What is visual engagement, and why is it important?

An ongoing video call on a laptop

You might not have heard the term “visual engagement,” but if you work in marketing, sales, or customer service, visual engagement is probably a big part of what you do, especially as we move towards increasingly remote and hybrid models of working and selling. 

While the term might not be widely used (yet), the technology is. Visual engagement tools are at the forefront of new models of customer engagement and digitalization. A solid visual engagement strategy can boost ROI and reveal hidden opportunities in your customer journey.

This guide will explain the basics of visual engagement, talk about why it matters, and give a brief rundown of the main types of visual engagement tools. 

What is Visual Engagement?

Visual engagement is a broad term for using visual tools, like video chat and co-browsing, to interact directly with customers, usually one-on-one. It can be a form of visual marketing, but it can also serve a customer service or sales function. 

Why is visual engagement important? 

Visual engagement is a key element of customer-centricity. What better way to make customers feel seen and heard by you than to see them and hear them in an interactive platform where you can solve their problems and help guide them through a purchase in real-time! 

Visual engagement helps build trust and improves the efficiency of customer service and other customer-facing activities. It allows you to scale personal interactions and deliver one-on-one, digitally enhanced service as your business grows and you acquire new customers. 

Visual engagement helps you improve key metrics like resolution rates and marketing ROI. According to a report by Frost & Sullivan: 

Implementing visual support in a contact center directly affects key performance elements like net promoter score (NPS), first call resolution (FCR) and average handle time (AHT) and enables reduced customer effort, higher agent engagement, agent empowerment, and better resolution rates.

Other benefits include enhanced security and improved CX overall. Some visual engagement tools, like Surfly Co-browsing, come with built-in compliance features for highly regulated industries

When integrated into a tech stack, visual engagement tools not only bring their own value to the table but they enhance the effectiveness of other tools in the stack. 

 There’s even neuroscience to support the idea that engaging multiple senses helps people retain memories. By creating an interactive visual experience with visual engagement tools, you could be making a more memorable impression than you would with a phone call or chat conversation. 

What’s the difference between visual content and visual engagement?

The simplest way to think about the difference between visual content and visual engagement is that visual engagement is interactive while most visual content is not.  Both are part of your visual marketing toolkit, and visual engagement often incorporates visual content. 

Visual content 

Visual content is a general term that covers all visual media. This includes images, video, gifs, infographics, and memes. 

Technically, visual content existed way before digital content. Posters, TV ads, and billboards are all examples of visual content. For the purposes of this post, however, when we talk about visual content, we’re talking about its digital form. 

Visual engagement

Visual engagement is a process of using visual tools to interact with your audience and customers. It enables all sorts of things that aren’t possible over the phone, including sharing screens, browsing the web collaboratively, and filling out forms in real-time. 

Interaction in a visual medium is what makes visual engagement so powerful.  

What are visual engagement tools? 

Visual engagement tools cover a range of customer engagement functions that allow you to digitalize almost anything you can do in person. You can use visual engagement tools to talk face-to-face, work collaboratively, or sign important documents. 

The 4 main types of visual engagement tools

Broadly speaking, there are 4 types of visual engagement. Each has its advantages and limitations. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but we like to think that Surfly Co-browsing comes close. That’s because we built it to bring together the best of visual engagement without some of the drawbacks. 

Video conferencing

Video conferencing allows for two-way and group video and audio communication. It’s useful for meetings and interviews. It’s also great for adding a personal touch to sales and customer service calls.  Video chat earns high customer review scores and leads to faster call center resolutions than audio or live chat. 

Video conferencing pros & cons


  • Face-to-face digital communication is the next best thing to being there in person. 
  • Widespread adoption, especially after the pandemic. Almost everyone is familiar with video conferencing platforms. 


  • Privacy standards vary from one platform to the next. Video chat isn’t always appropriate for private and sensitive conversations. 

Screen sharing

Screen sharing lets you send an image of your screen in real-time to the person you’re communicating with. It’s also great for meetings and presentations. This is often a feature of video chat and collaboration software.

In traditional screen sharing tools like Zoom or Teams, passing control allows the participant full control over your device. They can use your mouse, your keyboard, open private files and pretty much do anything they want with your device. Clearly, this is a massive security flow.

To circumvent this issue, Surfly has developed a screen sharing feature in which you only give up control of the session, and not your device.  This ensures that no one can ever access your personal device or files.

Screen sharing pros & cons


  • Screen sharing is helpful when you need someone to see what you see, like on a tech support call. 


  • Screen sharing often exposes elements featuring personal data that you wouldn’t want the other participants to see. This makes it a non-starter for compliance and security. 
  • Sharing images creates lag. Depending on your connection speed, screen sharing can be frustratingly slow. Even the fastest screen sharing connections tend to be slower than co-browsing. 

Website annotation

With website annotation, you can work collaboratively online with your team. Fill out forms or markup a website and add annotations and notes with live feedback. Annotation tools turn browsing and signing documents into collaborative, engaging experiences. 

Website annotation pros & cons 


  • Turn static documents and web pages into hubs of remote collaboration. 


  • Annotation is a great feature when paired with other visual engagement tools, but it’s limited on its own. 


Co-browsing is the visual engagement tool that does it all. With Surfly Co-browsing, you can video chat while browsing the whole web together with the other people in your session. You can even use field and element masking to hide things you don’t want to share. This feature enhances privacy and adheres to even the strictest compliance standards. 

You can also highlight and annotate forms and web pages in your Surfly session. 

Co-browsing pros & cons


  • Co-browsing brings together the best of all visual engagement tools in a single user-friendly platform. 
  • Enhances CX and collaboration 
  • Best-in-class privacy and compliance features 


  • Not as well known or widely adopted as leading video chat and screen sharing competitors

Visual engagement is the future of customer service, marketing, and sales.

The past couple of years have witnessed so much growth in visual engagement tools. The same tech that made remote work possible through the pandemic is enabling new models of distributed work and cloud-based customer interaction.

Businesses that have adopted these tools are tapping into next-level customer experience, faster customer service resolution, and enhanced sales and marketing. The benefits go way beyond simply standing in for in-person customer experience. Visual engagement is quickly becoming a vital element of any digital customer journey.

To find out more about visual engagement tools and to understand which tool your business should invest in 2022, you can access the full Frost and Sullivan report for free.