One of the key elements to running a successful subscription-based business is engaging your customers. Good customer engagement strategies make it easier to:
- Communicate new features and updates
- Collect feedback on existing product features
- Generate more revenue through upgrades or cross sells
- Decrease churn or increase retention
- Improve your Net Promoter Score
One of the best ways to improve customer engagement is to turn your organization into a customer-centric one. However, that can take time and can be difficult to accomplish. So as you work on shifting all areas of your organization to focus on the customer, we wanted to share some customer engagement strategies that you can implement today.
This first strategy is the most obvious of them all and one that most of you probably employ today. But you need to make sure you are employing it thoughtfully and not over emailing your customers. This can lead to email fatigue, where your customers start to ignore your messages, or worse, create a filter to automatically archive them.
The first step in any successful email customer engagement strategy is to understand who in your organization is emailing your customers. Some examples are:
- Product sends emails asking for feedback on new features
- Marketing emails customers to generate leads for upgrades
- Emails announcing upcoming tradeshows or events or webinars
- A monthly newsletter
- A quarterly or semi-annual customer survey
- Ad hoc communication from your marketing or customer team
- Periodic emails to customers that haven’t logged in for a while
- Marketing forgets to remove new customers from lead nurturing emails
- Email invoices or past due notices from your billing department
- Auto-emails from your blog
Take a minute to list the emails your organization is sending. Now put yourself in your customer’s shoes and imagine how many emails you’d receive in an average month. Would you take the time to read them all? Or would you decide to skim or ignore them and just reach out whenever you have a question?
Ask yourself which emails are necessary. Is there is a better way to send some messages? For example, do you need to email announcements of new features and then send a newsletter? Or could you include new feature announcements in your newsletter? Do you even need a newsletter when you have a blog?
What about your customer surveys? Do you need to email all your customers each time? Or could you segment your customers into two groups that you email once every six months, providing you with regular feedback while at the same time only surveying a customer once in any 12-month period?
Your next step is to make sure your emails provide value to the customer. If your only focus is on how email marketing will benefit your organization, then odds are your customers will quickly grow tired of receiving them.
For example, when you email your customer base to generate potential upgrades, do you announce new features or list the benefits in upgrading? Do you send them relevant content that will help them with their business and gently move customers through the upgrade pipeline?
Lastly, it’s critical to think about the context of your email messages. Most emails you send will actually be out of context, or in other words when a customer receives your email they’re not thinking about your product or services. Therefore, one of the best ways to reduce the number of emails you send to your customers and make sure your messages are received in context is to message them directly in your software.
Rather than email customers for all your communication, consider sharing some messages directly in your product instead. You could think of this as the inbound approach to managing your customer base, meaning you’re providing a message relevant to what they’re doing, while they’re doing it, as opposed to trying to interrupt their train of thought with an email several hours, days, or weeks later.
Once you’ve determined how you’ll deliver your in-product messaging, think about the kind of messages you’ll send and the triggers that will send them. I always recommend you start simple, for example:
- Display a message reminding users with past-due invoices to pay
- Nurture free trial prospects and encourage them to use key features
- Prompt new customers with setup instructions
- Encourage customers with low engagement scores to try other features in your software
- Message VIP customers with special promotions just for them
The key is to think about some simple messaging that will engage your customers and encourage them to use your product more.
After you’ve built a few rules and are comfortable with in-product messaging, you can expand. For example, message customers that have used Feature X and Y, but not Z, and recommend they use Z. You can also leverage in-product messaging to move new customers through a touchless onboarding process and use email to engage customers stuck on a step.
- Effective and inexpensive ways to create user groups
- Leveraging social media
- A neat trick to segment customers so you can make a few highly leveraged phone calls