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Customer Engagement Strategies: How To Understand What They Want To Drive More Sales

Increasing customer engagement has become that fickle goal of every eCommerce professional.  Obviously, a repeat customer is more valuable than a one-time buyer, and customer engagement strategies help develop a relationship with the user, and provides an opportunity to make them a loyal customer.  But the rules  are always changing, and any new insights to keep us ahead of the game is worth it’s weight in gold.

Google Analytics, big data, and other forms of numeric information can produce some valuable stats, but the problem begins when we try to translate them into useful strategies.  Whether it’s used to tweak the product offer, to produce more relevant content, or to send targeted emails – there can be many applications. 

In this interview I’m talking with Avlesh Singh, CEO of WebEngage, a really cool platform that helps to bridge that gap. If your looking to figure out how to better engage your customers, and how to find a starting point to create a dialog, have a listen, and leave you comment below.

Customer Engagement Strategies With Avlesh Singh

[1:05] –  How WebEngage makes it super simple to get customer feedback and find out how to retain them for longer.

[2:35] – The necessity of a customer feedback loop and how to sell the strategy to your company stakeholders.

[6:20]  – How to use customer feedback to make smarter business decisions, as apposed to gut feelings.[7:45] – Understanding how to request feedback without disrupting the user’s experience.

[10:24] – Approaching customer engagement accross different devices.

[15:40] – This all sounds interesting. What’s a good starting point?[20:30] – Behavioural Data – The balance between understanding what your customers want, and how to keep them in your sales funnel.

Links Mentioned On The Call:

– WebEngage example gallery

– How to sell WebEngae to your Boss

 Read the Transcript

Daniel: Hey, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of eComm ThinkTank. My name is Daniel Kohn. And today, we are talking to Avlesh from a really interesting platform called WebEngage. WebEngage is all about engaging, retaining and growing.

And actually more importantly really getting to understand your customers, and trying to go beyond maybe data, trying to go beyond Google Analytics, trying to go beyond graphs and charts, and trying to actually see and get a better picture of what your customers actually want and what they’re actually wishing to say to you, on how to offer and deliver a better user experience across your website and your web offering.

So Avlesh, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us today

Avlesh: Thank you, Daniel. Thank you so much. And I’m glad to be on your podcast, and would love to share my experiences with WebEngage.

Daniel: Very nice. So just to get started, maybe just give us a little bit of an overview of WebEngage, and where you’ve gotten to today, from how it started as well

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Avlesh: Sure. You’ve covered most of it, at least the keywords. Just for the larger audience, yeah? Being a four year old company now, and the tool essentially focuses on conversion optimization, which is the larger area that we play in. And the means to conversion optimization, other tools that we offer inside WebEngage, which generally revolve around user engagement.

So WebEngage is a multi-channel user engagement platform, which allows you to engage with users in real-time inside your site or mobile app. And then also allows you to connect when they’re not engaged or not on your site or app, to another channels like push notifications, e-mails, and text messages. All of this is offered as one bundled tool, and you basically get to build very enriched user profile, create segments of such users who you need to engage with, and then engage across these channels that I just mentioned.

Read Full Transcript

Daniel: Right. So actually one of the interesting things that I noticed when I was just doing a bit of research before the call was you actually have a page here, "How to sell WebEngage to your boss". And I thought that was really interesting, because sometimes when I've been doing consulting to e-commerce companies, trying to get feedback isn't always the first thing you think about when you're trying to improve the user experience, or you're trying to convert more sales.

And it's interesting, people can look at Google Analytics, or they can look at data, but they forget that there are these tools like WebEngage, where you can actually find out for yourself, beyond just looking at numbers, like, "Well, what is it that you want?" Or "Are we doing a good job?" Or "How can we do better?".

And I thought it was just interesting that by you guys having that page that how to actually sell this, does that mean that there's maybe like a bigger job that you guys have to play to make marketers realize that they can capture that information, and it is possible to find these things out, but it wasn't necessarily the first thing that they would've thought of doing when it comes to conversion optimization?

Avlesh: Absolutely. And I'm glad you actually discovered that piece. We're working on a new edition. The newer one will be a lot more nicer. But you're absolutely right. In this whole era in a lot of quantitative data wherein you can go and look at Google Analytics, and mostly that's the tool of choice when it comes to analytics, for a lot of companies that we work with also, many a times you tend to forget that it's, end of the day, it's data on which you need to act upon.

And if Google Analytics tells you that 1000 users abandoned your cart yesterday from New York, there is just absolutely nothing that you can do about that data, except for knowing that, okay, 1000 users did that. Now, these 1000 users, most of them went to the nature of the web, they were window shoppers coming to your site, generally browsing, adding stuff, comparing products across multiple sites. Wherever they find it cheaper, or better, or have more options, or have lesser complex shipping norms, they just go ahead and choose those without even letting you know. And all you were left with is Google Analytics telling you that 1000 users abandoned, and that's about it.

It's that thing that we are trying to change. It's a popular notion that we are trying to change as a company. And the multiple stakeholders, generally people who are on the tactical side of things, people on the implementation side of things, they understand the true potential, they understand how valuable that data would be. But then again, this is a make up of people with credit cards, and they're always top-notch. It's always top-notch to sell to them.

So we put that page out for people who feel with these kind of operational and tactical issues, when it comes to conversion optimizations everyday, and whatever we do is an incremental benefit to them. Sometimes the benefits are consumed by product teams, at times it's consumed by marketing teams. But at the end of the day, we always play on that incremental that you can squeeze out of your website or mobile app without having to reinvent the wheel.

Daniel: Right. And the other thing that I really like about tools like WebEngage that I've used before is you can be sitting in a meeting, or having a discussion, a marketing meeting, and you're trying to find an answer to a question like, "Would our users be interested in a subscription service? Or would our users be interested in an auto-renewal program?" And rather than trying to guess, it's really easy to just put up a survey and ask them. But I guess it's not the most natural thing to realize that you could actually do.

And that's why it's so powerful because I guess on one side, you can find out information and segment these people. But then on the other side as well, you can also use these tools to keep them in the funnel to prevent them from falling out at the cart stage when they're sort of at the money end of town to try and close a sale. So there's two aspects that you can really use tools like WebEngage for, and it's a very powerful combination.

Avlesh: Absolutely, Daniel. This is how exactly we try and picture the product.

Daniel: I should be your spokesman, right?

Avlesh: You should be. I was just about to say that, how we'll exactly present the solution. And it's very interesting that you bring this up because many times, there's this popular notion that people have, that you shouldn't nudge the user while the guy is trying to do something. While there's always a thin line of when and when you should not.

And dudes like us, we have actually created this entire list of what we call as targeting, where you don't choose who to ask the questions in such a granular fashion. You could say, "I want to actually know, get insights from users who I've acquired through my organic search results on Google, all through paid search results on Google. Or I only want to pop the question when the guy has at least spent two minutes in a session." Things like those.

So bottom line, qualitative, there is always so much you can squeeze out of an end user without having to second guess, without having to make decisions based on gut. You could actually use users' data, which is real, which is provided by the guy on the site, in real-time, in context, to take some of those mission-critical decisions, as you were just trying to highlight.

Daniel: Right. And yeah, actually another question that I had is that when I first came across WebEngage, I think it was probably maybe a year or two ago, the product's weight was a bit different. And I've noticed recently you've added events and profiles and segments. I don't know if that was available. I don't remember it being available before.

What you're saying, and these capabilities of not just being able to show a survey but you want to show it to the right person, and you can personalize your surveys to the right people, and I think that's really where a lot of these platforms are heading in terms of personalization, and making sure that the user experience as well is very much targeted based on who they are, or what they did or didn't do on your website. And yeah, I think it's very powerful when you can layer that in as well. And I did notice that those capabilities are inside WebEngage. And yeah, I think it's awesome.

And then the other thing I've noticed as well is that you guys have really gone into multiple devices. And I'm just wondering, when you look at different devices, when we're talking maybe specifically about surveys, or trying to get feedback, just from your experience, would you ever be trying to create different messages for different devices?

So for example, maybe like on a mobile, you might be trying to find out if the user experience is okay as opposed to on a desktop, where, you might be just trying to find out why they decided to leave the site or not buy straight away. Like what you said, there's a difference in the messaging or the feedback you're looking for across different devices?

Avlesh: Let me answer that in a bit more convoluted fashion. The reason why we added mobile to the portfolio and made it cross-device was for the obvious reason that users are now across these channels. They use your website and app interchangeably, and your mobile site. And it was imperative for us to be able to track their activity across devices, so that we can present a very holistic picture to you, the customer, in terms of targeting, personalization, and things like those. So that was an obvious intention.

Now, coming back to experience of what people do on web versus mobile. The way we look at it is the high level problems, Daniel, are almost similar, except for a few. So for example, people abandon cart on the web, and people abandon the shopping cart on the app as well. People will browse for products, search for products, and they may or may not find what they were looking for. This happens in both the platforms.

Daniel: Right. So it's similar.

Avlesh: So the use cases of what you would want to find out are pretty similar. There's almost 80% overlap in terms of use cases. However, the way you asked that question, and the way the user experience is laid out in these devices are drastically different.

So for example, in the web, a typical cart abandonment survey. This is the one unique thing that we do is on the web, once you're on the site and you've added the product to the cart, and you're about to leave. When I say about to leave, which is, we track the mouse movement, if you get your mouse to the close button, or you try to switch tabs with it, at that trigger point, something shows up on your face, on the site, which is more like, "Hey, don't just leave yet."

And if at the cart page, people generally don't do things. Those who are okay with discounting, they present you a coupon code saying, "Before you go, here is a coupon. Go ahead and finish the purchase."

At other times, those who are not discounting, they would want to know why are you not completing the transaction, and do let us know why you're abandoning, with those options like the price was high, my current options are not available, the shipping cost is very high, and things like those. So people ask those qualitative questions with options. And many a times, those questionnaires, they run into three, four questions.

On the mobile device, by the very nature of what it is, there's always a single question that people mostly ask, and they try to squeeze all of it into a single question, and then integrate the answer accordingly.

So the user experience ratings, which of course leads to different ways of asking the same question. Many a times, on the web, we see very minimal user rating and slider scales. People add generally open-ended questions, because they want to know more, they want you to write more, they want to listen to you. But when it comes to mobile, it'll always be close-ended, it'll always be tap and done. Things like those. More user ratings, more user sliders, or just tap and go, things like those.

So the experience varies. But the intent and the use cases, primarily they remain the same. Mobile brings in another set of use cases with itself because of the whole legion of the device belonging to the user. So the guy installing your app was never using it. Things like these does not exist on the web. So there are certain nuances of mobile that we cater to differently. But the use cases, as I said, on a very high level, all the intent of using the product remains the same.

Daniel: Right. Okay. So let's say I've got my e-commerce business and I'm listening to this and I'm like, "You know what? I'd like to start getting feedback. I'd like to start using a tool like this to try and keep people in the funnel." Where would a good starting point be?

Because when I was looking at your site, you guys do an awesome job at creating a lot've got a whole gallery section, which I might actually put up as a link on this post. But what's a good starting point? Because I guess you could also get lost in all of this. So maybe you could share a great place to start for...

Avlesh: Okay. So I'll tell you, Dan, there are a few things that pretty much I think we can...across travel and e-commerce sites that we work with, there are certain use cases that are very straightforward. The biggest one that people come to us for is to find an answer to their shopping cart abandonment. There's a case study going live in a couple of hours, maybe tomorrow, which is about this one big customer that we have, and how we reduced cart abandonment by almost 30% down on that website.

Daniel: Wow.

Avlesh: Yeah. That's a huge win, if you think in terms of Seattle. So that's one big area that we play in when it comes to e-commerce and travel. We do a multitude of things there, right from doing instant conversions, stopping the guy and getting him to buy at that point of time, or things like doing more qualitative analysis as to why people are abandoning the cart. So that's on the shopping cart side, the cart abandonment side.

There's a bunch of interesting things that we do around being able to help you cross-sell and up-sell your product suites. So if a guy has added something to the cart that is in the process of the checkout, in context of what the guy has added, we end up doing a bunch of these nudges, which revolve around showing a relevant product to you that you may need to send him with some sort of discount. If you're buying an iPhone, a headset for $5 maybe, instead of $10, the original price. We do a lot of these nudges, conversions around cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

Then we help you do a bunch of interesting things on your search and catalog pages, wherein the user is going to find more. And there, many a times what happens is, that the intent is expressed in terms of what the guy basically gets from a site.

So for example, if the guy is looking for let's say a particular dress or a shirt and tries to perform a search, the search results, either you don't have any results, either you're the guy who couldn't find what he is looking for, or you delivered less than let's say five results based on category and so on and so forth.

Now, this data could be used to actually pop a nudge to that user, saying, "Did you find what you are looking for?" The user, he says yes, no. If he says yes, then you'll just get off their face and let him do what he's doing. If he says no, we build you an entire set of questionnaires, which is around trying to find what they guy was looking for, and we can type those. And then that data gets instantaneously plugged into your cataloging and merchandising teams.

Daniel: Wow.

Avlesh: So your cataloging guys would get an instant intimation saying so and so was looking for this, and it's not available.

Daniel: Wow, it's very powerful. It's amazing. And I think the other thing that is also really cool, once you're actually able to track users on that level and be able to segment them, the other thing that I know a lot of companies have issues with is when it comes to coupons. And you mentioned coupons before. Because no one really just wants to give a coupon to everybody.

But once you're able to segment your visitors and track them by maybe the basket value or the product in the basket, you're able to then create different coupons for different people so you don't actually lose money as well on the sale.

Avlesh: Absolutely. You nailed it. Yeah, that's the whole purpose behind what we're doing.

Daniel: Yeah. And I think that's the real kicker when it comes to what you're doing around feedback and engaging, or whether it's onsite display. I guess all the areas of conversion rate optimization, and all the areas that are involved around, in a general sense, like delivering a better user experience, are all converging on this behavioral aspect of being able to really personalize whatever it is the end result is that you're trying to deliver them.

But it's personalized, and it's based on what they added to the basket, what they didn't add to the basket. And that, to me, in the case of WebEngage, is extremely more powerful than just running a pop-up to everyone with the same coupon. It's a different level of merchandising, a different level of communication, a different level of experience when it comes to shopping online.

So yeah, I think we'll probably wrap it up there. I think that was some really good insights and information that you've shared with us today. I'm going to post a couple of links as well at the bottom of this post, to the gallery, and to some of these examples. Because I think you guys have also done a really great job at really trying to tell the story, and try to show people the ways this tool can be used, because it really is so powerful.

And for a lot of people, it's really just about finding that starting point and saying, "Hey, you know what? Let's take one question and use a tool like this to see what the answer's going to be." From there it obviously evolves, but it's really finding that starting point, and I think you guys have done a great job at trying to help people find that start as well.

Avlesh: Thank you so much.

Daniel: Yeah. So Avlesh, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it. I'm looking forward to seeing the platform evolve even further from here.