As new marketing trends emerge, customer acquisition costs rise, and consumer behavior shifts, knowing how to interact with your customers (the right way) is more important than ever.
The only problem — it can be difficult to know where to start.
From email marketing, SMS marketing, social media marketing, SEO, paid marketing, and all the like, it can feel overwhelming trying to keep up.
This is where customer engagement platforms come into play. These tools allow marketers, business owners, customer success, and sales teams to build lasting relationships with potential and existing customers.
In this article, we'll go over everything you need to know about customer engagement platforms and how to pick the right one for your business.
A customer engagement platform is a SaaS (software as a service) tool that allows businesses to communicate with customers and enhance their experiences. These platforms enable companies to interact with customers in multiple ways, such as through email campaigns, chatbot conversations, automated messages, and more.
The goal of a customer engagement platform is to provide an efficient way for businesses to engage customers in meaningful conversations that ultimately lead to sales or increased customer loyalty — helping companies lower their acquisition costs and improve customer retention in the long term.
Common features of these platforms include automation tools like dynamic segmentation, messaging triggers, and proactive engagement options. The best customer engagement platforms also include components of user experience (UX), like conversational AI bots, integrations with other applications like customer relationship management tools (CRMs), and analytics capabilities for tracking performance data.
A customer engagement platform is generally the foundation of your marketing and customer service tech stack. These tools integrate with your customer data and help you send the right messages at the right time.
For example, Postmates, the popular food delivery app, knows that its customers may want to order takeout on weeknights after a long day at work. So around the time when people get off work, Postmates will send a mobile notification with either a coupon code or a free delivery option to get people to use their app during peak times.
This is a customer engagement platform at work.
And this type of communication can be extremely valuable for helping companies stay top of mind at the right time.
But this isn't just limited to mobile applications.
The best customer engagement platforms also enable companies to send out targeted email campaigns that are tailored to fit the needs of each individual customer. This allows businesses to build relationships with their customers by providing customizable messages that create an engaging experience.
Many platforms also offer chatbots that can integrate into your company's website — allowing website visitors and new customers to ask questions via a self-service option, without having to talk directly with a customer service rep.
Using a customer engagement platform offers several benefits for both businesses and their customers. It provides companies with an efficient way to reach out directly to individuals who have shown interest in what they have to offer through segmented emails or other messaging methods such as SMS notifications — all while staying compliant with data protection regulations such as GDPR guidelines.
So it goes to say that the right customer engagement platform can seriously enhance your overall customer experience (CX).
When selecting a customer engagement platform, it is important to consider key features and capabilities that will best suit the needs of your business.
Scalability should be one of the first considerations when evaluating a platform — does it have the capacity to grow with your organization as needed?
You should also pay attention to what communication channels you need. For example, some platforms are better suited for email marketing, while others may be better for SMS marketing. Look for integrations with other applications, such as CRMs or marketing automation tools. This will enable you to quickly access relevant customer data in order to create more personalized messaging and drive better outcomes from your campaigns.
Finally, user experience (UX) components are an essential part of any successful customer engagement strategy. With the rise of AI bots, you may be able to automate some parts of your customer journey. But you should also pay attention to areas in your customer journey that would benefit from having a real human touch.
The list we are about to go over should cover all the benefits and features a customer engagement platform should provide, so, let's dive in!
Here are our top picks for the best customer engagement platforms:
Okay, let's dive a bit deeper into each one.
Chatdesk is a customer service and engagement platform that helps businesses create and manage personalized conversations with their customers. It offers various features such as proactive engagement with potential customers on social media, trends and insights on frequent customer inquiries, real-time analytics, 24/7 customer support for your customers, and more to help companies streamline their customer communication processes.
What makes Chatdesk so powerful is that communication with your customers is handled by real, US-based agents that are superfans of your brand. This makes it easy for businesses to:
Not only that, but Chatdesk can also provide insights into customer behavior that can be used to inform future marketing strategies or opportunities for improvement within your customer journey.
Chatdesk can also integrate with other customer engagement platforms that are on our list. So if you need help responding to support tickets or handling conversations on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Facebook, be sure the book a free pilot with Chatdesk.
Klayvio is an AI-powered marketing platform designed to automate the process of engaging with customers via email or text message (SMS). The platform includes features like:
Klayvio's goal is to make it easier for businesses of any size — from startups to large enterprises — to reach out directly to individual customers without having too much manual involvement when sending personalized messages.
Intercom is a powerful customer messaging platform that enables startups across industries including ecommerce, healthcare, banking & finance, SaaS, and many others, to communicate effectively with their customers through different channels such as chatbots, email campaigns, and website popups.
This comprehensive platform comes with several useful features like conversation tracking, ticketing systems, user segmentation capabilities, automated workflows, and more — allowing businesses to gain insights into how certain tactics are performing while providing an efficient way for them to easily engage prospects at scale.
Just like Klayvio, Intercom allows you to create personalized messages that can be sent via different communication channels. For example, you can send follow-up messages or trigger personalized campaigns based on certain actions your customers take.
Zendesk is another well-known customer service tool offering many of the same features that Intercom has. However, what makes Zendesk a popular choice for many companies is its robust suite of products that come at an affordable price.
Zendesk includes lots of functionality like:
Zendesk also has a suite of analytics and reporting tools just like Chatdesk that can give you a holistic view of popular conversations happening across your customer journey.
Overall, Zendesk is a great platform to start your customer engagement operations. It's a popular tool that has a lot of support around it, so rest assured that it will be an easy process to integrate with your CX stack.
Related reads: Zendesk vs Chatdesk: Which Is Better For CX?
HubSpot is a CRM and customer engagement solution that has been around for a long time. Used by companies of all sizes, HubSpot offers a wide range of features that allow businesses to engage with existing customers, automate parts of their marketing funnels, and also help them turn prospects into customers.
From a landing page and form builder to an email marketing tool, HubSpot offers tons of solutions such as:
With features like this, HubSpot makes it easy for sales, marketing, and customer support teams to make data-informed decisions and get a broad view of how customers are interacting with their brand.
HubSpot also has a wide range of APIs and integrations — making it easy to integrate with any existing tools you may already be using.
Drip is a popular ecommerce customer engagement platform that allows small businesses to automate and personalize their email marketing, create surveys and forms, and website popups.
Drip is known as a pioneer in the marketing automation space, and is equipped with tons of great features like:
Drip is a great ecommerce app that is powerful and versatile when it comes to customer engagement. If you're an ecommerce brand looking to automate communication across your customer journey, this is a platform you should definitely check out.
Segment is a customer data platform that helps companies collect all of their data into one central place and send it to different platforms that allow them to manipulate the data.
In other words, Segment acts as a bridge between your customers' actions and how you view that data. The tool is a bit different compared to the other customer engagement platforms we've gone over so far because it's mainly focused on data collection.
There are many different touchpoints and ways customers interact with your company, be it through your website, email, mobile app, or offline. Segment takes all of these inputs, creates a source of truth for all of your data, and then lets you connect to any analytics or reporting tool to view your data.
Segment does lean more on the enterprise side. But if you're a large company, it has some great features like:
Again, this tool is very powerful and mostly designed for companies that need to create a "source of truth" for all data. If you're a startup, it may make sense to use a different tool on this list. But if you're a big company struggling to incorporate all of your data into one place, this is a tool you should definitely check out.
Twilio is a cloud-based customer engagement platform that lets businesses communicate with their customers via APIs for SMS messaging, voice, and video.
Just like HubSpot, Twilio is an industry leader in the customer engagement space. Twilio also recently acquired Segment, the tool we mentioned above.
Twilio is a more complex tool compared to the ones we've gone over. However, it does have some amazing features, such as:
If you're looking for a platform that lets you integrate voice, video, and messaging capabilities into your app, Twilio is definitely a tool to look into.
Iterable is a cross-channel marketing automation platform designed for lifecycle marketers and customer success teams. This tool is a gold standard for what a customer engagement tool should be.
With Iterable, you can create personalized customer experience across the entire customer journey, leveraging channels such as email, SMS, and push notifications.
Iterable also has great features, such as:
It's important to note, however, that Iterable does lean more on the enterprise side. So this tool may not make sense if you're a lean startup. However, if you are a fast-growing company, and need a tried and true way to engage with your customers, this is a tool you need to check out.
When you hear the name "Adobe," you probably think of all the amazing products they have for digital artists and creators.
What you may not know is that Adobe has a powerful CMS (content management system) called Adobe Experience Manager (AEM).
AEM is a web content management platform that lets businesses create, manage, and deliver personalized content on their websites. This can range from different web pages, documents, and images.
While not a standalone customer engagement platform, AEM is a powerful content personalization tool that allows you to:
Some of the largest websites and brands use AEM to deliver their content on the web. So, while probably not ideal for a startup just starting out, AEM does make a powerful companion for large enterprises trying to deliver content to their customers at scale.
In conclusion, customer engagement is an essential part of any successful business strategy. The right customer engagement platform can help businesses create meaningful relationships with their customers and increase sales.
There are many great options available for businesses in 2023. If you need help outsourcing your customer engagement, definitely check out Chatdesk.
If you're an ecommerce brand looking for a simple, yet powerful, email and SMS platform, check out Klayvio.
And if you're a large enterprise looking to integrate communication channels across your app, check out Twilio.
There are tons of great customer engagement tools for different use cases.
Each of these platforms offer different features that are tailored to various needs and budgets. Ultimately, choosing the best customer engagement platform for your business will depend on what you want to achieve from it and how much you’re willing to invest in it.
By carefully evaluating each option against your own requirements and goals, you can ensure that you make the most out of your customer engagement efforts this year and beyond.