Trying to sell your product to a prospect without knowing if they are aware of their problem is a hasty sales move. If they are unaware, any attempts to sell them a solution would not only be in vain but would also push them away.

This is why you need a customer engagement model – a model that helps understand where prospects stand in the buying continuum and what more you need to do to get them to the buying point and beyond.

The traditional linear marketing funnel begins at creating awareness and ends at sales.

On the contrary, a customer engagement model begins at the sale and loops back to the original marketing funnel. Meaning, it helps you stay connected and useful for your customer even after sales.

So, they return to buy more from you or recommend your product/service to other people.

In this post, we’ll share 13 different battle-tested customer engagement models. Understanding these will cut down the time you spend on figuring out your next move to get the customer where you want them to be in the journey. More profitable action!

Note that these models are easy to learn but difficult to execute. So, towards the end, we’ll also share an easy way to adopt, personalize, and validate the model you’ve picked.

Let’s get started!

Good to Know

Terms Meaning
VisitorSomeone who visits your business (online or physical shop) with the intent to buy, browse, partner, or seek employment
ProspectPotential customer, i.e., someone who fits your ideal customer persona and can buy your product/service.
CustomerSomeone who has purchased once from you or purchases often

What is an engagement model?

By definition, an engagement model defines the relationship between two parties. In the business world, this relation can exist between

  1. Employer and employees
  2. Business and customers
  3. Business partners

Over here, we’re interested in the customer engagement model. So, we’ll be focusing on the second type of relation. The relation that exists between the customer and the business.

Now, any possible interaction between a business and its prospects qualifies as engagement. It can be a message, like, comment, email, subscription, or even a page visit.

Suggested read: Top 31 Customer Engagement Metrics (& the ONE Above All in 2023)

But a customer engagement model only focuses on interactions that nurture the relationship.

For example, a comment on your Instagram post is not as valuable as a visit to the pricing page. That’s because the comment does not exhibit a strong interest in buying. But a visit to the pricing page does.

A customer engagement model uses strong indicators like these to develop a step-by-step journey for the visitor. Once the customer engages in a specific way, he is directed to the second step (naturally – we’ll tell you how). Then the next, and so on.

The idea is to capture your audience’s attention for enough time to direct them to the second step of the model. Eventually, they move forward step-by-step and develop a relationship with you.

Your job is to hit the sweet spot every step of the way. And you can only do that if you know:

  • What’s going on in your prospect’s mind?
  • What background do they come from?

If you know the answers to these, you can develop proactive customer engagement models that skyrocket the growth and stability of your business by over 100 percent.

How so? Well, the answers to the questions above will give you a clear lead on what you need to do to convince them for their first buy and keep them coming back for more.

However, acquiring this information is not that easy.

There is a way to have your prospects casually drop this information in their very first interaction with you. And we’ll share that in the later section of this post.

But before that, let’s dissect what makes up an effective customer engagement model. A thorough understanding will help you pick the right customer engagement framework.

Main components of a customer engagement model

No business can work with only one customer engagement model. That’s because no customer engagement model is a one-size-fits-all solution.

You’ll have to divide your audience into groups and come up with customer engagement models tailored for each.

And each customer engagement model has two major components. These include:

1) State of Product Awareness

Back in the 1960s, Eugene Schwartz – a marketing genius – uncovered how the level of product awareness impacts buying decisions.

If a user doesn’t even know he has a problem, there’s no point telling him how different your product is from the others. No matter how good you advertise, he’ll never buy!

So, to come up with an effective engagement model, you need to know how deeply your prospect understands his own problem. You need to know if they understand the effectiveness of the proposed solution.

Generally, there are eight levels of understanding. Five of these were proposed by Eugene Schwartz, and the rest are brought to you by LeadsHook. 🙂

Levels of Product Awareness

Level 1: Unaware Prospect

These people do not know they have a problem and this is why they are the most challenging segment of the market.

First, you have to put an effort to make them aware of a problem they are facing and then sell your solution. For example, imagine a healthy individual sits in a traditional office chair for 6-8 hours. He does this every day for six months straight.

During this time, they don’t feel any pain and hence fail to notice lurking health problems (Weight gain, back problems, shoulder pain, etc.). You’ve to bring these issues to their attention. And then sell your solution, which could be an ergonomic office chair.

Level 2: Problem-Aware Prospect

This is the stage where your prospect knows they’ve got a problem. But they do not know about potential solutions. Hence, they do not have the desire to avail themselves of those solutions.

Think of it as coming to terms with your fate. When you fail to recognize there is something you could do to change the current situation.

Back to your prospect who’s sitting in a traditional office for straight 6-8 hours.

They see this as a routine and a part of their life. Even when it starts to feel uncomfortable, they try to adjust and bear with the consequences. They do not know there is a way around it.

That’s when you (the ergonomic office chair seller) jump in and tell them there’s a different type of office chair that comes with lumbar support!

You tell them it improves posture, aligns muscles, and lowers back pain.

You introduce the solution and its features. And this creates a desire in them to know more about this solution and possibly avail of it.

Level 3: Solution-Aware Prospect

Things are starting to get more specific. Your prospect knows there’s a solution.

You need to tell them what makes you unique. You need to answer a burning question that may become the seed of a long-lasting relationship with them:

How are you solving their problem better than all the others? 

Propose your unique selling points and highlight the benefits they get.

Suggested read: What is a unique selling point? Complete Guide with Examples

So, how do you convince your prospect who’s now interested in an office chair with lumbar support?

You tell them that the chair comes with:

  • Breathable mesh back support
  • 300 pounds weight support
  • 3D armrests
  • One-year warranty
  • Classy colors to give their office a brand new premium feel

And here’s the cherry on top:

  • a 15% discount exclusively for them.

Now, of course, this is only an example. You have to come up with benefits that make your product/service stand out from the crowd.

Level 4: Product-AwareProspect

Your prospect is careful with money. They know your product/service is a potential solution to their problem. But they’re thinking: is it a worthy solution?

This is where you make an effort to win confidence. How to do that?

  • Compare yourself with the competitors. Tell them how you’re offering better value for money.
  • Leverage technical and data-based information to help with their buying decision. Let them know you genuinely want to solve their problem even if it’s not your product/service. 💡 Relax. Consumer purchase research proves people trust sincere brands over exciting brands.
  • Highlight testimonials and endorsements you’ve received.

For example, you can convince your office chair prospect with a detailed buying guide that compares the top sellers of ergonomic office chairs. Include yourself in the list and highlight the pros and cons.

Level 5: Most Aware Prospect

Prospect is well-informed of their situation as well as you. But they’re overthinking their decision, keeping it for a later time, procrastinating, or got busy with other stuff in life.

You’re the seller – and you cannot just let that be. It means no business for you.

So, this is where you create urgency. You want them to buy immediately, so keep your marketing campaigns (and attempts) concise, straightforward, and highly action-inspiring.

How can you do that?

Communicate an irresistible offer. You can do this by:

  • Limiting time on them
  • Highlighting the cons of delaying the purchase
  • Creating exclusivity
  • Developing competition with other buyers (e.g. limited edition products).

Here’s an example for your ergonomic-chair buyer:

  • Statement A: You get 15% off on your first chair!🥳
  • Statement B: You have a chance to avail of 15% off on all our ergonomic chairs in the next 48 hours!!🤩

The best strategy is always to increase the relevancy of your offer and limit time.

Level 6: Unaware Customer

Eugene’s levels of product awareness are limited to prospects. We, at LeadsHook, have found they are relevant to customers as well.

Let’s talk about the unaware customer first. At this point, your prospect has successfully purchased your product/service. But he is not using it.

How does that concern you or what does it have to do anything with a sales engagement model?

Well, if the customer doesn’t use the product/service, there are zero chances they are going to like it. Consequently, they will bring you zero business. They won’t be recommending you to others, and neither they will come back to buy more.

If this becomes a pattern for all your customers, you will only have successful one-time sales. That too only long as you intensively market your product/service. It will never build you a stable, growing business.

So, to make the unaware customer, aware of your product/service, you need to push them to use it. You can do that by offering a fun introduction or onboarding journey. This is particularly useful for SaaS customer engagement. Give them a quick tour or promise incentives for honest feedback.

Level 7: Partially Aware Customer 

At times customers may be using your product/service but not to its full potential. This means the customer is partially aware and not getting the best value for this money.

In such a situation, your job is to dive deeper into their specific use case and advise them on how to make the most. This is, of course, a super personalized approach to the market. But it is the only key to building a sustainable business.

At LeadsHook, we’ve been demonstrating several ways to personalize your marketing campaigns for real-time customer engagement. (Watch any video to see the impact of personalized marketing!)

Level 8: Leaving Customer

This is the stage where your customer has fully explored your product and used it to its full potential. It’s difficult to resell the product or service at this stage. So, ideally, you do not want your customer to reach here. Keep innovating and upgrading the product/service while the customer is actively using your product.

But if your product/service is something with an endpoint, this phase is inevitable. Let’s get back to the ergonomic office chair. If the customer quits working, he won’t need an ergonomic office chair. They might want to replace their office space with a sofa or so.

In this scenario, you want to ensure that your customer is satisfied with your product and leaves as a happy customer. They will bring you business by becoming strong advocates of your business.

2) State of Market Sophistication

Eugene Schwartz also introduced the concept of State of Market Sophistication. It is about the customer’s experience with what you have to offer.

If the audience has zero experience, you will stand at a lower level of market sophistication. This means you will have low competition and convenient marketing opportunities.

If the audience has already tried other variants of what you sell, you will be at a higher level of market sophistication. This means you will have high competition. And you’ll have to be very clever and intensive with your marketing activities.

Levels of Market Sophistication

Level 1: Pioneer

Businesses that introduce a product or service for the first time in the market stand at the pioneer level.

The following are some types of such businesses:

  • Tech breakthrough (Example: ChatGPT)
  • Significantly improved version of an existing product (Example: Asus ZenBook)
  • Familiar product at a very low price. (Example: Video editing service at half the standard market price)

Level 2: Second to Market

Businesses that introduce a product or service that’s a variation of an existing thing are second to the market. The audience already knows the following about their offering:

  • What is it?
  • How does it help them?

These businesses have to market their product such that it answers:

  •  How does it help them better?

You don’t have an innovative or truly unique thing to sell. So, you amplify the benefits. You promise more than the competitors to create a need for your product.

Level 3: Stretched

The market knows the product/services well. They have heard many claims, exaggerated extremes, and are well aware of usability. They may even have tried a few products.

To convince these people to buy your product, you have to come up with a fresh perspective. You need to re-introduce its concept with a new angle.

You don’t have to innovate the product/service. You have to innovate the way you present it. Create a fresh need.

Level 4: Refreshed

At this level, the prospect is tired of hearing about the product/service and its exaggerated claim. Some simply may not buy from you because well, you’re everywhere, and…they’re wondering: for what?

💡 Popularity doesn’t always mean a successful business.

This is the time you bring out a new enticing feature or aspect of your product. You need to add a bit more value or introduce a new use case.

Level 5: Exhausted

If your business is at this level, your business needs more action and fewer words. The competition is high and people will not fall for benefit-based headlines.

They might not even fall for discounts.

You need to take a step further and dive into emotions. Bring in storytelling. Share the impact of your business on your existing customers’ lives. Prospects may buy because of the stories associated with your product/service.

Customer Engagement Model Examples

By now, we have a direct answer to what is a customer engagement model.

It is a system that keeps your prospect or customer closely in touch with you pre-sale, during sale, and post-sale. The purpose of this is to keep the need for your product alive in their lives. 💡 A customer engagement model is the key to recurring business.

We also know the two main components that make up a customer engagement model.

  1. Level of product awareness
  2. Level of state of market sophistication

In a customer journey, the level of product awareness is entirely on the customer’s part. It depends on each individual customer. And hence, it’s a variable.

On the contrary, the level of market sophistication is your part. That’s because you get to choose the positioning of your product/service. For example, if you sell something already known to people, you position your business in level 2 or level 3. The level of market sophistication is constant (i.e., non-variable).

The constant component pairs with each variable component at least once. For example, let’s say you introduced ChatGPT. It’s a new product, landing in the Pioneer Level of market sophistication.

Note: ChatGPT is not an entirely new idea. But currently, it is an undominated product because of its efficiency.

Now, some prospects will be in an unaware stage, some in the problem-aware stage, some in the solution-aware stage, and so on.

Over time, you will have the following pairs at hand:

  • Pioneer Level + Unaware Prospect
  • Pioneer Level + Problem-Aware Prospect
  • Pioneer Level + Solution-Aware Prospect
  • Pioneer Level + Product-Aware Prospect
  • Pioneer Level + Most Aware Prospect
  • Pioneer Level + Unaware Customer
  • Pioneer Level + Partially-Aware Customer
  • Pioneer Level + Leaving Customer

Each of these pairs will require a separate customer engagement model. They will have different steps and different phases to bring out the desired results.

However, there are some standard proven customer engagement frameworks that you can use for these models. We have categorized these for you under relevant awareness stages:

Unaware

Engagement models for unaware buyers are:

AIDA

AIDA stands for awareness, interest, desire, and action. Since your potential buyer is unaware of your product/service and his own needs, you’ll first work on creating awareness. You can achieve this by

  • Advertising Marketing: Paid means of communication between you and your unaware buyers. E.g., Instagram ads, PPC, Google ads, etc.
  • Organic Marketing: Unpaid means of communication between you and your unaware buyers. E.g., guest posts, blog posts, social media updates, etc.

Once your prospect becomes aware, you develop their interest through content strategy and social proof like a website. This is where actual customer engagement will begin. You’ll begin receiving small amounts of data about what people like.

Based on this, you establish a desire for the product/service. You can do so by highlighting the key features and benefits. Or simply, share tips that lead to the development of an emotional connection between you and the now-aware buyer.

He will soon begin to need what you offer.

Once the need is realized, it’s time to use call-to-action methods. Send emails, build landing pages, run promotional campaigns, and get your prospect to buy/use your product/service. This is where your prospect directly engages with your brand and becomes a customer.

Some prefer to add stage R or Retention to the AIDA model (hence the name, AIDAR). It is used to keep the customer engaged by offering after-sales support and service.

PAS

PAS is also a marketing technique like AIDA for unaware buyers. But it is most commonly recognized as a copywriting technique. It stands for Problem, Agitation, and Solution.

The purpose is to help the unaware buyer identify their problem and the action needed. Then, point towards your product/service as the solution. So, it merges the Interest and desire stages of the AIDA model into Agitation.

Know that your prospect won’t feel agitated unless he already has an interest or desire for the product/service.

You can keep on making the problem troublesome through your effective copywriting skills. But he won’t see you as the solution until the AIDA model is working on the backend.

RACE

RACE stands for:

  • R – Reach
  • A – Act
  • C – Convert
  • E – Engage

You can reach out to your customers via paid, earned, and own media. This could look like blog posts and social media posts. The purpose is to increase your discoverability. Educate the customers about what your product is and how it is relevant to them.

Act is short for Interact. This is the stage where you take action to acquire leads. Convert your website visitors or social media followers into prospects. Communities, surveys, free trials, and interactive quizzes are some excellent tools for this stage.

Convert these prospects into paying customers via ads and promotions. And then, continue to engage with them via email campaigns and exclusive communities. It will turn them into strong advocates of your business.

Aware

Engagement models for aware buyers are:

USP

USP is short for a unique selling point. And it is often interchangeably used with UVP, which stands for unique value proposition.

Technically, USP is a part of every business out there. But when using it as a business engagement model, you focus on communicating how much more value you provide compared to competitors.

AARRR

AARRR framework is all about studying the behavior of existing users rather than directing their behaviors. Understanding this model can help you uncover your existing customer engagement status.

  • A – Awareness: How are people discovering you?
  • A – Activation: Are these people taking desired actions?
  • R – Retention: Do these people stay after taking those actions? Do they continually use the product?
  • R – Referral: Are these people recommending your product to others?
  • R – Revenue: What’s the recurring revenue? Are people willing to pay more than once?

Collecting this data is a lot of work for your sales team. So, it’s not the most efficient approach.

But it can be a game changer for startups who are on a budget and not very sure about where they are heading.

These metrics can help them uncover the best areas to invest themselves in. The model can dramatically increase profits, particularly for SaaS businesses. It can direct product development and management.

BANT

BANT is a model that helps filter quality leads, particularly in B2B markets.

BANT stands for the following:

  • B – Budget: Determine if the aware-prospect has enough budget to buy your product/service.
  • A – Authority: Determine if the potential lead has decision-making authority. If they don’t, you need to get to decision-making authority.
  • N – Needs: Determine how you are addressing their pain points. Be as specific as possible. It will make your marketing campaign 10x more effective.
  • T – Timelines: Determine if the potential lead will immediately buy from you or if they need time. It will direct the intensity of your marketing efforts.

You can implement this model via 1:1 meetings, budget inquiries, calls, and surveys.

On-boarding

Engagement models for onboarding new customers are:

High-touch

High-touch engagement models are best suited for high-end products and services. In this customer engagement model, the sales and customer support team stays closely in touch with the new customer. It may involve:

  • Online or in-person training sessions
  • A dedicated sales agent or customer success manager
  • Customized setups

Low-touch

Low-touch engagement models best serve cheaply-priced software or other low-cost products and services. These models usually involve automatic onboarding processes like interactive walkthroughs, tooltips, and checklists.

These engagement models are less costly to develop and deliver. But they are not as effective and personalized as high-touch models.

Hybrid

As the name implies, a hybrid customer engagement model combines low-touch and high-touch. Primarily, you engage with the customer using automated low-touch models like interactive walk-throughs.

But when the need arises, you can offer human-to-human interactions. E.g., a webinar to introduce a new feature or instant customer support.

STP

STP stands for

  • S – Segmentation: Group your market into best quality leads, good leads, and poor leads.
  • T – Targeting: Narrow down your definitions of potential customers. Determine who could make good use of your product. Intensify your marketing efforts for this group.
  • P – Positioning: Position your product/service to win over others. Use the identified pain points of quality leads as a guide.

You can make the best use of this technique when onboarding customers. That’s because it will give you a thorough idea of all possible customers.

Post-onboarding

Some high-performing engagement models for existing customers are:

Collaborative Product Roadmap

Publicly sharing your product roadmap increases your credibility and worth. Transparency wins customers’ trust.

If you take their input on the roadmap as well, the customers feel valued. It keeps them engaged as they look forward to the newer features they anticipate. Also, this model works best for SaaS customer engagement.

Automated retention

Automated retention works best if you personalize it well. The idea is to send email campaigns, relevant educational stuff, and surveys to engage customers, remind them of your product, and push them to use it. Their feedback helps improve the product.

Hook Model

Hook Model aims to create a customer habit and increase their interaction with your business. It comprises four phases. These include:

  • Trigger: Pushes the customer to take action.
  • Action: It’s the consequence of the trigger. The customer takes action.
  • Reward: Customer gets rewarded for taking that action.
  • Investment: It’s something that sows the seed for future action.

For example, consider in-app challenges that reward you with points. Collecting a certain number of points makes you eligible for lucky draws and coupons. Such rewards prompt the user to collect points more often.

Final Words

By now, we hope you have a clear understanding of what is a customer engagement model and what makes it up. We hope you’re also clear with how to develop a customer engagement model on your own.

  1. Collect data from prospects
  2. Use the data to realize your business’s level of market sophistication
  3. Use the data to realize levels of product awareness in your audience
  4. Group the two components to come up with an effective customer engagement model. Use any of the engagement model examples above. But make sure your pick is relevant to your audience’s understanding of you.

Note that the journey begins with data collection. First, you need to get the right answers from your prospects. Only then you can build a solid customer engagement model.

But how do you collect this data without burdening your prospects?

It’s simple, by using the right customer engagement technology. Present them with a fun quiz like the BuzzFeed Quizzes. And they’ll drop this valuable information in their very first interaction with you.

Hard to believe? We know. But we’ve been there, done that. 🙂

Witness how smoothly this genius strategy plays out all by yourself – Here’s where you can get started:

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