How to Keep Users Coming Back With Engagement Loops
Customer engagement loops can serve as extensions of your CS and marketing teams.
Here’s why: a good engagement loop creates excitement and motivation that keep customers returning to your product. In that process, they’ll explore your tool, use it to solve their needs and continue doing so—which is what the CS team helps customers do.
And how is it an extension of your marketing team?
It follows the customer activity outlined above. Excited customers who get real value from your product will easily tell others about you. They’ll use social media, review sites, or office chit-chat to share how your product is changing their lives. And you know what that means—free customers without the extra CAC.
This article discusses what an engagement loop is, why it matters to your growth, and how to use plug-and-play engagement software to create sticky loops.
- An engagement loop is an experience that motivates users to take action and continues to provide positive reinforcement to ensure they take the next step. It’s commonly used in game mechanics, social media, and SaaS products in general. Activating the engagement loop once a user creates an account ensures they have a fantastic experience from the start.
Engagement/growth loops help SaaS companies to:
- Create more stimulating product interactions
- Increase product stickiness
- Facilitate overall product growth.
- At the most basic level, an engagement loop consists of motivation, action, and feedback.
- There are different engagement models. The most popular ones are growth loops (input, action, and output) and the AARRR (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue) framework.
- 5 key steps in the engagement loop: curiosity, Aha! moment, value exchange, trigger, and social proof.
Engagement loop examples:
- Asana uses a simple UI and onboarding process to help customers get used to the app. The company also celebrates customer milestones to keep them motivated.
- From multiple content formats on SERPs to integrating Gmail with Meet and other features, Google does everything to allow users to solve problems without leaving the Google ecosystem.
- Buffer re-engages users and capitalizes on social proof with user-generated content marketing. This often means loading comments on their social media pages and highlighting or responding to striking ones.
- If you’re a product manager or work in a similar role, Userpilot can help you build growth loops without coding. Our software also has features to enable you to track and measure the success of your engagement programs.
What is an engagement loop?
An engagement loop is an experience that motivates users to take action and continues to provide positive reinforcement to ensure they take the next step.
These loops are commonly used in game mechanics, social media, and SaaS products in general. Activating the engagement loop once a user signs up ensures they have a fantastic experience from the start.
We all experience engagement loops on a daily basis. Just think back to the last time you logged into Facebook.
You probably felt bored and decided to open the app (motivation). You scrolled through, saw interesting posts, then liked and commented on some (action). Facebook then records your actions to continue showing you similar posts and ensure the loop continues (positive reinforcement).
SaaS companies are known for using engagement funnels to drive user actions. The difference between a funnel and an engagement loop is that the former stops when it reaches a certain point, while the latter doesn’t.
Loops function as closed systems; they keep connecting the output back with the input to generate maximum user engagement and drive exponential growth.
Why you should use engagement loops
Every customer-centric and growth-focused company should be excited about engagement loops.
The benefits are just too many to ignore. Some things you stand to gain include:
- More stimulating product interactions. Gamification is at the core of all engagement strategies, hence using it means getting customers happy about interacting with your product. The customer experience will be fun and won’t feel much like work.
- Increased product stickiness. This point naturally follows the benefit above. Excited customers will stick more with your tool than those who are having a bland SaaS experience. This translates to higher retention, less churn, and more revenue.
- Facilitated product growth. User acquisition and account expansion tend to come easier for interesting products. In addition, engaged customers will willingly participate in feedback surveys that will enable you to generate product growth insights.
How engagement loops really work
At the most basic level, these loops consist of motivation, action, and feedback. We gave a social media example earlier. Here’s another one with a language-learning app.
You’re on your own browsing the internet then receive an email from the app reminding you of your daily lesson. The email mentions your 40-day streak and how you shouldn’t break it (motivation). You then click the link in the email (action), take the lesson, and check other in-app activities based on prompts you received after your lesson (feedback).
In the end, you kept the streak and received additional points for completing those extra activities. Now you leave the app satisfied and feeling extra savvy (positive reinforcement).
There are different engagement models based on this principle. The most popular are growth loops (input, action, and output) and the AARRR (Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referral, Revenue) framework.
Key steps in the engagement loop
There are five major steps in the loop. This section discusses them so you can learn and maximize them when creating a loop for your tool.
The user is initially driven to your product by curiosity. They might have seen an ad, found you through organic search, or heard about your product through word of mouth.
Once they discover you, they start digging deeper for more info and, hopefully, sign up. This is your product’s acquisition phase, so the kind of content you put out to satisfy user curiosity plays a major role in converting prospects. Paid marketing is also effective in reaching and converting people in this phase of their journey.
2. Aha! moment
The Aha! moment occurs when new users find value in your product during the initial onboarding. It’s this important moment that leads to user activation and opens more room for customers to engage with your product.
You can help users reach the Aha! moment faster by personalizing their journey and skipping all unnecessary details in your onboarding program.
3. Value exchange
Value exchange occurs when customers make an investment in your product and receive something in return. Customer investments don’t have to be monetary; it could be spending time to test your free version, feature reactivation by returning users, etc.
Depending on your software, the value customers get in return can be entertainment, education, information, or anything else the customer will love.
Used well, value exchange is a great tool for keeping customers glued to your product. However, be careful of the value gap—a situation where the perceived value of your product or feature is different from the actual value. Many customers will churn when they experience it.
You can close the value gap by setting the right expectations for prospects. In other words, don’t be deceptive in your marketing material.
Sometimes, a value gap isn’t because your product can’t do what the customer expects; the customer just hasn’t used the tool long enough to realize it. New customers can be impatient, but you’ll avoid this kind of situation if you shorten the time to value during onboarding.
Triggers are the strategies you employ to motivate users to return to your app after a previous interaction. A trigger could be as simple as an email reminder, a phone notification, etc., depending on the nature of your app and user base.
Match your triggers with recurring value exchange to ensure customers gain something with every new interaction.
5. Social proof
Engaged and happy customers quickly become brand advocates that promote your product within their networks. However, some people might need an extra push before they feel motivated to spread the word about you, and that’s where incentives come in.
Incentivize social proof with social media shares, discounts, referral programs, and the like. With many of your active users encouraged to share their experiences, your product will grow virality and attract more users. These new customers will enjoy the loop you designed, and the cycle will continue.
Effective engagement loop examples
Ready to see engagement loops at work? Below are three examples from top software companies.
The company uses a simple UI and onboarding process to help its user base quickly get familiar with the app.
Asana also provides in-app guidance to prompt users and show them how to engage with features. They keep the loop going by celebrating customer milestones as in the image below.
Using gamification in this way creates a sense of excitement that encourages customers to keep engaging.
Google is one of the best case studies of growth loops that keep customers hooked to the product.
From multiple content formats on SERPs to integrating Gmail with Meet and other features, Google does everything to allow users to solve problems without leaving the Google ecosystem.
And that’s not all. Google also employs in-app interactive walkthroughs to familiarize users with important features and tools so they can reap maximum value.
Buffer re-engages users and capitalizes on social proof with user-generated content marketing. The company keeps an active social media community that encourages customers to engage with each other through company posts.
One thing that stands out in their social media strategy is that their content isn’t limited to what the platform does. A classic example is shown below, where Buffer asked its users for book recommendations and featured their responses.
How to build engagement loops with Userpilot
Userpilot has all the features you need to engage customers and keep them stuck with your product. Our app also provides analytics to track your engagement efforts and see what’s working or not.
The best part? No coding is required. It’s all drag and drop and little editing here and there to fit everything to your context.
Here are the details of how Userpilot can enable you to build growth loops with ease:
Provide value with in-app messaging
Userpilot has a vast collection of UI patterns, like modals, slideouts, checklists, tooltips, etc., that you can use to engage users with contextual guidance across their journey.
Without guides, new users will get stranded and may even stop using the product because they can’t find their way. But your guides will show them the simple steps they need to take to get value. Users will feel excited after every successful step and will get more interested in exploring the software.
We have ready-made templates for each UI pattern, but you can also create your own if you want.
Build in-app flows to increase engagement
In-app flows combine multiple UI patterns to give users a clear guide to accomplishing tasks.
To create flows, begin by deciding what product experience you’re building for (e.g., user onboarding). Next, outline the steps involved in the process, then determine what UI patterns, text, and media will fit in perfectly.
Again, you’ll have access to customizable templates.
You can further tighten your loop by adding event counts to flows and rewarding customers who have made repeated purchases.
Measure results and optimize
What’s user engagement when you don’t track your results and make iterations?
Performance tracking is made simple with Userpilot. All you need to do is set goals for the events or experiences you want to measure, and Userpilot will help you track the results.
You’ll be in a better position to make growth decisions when you have access to detailed results like the one in the image above.
What we provided in this blog post are frameworks and examples of customer engagement loops. Ultimately, the exact loop you create may be different because every business is unique.
Also, keep in mind that a good understanding of your customers is vital to creating growth loops they can relate with. This may not happen on your first try, but keep tracking your results and making changes until you’re satisfied.
Userpilot can help you build customized loops without touching a line of code. Book a demo to tell us more about your business model and how we can help!