8 Proven Ways To Increase User Engagement In-App For SaaS

Are you looking for the best tactics to increase user engagement for your SaaS product in-app?

That’s brilliant, as when more of your users/customers continue engaging with your product, your customer retention rate will keep improving.

In this article, you’ll learn all you need to know about increasing user engagement in SaaS:

  • What user engagement is
  • Why it is important to track and improve user engagement
  • How to track user engagement
  • Proven methods to increase user engagement

Let’s get started!

  • User engagement involves the tracking and measuring of all interactions your customers and users have with your product.
  • An increase in user engagement leads to a reduction in churn rate and improved customer retention rates.
  • Evaluating your user engagement strategy is vital whenever you notice an increase in your churn rate within a given period of time.
  • Stickiness is a great measure of the value your product provides to your users. Stickiness is measured as the ratio of your daily active users to monthly active users.
  • Keeping your signup process short and frictionless increases user engagement and LTV.
  • Interactive walkthroughs are a better replacement for product tours. Many customers dislike product tours.

User engagement for SaaS products involves tracking and measuring all interactions your users have with your product. These engagements ultimately translate into how much value your customers are receiving from using your product.

In Lincoln Murphy’s words:

Engagement is when your customer realizes value from your SaaS, different at various stages in the customer lifecycle.

What does this mean?

Lincoln’s engagement definition implies that the level of user engagement you’ll get from your SaaS product is dependent on how far your users are in your marketing funnel.

The deeper they have gotten in your funnel, the more product features your users begin to adopt. And as this continues, your user engagement keeps improving.

User adoption flywheel userpilot
User adoption flywheel userpilot
User adoption flywheel

As more of your users enter your marketing funnel, some may exit quickly. Now, this isn’t new to SaaS companies. Many SaaS customers quit using a product after their first free or paid trial.

Why?

If the user hasn’t derived any value from your product in their first-run experience, this is either because your onboarding was bad, your product was too complicated for the user persona your marketing attracted, or it didn’t deliver on the value promised. Either way — if you failed to engage your user on the “first date” with your product, they are unlikely to continue their customer journey.

User journey stages
User journey stages
User journey stages

Tracking where you lose these users is vital to understanding what caused this early churn.

There are several user engagement metrics you can monitor for your SaaS product. Let’s look at the three most important ones:

Your engagement rate correlates positively with user retention and user churn. Calculating your engagement rate is easy:

Engagement rate = Total active users in a group within a certain time/Total users in the studied cohort

Taking your time to analyze your engagement rate will give you unique insights into positioning your product in the future. You’ll know what you need to tweak, like:

  • Product messaging
  • Sales approach
  • Customer satisfaction efforts

Your ‘customer engagement score’ is a single metric that is unique to each of your customers (free or paid trial users). This user engagement metric helps you to discover your most satisfied customers and power users. A high customer engagement score shows that the customer is engaged and getting value from your SaaS product.

You can also use this metric to analyze the engagement rate of a specific customer segment. This can help you with:

Depending on your SaaS product, what you’ll use for calculating your customer engagement score will be different. For instance, a social media scheduling tool will consider these as engagements:

  • A customer links their social media accounts
  • The customer creates a social media post
  • The customer schedules the social media post

To know if your SaaS product creates value, one metric you should measure is stickiness. The stickiness of a product is the rate at which your users return to your product on regular basis.

Stickiness metric is measured as the ratio of daily active users to monthly active users:

stickiness metric customer engagement formula
stickiness metric customer engagement formula
Description: stickiness metric customer engagement formula

For example, if you have 3000 daily active users and 6000 monthly active users, your stickiness metric is 50%.

As already mentioned, engagement begins with the user. You need to know what value means to your users at every stage of their user journey. You also need to know how your product provides this value. Knowing where users get the best value from your product allows you to create more relevant features and in-app experiences in your SaaS product. This in turn increases user engagement.

Now let’s look at eight of the most effective tips you can implement in your SaaS to increase user engagement in-app:

For most SaaS businesses, the signup flow and user onboarding experience should be as frictionless as possible.

Remove any irrelevant fields or steps in your signup flow and hurdles such as requiring a company email or email confirmation to get into your app:

Userpilot signup flow
Userpilot signup flow
Description: Userpilot signup flow — demo booking form

Once your users have got into your app, greet them with a welcome screen. This will not only leave a good first impression but also allow you to collect the key information about your user (their role, goal and Job-To-Be-Done) to help you personalize their user onboarding experience. And yet, this quality piece of onboarding real estate is underutilized by many SaaS companies. As we found out in our State of SaaS Onboarding 2020 research, 40% of SaaS brands don’t have a welcome screen.

How about the remaining 60%? — a majority of them do not use their welcome screens to their full potential.

So, how do you use your SaaS welcome screen to improve your new user activation and customer engagement? By adding a microsurvey that will help you collect the information required to segment your users:

Postfity does this well:

postfify welcome screen
postfify welcome screen
Postfify welcome screen

Want to build in-app welcome screens with microsurveys without needing to code? Get a Userpilot Demo and see how easy it can be!

After you’ve collected your user data and used customer segmentation to personalize the onboarding journey, you now need to help your user to reach their AHA moment.

customer engagement audience segmentation
customer engagement audience segmentation
Customer engagement audience segmentation in Userpilot

After designing an excellent welcome screen for your users, the next step is making your users reach their first “Aha! moment”.

These moments don’t stop with new user onboarding. As your users continue engaging with your SaaS product, you’ll need to create more “Aha moments” to keep the engagement levels high at later stages in the user journey.

User journey template
User journey template
Description: User journey template

One of the brands that ensure their users reach their “Aha!” moments early in the onboarding process is Duolingo.

For instance, Duolingo doesn’t require its users to sign up to see how it works.

Let’s assume we want to start learning French and discovered Duolingo. We click on “Basics 1.”

Duolingo user onboarding
Duolingo user onboarding
Description: Duolingo user onboarding

Next, Duolingo takes us through some basic French lessons.

Duolingo first question
Duolingo first question
Duolingo first question

And when we’re done answering all the questions, we earn our points.

 Duolingo points system
 Duolingo points system
Duolingo points system

But to proceed any further, we now need to sign-up.

Create a Duolingo profile
Create a Duolingo profile
Create a Duolingo profile

Anyone who has an interest in learning a language Duolingo offers will likely sign-up after this onboarding process.

Why?

  • You’ve already become invested through completing the first lesson.
  • You have gotten a feel of what the product is like and have experienced its value first hand (you’ve learned some French words!)
  • You want to continue learning.

Many B2B SaaS users dislike product tours. Just look at the comments below:

Everyone dislikes product tours
Everyone dislikes product tours
Everyone dislikes product tours

Instead of taking your users through lengthy, boring, and irrelevant product tours, you should try something else — interactive walkthroughs. Interactive walkthroughs improve the user onboarding experience as they help your customers to experience the value that your product offers.

These walkthroughs also:

  • Show the next steps a user should take
  • Push the user to adopt the feature from step 2 only *if* the user has actually completed the action from step 1 — as we would know from custom events.
  • Are contextual — focused on what is important and relevant to the user at that moment
  • Put the user in control of their own experience
interactive walkthrough Userpilot
interactive walkthrough Userpilot

Creating an interactive walkthrough helps you guide your users towards product activation. Take Trello, for example. Its interactive walkthrough allows users to understand how to use its product easily:

First, you will see what the Trello board looks like and will be prompted to name it:

Welcome to Trello dashboard
Welcome to Trello dashboard
Welcome to Trello dashboard

After naming your board, the next screen shows you how to structure your board by creating a list (again, with examples).

Creating Trello lists
Creating Trello lists
Creating Trello lists

The next screen prompts you to add to-do cards to each list.

Take loads off with cards
Take loads off with cards
Take a load off with cards

And once that’s done, you’ll see your new Trello board. You are all set and ready to proceed to explore more of the tool.

Getting started with Trello
Getting started with Trello
Description: Getting started with Trello

This kind of walkthrough that skips lengthy product tours is good for your product and the user.

Why?

Unlike with a product tour, after completing an interactive walkthrough you’ve actually *done* something and have a whole Trello board to show for it.

You shouldn’t assume that your users will instantly know about the new shiny feature in your SaaS product. Even if they see it, they might not use it, because they don’t know how it works. After adding a feature, you need to announce it in the right way to your customers.

Take Asana for example. When they added a “reporting” section to their product, they made it obvious in-app by attaching “New!” to “reporting.”

Asana new feature UX highlight
Asana new feature UX highlight
Asana new feature UX highlight

When a user clicks “New,” the popup shows the different benefits of the new reporting feature.

Asana new feature popup
Asana new feature popup
Asana new feature popup

But that’s not all. The “get started” button launches an interactive walkthrough that educates the user on how to use the new feature. By announcing this new feature properly, Asana succeeds in not only driving user engagement but it ensures the product adoption of its new feature.

This leads us to our next point:

You shouldn’t drop a ton of messages in front of your users and hope they’ll understand.

Apart from cluttering the user’s interface, these messages may also frustrate and confuse them, resulting in less user engagement. To communicate effectively and increase user engagement, you need to focus on contextual and timely in-app messaging.

In-app messages are used inside your app to provide contextual and timely messages depending on the stage of the user’s journey. These messages could take different forms like tooltips, announcement bars, slideouts, and modals.

Take Ahrefs for example. Their interactive tooltip helps the user to know that the data they provide for the HTTP and HTTPS protocols are different. This kind of info is important for users who might think that HTTP and HTTPS websites should have the same website information.

ahrefs advanced feature tooltip
ahrefs advanced feature tooltip
Ahrefs advanced feature tooltip

You can use Userpilot to create similar in-app messages like Ahrefs. But before zooming off to do so, here’re some in-app messaging best practices you should follow:

creating in-app messaging checklist on userpilot
creating in-app messaging checklist on userpilot
Want to build targeted in-app messaging using advanced segmentation? Get a Userpilot demo, and we’ll help you get started right away!
  • Keep your in-app messages on point: Your in-app message should be brief. Microvideos of about 30 seconds is ideal.
  • Personalize your in-app messages: Your in-app messages should be customized for every user.
  • Segment your audience: You should segment your audience based on the stage of their customer journey. This guides you in creating meaningful in-app messages for every customer.

Collecting feedback from your customers is key to ensuring increased user engagement. And the best way to collect user feedback in-app is through microsurveys.

Microsurveys are brief questions that evaluate the usefulness of your product and its features to your customers or users.

NPS survey userpilot
NPS survey userpilot
Descriptiont: NPS survey built in Userpilot

These surveys are useful for increasing your user engagement for many reasons:

  • They allow you to collect data in-app in a frictionless way
  • They allow you to collect targeted data. For instance, data that is based on the use of specific features
  • They allow you to hear the thoughts of your users concerning your product

After creating and collecting survey data, you’ll need to act on them quickly because your customers want to see the change. Doing this will improve your user engagement because it shows that your brand listens to its customers.

User engagement is not a set-and-done activity, especially in the SaaS industry.

Continuous testing of different in-app engagement types, messages, and content will help you find the sweet spot for your users.

A/B testing and product experimentation is the key to discovering what resonates with your customers. You can A/B test all of your experiences in Userpilot without coding:

AB testing with userpilot
AB testing with userpilot
Description: AB-test built in Userpilot

Now that you know the 8 tips for increasing user engagement in-app, the next step is to implement and test them. You don’t need to test them all at once — use these methods one at a time and act on the results you get.

Want to get started with increasing your user engagement? Get a Userpilot Demo and see how you can gain valuable insights that positively affect your bottom line.

Userpilot is a Product Growth Platform designed to help product teams improve product metrics through in-app experiences without code. Check out userpilot.com