Connect with Your Audience and Drive Engagement

Learn how to increase loyalty and build deeper user engagement with your digital product.

Whether you have a website, mobile app, two-sided platform, or content platform, you’re probably looking for ways to keep your audience engaged. Getting that first signup is great, of course, but it’s just the beginning.

“The goal is engagement beyond that initial purchase,” says Sasha Friedman, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Mailchimp. “Keeping your users coming back is important to show the value of your product.”

In order to continue demonstrating the value of your digital product, you want to keep users engaged regularly. Whether that’s a daily log-in or weekly opening of the app, the more that they interact with your product, the more likely they are to continue subscribing to your business and growing your revenue. And one of the best ways to keep users engaged is to understand who your audience is and what they need. Audience data enables you to reach out with personalized messages that boost loyalty, encourage upgrades, and keep users coming back.

See how other businesses boost engagement, and make a plan for your company, too.

1. Understand engagement

Engagement looks different for every business and it’s important that you are able to define what that means for yours. For a mobile app, it might mean the number of users who open and use your app on a daily basis. For a content site, it might mean the number of articles that a subscriber reads each week. However you define that metric, make sure you have a clear understanding of who you want to engage and how you will know that you’ve met your engagement goals.

Once you’ve defined your engagement goals, you can start using audience data to determine the best way to meet those goals. Here are a few examples of how some digital businesses use audience data to drive engagement:

  • A subscription meal kit service notices that people are coming to their site multiple times before making a purchase and visiting the post they have about healthy recipes. So they start building a blog section with more healthy recipes and then trigger an email to users who have visited the blog 5 times to offer a promo code encouraging them to sign up for the service.
  • A first-time subscriber to an online magazine visits the “travel” section of the magazine. The magazine creates a “travel” tag for that user and then sends an automated email to that user, and others with the “travel” tag anytime new travel content is released that they might enjoy.
  • An online ticketing platform realizes that many users just buy tickets from them and don’t use any of their app’s features to search for other shows in their area. They create a segment of users who only purchase tickets and set up a targeted email to them, suggesting future events they might like and includes links back to the “shows nearby” section of their app.

In each of these cases, engagement starts by understanding and measuring what’s happening on your site or in your app. Once you understand how often someone visits your site, how much time they spend in your app, or when they’re likely to upgrade, then you can start creating a marketing strategy to drive deeper engagement.

2. Identify your target audience

Once you set your engagement goals, you need to understand who you’re setting them for and what it is they need. An audience-centered mindset helps you understand who you’re serving so that you can create personalized messages that meet their needs.

The more content and channels you utilize to connect with prospects and users, the more chances you’ll have to engage them and learn what resonates. “Someone may not be ready to sign up yet, but may be interested in a topic related to your offering,” explains Sasha. “So if you are able to share relevant content with them, you’ll learn about what is most important to them based on what they engage with and what they disregard.”

Analyzing how your audience engages with your marketing and uses your product allows you to understand their behavior and needs, such as:

  • The problems you can solve. An app that matches babysitters with families might learn that parents are looking for tips about what to do when sitters aren’t at the house. So, the app could provide content on topics like how to keep kids off screens when they’re out of school.
  • How they want to buy. Audience data can also reveal the ideal buying process for your users. For example, people may prefer to read dating tips before signing up for your dating site, or look at case studies before deciding to pay for an upgrade.
  • How priorities are shifting. When you keep your audience close, you can track how the things they value evolve. This data can be used to personalize your marketing, features, sign-up process, service, and other important details. If you market to parents, for example, remember that their needs will change as their children grow. Their toddlers who play with blocks today will become interested in action figures and art classes, and your marketing should reflect that.
  • How else you can serve them. You can also learn about related services people would like to get or expect to receive from you. If you’re selling meal kits, your audience might also be interested in kitchen tools or pantry staples needed to prepare the recipes.

3. Organize your audience

As your business grows, the amount of audience data you have will increase. That means this information can shape and personalize your site content, app design, email campaigns, and other efforts to boost engagement. Since everyone in your audience has their own unique traits and behaviors, segmenting your audience based on those factors will help you better understand and personalize your marketing.

As you think about segments, keep in mind that in addition to unique traits and behaviors, you may also serve more than one specific audience. For instance, if you have an app that pairs students with tutors, you will have different messaging that would go to the students than would go to the tutors. And you may even have a separate set of messages that would need to go to parents. Within those audiences, you can further segment your users based on their traits and behaviors, so you understand who they are and how they use your app.

The way to determine a behavior versus a trait is:

  • Behavior: time-and-date specific events that happen in someone’s engagement with you, including when they opened or logged into your app, what pages they spend time on, and how long they spent on a page or activity.
  • Traits: unchanging features such as gender, location, and type of device they use.

Organizing your audience can power personalized messaging and deeper engagement. For example, if you have an education app and notice that someone has not updated their version of your app, you can send a targeted reminder to them to make the update and the benefits of doing so. Or, if you have an online grocery service and notice that certain fruit is in season in a particular region, you can send a targeted message to users in that region highlighting that now is the time to buy that fruit.

“By organizing your audience based on traits and behaviors, you not only learn who people are and how they’re engaging,” Sasha explains. “But you can also start to connect with them on a more personal level, and that is key to drive engagement.”

4. Identify your engagement goals

With your audience organized, you can now create goals for each segment. Be specific around the content you want them to explore, the path you want them to take through your site or app, the features you want them to use, and how often you want them to come back.

Also, be sure to check your goals against what your audience data tells you.

“You may think you have an ideal experience in mind: log in first, then fill out a profile, etc., and you find out from talking to customers that people want to read reviews first before creating a profile,” Sasha explains.

She suggests using behavior-tracking data to tune into audience preferences in 2 ways:

  • What they do: Take a look at the pages people visit on your site, in what sequence they go to them, and where they stay the longest.
  • What stops them: Identify what actions are often not completed, what step in an app they abandon most, and how their path through the app is different than what you planned.

As you learn more about differences between what you expected people would want, and what they actually do, be sure to adjust your goals. After all, addressing audience priorities is essential to success. “When you’re trying to improve engagement by explaining to your audience why they should do something, you should probably stop and listen, instead, to what they’re trying to do,” Sasha explains.

5. Create well-timed, personalized campaigns

With a target audience and engagement goals defined, you’ll be well-positioned to create messaging that speaks to each segment. You can create specific marketing campaigns—whether via email or on your site or in your app—to guide them to specific pages, features, or content.

The idea here is to send the right message to the right person, at the right time. A well-timed message is one more way you communicate that you understand someone’s needs. When you provide valuable information or meet someone’s needs, they’re more likely to stay longer, recommend you to their networks, and see you as a valued partner.

Automating campaigns based on that audience data makes timely and personalized messages possible. Automated messages allow you to keep marketing, while you focus on continuing to grow your business. So if someone looks at your blog in the morning, you can set up an automation that sends them a related piece of content that afternoon. Keeping the information top of mind and relevant, instead of waiting until you can manually send that information in a week when it may be less relevant. Or when someone downloads your app, you can trigger an automation to reach them immediately after finishing the set up to thank them for the download and walk them through all the great things your app has to offer.

“When you automate emails, you can really expand your reach and your connection. You can send upgrade or upsell messages, promote related features, or just say thank you to your users, all at just the right time,” Sasha explains.

Keep personalizing your engagement

A healthy relationship is always changing, and staying engaged with your audience will let you know what they need at any point in time. What you learn will tell you what’s needed to strengthen audience bonds so that you keep delivering what matters most to the audience that is important to your success.