60 User Engagement Tools for Better Customer Experiences (and How to Choose the Right Ones)

Written by: Ty Magnin Ty Magnin 

Keep tabs on our content. One or two emails a week:

Since engagement is crucial to any product's growth, it's not surprising that there are so many great user engagement tools available on the market.

User engagement looks different from product to product, and choosing the right tools will involve more than side-by-side comparisons and depend highly on your product.  

To help, we've researched 60 engagement tools and outlined some strategies for selecting the right ones to meet your product vision.

Check out the full list here!

Engagement Tools That Help You Listen to Users

The hard part of listening is that your users often aren't speaking your language. Engagement tools can help translate raw user behavior into feedback you can work with.

Without user feedback and analytics, product decisions would just be guesswork. Your onboarding would maybe help your users learn your product, your product updates would maybe meet your users' needs, and your website would maybe lead clicks toward conversions. But “maybe” isn't enough to succeed in the SaaS world.

Here are a few things to think about when you're picking tools that will help you listen to your users.

Analytics is more than just counting clicks

Listening to your users is more than just counting clicks, it's about making sense of their behavior. What pages they visit, where they travel next, where their mouse hovers—your users are constantly communicating with you, but it's up to you to determine their intent.

It isn't just about determining which tools are the best—it's about determining what's best for your product. Here's what to look for when you're thinking about what kind of data will give your company actionable feedback.

  • Depth and diversity of user sessions. Google Analytics is a must-have for every company, and it's a great (free) place to get started learning how many users are visiting your website, and where they're coming from. Companies with more diverse user bases or more complex workflows can track individual user experiences with apps like FullStory, which acts as a DVR for user sessions.

fullstory-user-interface.jpg[source]

  • Engagement goals and gaps. Once your company identifies its engagement goals, you can work backwards to figure out what tools will help you reach them. For example, if you're getting thousands of hits on your website but no conversions, lead your customers to press “Purchase” by using an A/B testing software, like Optimizely. If you're losing users a few days into their trial, consider using tools that improve user onboarding and in-app communication.
  • Team skill set. Every team has a different skill set, and you should tailor your tools according to who's going to use them. If your marketing team needs a little assistance parsing through all their data, choose a platform like Amplitude, which organizes your data into easy-to-understand visuals. On the other hand, developers have no problem writing SQL queries, so a tool like Canopy Labs' “360 Customer View” can be useful in providing a comprehensive dashboard.

The best way to collect user feedback

Analytics will tell you what your users are doing, but surveys will tell you why. Surveys are a quick way to get direct, actionable feedback to improve your product experience.

The key is to surveys is reaching users in the right context, so that they're not ignoring your emails or clicking out of your in-app questions. Finding that right context is different for every product and every user base.

  • Channels of user engagement. Users are more likely to open a survey if it's integrated into the ways they already engage with you. For example, if your users get an update email every week, you can use software like SurveyMonkey to add a survey to an email they're used to receiving. If your users are engaged in your product often, you can use a product like Qualaroo to seamlessly integrate the survey into your platform.

qualaroo-user-engagement-survey.jpg

[source]

  • Stage in user journey. If a user has just started on your product, you don't want to make the onboarding experience more difficult by piling on a survey. Even though in-app surveys have a higher response rate, you should use them on engaged users who will be more likely to give meaningful responses.

Engagement Tools That Help You Communicate With Users

Many products engage their users at the beginning of their journey with welcome emails and onboarding messages, but lack a clear, long-term engagement strategy. User engagement spans across the user journey and should slowly, but steadily, drive users deeper into the product. Your ability to keep the conversation going with relevant, helpful information will keep users from leaving and forgetting your product.

Here's how to keep up the conversation and talk with your users.

Clear in-app communication for contextual guidance

In-app communication is the most contextual way to reach users. You want to make your in-app communication channels intuitive, so they give your users the information they need, but not so intrusive as to push them away.

In-app communication shouldn't feel like a roadblock to the services you're offering, they should feel like an extension of them. Here are some strategies for picking out your best in-app tools.

  • Level of guidance. If your company is so young that you're still fine-tuning your services, you may want to get your product and its value down before you add any additional customer-facing tools. Once you have a cohort of users and a strong product, user onboarding software like Appcues can give new users the most value immediately and help with feature activation down the line. Some companies may be also interested in engaging with users 1-on-1 in the product and consider Olark, an in-app chatting software.
  • Scalability of support. If you have a mature product with a lot of users, you'll get to know your common customer service issues pretty well. For solving common issues in the most scalable way, pick a customer service software like Help Scout that lets you make a database of FAQs in addition to in-app outreach. For a product with less scalable issues, or one where you're developing ad-hoc to solve problems for specific customers, a tool like ScreenConnect lets you see their screen to identify new problems.

screenconnect-user-interface.jpg

[source]

Emails builds on the customer relationship 

Whether it's instructional onboarding emails or a weekly newsletter, your email engagement should provide real value to your users. 

When you're sending emails right, they should feel like an extension of your brand. The value you provide to them in emails should supplement your in-app or on-site service. Here's how to choose tools that tailor email engagement toward your users.

  • Degree of customization. It's important to establish an email relationship with your users right off the bat, but it might not be your first priority if you're still fine-tuning your product. If you want to start email engagement with minimal effort, use a stripped down tool like SendBlaster that sends one-size-fits-all emails (but personalizes them through liquid tags). A product like Marketo is more advanced, but it also has more features (like segmentation and integration) to personalize your engagement.
  • Deliverability issues. If you're having trouble with email throttling or if you're constantly getting marked as spam, your most important priority is getting your emails into your users' inboxes. Products like SendGrid focus on deliverability by monitoring and combatting email throttling and other similar problems. If you want to expand on other email features, Customer.io's analytics integrations and A/B testing are worth checking out.
SendGrid-user-interface.jpg

[source]

To push notify or not to push notify

Push notifications can annoy users and drive them away if you're not careful. Oftentimes, it's easier for a user to drag and drop your app into the trash than to dig deep into their settings to turn off the pinging.

Because of their immediacy, there are more factors to consider when assessing whether or not a customer will be happy to receive your push notifications. Here are some factors to consider about whether or not notifications will “push” your users away.

  • Urgency and timing. If you can make push notifications an extension of your product, then you should absolutely use them. Could you imagine ordering an Uber and not getting a push notification telling you to come outside when it arrived? Pushwoosh is a good tool to start using them—otherwise, consider sending the message in an email.

grubhub-push-notification.jpg

[source]

  • Regular check-ins. If your app tracks data over time or collects information of some kind, then you can send a weekly check-in without blowing up your users' phones. If you have something useful to inform your users about, like analytics reports, software like Outbound.io can help you send personalized push notifications.

User Engagement is a Two-Way Street

While user engagement is a two-way street, the responsibility for keeping the conversation going is on product owners. While users may reach out occasionally to give you feedback, it's your job to make sense of user behavior before you have a churn problem.

Your tools can make taking charge of this conversation easier. We've given you the strategies to choose them and a list of 60 of our favorite engagement tools. Now it's up to you to decide what works for your product.

user onboarding academy

The User Onboarding Academy

Everything you need to know about user onboarding in 7 weekly emails.

Recommended reading