How to Create a Successful Customer Engagement Strategy For Your SaaS Company
A customer engagement strategy can be the difference between positive and negative growth for your SaaS.
Software users only continue subscribing if they find your platform useful. But how do they know it’s actually worth it when they don’t engage long enough to find out?
This article shows you practical strategies to drive high engagement for your SaaS, boosting retention and revenue as a result.
- A customer engagement strategy is a comprehensive plan by SaaS companies to interact with customers and build long-lasting relationships.
- A successful strategy helps improve conversions, drive retention and loyalty, and increase the customer lifetime value.
Implement these 6 steps to create an effective engagement plan:
- Define your user personas and their pain points.
- Identify customer touchpoints and map the customer journey.
- Decide on customer engagement strategies to implement at each touchpoint.
- Choose metrics to track the success of the engagement strategy.
- Identify friction points using funnel analysis and remove them.
- A/B test your user flows and iterates your strategy.
12 Customer engagement strategies for driving retention:
- Personalize the onboarding process for new users to boost engagement.
- Engage users right from the start of their journey with onboarding checklists.
- Improve feature engagement with interactive walkthroughs.
- Use tooltips with relevant messages to encourage feature engagement and adoption.
- Implement gamification to increase customer engagement.
- Remove friction and elevate the customer experience with self-service support.
- Use video tutorials to engage customers in the onboarding process
- Announce new features using modals to drive new feature adoption.
- Regularly collect customer feedback and act on it.
- Introduce loyalty and referral programs.
- Create digital communities to facilitate engagement and strengthen customer relationships.
- Identify disengaged customers and proactively engage them using email marketing.
- You can implement these strategies with Userpilot. Book a demo to learn more!
What is a customer engagement strategy?
A customer engagement strategy is a comprehensive plan by SaaS companies to interact with customers and build long-lasting relationships.
The ideal engagement strategy is measurable and has room for improvements based on customer needs.
Why is having a customer engagement strategy important?
A well-crafted engagement strategy helps to:
- Improve conversions: Personalized and targeted engagement strategies will address specific customer needs, making them feel valued. This results in a higher likelihood of account expansions and free-to-paid conversions.
- Drive retention and loyalty among existing customers: The strong emotional connection from regular engagement builds a barrier against churn. It makes it less likely that users will leave you for minor reasons.
- Increase the customer lifetime value: Loyal customers are motivated to make multiple purchases and explore different aspects of your product. This increased cross-selling and upselling opportunities contribute to a higher CLV.
How to create an effective customer engagement strategy in 6 steps
The success of your engagement strategy depends on how well you understand your customers and their paths within your product. Follow the steps below:
Define your user personas and their pain points
Answer the following questions to draft detailed user personas:
- Who are your target customers?
- Where do they work?
- What are their goals, pain points, challenges, and jobs to be done?
- How will your company make life easier for each persona?
At the end of the exercise, you’ll better understand your users and start getting ideas for how to align the customer journey to their needs. But you’re far from done. Next…
Identify customer touchpoints and map the customer journey
Visualize the ideal path customers take from onboarding to advocacy. List all the touchpoints and interactions the user goes through for every stage in the journey. Note their goals, motivations, and pain points at each stage.
The aim of this is to spot and address friction to help users progress smoothly. By mapping the customer journey, you’ll also identify opportunities to drive extra value and engage with users.
Decide on customer engagement strategies to implement at each touchpoint
Think through and choose a strategy at each touchpoint that will best drive engagement (more on strategies later).
The customer experience during onboarding goes a long way in determining their engagement level later on, so it’s always good to take onboarding engagement seriously.
For best results, use an onboarding playbook that defines the goals, outcomes, touchpoints, entry/exit points, and experiences of new users in order to guarantee their success.
Choose metrics to track the success of the engagement strategy
The metrics are not end goals in themselves. However, they will serve as guides for creating engagement activities and tracking progress toward your business goals.
To know the metrics to track, first decide on what you hope to achieve with your engagement efforts.
Here are some important engagement metrics to track:
- User activation rate: The percentage of new users who reach a certain milestone within a specified time frame after signing up.
- Net Promoter Score: Gauges customer satisfaction and loyalty by asking users to rate their likelihood of recommending your product on a scale of 0 to 10.
- Feature usage: This metric tracks the frequency and extent to which users engage with specific features of your app.
- Stickiness metric: The tendency of customers to keep returning to your product because they find it useful.
- Product adoption rate: The percentage of users who identify your product’s value and incorporate it into their workflow.
Identify friction points using funnel analysis and remove them
Dig into your user behavior data to spot trends in product usage through every touchpoint in the user journey. Aim to identify drop-off points and investigate further with heatmaps and session recordings to understand why.
Use the information gathered to refine your strategy and improve customer engagement.
A/B test your user flows and iterate your strategy
Run experiments with small user segments to determine which flow performs better against a specific outcome you are trying to achieve.
For example, to get users to activate faster, you might A/B test the impact of delayed email confirmation. Ask one user group to confirm their email immediately after signing up, and allow another group to begin using your app before requesting email confirmation.
Determine the flow that works better and implement it for the rest of your customer base.
12 Customer engagement strategies for driving retention
This section covers strategies to implement across all important touchpoints in the user journey. Go over them and fine-tune your engagement strategy.
Personalize the onboarding process for new customers to boost engagement
Customers will engage better with your tool when the flows are targeted to their needs. Imagine coming to a design tool to create flyers for your business, and the onboarding starts with showing you how to create explainer videos. You’d feel like your time is being wasted because that’s not your primary use case.
How do you apply personalization to your onboarding process?
Collect customer data upfront with a welcome survey and use the information obtained to tailor their experiences.
Following our example above, by knowing the customer’s primary job to be done, the design company will drive the new user to adopt the graphic design feature before showing them secondary parts of the tool.
Engage users right from the start of their journey with onboarding checklists
Instead of leaving users guessing their next action, create a personalized checklist for their use case.
Checklists work because they point users in the right direction, reducing the time to value and giving them a good start with your product. Focus your checklists on a few activation points so customers can derive quick value and be motivated to continue.
Improve feature engagement with interactive walkthroughs
Walkthroughs are effective because they imbibe the principle of progressive disclosure—showing tips only after users have acted on the previous one.
Use tooltips to encourage feature engagement and adoption
Tooltips grab users’ attention and help them discover relevant features. In small lines of text, your tooltips give users the info they need to engage and benefit from your features successfully.
The best part is this UI element doesn’t clutter the interface or interrupt user flow by opening another interface.
Use tooltips when users are engaging with complex/less intuitive features for the first time.
Implement gamification to increase customer engagement
Gamification triggers dopamine in your users and motivates them to repeat the same or similar action to get another dopamine hit.
Repeated engagement increases adoption and retention as users will experience more value and see a reason to stick with you. There are different ways to gamify your UX—you could use celebration modals, fun animations, badges, etc.
Asana uses fun animations to drive onboarding completion. New users see creatures like the one below each time they reach an onboarding milestone. Each milestone has different creatures, making users curious about what will appear next.
Remove friction and elevate the customer experience with self-service support
A self-service knowledge base reduces the number of customers that become disengaged from the lack of an efficient support system. It ensures users easily find answers to their questions and don’t have to spend time waiting for a reply from the customer support team.
It’s not enough to build a knowledge base; ensure it has all the information customers need at every stage of their journey. This also means you’d regularly update the portal as your product changes.
Use video tutorials to engage customers in the onboarding process
Videos are highly engaging because they can pack a lot of information into a smaller package—movement, sound, text, etc. This makes it easier for customers to follow and replicate the action steps they watched.
Keep your video short and interesting to retain user interest. For example, Loom’s onboarding videos range from a few seconds to around four minutes.
Announce new features using modals
Due to feature blindness, customers won’t find your new features on their own—they’re too focused on the parts of your tool they use the most to discover anything new.
Overcome this phenomenon using modals highlighting the new feature and how customers will benefit from it. Target only users that haven’t adopted the feature and end your content with a CTA that directs them to try it.
Regularly collect customer feedback and act on it
Feedback surveys help you learn about the user experience and find improvement areas. Just ensure to trigger your questions at the right times in the user journey.
For instance, the best time to ask customers about their experience with a new feature is immediately after interacting with it. The experience is still fresh in their minds, and you’ll get actionable feedback. As an example, users might report that your new feature is buggy. Fixing it will make their experience smoother and improve engagement.
Whether you provide a solution or not, it’s always important you get back to customers to close the feedback loop. Let them know you’re working on it or explain why you can’t solve the issue.
Introduce loyalty and referral programs for your loyal customers
Rewarding loyal customers makes them feel valued, encouraging them to continue engaging with your platform.
However, you have to ensure the reward you provide is something users consider valuable. You can give them redeemable points, discounts on the next purchase, special gifts, etc.
Evernote uses a referral program to create engagement loops among new customers:
Create digital communities to facilitate engagement and strengthen customer relationships
Not all engagement strategies need to be in-app. You can create spaces for your customers to discuss product and industry-related matters.
Doing this will ensure customers have an emotional connection with your business, improving the customer-brand relationship.
Additionally, digital communities will also drive some customers back to the app, enhancing your in-app engagement.
There are so many options for creating digital communities these days. You could host a forum on your website or take advantage of social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook.
For example, Userpilot has an active Facebook community with thousands of members:
Identify disengaged customers and proactively engage them using email marketing
A disengaged user is one that isn’t using your product as expected. Or someone who was once super active but suddenly became inactive.
The best way to identify your disengaged user segments is to track product usage.
With a platform like Userpilot, you can set events and automatically note users that aren’t active. Send the data to your email marketing tool (via webhooks or integrations) and trigger an email campaign to win users back.
How you structure your win-back email goes a long way in determining if you’d achieve desired results.
Essentially, you want to:
- Remind users what they’re missing by being inactive.
- Include case studies of successful customers.
- Add help resources that would provide additional information for users that need it.
- A CTA back to the app or an invitation to join a call with an account manager.
Many moving parts are involved in creating an effective customer engagement plan. However, the most important thing is understanding your users and leveraging interactions to create experiences they’d love.
Userpilot can make the process easier. Our platform lets you set and track engagement goals, conduct in-app surveys to learn about user experience, segment customers, trigger win-back email campaigns, etc. Book a demo now to start refining your engagement strategy.