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Everything You Need to Know About Driving User Engagement

Here’s the stark reality — there’s no silver bullet when it comes to driving user engagement. As business and customer relationships become increasingly complex, the term user experience gets tossed around marketing departments like confetti. Still, many businesses aren’t catching onto what this really means or how to develop an experience that gets people coming back time and time again. For modern businesses, having a laser focus on how experience affects traditional sales funnels, how to increase engagement, and methods for tracking their efforts is undeniably critical.

But, it’s not as simple as it seems. Getting people involved with your business is difficult. In today’s economy, attention is a coveted commodity. With more businesses vying for your buyer’s attention, you must have a strong strategy for how you’re going to stay top of mind.

Naturally, most marketers strive to improve engagement by deploying tactics such as HTML5 banner ads, lead gen magnets, and triggered sequences. Even still, these tactics aren’t always effective, which leaves marketers to continue seeking out new ways to get people’s attention.

In an ironic twist, one of the best places to look is within your own ecosystem — your app. The engagement within your app could actually be the cure to your low quality lead woes. Although there isn’t an end all be all step-by-step guide for how to increase engagement rates, there are some key things to know if you want to gain more attention from your audience. But before we get to that, let’s look at why this is so stinkin’ important.

Why is User Engagement Important?

There’s a reason why Bynder and OnBrand’s 2018 State of Branding Report found that engagement was one of marketers top priorities. It’s a critical piece of the puzzle. To understand why, take a look at how Lincoln Murphy defines user engagement:

Engagement is when your customer is realizing value from your SaaS. – Lincoln Murphy

That same definition can be applied across all industries and products. From a child who snuggles a teddy bear to help them sleep to an elderly person who engages in their assisted living center’s weekly Bingo party, engagement is when the customer perceives value by interacting with your company’s offering.

Calculating your user engagement rate is fairly straightforward too. Here’s the formula.

Total active users in a cohort over a period of time
_______________________________
Total users in a cohort
=
Engagement rate

Your user engagement rate is the number of people who are active in your business, product, or service over a specified time period. Paying attention to this figure is critical because the perception of value can only come when a person continuously logs in with your app or uses a product or service. If they’re not using your product or service, they’re not realizing the benefits of what you offer. Ultimately, when your engagement rates are low, so are other key growth metrics, such as the lifetime value (LTV) of your customers (more on that below).

A Critical Piece In Your Funnel

Here’s the secret about user engagement — it’s not something you can bring up at brunch one Saturday morning and expect your friends to have had the same experience. User engagement looks different across all industries and platforms.

For example, if you run a successful hotel chain, your app will be used very differently than that of a fitness tracker. In the hotel scenario, you’re aiming to get people to engage with your app ahead of and during a planned stay. Their engagement will be intermittent. With a fitness app, your goal is to get the user to login as often as possible to maximize their results.

So why am I asking you to look so closely at user engagement? Because it has the power to drive your growth across your organization. There’s data to back that claim too.

importance of user engagement

Here you can quickly see that engagement is pivotal before, during, and after the purchase.

Before the purchase, shoppers prefer engaging with a business that makes information relevant and easy to find. 58% of shoppers said useful search and navigation results were important for engagement, according to a study by DXC Technology. The clearer you are with the information you provide, the easier it is for your audience to find what they need at just the right time.

During the purchase, engagement is critical too. Just because someone has put an item in their shopping cart doesn’t mean they’re going to buy. 87% of online shoppers said they would abandon their carts if the checkout process got too lengthy or complicated. Keeping your buyers engaged by demonstrating the value of what they’re about to buy is critical at this stage.

After they buy, consumers expect and desire businesses to continue engaging with them. Want proof? Consider loyalty programs. The latest Loyalty Report by Bond Insights found that 87% of loyalty program members want organizations to view their activity and behavior if it means those organizations are offering personalized rewards and engagements. The more you tap ethically into your customer’s data, the better the experience your organization can provide.

It’s safe to say, engagement isn’t something to consider during the onboarding process alone. User engagement matters regardless of where your buyer is in the funnel.

What’s Actually Required to Get Started Engaging Your Users?

Have your ears perked up by now? User engagement matters, but what all does it take to get people logging in and tuning into what you have to offer? Here are a few strategies that can get you going in the right direction quickly.

1. Reach the Lightbulb Moment Faster

When it comes to the fast-paced world today, organizations have a matter of seconds to hook a person into engagement. When seconds matter, you need a strategy that gets your users to the lightbulb moment as quickly as possible. Often times, this lightbulb moment happens after hearing your company’s why. The nonprofit industry is a prime example of the power behind defining an organization’s why. Take a look at this video from Logan, a member of our Pulsemotiv team, as evidence of how Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals are using their story to help children.

I loved how Logan said that people want to consume their content in the form of an experience. Hearing your story is part of that experience.

On the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals website, the organization uses the stories of the people who are the direct beneficiaries of the donations the organization receives. It’s on this website where you can hear the voices of the families you’re helping.

As you saw in the video, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has also partnered with an influencer to help amplify their story. Jack Nicklaus has a personal passion for the color yellow — it represents his support for those fighting for their lives against bone cancer. Hearing him tell his story about why he wears the color yellow deepens that impact and connection, giving users more of a reason to become personally vested in the organization.

It’s the stories that make consumers want to open their wallet and give you them money. And, in order to do that, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals has deployed conversational guidance to show their website users where they can donate at the right moment when they’re ready to hand over their hard earned dollars to support the cause. It’s this type of experience that feels rewarding to the end user and drives bigger results for the organization.

2. Go Above the Call of Duty

Your users have asked for one thing and you’ve delivered. Now, it’s time to exceed expectations by introducing something new and exciting.

New features and benefits keep things fresh and exciting. They deliver a more robust experience that can push an adopter of your product further through the bow tie funnel to become a loyalist, advocate, or even a brand ambassador.

bow tie funnel

The bow tie funnel represents the bigger picture goal of user engagement. The further toward brand ambassadorship your users get, the less likely they are to churn.

To keep users engaged and excited, many businesses stick with introducing new features on the blog. This approach might reach some people but it won’t reach as many as you might like.

Announcing your new features within your app or by email is good, too, but you can only get so detailed in these mediums. Instead, creating a landing page where you can talk about and showcase the new feature in action can help you cast the widest net possible, reaching more people and driving more engagement.

3. Embed Emotional Triggers Into Your Messaging

Emotional connections are powerful. The more you’re able to connect with your users on an emotional level, the more likely your user will be to engage with your brand. Motista confirmed this hunch in a recent study that found consumers with an emotional connection to a brand have a 306% higher LTV and recommend brands at a much higher rate.

To showcase value, it’s imperative you tug on those deep emotional triggers. When you tug on a person’s heartstrings in an unexpected way, say by using web audio to deliver your message, you’re likely to see an even more powerful outcome from your efforts. It’s through your authentic voice — however that voice is delivered — that buyers can understand the value at a logical level but also feel the results at an emotional level.

You’ve Started. Now It’s Time to Track if It’s Working.

How do you know if you’re effectively engaging your user? It starts with the metrics you decide to track. Here are some of the key ones to consider.

Daily Active Users (DAU), Weekly Active Users (WAU), Monthly Active Users (MAU) or… You Get the Idea

DAU, WAU, or MAU are some of the most common user engagement statistics. They’re also the most basic. These metrics measure how many active users you have at any given time interval. Although an important key performance indicator (KPI) to keep in mind, it’s not always enough to showcase the stickiness of your app.

DAU/MAU Ratio

The DAU/MAU ratio is the number of daily users compared to the number of monthly users. By analyzing how often your daily users are logging in on a monthly basis, you can gauge how well your buyers are developing a habit of engaging with your app and your business. This stickiness often translates into higher retention rates, so it’s important to monitor.

Time in App

Time in app is just what it sounds like. It’s the amount of time a user spends in your app. Typically, the longer a person sticks around, the more engaged they are with your business as a whole.

You can draw several lessons from monitoring this metric. For example, if you segment your users, you can learn more about how your cohorts engage with your organization, which can drive your growth and marketing. Or, if you notice that your users are dropping off quickly, you’ll know that tweaks to your user interface (UI) could be in order.

Session Frequency

Session frequency represents how often a person logs in. Even if a person stays in your app for an extended amount of time, if they’re not logging in regularly, you’ll know that you’ll need a way to get those users back and engaged with your business through push notifications or other marketing mechanisms.

Screenflow

What happens once a user is in your app? Screenflow will show you. This metric looks specifically at when people enter and where they exited. This can be valuable to understanding what triggers a person to leave. And if it’s your shopping cart and people are abandoning purchases before they buy, you’ll want to know. On the other hand, if people are leaving your app to visit an advertiser, you’ll want to know that too. Both instances (and a slew of others) directly relate to the lifetime value of your customer.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All for User Engagement

Although there are many insightful metrics you can monitor, and many tweaks you can make to get users better engaged, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. By gaining a better understanding of your buyer’s predictable journey and analyzing what’s happening along their path-to-purchase with you, you’ll uncover new opportunities to drive engagement specific to your business and industry.

Maybe you’re tweaking your experience outside of the app to drive more engagement. Or maybe you’re making changes to your UI in hopes of keeping people engaged within your app for longer. No matter what you’re doing to analyze your user’s engagement patterns, a healthy analysis and monitoring of your buyer’s data can help you create a sublime user experience and as a result, drive sustainable growth.

Written by Kimberly Crossland

Kimberly Crossland

Kimberly Crossland works tirelessly to uncover innovative ways to improve the digital experience. Though her work is mostly geared toward content, she works closely with everyone on the RocketSource team to engineer growth and ignite results — and she does this daily with a strong cup of coffee in hand.

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