7 Best Customer Engagement Platforms (Free & Paid) in 2023

May 25, 2023 - By Skirmantas Venckus

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Ensuring unbeatable experiences is key to happy prospects and engaged customers.

Research giant PwC, not surprisingly, found out that up to 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience.

Creating great prospect journeys and customer satisfaction is not just about amazing products and incredible offers. It’s also about great communication and a steady flow of engagement. And there’s no better way to enact your customer engagement strategy than using a high-quality customer engagement platform.

However, in an era of digital overwhelm and information overload, choosing the right customer engagement platform can be challenging. 

Hence, in this guide, we’ll introduce you to some top examples of customer engagement software platforms that stand out among the competition.

Does Your Business Need a Customer Engagement Platform?

As long as your business is selling something, the answer is a big yes.

The right customer engagement strategy can’t only position your brand as a customer-centric business but also paves the way to build strong, long-term customer relationships, leading to more sales, revenue, and ROI.

Specifically, using customer engagement platforms can help your business:

  • Increase brand engagement & awareness;
  • Effectively communicate with and sell to prospects;
  • Efficiently converse with and charm existing customers;
  • Personalize customer buying journeys and purchase experiences;
  • Boost customer retention without additional expenses;
  • Scale your business without a corresponding increase in spending;
  • Increase revenue through core product sales, upsells, and downsells;
  • Enhance profitability and ROI by decreasing CAC (customer acquisition costs) and increasing customer LTV (lifetime value).

When it comes to sales and marketing engagement will also have a deep impact on brand loyalty, word-of-mouth advocacy, and customer delight, among other qualitative aspects.

Our Recommended Top 7 Customer Engagement Platforms

Below is a quick overview of the seven customer engagement solutions that caught our attention.

Platform NameBrief DescriptionPricing
SenderBest Omnichannel Customer Engagement PlatformFree forever plan includes 2,500 subscribers & 15,000 emails/ mo + Unlimited popups, forms & email automation;
Paid plans start from $8.33/mo for 2,500 contacts.
HootsuiteBest Social Media Customer Engagement

No free tier, only 30-day trial;
Paid plan starts from $99/mo and includes 1 user, 10 social accounts, unlimited posts, 1 shared inbox, and more.
TwilioBest Online Engagement PlatformNo free tier, 14-day trial for some modules;
Different modules are priced differently, some fixed and some custom pricing, and you can buy only what you need.
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Best Digital Client Engagement PlatformNo free tier;
Paid plan starts from $750/ tenant/ mo if you are already a SAP customer.
BrazeBest Customer Engagement Management SoftwareNo free tiers;
Custom quote paid plans (yearly contracts start from about $60,000).
MoengageBest Mobile Customer EngagementLimited free plan with up to 10,000 Monthly Tracked Users (MTUs);
Paid plans are based on custom quotes.
SalesforceUser Engagement Platform with Sales AutomationNo free tiers;
Paid plan starts from $25/user/mo and ranges all the way up to $300/user/mo.
SAP EmarsysBest Customer Engagement by GartnerDemo-led, custom pricing quote.

Let’s check out these platforms in detail.

The Best Customer Engagement Tools in 2023

In a dynamic business environment rife with competition, everything else kept more or less equal, customer engagement can prove to be the defining factor for your business’s success.

Here’s a list of curated customer engagement platform alternatives that can give your business this underrated edge:

1. Sender — Best Omnichannel Customer Engagement Platform

Sender is an email and SMS marketing and automation platform for ecommerce businesses that seek affordable solutions to their customer engagement needs.

  • Easy-to-use, Drag-and-drop Email Builder 
  • Deep Personalization
  • Smart Segmentation

Sender offers an extensive library of prebuilt, mobile-friendly email templates that can be easily customized to your branding requirements. Alternatively, you could simply just design your own email campaign from scratch using the email editor with simple drag-and-drop actions.

Design, schedule, and deliver high-converting email and SMS campaigns with ease using Sender’s simple interface.

The automation builder can help you set up email and SMS automation workflows based on events or triggers to send out fully automated emails and text messages at near-perfect times to the right audience sets.

Featuring other advanced capabilities such as popups and forms, automated segmentation, personalization, and GDPR compliance, Sender can help you dominate your customer engagement scenes affordably yet effectively.

Sender’s Key Features

  • Email & SMS automation;
  • Smart segmentation & personalization;
  • High-converting popups & forms;
  • Drag-and-drop email builder & premade templates;
  • High deliverability infrastructure.

Sender Pros & Cons

Easy to set up and useStraight-forward, no-frills user interface
Detailed analytics and reporting insightsSender logo in the free plan
Affordable pricing plans that grow with your business requirements

Sender Plans & Pricing

Free Forever planStandard plan ($8/mo)Professional plan ($29/mo)
2,500 subscribers2,500 subscribers2,500 subscribers
15,000 emails30,000 emails60,000 emails
Unlimited email automationWhat’s in Free Forever planWhat’s in the Standard plan
Unlimited popups & formsSMS messagingCountdown timers
Contains Sender brandingNo Sender brandingSurvey & feedback blocks, and more!

When it comes to implementing effective customer experience strategies that demand function on a budget, selecting a feature-rich engagement solution like Sender could help you with all you need to get started on the right foot.

Social media and customer engagement often go hand-in-hand. In fact, great social media management can be a powerful way to build effective and highly visible customer engagement. Our next engagement tool of discussion does exactly that.

2. Hootsuite — Social Media Scheduling Solution

Hootsuite is a social media management solution that helps companies manage their communication and engagement across multiple social media platforms efficiently and effectively.

  • All-in-one Centralized Inbox
  • Bulk Social Media Scheduler
  • AI Writer

Hootsuite enables businesses of all sizes to create, schedule and publish an unlimited number of posts across multiple social media platforms while ensuring employee collaboration, streamlining workflows, and permissions management.

Social media management is made vastly easier through content discovery streams, AI-powered hashtag suggestions, the availability of free stock images for your social media post, and more. 

It also features a unified inbox that helps you centrally manage public and private conversations across multiple different social media networks faster. Additionally, the autoresponder capability allows you to set up automated responses based on keywords inputted by the customer. 

Hootsuite’s Key Features

  • Bulk social media post scheduler with support for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn;
  • Social media content calendar;
  • Hootbio custom links;
  • Content ideas generator;
  • Automated DM (Direct Message) replies.

Hootsuite Pros & Cons

AI writing feature for faster idea generation and social media post writingLonger initial learning curve
Competitive intelligence & In-depth analytics across multiple social networksExpensive solution compared to other SMM tools
Easy to useNo free tier plan

Hootsuite Plans & Pricing

Hootsuite offers a free 30-day trial of paid plans.

Professional plan ($99/mo)Team plan ($249/mo)Business plan ($739/mo)Enterprise plan (custom price)
1 user, 10 social accounts3 users, 20 social accounts5 users, 35 social accountsFrom 5 users and 50 social accounts
Unlimited postsEverything in Professional planEverything in Team planEverything in Business plan
Post schedulingRoles & permissionsApproval workflowsSocial ads management
Access to messages in one inboxAssign posts to team membersInbound/outbound taggingSocial ads analytics & reporting
Content & asset libraryEmployee advocacy
Customer supportTeam productivity reporting

Getting your social media game spot on will be an integral part of your customer experience strategy at some point, and when that happens, Hootsuite is a great way to get started.

3. Twilio — Best Online Engagement Platform

Twilio is a cloud-based customer engagement solution that enables businesses to code and enable personalized and data-driven text messaging, voice calling, video, and email communication features in their applications with the help of web service APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).

  • Unified Customer Data Platform (CDP)
  • Programmable Voice, Video, Text & Email APIs
  • Serverless Solution

Twilio’s email API offers powerful contact management, email campaign design, and inbox deliverability features to help businesses send out everything from one-off promotional blasts to automated welcome series emails quickly and easily.

It features a powerful customer segmentation engine to help you laser target audiences of any size so you always deliver high-impact campaigns that pack a punch. 

Moreover, you can improve engagement with the tool’s personalization, A/B testing features, and more while using actionable, data-driven insights to monitor and drive KPIs in the right direction.

Twilio’s Key Features

  • SendGrid Email API for transactional and marketing emails;
  • Cloud-based Segment Customer Data Platform (CDP) to unify customer data;
  • Programmable voice;
  • Programmable video;
  • SMS marketing.

Twilio Pros & Cons

Pay-per-use and automated scalability, both stemming from a serverless model;The interface could be more user-friendly;
Solid, self-explanatory documentation;Analytics is limited – no access to multichannel usage data;
Diverse use cases, including applications in web chat and Facebook Messenger.Relatively expensive compared to other alternatives.

Twilio Plans & Pricing

Twilio offers no free tier accounts. Some of its modules below include a 14-day free trial.

  • Twilio Engage (Real-time personalization module) – Custom pricing only;
  • Twilio Segment (Customer Data Platform module) – Starts at $120/month for up to 10k visitors/month. Free 14-day trial;
  • Twilio Flex (Contact center module) – 5000 hours free. $1/active user hour or $150/named user per month;
  • SMS – Starts at $0.0075 to send or receive an SMS;
  • WhatsApp Business API – Starts at $0.0042 to send a WhatsApp Template message and $0.005 for WhatsApp Session messages;
  • Conversations (cross-channel applications module) – starts at $0.05 per active user per month;
  • Verify (human verification service) – starts at $0.05/verification.

If your business requires capabilities for personalized video, voice, text, and email communication through custom applications, Twilio is the one-stop customer engagement platform you’ll likely be checking out.

4. Microsoft Dynamics 365 — Best Digital Client Engagement Platform

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a cloud-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application that helps businesses scale and grow agilely without increasing costs or effort by managing their business processes efficiently.

  • Real-time Customer Data Platform (CDP)
  • CRM + ERP Capabilities
  • Generative AI

Microsoft Dynamics 365 lets you capture and analyze data from various sources, including social media, email, or websites. Add value and relevance to all customer interactions with rich personalization and AI-generated content ideas to maximize engagement metrics.

Orchestrate personalized customer journeys based on demographic and real-time behaviors interactions across diverse channels such as email, push notifications, text messaging, WhatsApp, and more.

Create email content in no time with the help of generative AI for both images and text, allowing yourself to personalize engagements at scale. 

Use real-time dashboards to track goals and KPIs and take data-driven decisions to optimize customer journey performance further.

Microsoft Dynamics 365’s Key Features

  • SendGrid Email API for transactional and marketing emails;
  • Cloud-based Segment Customer Data Platform (CDP) to unify customer data;
  • Programmable voice;
  • Programmable video;
  • SMS marketing.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Pros & Cons

Highly configurable and customizable productLicensing can turn out expensive for small businesses
Comes pre-integrated with Microsoft products ecosystemChallenging to integrate with non-Microsoft applications
Powerful reporting and analytics moduleNeed to rely on trained partners and paid expert help for customizations

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Plans & Pricing

As an enterprise-grade B2B offering, Microsoft Dynamics 365 has no free tiers but comes with a 30-day free trial.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 is a complete ERP package with modules for sales, service, marketing, and more. Its marketing module comes with the following base packages:

  • Dynamics 365 Marketing (no existing Dynamics apps) – starts from $1,500 per tenant/mo;
    • Includes 10,000 contacts, 100,000 interactions, and 1,000 SMS Messages;
  • Dynamics 365 Marketing Attach (Dynamics apps ecosystem exists) – starts from $750 per tenant/mo;
    • Includes 10,000 contacts, 100,000 interactions, and 1,000 SMS Messages;

5. Braze — Best Customer Engagement Management Software

Braze is a leading customer engagement hub that helps businesses build long-term relationships with prospects and customers through personalized and relevant messaging across channels, including email, SMS, push notifications, and in-app and in-browser messages.

  • Emails & SMS
  • Push Notifications
  • In-app and In-browser messaging

Gather and analyze customer data from different sources, including apps, websites, and other back-end systems, to build customer profiles that provide detailed insights as inputs for personalization and relevancy.

Segment your audience dynamically using real-time engagement data and deliver laser-targeted campaigns that maximize engagement and conversions.

Leverage simple-looking yet powerful cross-channel journeys spamming emails, push notifications, SMSes, and in-app and in-browser messaging. Optimize your campaigns for high performance using A/B testing and personalizing by sending time, copy, channel, and more.

Braze’s Key Features

  • Smart personalization;
  • Dynamic segmentation;
  • Automated cross-channel journeys: email, SMS, mobile in-app, push notifications;
  • Dynamic content cards;
  • AI-driven, intelligent channel & send-time selection.

Braze’s Pros & Cons

Extensive training & support documentation resourcesExtremely pricey
Rich cross-channel options for integrated marketingChallenging UI (user interface) & UX (user experience)
Highly scalable solutionReporting can be clunky

Braze’s Plans & Pricing

Custom quotes from their sales team. To give you an idea of the pricing, past pricing data indicates that their plans roughly go upwards of $60,000 /year, depending on the requirements opted for.

Braze is not the most popular customer engagement platform, but if you’re looking for a complete lifecycle engagement application that offers omnichannel capabilities, it’s definitely right up there with the best.

6. Moengage — Best Mobile Customer Engagement

MoEngage is a Customer Engagement Platform (CEP) that helps businesses run personalized marketing campaigns for prospects and customers over multiple channels (mobile push, email, SMS, in-app, Whatsapp) and different platforms (mobile app, website).

  • Customer Journey Orchestration
  • Customer Insights & Analytics
  • AI-Powered Campaign Optimization

Unify and analyze customer data points such as their demographics and psychographicš from both online and offline sources to create and enrich customer profiles to feed the personalization and relevance requirements of your campaigns.

Segment your target audience based on various attributes, such as demographics, behavior, location, and more, to create targeted campaigns that are relevant to each customer, improving the chances of engagement and conversion.

​​Leverage machine learning (ML) and AI to discover top-performing content, the most profitable channels, and the ideal time to communicate with each prospect at scale. Use predictive AI to identify and optimize your best-performing campaigns in real time.

Create and automate seamless, omnichannel campaigns using ‘Flows’, Moengage’s customer journey builder, and further optimize conversions with A/B testing.

MoEngage’s Key Features

  • Personalization engine;
  • Customer data platform;
  • Omnichannel engagement;
  • AI-driven campaign automation;
  • Real-time analytics.

MoEngage Pros & Cons

User-friendly interfaceSlow to load or respond at times
Feature-richChallenging to integrate
Incredible product support teamExpensive compared to peers

MoEngage Plans & Pricing

MoEngage offers a free plan that includes select features and a limited version of the platform (for instance, you can only create a maximum of 10,000 Monthly Tracked Users (MTUs) or unique customer profiles).

Paid plans are available as custom quotes for businesses of all sizes ranging from startups to enterprises.

7. Salesforce — User Engagement Platform with Sales Automation

Salesforce is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that helps businesses manage contact information, identify potential sales opportunities, record customer support tickets, and run full-blown marketing campaigns, all from a single dashboard.

  • AI-powered CRM
  • Sales Automation
  • 150,000+ clients

Gather prospect data into a central customer CRM database and then use it to power your key customer interaction moments with personalization and relevance. 

Inject real-time personalization across marketing, sales, support, and internal customer service teams, such as IT, to boost engagement, conversions, and outcomes. 

Segment contacts based on demographics, behaviors, and interests and then run targeted campaigns that increase sales, revenue, and ROI.

You also can customize and tie down Salesforce to your existing business’s systems to drive efficiencies and effectiveness.

Salesforce’s Key Features

  • Customer data platform;
  • Marketing automation;
  • AI-driven customer engagement analytics & insights;
  • Account engagement;
  • Customer Loyalty management.

Salesforce Pros & Cons

Access-anywhere cloud CRM platform for mid to big-sized businessesWorks out pricey and overkill for smaller businesses
Highly customizableToo expensive for smaller businesses and projects
Powerful reporting & analytics dashboardNeeds skilled manpower to administer, manage and maintain

Salesforce Plans & Pricing

Salesforce CRM’s pricing is based on a subscription model, and it offers four main plans:

Essentials ($25/user/mo)Professional ($75/user/mo)Enterprise ($150/user/mo)Unlimited ($300/user/mo)
Account, contact, lead, & opportunity managementAccount, contact, lead, & opportunity managementAccount, contact, lead, & opportunity managementAccount, contact, lead, & opportunity management
Pipeline and forecast managementPipeline and forecast managementPipeline and forecast management
Workflow and approval automationWorkflow and approval automation
Sales engagement and insights

If you run a business that relies strongly on sales processes, marketing campaigns, and tracking them to the ‘T’, Salesforce could be of help in helping you grow and scale through leveraging AI and automation.

Improving your customer lifetime value is key to boosting ROI. This next platform helps you drive those crucial KPIs home.

Bonus: SAP Emarsys — Gartner Top-rated Customer Engagement Platform

SAP Emarsys is a customer engagement platform that empowers marketers to design, deliver and scale real-time, personalized, omnichannel marketing campaigns that improve retention, grow your Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV), and hence, boost overall business Return On Investment (ROI).

  • Omnichannel Campaigns
  • AI-driven Personalization
  • Powerful Reporting

SAP Emarsys’s centralized personalization engine gathers and analyzes customer data to understand what they truly want and then uses this info to integrate relevant and tailored content and recommendations into every interaction automatically.

Its channel-agnostic, AI-powered insights help drive and optimize personalized engagements at scale that ultimately boost customer lifetime value.

Identify segments such as likely buyers, brand loyalists, and more, and then target them over email, SMS, web push, and even mobile app campaigns that create unique buyer journeys and craft unforgettable customer experiences.

Lastly, keep a tab on key metrics, including those related to revenue, retention, and purchases, to measure the impact of your marketing efforts.

SAP Emarsys’s Key Features

  • AI-powered personalization engine;
  • Cross-channel campaigns;
  • Comprehensive, pre-built integrations;
  • Powerful segmentation;
  • Advanced reporting.

SAP Emarsys Pros & Cons

Robust and user-friendly UI and UXExpensive
Structured, step-by-step learning guidesSome advanced features may need a steeper learning curve
Feature-rich & flexibleCustomer support lags and could improve

SAP Emarsys Plans & Pricing

Like most B2B martech software, SAP Emarsys’s plans and pricing are not standardized. It offers a product demo-led, custom quote based on business requirements. 

All said and done, SAP Emarsys is perfect for mid to enterprise-sized businesses looking to drive conversions and outcomes from personalized, omnichannel marketing campaigns at scale. 

Free to Paid: The Best Customer Engagement Platform for Your Business?

We reviewed the following modern customer engagement platforms that could help you achieve your customer experience goals with ease:

  • Sender. The best omnichannel platform for emails & SMS;
  • Hootsuite. Best social media engagement tool;
  • Twilio. API-based SaaS to add voice, video, text, and email capabilities to your app; 
  • Microsoft Dynamics 365. Enterprise-grade digital client engagement system;
  • Braze. All-in-one customer engagement management software;
  • Moengage. Top customer engagement for mobile platforms;
  • Salesforce. User engagement platform with sales automation;
  • SAP Emarsys. Gartner top-rated customer engagement hub for B2B integrated marketing.

All said and done, remember that in the marketing game, the real hero will always be customer expectations. 

Therefore, regardless of the customer engagement tool in use, your most profitable marketing strategies will be the ones that are strongly customer-centric and heavily tilted in favor of increasing communication and engagement.

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