March 17, 2022

Chat Features to Boost User Engagement

Cosette Cressler

Chat Features to Boost User Engagement

What is Chat Engagement?

Chat engagement occurs when a user interacts with your chat app. There are many different kinds of chat engagement, and the types of engagement that are most valuable to you will depend on your objectives. Before you dive into designing chat engagement loops and implementing chat engagement features, you should take a step back and figure out what chat engagement means to you.

Companies that implement chat apps are usually doing so with an overarching goal in mind. Your chat engagement strategies should align with that same goal. Are you using chat to increase sales, build brand awareness, grow a community, or make customer service more efficient? Once you've identified your goal, you can be intentional about using chat engagement and work to generate specific results from each interaction.

Why is Engagement Important?

You probably already know the many benefits of offering chat, or you wouldn't be reading an article about boosting chat engagement. And you're not alone. More and more businesses are leveraging live chat every day, hoping to realize these benefits. However, you won't reap those rewards if your users aren't actually using your chat app.

The more users engage with your chat app, the more you'll benefit. 

Principles of User Engagement

So, how can you increase engagement in your chat app? 

It's not enough to simply provide a modern chat experience. To generate user engagement, you need to cut through the noise and deliver an exceptional chat experience—one that's been designed with engagement in mind. And this is easier said than done. 

Here are some principles to keep in mind as you design your chat and choose which chat engagement features to implement: 

Personalization

Your users want a personalized experience, every time. Whether it's by using their name in the greeting or referencing one of their previous interactions with your brand, a personalized touch helps your users feel comfortable, boosts their trust, and increases their loyalty to your brand. Personalizing your chat conversations is one of the easiest ways to improve their experience and increase engagement.

Emotion 

According to Harvard professor Gerald Zaltman, emotion is what really drives purchasing behaviors and decision making in general. If you want to maximize user engagement, you need to appeal directly to the subconscious mind. 

How do you do that? With emotion.

Emotions will lead your users to take action. Whether it's boredom, frustration, curiosity, or even just a need for socialization—emotions are the driving force behind many user-initiated interactions. Emotions can also be used to encourage continued engagement after the initial outreach. For example, if users feel a sense of accomplishment after engaging with your chat app, they are more likely to engage again. Design your chat app engagement features to foster emotions such as inspiration, fulfillment, or a sense of belonging to increase user engagement at scale.

Convenience

Convenience is one of the most critical pillars of chat engagement. To put it simply, users will not engage with your chat app if it's inconvenient for them to do so. Lower the cost of using your app by adding engagement features that enable your users to communicate the way they want—easily. Let's look at message translation. Expecting your users to copy and paste messages to an external translation service is asking a lot. You can reduce barriers by building message translation into your chat app. 

Human Touch 

Your users may want a quick interaction, but they don’t want to talk to a machine. Provide personable, friendly service in real-time to keep users engaged. A great way to add a human touch is by asking your users questions and acknowledging their responses. Another option is to add emojis, stickers, and gifs to your chat app so that they can communicate in a way that feels natural (or human) to them. Finally, be sure to give your users the power to react, whether it's with a typed response or an emoji reaction. These two-way communication capabilities will lead to increased engagement at every step.

How to Build Chat App Engagement Features from Scratch

Increasing engagement on your chat app is a high-priority task, but it's not always an easy one, especially if you plan to build your engagement features from scratch. We'd only recommend this option if you're ready to invest significant time and resources into researching your options, developing your features, and implementing them across your chat app in a way that is intuitive to your users. You'll also want to plan and accommodate for performance and reliability testing. 

If you're unsure whether this is the right path for you, we weigh the pros and cons of building vs. buying chat app functionality here.

CometChat’s User Engagement Features

If the costs and risks of building from scratch don’t appeal to you, take a look at our user engagement chat extensions:

Email Replies

Email replies extension

Building off the pillar of convenience, a great way to reduce barriers for your users is by allowing them to respond to messages from multiple channels. For example, one of your users turns on email notifications and is pinged about an unread message. Rather than forcing them to open up the chat app, find the message, and send a reply—you could let them reply by responding to the email. Much simpler. Reduce effort for your users with multi-channel responses and watch your engagement skyrocket.

CometChat's Email Reply feature, with completely configurable templates, sends emails to your users if they have unread messages. To avoid spam, all the unread messages are consolidated into one email, and our extension ensures that your users will never receive two emails about the same message. 

Polls

chat polls feature

Here we've got a twofer. Asking your users questions provides an additional level of engagement and allows you to gather insights. In fact, if you ask your questions in the form of an open poll, this may even be a three-for-one deal. In addition to the two previously mentioned benefits, public polls also spark conversation through further discussion around the poll topics and responses. Plus, polls require minimal efforts from your users, bringing us back to convenience and increasing the chance of a reaction. It's an engagement palooza! 

CometChat’s Polls Extension lets you quickly create and share polls within your chat app conversations and view the results in real time. 

Emojis, Gifs, and Stickers

chat stickers feature

If you want your users to be truly engaged with your chat app, you need to fully enable them to speak their minds—in whichever way is most comfortable for them. And, for a lot of people, that means using emojis, gifs, and stickers. In many ways, these options form a language of their own. 90% of people say that emojis help them express themselves. And 81% think those who use emojis are friendlier and more approachable. And in addition to adding a human touch to messages, visual languages like emojis, gifs, and stickers also help your users retain the information.

CometChat's extension library has you covered, with multiple different options in this area. You can add trending stickers to your chat app with the CometChat Stickers or Stipop extensions. Easily add GIFs with Gfycat, Giphy, and Tenor. And, for browser chat apps, our Emojis extension makes it easy to convert mobile emojis to browser-friendly images.

Mentions

Chat app mentions are a great way to attract someone's attention. It's a simple feature with many uses. Mentions can be used when your users want to speak directly to someone in a group chat, bring someone's attention to a message or piece of content they'll find relevant, give a user a special shoutout, or ping someone one-on-one. 

CometChat's Mentions extension adds mentions to your chat app in a way that is intuitive to users everywhere—with the @ symbol followed by a name.

Reactions

chat reactions feature

To increase engagement, you should make that engagement as easy as possible. One of the best ways to do that is by adding a quick-react feature to your chat app. Emoji reactions are efficient, low-effort, and can be used to convey a broad range of emotions.

CometChat's Reactions extension enables your users to react to messages quickly, with one or multiple emojis. It gives your chat app users the ability to express themselves with a specific emotion while requiring very little effort.

Reminders

chat reminders feature

Your chat app users won't always be sitting at their desktop, ready and eager to respond to messages. And, even if they are actively in the chat app when a message comes through, they'll often receive messages that they can check immediately but need to act on later. This is where adding the option to be reminded of messages is incredibly useful.

CometChat's Reminders extension takes reminders one step further— enabling your users to quickly and easily create both message and personal reminders. Message reminders increase engagement by preventing messages and interactions fall through the cracks. Personal reminders, like "Drink Water," increase engagement by adding additional use cases to your chat app. Users will log in more often and be more reliant on the app in general.

Message Translation

As we mentioned above, adding message translation into your chat app builds off the principle of convenience by significantly reducing user effort. It also allows you to expand your userbase, opening your app to millions of users across the globe.  

CometChat's Message Translation feature allows users to translate messages into the language of their choice. And in real-time. With this extension, global communication has never been easier. For example, let's consider a group consisting of multi-lingual people where a user has sent a message in English. One user can translate that message to Japanese, while another user translates it to French, and a third user translates that same message to Spanish.

Smart Replies

smart chat replies feature

Further building off the principle of convenience, let's look at Smart Reply. Smart Reply models generate reply suggestions based on the context of a conversation. Users can easily reply to messages with those predefined responses, reducing effort and increasing efficiency. This is a great way to bring convenience to your chat app. It's especially helpful to users on limited input devices, like an apple watch.

CometChat's Smart Reply extension uses metadata to auto-generate three options for users—one positive, one neutral, and one negative. It also adds a category to each message, in case you want to skip some suggestions.

Jumping in With Chat App Engagement Features

Adding our chat engagement features to your chat app is an easy and reliable way to boost user engagement. 

Not yet ready for features? If you’re just getting started building your chat app, we offer Chat APIs and SDKs that make the development a breeze.

You can sign up to our developer dashboard to get started for free or talk to our experts if you have any questions.

About the Author

Cosette Cressler is a passionate content marketer specializing in SaaS, technology, careers, productivity, entrepreneurship and self-development. She helps grow businesses of all sizes by creating consistent, digestible content that captures attention and drives action.

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