Tell me about your background and how you developed your focus on customer engagement and retention?
My background has always been in tech, specifically as a software engineer. I have co-founded two startups in the past that focused on building call center infrastructures for businesses and improving customer engagement. The idea was to set up call centers on the cloud, enabling businesses to answer and make calls through web and mobile applications. I’ve always been fascinated by customer engagement and the challenges businesses face in using customer data effectively.
One of my startups faced challenges with policies and other issues, leading me to shut it down. However, my experiences led me to create Engage. While working at my last job, I saw businesses struggle to engage customers on a data-driven level beyond generic messaging. Engineers were often tasked with pulling data, and businesses would use tools like MailChimp to send campaigns to targeted segments. However, I believe that engagement should be in the hands of product and growth personnel, who have the knowledge and tools to acknowledge customers effectively.
How would you say Engage helps businesses in engaging and retaining their users?
We help businesses send targeted and personalized campaigns or messages to their customers, ensuring that the right message is sent to the right customer at the right time. For you to send the perfect message, those three things need to align for the right message to be sent to the right customer at the right time. In order to achieve this, we connect to your customer data and provide you with insights to make data-driven decisions that will enable you to engage with your customers effectively.
To give you a better idea, we help you segment your customers, send multi-channel messages to those segments, and create automation. Automations are particularly useful, as they allow you to onboard new customers properly, nudge them to perform the necessary actions, retain them by ensuring they are using all necessary features, and encourage them to refer their friends.
If a customer becomes inactive or churns, we can use automation to reach out to them and nudge them to reactivate. For instance, we may send them a message saying, “We noticed that you haven’t signed in or made a transaction in a while. Here’s what you’ve missed.”
As an entrepreneur, what are some of the challenges you face in building your brand, and how have you navigated them?
One of the biggest challenges I faced was transitioning from a technical background to a more front-facing role. As someone who had always worked behind the scene, I wasn’t used to being the face of a brand and making important business decisions. It was a significant shift, and it meant that everything from customer relations to messaging on our platform, investor relations, and even hiring staff now fell under my purview. This was a steep learning curve, but I knew I had to step up to the challenge.
We experimented with a lot of copy and changed our website messaging to make it more relatable to people. For example, when we launched, we had “customer engagement for growth and retention,” but many people couldn’t relate to that. We changed it to something simpler and easier to understand, constantly refining our message to help people understand what we were doing and why they needed it. It’s a new way of doing things, and it takes time and effort to help people change their habits and embrace new methods.
What advice would you give to companies that are struggling to engage and retain users, especially those businesses that are used to sending a single message to multiple users?
it’s not really hard, you know? I think it’s just the fear of change that holds people back. Most times, it’s like, “I’m already used to this. Why try something else?”. I am not sure if it is also about the cost. Our pricing is much better compared to other similar products, and we offer more features.
As a business, if you want to embrace this new type of engagement or messaging style, there’s one thing that’s very important: personalized engagement. It’s a no-brainer, really, and in the years to come, more and more businesses will embrace this.
I was looking at a report from Segment last year, for example, and they found that 67% of customers want personalized sessions. They want engagement and messages from you based on what they’ve done within your application and not generic messages. I’m sure this trend will continue to grow. And when customers are presented with options of all these brands that send them messages, even when it doesn’t relate to them, versus a brand that sends messages that relate to them and their interests, they’ll obviously choose the latter. Marketing, or customer engagement, as we know it, is shifting towards being data-driven. As a business, you need to embrace it, but of course, there’s no rush. You can take your time and ease into it.
So the first step could be, for example, instead of bringing all your conversations in, let’s start with the simple ones. Let’s start with our onboarding. Maybe it’s as simple as when people sign up, let’s just check up on them after three days to ensure they’ve been able to perform the necessary activation. That could be the first step. It could also mean that, in terms of connecting data, for example, we just need to collect a single data point, maybe a sign-up activity. And that’s it. Gradually, as they continue to experience the importance of personalized engagement, they’ll start moving more of their engagement in that direction.
Two things are important: first, I recommend that all businesses move away from one-size-fits-all campaigns to ensure they’re sending relevant messages to their customers through segmentation and automation.
Secondly, it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing thing. You can take it one step at a time, define what you want to achieve, and start from there. For a start, you just want to convert your inactive customers. Then you can move on to automating messages to people who sign up. And then, you can start doing lifecycle automation to continually engage customers across their journey. So it doesn’t have to be instant, and you can take your time with it.
What advice would you give to someone who is embarking on their entrepreneurial journey?
At times, it may be tempting to think that you can accomplish your goals in a short amount of time. However, it’s essential to recognize that achieving success takes time and dedication. You need to give yourself the necessary time to build something valuable and let people see the benefits of your product or service.
In my experience, launching a business requires a significant amount of patience. When I was building my company and raising funds, I thought that we would be everywhere in six months. However, I learned that building a successful business takes much longer than that. You must be ready to take the long route, understanding that success may take longer than expected.