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Brand Engagement v/s Customer Engagement: Know the Key Differences

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Did you know there are two specific engagement types your business should focus on?
Brand engagement and customer engagement – although engagement is often a blanket term for most.

The rising competition across industries has called for an intensified focus on retention using engagement as a driving force — and recent social media algorithms back this claim.
You’re rewarded extra brownie points from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or even the likes of YouTube, Snapchat, and others based on how well you can engage an audience. But that’s not all. Although clubbed under one, there’s enough difference between brand engagement and customer engagement.

This article aims to help you understand the difference between the two and explains how you can consistently build them both.

What is brand engagement, and why is it important?

Brand engagement refers to building an attachment and commitment between a brand and its audience. The term ‘audience’ is used here instead of customers because brand engagement must equally cater to existing and potential customers.

Most brands involve two types of brand engagement, i.e., internal – its customers, and external – the general public.
So what makes brand engagement an essential marketing aspect?

  • It increases brand loyalty and retention: Loyal customers are your brand’s best advocates. An Accenture survey suggests that 57% of customers tend to spend more with brands they are loyal to. So by understanding their needs, offering valuable advice, and going all-in on user experience, you encourage long-term loyalty.
  • It enables brand awareness: Brand awareness refers to the users’ familiarity with your brand’s products, irrespective of the awareness stage. A solid online presence helps sustain a high level of brand awareness. A Forbes study suggests that consistency in a brand’s promotional content can improve recognition by 80%.
  • It helps build a strong community: Brand engagement helps build a thriving community of like-minded users. It lets more people know about your brand and products through word-of-mouth. The Shopify merchants and partners community, with over 900k members, is an excellent example of tight-knit community engagement.

What is customer engagement, and now why is that important?

Customer engagement is the art of fostering brand loyalty and awareness through personalized customer interactions. The idea behind customer engagement is to let your customers keep making repeated purchases of your products due to an incredible experience with your brand.

Social media, emails, websites, and SMS are some mediums used to accomplish positive customer engagement.

Why is customer engagement important?

  • It boosts sales funnel velocity and revenue: The more you engage with your customers, the easier it is to sell your offerings to them since they are already aware of your selling proposition. Such awareness improves the customer’s purchase journey. Fully engaged customers represent 23% of overall revenue over average customers.
  • It fetches customer feedback and insights: Receiving valuable customer feedback and unique insights lets you improve your products, messaging, and overall experience. It comes as no surprise that 70% of consumers respect and favor brands that seek out customer feedback.
  • It helps sustain customer interest: Customer engagement needs you to view your brand through your customer’s lens and align their needs. 80% of customers are more likely to repeat purchases when brands curate personalized experiences.

So, what is the difference between brand and customer engagement?

There’s a subtle difference between brand and customer engagement. It’s in the way they connect with audiences.

Brand engagement pulls existing and potential customers to the business, usually with more extensive outreach campaigns. On the other hand, customer engagement pushes customers toward taking action, such as purchasing a product.

Which engagement’s importance surpasses the other?

The answer is neither. Both engagement strategies play an equal role in improving your sales funnel but arrive at different stages.

Brand engagement is usually top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) and can target audiences who are unaware of your brand and have no purchase history. In contrast, customer engagement targets your current customer base.

Uber, in the below example, has sent out a promotional TOFU email campaign that’s a great example of brand engagement:

A platform well-known for its tailored viewing experiences, Netflix is an iconic example of customer engagement and personalization. Here’s an individualized email campaign that targets its current users to bring them back to the platform:

Brand and customer engagement strategies are crucial in improving your brand’s reach. Therefore, your brand marketing strategy should equally focus on these engagement types.

Examples of brand and customer engagement

1. E-commerce

For e-Commerce, customer engagement plays a significant role in ensuring repeat purchases and reducing abandoned carts.
One such e-Commerce platform was FirstCry, Asia’s largest online store for baby and kids products, which planned to increase the average order value while reducing drop-offs.

What worked?
FirstCry created a hyper-personalized customer communication experience by understanding parents’ purchase patterns. Also, the e-Commerce brand identified its high-intent user segments and offered personalized product recommendations. As a result, the brand noticed a 400.75% uplift in repeat orders.


Scripbox initially dealt with low user engagement and lacked effective strategies that could help boost acquisition and retention.

What worked?
The brand segmented users based on domestic and NRI residents. This segmentation lets the brand capture user traits and actions that, in turn, improve brand awareness through enriched marketing campaigns. As a result, there was a 3x rise in user engagement and over 30% improvement in email open rates.

3. EdTech

The education sector often struggles to keep its audience engaged. Even after conversion, the drop-off rates are high across the funnel. After failing to target the right audience, Mero School converted its unknown user base by 80%.

What worked?
The brand created awareness and engagement through email campaigns and push notifications. And tailored win-back campaigns helped the brand engage and retain its existing customers.

4. Travel and hospitality

The travel industry is growing rapidly owing to digitization and the rise of remote working – this has increased competition for consumer attention. MakeMyTrip, the largest digital travel company, delivers click-worthy emails as part of its customer win-back campaigns and to its first-time users.

What works?
In the example above, the brand offers attractive deals while utilizing the festive season that can grab any user’s attention and fasten a sale. Personalization of deals and messaging as per the instances and moments around a consumer, adds high relevance to their communication.

Another example? InGo-MMT aimed at providing them a seamless experience through relevant engagement with the platform. And as a result, delivering a best-in-class experience to the end users. Like any other OTA brand, the north star metric for InGo-MMT was hotel bookings.
Here’s how they boost their hotel partner engagement by 20% using WebEngage.

5. Media and entertainment

Humit, a music-sharing social app, aimed to deliver hyper-personalized user experiences and grow its active user base. But just capturing interests and preferences was not enough; leading users back to the app is an important aspect of success.

What worked?
The brand adopted refurbished user engagement and retention strategies by using targeted campaigns for its current users. It delivered highly personalized messages to its users via multiple channels and saw a 3x increase in its user base.

6. Gaming

A flourishing brand community helps foster brand interest through a mutual exchange of ideas and encourages brand engagement like no other. Some popular examples are online gaming communities like the PlayStation community and popular gaming groups such as World of Warcraft.

What works?
Building gaming communities strengthens the brand image and drives positive customer and brand engagement through word-of-mouth marketing.

Can you make brand engagement and customer engagement work together?

The short answer is YES.

But here’s what you need to do to move the two types of engagement in tandem to derive positive results from your efforts and campaigns:

    • Understand customer journey maps

A customer journey map lays out the path to assess various touchpoints, from how customers heard about your brand or products to their first interaction with your brand, like purchasing a product or visiting your website.

Understanding your ideal customer’s journey by mapping lets you visualize their experience in real-time and learn their pain points and constraints. Moreover, it helps you know the exact stages at which you can introduce and implement brand and customer engagement methods.

    • Create an omnichannel strategy

Your ideal consumers can be from different demographics, mindsets, and awareness stages. Hence there’s also a clear variation in how they interact with your brand across multiple channels.

An omnichannel strategy helps you create seamless consumer experiences at every touch point. Being equally available across all channels is crucial to engagement, irrespective of your customers’ stage.

    • Ensure thorough personalization

Provide a tailored experience to ensure your consumers feel a personal connection to your brand and offering.

Use targeted campaigns based on consumer data to offer contextual touch-base and communication across all channels. Doing so helps leverage a healthy brand and customer engagement.

    • Connect the two engagements

Connecting brand and customer engagements is a foolproof way to turn a consumer into a customer.

For example, a brand sends out a promotional email campaign to introduce its premium deal on flight bookings to a targeted list of users.

As you know, social media and email campaigns increase brand engagement. So once the consumer is pulled to check out the flight deal, they are likely to become a customer. Then enters the customer engagement aspect, where the brand upsells upcoming offers and provides dedicated customer support.

    • Ask for feedback

Continuously improving both of your engagement strategies is as important as implementing them.

And there’s no better way to do this than by insights sourced from the customers’ point-of-view and their first-hand experience with your brand and products. Therefore, requesting customer feedback is the way to amplify engagement.

Wrapping up

Brand and customer engagements form two critical pillars of any brand marketing strategy, and there is no either/or with implementing them.

While brand engagement is more focused on ensuring you drive a target audience into the funnel and keep them engaged enough to move them along, it is customer engagement that ensures they do progress from one stage of the funnel to the next.

Simply put, if you are a marketing driven company, you need the two to work together to ensure that the funnel is addressed in a contextual way from the top to the bottom of the funnel.

That’s exactly why every business must closely monitor both the engagement strategies to improve brand recognition and recall, and drive higher engagement rates.

To be able to do so, it is important to implement a personalized customer journey. This helps you not just ensure complete context for individual consumers in the engagement campaigns, but also measure the right metrics at every stage.

Looking for a way to manage both the types of engagement and streamline the way you communicate with your audience?

It’s time to explore omnichannel engagement campaigns with a data-driven approach to ensure high personalization for your audience.

Book a demo with WebEngage today.




Vanhishikha Bhargava is an E-commerce expert and B2B marketer. Working with E-commerce-focused products that aim at making customer acquisition, engagement and retention more data-backed, she’s always on the lookout for growth tactics that help online stores increase their sales and revenue. You can follow her blog here.

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