Marketing and sales, in recent years, have gone beyond simply pestering potential customers to purchase a product or service. With many brands and ample competition—all struggling to beat you to the same goal—it’s only reasonable for you to get creative in your attempts to pull more customers to your side.

This is where user engagement comes in. With it, you don’t make your product or service your campaign’s centre of gravity. Instead, you empower your potential customers with that position. You make it appear as if they are in the driving seat.

This must be how remarks like ‘the customer is always right’ and ‘your customer is your friend’ originated.

User engagement is all about utilising various communication strategies in order to foster a relationship with your customers, a relationship that means a lot to both you and your customers, a relationship that incites and nurtures value, trust, and action in them.

That’s how to grow customers who, instead of buying a product from somewhere else, wouldn’t mind putting the urgency of their needs on hold to wait for the release of your product, which is still under production. It’s like a reader waiting impatiently for his or her favourite author’s next release.

If you hope for your brand to thrive, you ought to understand the psychology of user engagement, you ought to understand how people think, why they do what they do, why they shun one product or seller and instead embrace another.

Read that sentence again and you will discover that this isn’t about manipulation. It’s about understanding what’s already there and relying on it to swing your business towards success. It’s about understanding what the mind—or heart—wants and giving that thing to it.

Almost all human beings respond to certain mental and emotional triggers. Your job is to find those triggers and pull them, whether you’re a salesperson, a company looking to create a mesmerising awareness around your product or service, or a website owner looking to garner quality users.

Here are some ideas that you can wield to drive user engagement.

  1. Don’t Be a Threat to People’s Time

Ask yourself this question: are you ever pleased to see an unexpected salesman at your door? Assuming you receive him, how much of your time would you be comfortable giving him?

We all value our time. This is why you ought to make sure your adverts (video, audio, text), blog posts, and sales pitches are easy to consume. Easy, in this case, can mean punchy, coherent, or compelling (if it must be long). Don’t waste people’s time.

If you run a website, make sure you use a hosting provider—Heart Internet, for instance—that offers high uptime percentage, 99.98% upwards, and sufficient bandwidth; also avoid overloading your pages with media. This will help your website be available most of the time, load fast, and save people’s time.

Being time conscious with your customers will communicate to them that you value their time and that it’s easy to do business with you.

  1. Personalisation

Every human being wants to feel special. We all don’t just want to belong, but also want to stand out. We want to be part of the light, yet we want our individual light to glow brighter or with a different, more attractive colour.

It’s like the famous picture with a red umbrella amid a crowd of black ones. If the red umbrella could think, it would be imagining, ‘I am part of the crowd, and I’m also unique.’

Can you make your customer or user feel that way? If you can, then you are already applying a great strategy that most are ignorant of.

This is, of course, not about making a different product for each customer—no; unless you offer bespoke services. It’s rather about presenting something that a targeted group wants and going on to highlight what each person in that group will get out of it. It’s about offering different versions of that same product to suite the tastes of various individuals in the group.

Amazon does this by customising their home page to display recommendations based on what each customer viewed or ordered in the past. A good newsletter does this by addressing each reader by name.

  1. Offer Reasons

Why do your customers need this product or service? Will it add something tangle to their lives? If you can’t answer these questions, then you have no right asking someone to drop his or her hard-earned money to purchase your product.

Research shows that human beings would do more, if only you provided them with a reason. Politician are very good at this strategy—they always list their agendas during campaigns. You should learn from them. Give these reasons on your website, adverts, and sales pitches.

  1. Reward Users

Everybody loves rewards, not just because of the prize, but also because of the meaning. We all love it when we know our efforts are appreciated.

This is why some companies may attach coupons to products they are shipping out to loyal customers. That’s why authors and publishers sometimes offer giveaways. That’s why a blogger may offer a free e-book when a customer joins his or her mailing list.

We humans are wired to want to return favours. So when a seller appreciates our purchases with rewards, we can’t help but patronise that seller again.

  1. Throw a Party

This can be seasonal—perhaps an annual end-of-the-year party for your customers. When you do this, they are no longer simply your customers. They become part of a community, where they are able to socialise with your company and other customers. You put a human face on your brand.

The party or get-together mustn’t be something of physical presence. If you run a blog and the majority of your users is a global audience, you can host a group chat or a Facebook party to achieve this—a forum where you and your subscribers forget about your blog and what you have to say and just chat and play games like deciphering anagrams and giving out perks.

If the party goes well, your users or customers will always look forward to the subsequent one. And them looking forward to it means they will always have your brand in mind, since it’s attached to the party.

  1. Listen

We all have something to say. And we love to be heard. One of the basic romantic relationship rules is that each party ought to learn to listen to the other. In this case, if you want to establish a lasting relationship with your customers, you ought to listen to them.

Encourage them to make complaints, suggestions, and corrections. Also encourage them to rate your product or service. This shows them that you care about their opinions. And when you suspend your ego, filter away the chaff, and act sensibly on the opinions that are genuine and reasonable, you earn their respect and trust.

Google’s Play Store, for instance, makes listening easy for entrepreneurs in the android app market in the sense that it allows these app developers to respond to users’ reviews personally and even alert users when updates that resolve their grievances are released.

  1. Be Innovative

We all love innovations. It’s the difference between an old buggy app and an updated one. It’s the difference between an old model and a new one. It promises a reward, an evocative experience, it excites our mind—the human brain is attracted to new things.

If people love your product, don’t stop there. Make improvements. Offer a promise of more innovations.

  1. Incite Curiosity

Human beings are naturally curious. The world is where it is today, with many advancements in science and technology, because of our curiosity about the world we live in.

Whether you run an online store or own a brick and mortar establishment, you can utilise this important aspect of human nature to drive engagement and improve sales. This should reflect on the titles of your blog posts, your television commercials, your online adverts, your speaking engagements et cetera.

The first thing you say or write should engender curiosity. This is called the hook in novel writing. It makes the reader or listener want to know more. You too can do this—incite curiosity towards your product or service using headlines that beg to be explored.

A question; if you visit a website and you see a small red button at a corner and the text beside it says, “Don’t press the red button,” would you be more tempted to click the button than you would be if the text wasn’t there or not?

  1. Show You Are Desirable

The television series The Last Man on Earth gives a perfect depiction of how unconcerned a human being can be about appearance or impression if there was no-one else around.

This implies that we actually care a lot about other people’s approval, because we want to fit in. We go with the crowd. If a lot of people love that celebrity, then dressing like him or her could make those people admire or identify with us.

There are two major ways to show consumers that you are desirable. Through compelling packaging—this could be the design and features of your website or those of your product. The second one is by showing prospective customers that your product is accepted among a certain group. You can do this through the use of testimonials, ratings, adverts that feature celebrities et cetera.

  1. Be Accommodating

You have to be approachable for people to approach you. It’s that simple. This could mean a simple smile when attending to customers. It could also mean a friendly posture, an accommodating handshake, using words or ad images that aren’t offensive or indecent for your target audience, not arguing with customers, and not judging customers.

  1. Use Storytelling

A study discovered that about 95% of our mental actions and processes occur inside our subconscious and emotional brains. Before a decision manifests in our conscious brain, our subconscious first plays around with it

This is why storytelling can help you connect with customers. Storytelling excites the brain and opens up our senses—sound, taste, sight et cetera. It takes us on a vicarious journey. It’s after this journey that we start wishing we can replicate the experience.

That’s why after watching Superman, you begin to wonder what it would feel like to fly with the wind brushing against your face.

A commercial—radio, television, newspaper, online—with a compelling story will leave potential customers wanting to get their hands on your product.

  1. Make Your Product and Service Easy to Use

Whether you produce electronics or run a web hosting company, the last thing you want to do is confuse customers on how to use your product or service. A guideline should accompany your product and it should be coherent. Plus, the design of your product or service should favour the ‘ease of use’.

You should also maintain a professional customer service to help deal with any issues that your guideline fails to solve.

No guideline, or an ambiguous one, may end up having many of your sales returned and will definitely scare away customers.

  1. Use both Return and Warranty Policies

Consumers want the assurance that they are not throwing their money away by ordering your product or service. These two policies help show them that you care about their satisfaction and not just about their money. They will help you build trust and integrity. They will help you retain your customers and even make new ones.

  1. Suggest Scarcity

This is a simply economics term. If something is scarce, it must mean that people are grabbing the product or service off the shelf faster than the supply can manage. This is especially true if a consumer is considering buying the product. The logic is that if that consumer is thinking about it, other people must be doing the same—and this all brings us back to why the product is scarce.

This strategy can backfire if abundance immediately follows scarcity. However, it works perfectly in the case of online stores where the consumer is only seeing an image or a video, a short description, and a text that say, “offer ends in 22hours”, “over 800 sold”, or “only 10 copies left”.

  1. Inspire Anticipation

If you are going to release a new product next year, start creating a buzz about it now. The movie, publishing, and tech industries thrive on this. They unveil trailers, excerpts, and prototypes.

Some of them even go as far as spreading rumours and controversies simply to get people talking before their product launches. And the more people talk about the products, the more they anticipate them. They just can’t wait.

You can do the same for that product or service you are about to launch. If possible, make it available for pre-order.