demo today.
Customer engagement marketing strategy #2: Offer self-serve in-app support and remove friction
The definition of customer friction might not be apparent to everybody, but we have all witnessed it. It encompasses a confusing UI, a few extra clicks for a simple task, or even redundant information about the product. Put simply, anything that hinders the customer from buying, using, or finding value in your product is customer friction.
Removing consumer friction is highly vital to driving customer engagement, increasing conversion rates, and reducing churn rates.
There are multiple methods to reduce friction, but one of the simplest yet crucial mediums is creating a detailed knowledge base or resource center. This documentation can be accessed by customers when they experience friction over trivial problems.
A knowledge base is a structured collection of documents and resources that SaaS users can access to address their queries independently and get the most out of the product. This increases customer engagement and promotes a healthy culture of customer self-sufficiency.
A knowledge base can include:
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- Product information
- Training Manuals
- Video demonstrations of the product
Take a look at Userpilot, which is an excellent customer engagement tool. Using our tool, you can create tooltips to help the users.
Once the user engages with a query, which here, is learning how to group accounts, the tooltip pointing them in the right direction pops up.
This helps them understand the product better and removes friction. On the other hand, your support team can focus on helping customers with more complex issues, removing additional friction.
Customer engagement marketing strategy #3: Act on user sentiment data in real-time
User sentiment is the driving force behind customer engagement, as there is an emotional state connected to every action. To direct engagement, measuring and acting on user sentiment is crucial.
Voice of the customer (VoC) describes feedback collection on the user’s experience with the product factoring in user sentiment. Unlike all-inclusive feedback systems, the VoC focuses on individual users and their sentiments.
By implementing a VoC program through constant feedback and measurements, brands can regularly improve customer experience. An improved customer experience is bound to increase engagement, driving product success.
For example, you might receive good feedback on product usability, but multiple users complain about the tedious checkout process. Following the feedback, your development team acts on reducing the time it takes to checkout. Soon enough, the feedback for the checkout process becomes better. Therefore, collecting input and acting swiftly on it improves the user sentiment about the product and the brand, driving customer engagement.
One of the widely used metrics to gauge user sentiment are Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys. What makes it so well-known is that it is easy to implement and requires very little time to get feedback from the user, promoting engagement. Through in-app NPS surveys, you can boost your customer engagement marketing strategy by collecting quantitative and qualitative feedback data.
- Quantitative Data: Collected by asking users a question about how likely they will recommend the product to someone else and receiving answers on a scale of 1 to 10. Here’s an example of a quantitative NPS survey from Userpilot:
- Qualitative Data: Coupled with the scale, users can be asked to justify their answers to gain deeper insights into their feedback and act accordingly. Here’s an example of a qualitative NPS survey used in Userpilot:
But collecting the feedback data is only one side of the coin; acting upon it is the other. Here are some use cases of working on this feedback using the tools provided by Userpilot.
You can analyze the NPS data in real-time and respond to feedback.
If the NPS was collected in-app, you could alter your customer engagement marketing strategy to launch an in-app experience to gain additional insights. Here’s an example:
Some tools can help you club together similar responses, assisting in understanding repetitive issues users face:
Moreover, an email asking for additional details on the feedback or even informing the user that their feedback has been acted upon is well received. Bonus points if the email is personalized and from a real person.
Customer engagement marketing strategy #4: Celebrate customer success
Many user retention strategies often focus on providing value to users when their interest in the product is high, not after. Especially for SaaS companies, repeatedly proving value to all users has become necessary to reduce churn rate. This is where celebrating customers’ success becomes imperative in promoting engagement.
In our State of SaaS Product Onboarding 2020 report, only 1 out of 6 surveyed SaaS products celebrated the milestones and achievements of their users. However, the paradigm shift in engagement and personalized marketing is evident in the State of SaaS Onboarding 2021 report, which shows more companies using personalization to reach their customers.
To provide a positive experience to customers, celebrating milestones and achievements is the ideal route. Users like to be celebrated when they achieve something, as it promotes further engagement with the product. Celebrating milestones, sending congratulatory messages, regular progress reports, or even a fun way of saying “Well Done!” can help you ace the customer engagement marketing game.
Here’s an example of celebrating the completion of a checklist:
Customer engagement marketing strategy #5: Use in-app gamification
The rise of mobile gaming has been pivotal to the gamification of non-gaming applications, which can boost user onboarding and retention. Gamifying an application doesn’t mean creating a game to engage users but introducing certain game-like mechanisms to carry out specific tasks in an engaging manner.
In a survey of 54 participants, over 60% of people had never tried to implement any gaming elements in their products, while only 20% had tried it at least once.
In-app gamification can work wonders with a customer engagement strategy, as it can be used to attract customers to the app, promote products, and reward them for engaging. For example, if you have a restaurant, you can provide your customers dining points in the application whenever they eat at your establishment. Once they have enough dining points, they get a dessert for free. This promotes both user acquisition and retention, with repeated purchases in order to get a reward.
The above example is just one scenario of how gamification works, but there are a plethora of other ways a SaaS brand can use in-app gamification for its product.
Here are some of the types of in-app gamification:
- An internal currency that can be used for rewards
- Badges to celebrate customer engagement
- Levelling-up feature
- Frequent challenges
- Points and leaderboards
Customer engagement marketing strategy #6: Build a community to share knowledge and drive customer success
With increasing competition, customers need a convincing reason to stay with a brand, and the situation is not different for SaaS companies as well. Moving beyond products and transactions and building an online community is an ideal way to help customers interact with the brand and even each other. Once customers get an enhanced experience through an active community, your existing customers will become the best marketing tools for your brand.
Furthermore, building a community can also help you connect with the consumer outside a formal environment where you can review comments and interactions to get extensive and honest feedback. This can help you remove friction from the user experience and propel sales.
One such example is Userpilot’s Facebook group, where our team often posts insights to help passionate members, and you can find regular interactions on customer retention and engagement marketing. Userpilot will soon launch a new community dedicated solely to its users to help them stay connected with us, always!
Best customer engagement software tools to use
To comprehensively engage with your users, you must have the right tools in place. Customer engagement software tools manage the interactions with the customer through various touchpoints. These tools guide potential and repeat customers throughout the user journey as per the customer engagement marketing strategy.
Here are the best customer engagement software tools to use for your next strategy.
- Userpilot: Userpilot is a 360° customer engagement software that helps brands interact with their customers and collect feedback by building engaging in-product onboarding flows without writing a single line of code.
- Mixpanel: Mixpanel offers an in-depth analysis of user analytics to help brands transparently identify how customers interact with them.
- Pendo: Pendo focuses on product analytics and helps you choose how customers interact with your product with minimal coding.
- Appcues: With Appcues, brands can create flows and track new events with detailed analytics to measure in-app behaviors.
- Intercom: Intercom drives conversational engagement through chatbots and email automation & product tours as added services.
- Hubspot: HubSpot’s CRM platform comes with many tools for marketing, sales, content management, and customer service.
- Active Campaign: Helps brands with email marketing, marketing automation, and CRM tools for customer engagement.
- Drip: Helps brands send personalized messages to the right customers via email, social media, and SMS with a core focus on user segmentation.
- Drift: Supports brands in using chatbots to generate sales and increase customer interaction with the product.
Customer engagement marketing isn’t entirely new but is still neglected by a large chunk of the brands. Successful brands aim to engage with the customer even beyond the typical transaction, keeping customers as the point of convergence for all their strategies.
Through in-product engagements, brands can make the customer feel valued and create a personalized experience that makes them move forward with the product. A good customer engagement marketing strategy can act as a loyalty program without investing in a loyalty program, resulting in happy customers, repeat purchases, and increased sales.
Want to start improving your customer engagement and help users achieve success with your product? Get a demo now and see how Userpilot can help.