We’ve all been there, downloaded an app or signed up to a website, and then completely forgotten about it. Maybe you even went so far as to create a profile, make a purchase, or even post in a discussion. And then a week later you have completely forgotten that community you’d signed up for exists at all.
Engagement, it’s the lifeblood of startups. With it you have traction to show investors and a thriving community around which your startup can build their platform and sell services. Unfortunately, engagement is hard to come by. Even the best startups find early user engagement difficult and have tried many different strategies to keep their users interested in their service.
Emails, push notifications, and pop-ups.
Ever wonder why anytime you sign up for an app or website they want to send you notifications for EVERYTHING? Someone liked your comment, have an email, someone sent you a new message, have a push notification and an email. At its core this bombardment of notifications from apps and websites is an attempt to create engagement. The hope is you’ll click on one of them and come back to their platform and use it.
For retail oriented sites emails offering discount codes and sales will pepper your inbox until eternity if you don’t unsubscribe. Pop-ups before leaving the site offering a special code or a reminder that you have items in your cart are also means of retaining a user’s engagement. All these methods exist because they work. Engagement is everything and websites and apps will do anything and everything they can to lure users back to their platform.
Offline engagement is another fantastic strategy to build a community around your platform. Bringing what is likely primarily an online community together offline at events and meetup is a great way to build connections between your users. For instance, BoatEasy, a marketplace platform where boat owners can find services for their boat like mobile marine mechanics, holds meet-ups for boaters. Meetups allow boaters to connect with other boaters and industry experts. Blizzard, the gaming giant famous for their World of Warcraft franchise holds their yearly BlizzCon, a meetup for World of Warcraft and Blizzard games fans. Due to Covid 2021’s was actually online but in past years and hopefully in the future it will once again be an in person event. BlizzCon brings their primarily online community into the real world, and strengthens connections between users on their platform making them more likely to continue using the platform or in Blizzard’s case – playing World of Warcraft.
Nothing draws a crowd like a lively discussion. Whether it’s the comments section on a trending YouTube video, an ex-President’s controversial Tweets, or a topical debate, startups should encourage discussion on their platform. While some discussion requires moderation or could scare off new users, a lot of discussion is actually beneficial and active users participating in discussion is a sign of healthy engagement for the platform. If users aren’t starting discussion themselves, a new startup may seed discussion on relevant topics in the hopes users engage with those posts. This is a strategy, successfully, employed by many discussion platforms and one new startups can copy to enhance early stage user engagement.
Ultimately there are innumerable ways to foster engagement on your platform. Whether it’s timely emails or notifications, offline events, or an engaging discussion, or something else your team comes up with. Try different approaches, or try them all at once – if you have the resources. Test and test again, different strategies work better for different startups and assuming users find value in your platform they will remain engaged, it could just take them a few visits to see that value.