User engagement is a section of the customer experience. It comprises marketing practices that push customers to extend their use of a digital platform. We rely on verified scientific sources to properly apply its principles to present 5 good user engagement strategies. But first, we’ll go over the exact definition of the concept of user engagement.
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- What is user engagement?
- 5 drivers of user engagement
Its definition has largely evolved with time and marketing trends. Nevertheless, we consider user engagement an integral part of the customer experience today. It assesses the quality of the user’s interaction with computer technology. Many distinct elements judge this experience, among which we find:
- ease of use
- sensory marketing
- or the user’s perceived control (O’Brien & Toms, 2008).
Thus, user engagement encompasses all the components that drive customers to maintain their use of computer technology (O’Brien & Cairns, 2016). For brands, this means creating as many interactions as possible with their users online.
5 good user engagement strategies
Now, let’s look at the characteristics of a good overall user engagement strategy. Below we detail the benefits of 5 proven engagement tactics:
- Inspiring positive emotions
- Strengthen connections with users
- Be transparent with your target audience
- A recognizable brand identity
- And design their platforms according to gamification principles
Let’s start by discussing positive emotions’ benefits on user engagement. First of all, let’s go over their definition. Among others, these include:
- pleasantness, i.e., caring, warm behaviors
- enthusiasm generated by brand communication
- and even the feeling of freedom of expression
With the user, accumulation of these positive emotions improves user engagement, strengthening their emotional ties with the product/service (Pansari and Kumar, 2017). This strategy is particularly effective because it marks its independence from other user engagement factors. Thus, brands create touchpoints that are as enjoyable as possible to drive customer loyalty. (de Oliveira Santini et al., 2020)
Scientific research shows that fundamentally positive content improves users’ perceptions. Then, they are more likely to feel love or joy in front of a data offer, thus pushing user engagement (Jaakonmäki et al., 2017). In addition, positive emotions can help customers learn more about your brand and take ownership of your product/service line. The video below shows a TEDx talk on the importance of emotional engagement in learning processes.
Now let’s talk about the positive impact of relationship marketing on user engagement. Indeed, close ties with its audience promote customer conversion and push brands to adopt the precepts of referral marketing.
Let’s take the example of sports marketing. Doyle et al., 2020 assess the impact of athletes’ brand image on their followers’ engagement (on social networks). The authors of this research compare several digital communication approaches to identify best practices in this area. They come to the following conclusion: seeking to improve relationships with their followers promotes engagement. For example, a professional athlete publicly posting with their teammates will generate even more reactions and engagement.
Brands can build on this by putting themselves on display with their loyal customers or even with their business partners.
Let’s continue our reflection on the relationship with users. Indeed, user engagement is even stronger when brands are trustworthy. This implies that brands must be transparent to gain the trust of their customers. By doing so, they increase not only engagement but also customer satisfaction.
To go further, de Oliveira Santini et al., 2020 bring us even more details. According to this research, the trust would have a largely visible positive effect on the engagement rate of a brand’s customers. Thus, the authors indicate that increased user trust could be achieved through brand transparency in their managerial implications.
This is what Mark Morin, an expert in customer experience, has been thinking. His TEDx talk on sustainable customer relationships is available below. It includes several tips and tactics for brands that want to get closer to their customers.
Next, we highlight the importance of a differentiating brand image on your users’ engagement. In this case, brands opting for impactful, even aggressive marketing campaigns can do well. There are many ways to ensure a unique brand identity:
- convey strong messages but consistent with its values, as Dove did in a viral marketing campaign
- choose identifiable visual elements, typically through the brand’s logotype
- or even use an engaging narrative within its online ads
Let’s go back to the findings of Doyle et al., 2020. The authors use data from Major League Soccer athletes in the United States. They propose several strategic axes to generate engagement on athletes’ social networks. For example, they take the example of a new recruit in the league: he should orient his Instagram page towards sports performances, his personal life, and hobbies. Through this example, the research again shows the importance of relationships with followers to improve user engagement.
Finally, let’s consider the impact of gamification on user engagement! Indeed, the reward system, the feeling of victory, and the achievements of the customers stimulate all the user engagement factors previously mentioned. In other words, gamification:
- stimulates positive emotions
- simplifies the use of digital platforms
- and reinforces the user’s perceived sense of control
Then, brands can spin their content from a gamification potential to increase their engagement rate. Indeed, gamification perfectly integrates the precepts of user engagement and fits very well in the customer experience ecosystem. (Breidbach et al., 2014; Harwood & Garry, 2015)
- Breidbach, C.F., Brodie, R. and Hollebeek, L. (2014), “Beyond virtuality: from engagement platforms to engagement ecosystems”, Managing Service Quality, Vol. 24 No. 6, pp. 592-611.
- de Oliveira Santini, F., Ladeira, W.J., Pinto, D. et al. Customer engagement in social media: a framework and meta-analysis. J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. 48, 1211–1228 (2020).
- Jason P. Doyle , Yiran Su & Thilo Kunkel (2020): Athlete branding via social media: examining the factors influencing consumer engagement on Instagram, European Sport Management Quarterly.
- Tracy Harwood Tony Garry , (2015),”An investigation into gamification as a customer engagement experience environment”, Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 29 Iss 6/7 pp. 533 – 546
- Jaakonmäki, Roope & Müller, Oliver & Brocke, Jan vom. (2017). The Impact of Content, Context, and Creator on User Engagement in Social Media Marketing.
- O’Brien, H., Toms, E.G.: What is user engagement? A conceptual framework for defining user
engagement with technology. J. Am. Soc. Inf. Sci. Technol. 59(6), 938–955 (2008)
- O’Brien, H. (2016). Theoretical Perspectives on User Engagement. In: O’Brien, H., Cairns, P. (eds) Why Engagement Matters. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-27446-1_1
- Pansari, A., & Kumar, V. (2017). Customer engagement: The construct, antecedents, and consequences. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 45(3), 294–311.
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