Building Your Startup’s Customer Engagement Roadmap

April 13, 2021
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Twilio Startups is designed for early-stage founders building the future of communications with Twilio and Twilio SendGrid. From the launch of your startup, customer engagement is key to building meaningful connections and improving customer experience. To help you in your startup journey, check out the Twilio Startups Customer Engagement Canvas below for startup founders looking to plan their communications roadmap and create lasting customer relationships. Read on to start building your own Customer Engagement Canvas and access the latest research from Twilio to help your startup grow and scale.

Why is building a customer engagement roadmap important for startups?

Customer engagement is the emotional connection between your company and your customers—these sentiments strongly influence buying decisions. Unsurprisingly, customers who actively engage with a business tend to be more loyal and customers spend more money supporting brands they feel connected to.

In business, like in life, you should always have empathy for others. You have the opportunity to build your customer communications from the ground up with your startup. At Twilio, we have a set of values called the Twilio Magic. One of the startup team’s favorite values is “wear the customer’s shoes.” It is important to spend the time to deeply understand customers and solve problems from their perspective. The goal of your customer communications strategy is to earn trust through every interaction.

Twilio Startups Customer Engagement Canvas

You can start building a successful customer engagement roadmap by running experiments to reach your customers on the right channel at the right time. There is not one customer engagement roadmap that works for every startup, but you can begin by using the Twilio Startups Customer Engagement Canvas below to create your own unique customer engagement strategy, keeping in mind factors like urgency, opt-ins, cost, and content.

Getting Started with Customer Engagement for Startups


The Twilio Startups Customer Engagement Canvas allows you, as a founder, to better understand the ways your startup is currently communicating with customers and plan experiments to help you achieve measurable results.

The canvas is broken down into three main modules: Current Strategy, Urgent/Archival, and Future Strategy.

  • Current Strategy | Communications Channels & Email: Start by filling in how you are currently communicating with customers on different channels including messaging, voice, and video. Then think about all the emails you send, both transactional (i.e.: password resets, receipts) and marketing campaigns (i.e.: newsletters, promotional offers).
  • Urgent/Archival: Plot your communications on the chart moving from urgent (SMS, Chat, WhatsApp, etc. preferred) to archival (email preferred) in order to optimize for immediate communications that should be received quickly. For example, could you move your customer service communications from email to chat to answer questions faster? Perhaps you are emailing marketing campaigns with timely offers that would be better served by SMS?
  • Future Strategy: Imagine some experiments you can run with new communications channels and set realistic, but impactful goals. Examples could be setting up a simple IVR/Phone tree to route calls to the right people to increase sales by 10% or creating a video room for product demos that brings in 2x leads. The key to planning your future strategy is measuring results so you can determine if the experiments were successful.

Every customer engagement strategy is unique to an individual business. You can use this canvas as a framework for planning the future of customer engagement for your startup.

Download your own copy of the Twilio Startups Customer Engagement Canvas here.

Twilio Customer Engagement Research and Best Practices

Before launching your customer engagement experience, it is important to understand the current trends. Read on for the most up-to-date research on customer engagement from Twilio.

Twilio SendGrid Global Messaging Engagement Report 2020

The 2020 Global Messaging Engagement Report trades email benchmarks for deeper engagement insights. In addition to email, we dug into SMS/MMS to discover how and why recipients prefer to engage with brands digitally. We also expanded our study to include 5 countries: US, UK, France, Germany, and Japan. Discover how consumers interact with emails and what compels them to open (and click on) certain emails and immediately trash others. Learn how different countries and generations interact with email and SMS to uncover practical dos and don’ts in order to improve your email and SMS campaigns.

Check out the 2020 Global Messaging Engagement Report from Twilio SendGrid here.

Twilio State of Customer Engagement Report 2021

Why should you plan your customer engagement from the inception of your startup as a founder? One of the most important takeaways for startups from the Twilio State of Customer Engagement Report 2021 is that engagement is good, but insight is even better! 90% of companies surveyed reported increased customer insights as a result of greater customer engagement. We all know that in person interactions moved online at light speed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Every organization raced to build new ways to engage customers, communities and constituents. Digital engagement didn’t just keep organizations afloat — more digital touchpoints are giving organizations better insight into their customers and leading to higher customer satisfaction. Moreover, businesses have no intention of going back.

Check out the State of Customer Engagement Report 2021 here.

Apply to Twilio Startups


This is the official product roadmap for Twilio written by CEO Jeff Lawson on the back of a pizza box (above) in 2007. If you look closely, you can see the third item on the list is “update welcome email text”! This is proof that communications are key to building meaningful relationships with your customers from the beginning. If you are an early-stage founder building on Twilio and/or Twilio SendGrid, we encourage you to apply to the Twilio Startups program which includes product credits, expertise, and access to the resources you need to grow your startup and build a successful customer engagement strategy.

We can’t wait to see what you build!

Apply to the Twilio Startups program here.

Looking for more innovative ways to connect with your startup's customers? Check out SMS Survey Examples and Best Practices.