Driving Customers To Get Habituated With Your Product – The Hook Framework
Every day we follow a typical routine. From waking up to wearing the same clothes in the wardrobe, to reaching the office. We just do it daily without giving a single thought about it. These are called habits. You do not have to think about doing them. It just happens.
For all digital product brands, the only super goal that they strive to achieve is to influence the customer’s habitual behavior. Well, this is a jackpot, if at all it becomes so easy to perform. However, several businesses practice this approach, but they give up at the time when they are closer to their goal. All they need is to follow the below principle:
Give your users the solution that links with their problem with great frequency so it turns into a habit for them
Nir Eyal is an entrepreneur and an investor. He founded two successful tech companies and went on to teach the graduates at Stanford Graduate School of Business. After all these years of experience, he reinforced and distilled his years of learning and expertise by inventing a methodology named the “hook model”.
So how to make this happen? Let us find it out in this article
The Hook Model – Solution Framework
Simply put up, the hook model elaborates on the way businesses can change the core behavior of their users. How can they create daily habits around their products? The real heart of the hook principle surrounds the way how businesses seek to connect a user’s problem to your solution and that too, with great frequency.
He defines habits as automatic behavioral trigger that happens by situational cues. It is about doing things with no or very little consciousness or thought. Companies that can attach internal triggers to their sales strategies obtain several benefits. Because they can directly change the behavior of the users by guiding them through a series of experiences that are called ‘Hooks’. The more times the users run via these hooks, the more chances of forming habits.
The Hook Model is a four-phrase process that the companies can use to form the habits via consecutive hook cycles, They can use successful products that have reached the ultimate goal by prompting user engagement, bringing back the users repeatedly, and not depending on advertising costs and aggressive marketing.
The model teaches the innovators about the ways to build products that will help people take actions that they want to, but can’t do because of the lack of solutions. If these solutions are harnessed in the right way, the power of technology can improve our lives with the right behaviors leading to enhancing relationships, higher productivity, and making us smarter than ever. Hooks are the way to connect the user’s problem with the company’s solution. This is done so frequently, that it begins to form a habit. As we see access, speed, and data converging nowadays, the world is becoming more of a habit-forming place. Those businesses that can create a habit in their users’ lives are sure to acquire a competitive edge over the competitors.
Every business does not actually require habitual user engagement. However, for some companies, forming habits is a very crucial moment that marks success over all other attempts. The users who continuously find value in the product are more likely to share their experiences with their friends. Hooked users further become a part of Viral Cycle Time, that is the amount of time taken from the user to invite another user to get a massive impact. The value is nontransferable and gets stored inside the subconscious mind as a habit-forming product that will discourage the user from leaving. A company can claim itself to have become a habit-forming company by plotting two factors. One is Frequency – the no. of times the behavior occurs and the second is Perceived Utility – The usefulness and rewarding behavior of the user’s mind over other alternative solutions. The habit-forming products alleviate the user’s pain and relieve a pronounced itch. Creating such habit-forming products needs a lot of manipulation.
It is the actuator of behavior. Generally seen in two types – External and Internal. They cue the user to take action as a first step to the Hook model. Because, habits can never be created, but built upon.
They are built up with information that informs the users what to do next. They convey implicit information through by external trigger method. For example, we know website links are for clicking and app icons are for tapping. There are several types of triggers:
Search engine marketing, advertising, and such paid channels are used to get users’ attention and prompt them to act. They are generally used to acquire new users from the market
They cannot be bought directly. They often need an investment by way of time spent on public and media relations. Simply, you need to put your product in constant limelight
Word of mouth is the most workable external trigger. It creates viral hyper-growth and sometimes drives growth because people like to share about the wonderful offer.
It consumes considerable space in the user’s ambiance. They show up regularly and continuously give choices to the users to see it daily or not. Owned triggers prompt repeat engagement until it forms a habit.
They tell the user about the next actions that need to be done. When a product becomes preoccupied with a thought, or an emotion like a routine, it leverages an internal trigger. They happen automatically in the subconscious mind. In this case of the internal trigger, the information about the product and its use is encoded in the user’s memory.
Like negative emotions. They frequently tend to serve as internal triggers. Every product designer must know their audience’s internal trigger, the pain that they need to solve. After all, the ultimate goal of a product that seeks to become a habit, is to solve the pain point by getting associated with the user on regular basis just like a routine. To build a product that is user-specific and relevant to the folks, go put yourself into their shoes first and then start writing a story for them.
The product designers must be aware of their internal triggers. The habit-forming product is created with the intention to solve the user’s pain and to get associated with their identities. The user must identify the product as their source of relief and pain. Various tools like Customer development, Empathy Maps, and usability studies are examples of methods for learning about potential users. To build a product that can form habits, the makers must understand the user’s emotions that may be tied with the internal triggers and find a way to leverage the external triggers to drive the action.
If the user still does not take the action, the trigger may turn out to be unuseful. The Fogg behavior Model can guide the makers to find it out. There are three ingredients required to initiate any and all behaviors.
- Users need adequate Motivation
- Users must be able to complete the desired action
- A trigger is needed to activate the behavior
Ensure you execute a clear trigger to increase the desired behavior. Next, increase their potential to take action and finally align the right motivator. Every behavior gets driven by three core Motivators.
- Pleasure seeking and pain avoiding
- Hope seeking and fear avoiding
- Seeking social acceptance and avoiding social rejection
Three simple steps help in creating innovative products.
- To understand the intention of the users for using the product
- The layout of the steps the customer needs to take to get the job done
- The moment the series of tasks from intention to outcome is understood, all you need is simply to remove the steps until the moment you reach the simplest possible process. In reality, any product or a new technology that considerably reduces the steps to complete a task leverages high adoption rates
To successfully simplify the product, all we need is to remove the obstacles coming our way. There are elements of simplicity:
- Time — How long it takes to complete an action
- Money — The fiscal cost of taking an action
- Physical effort — The amount of labor involved in taking the action
- Brain cycles — The level of mental effort and focus required to take an action
- Social deviance — How accepted the behavior is by others
- Non-routine — How much the action matches or disrupts existing routines.
The easier the action, the more likely the user is ready to do it and continue with the cycle via the next phase of the Hook model. Design your product simple to understand that users already know how to use it and you won the game.
Diminishing the steps required to finish the desired outcome can accelerate the chances of that outcome. Reward your users by solving the problem and reinforcing the motivation for the action.
So what is the variability here?
- For holding the attention, increase the degree of novelty in the product
- Novelty triggers more interest and grabs the attention.
There are three types of rewards as explained in the below diagram
The habit-forming products usually utilize one or more of these variable reward types:
- Rewards of the Tribe: Searching for social rewards that are powered by connectedness with other people. Human brains are adaptive to seeking rewards. It makes them feel attractive, accepted, included, and important. Rewards of the Tribe will keep them coming back
- Rewards of the Hunt: Searching for material resources and information. The urge to get physical objects like food and other things that help them survive.
- Rewards of the Self: Searching for intrinsic rewards of mastery, completion, and competence. They are variable rewards that we seek to gratify and celebrate the person who we are.
In this phase, the users are given a small task to perform. Investments here mean anticipating future returns and not instant gratification. The more users invest time and effort into your product or service, the more value it shall add to your product. What we do constantly will make us fall in love with it. With that work, we become more consistent and finally we start changing our preferences. However, in this phase, you can ask users to perform a bit of work only after they receive some variable rewards and not before. Users put some value into the product once they start using it. And that decides upon how much they shall use it again. The storing value here means the following aspects:
Collecting experiences and memories and aggregating them to bring more value over time and the service becomes harder to leave. Because the users’ investment is growing
The more information the users invest in the site, they become more committed to it. If we ask them to give a little information, there are chances they may return. And this tiny bit of effort creates powerful data with you to bring them back to your product or service
Following the right users will increase the product value as it will bring more relevance and interesting content to various social media platforms.
Building a strong brand reputation will make users stick to whatever ongoing service they are taking from you.
Once they acquire the skill to use the product, there are very less chances they will switch to some other product.
Five Fundamental Questions To Build Effective Hooks
These are some fundamental questions that are frequently asked to develop a sustainable hook model.
- What do users really want? What pain is your product relieving? (Internal trigger)
- What brings users to your service? (External trigger)
- What is the simplest action users take in anticipation of reward, and how can you simplify your product to make this action easier? (Action)
- Are users fulfilled by the reward yet left wanting more? (Variable Reward)
- What “bit of work” do users invest in your product? Does it load the next trigger and store value to improve the product with use? (Investment)
This serves as a simple decision support tool for all the entrepreneurs, investors, and employees who can access it long before a product is shipped or code is written
- Facilitators access their own products and think they can materially improve people’s lives. They possess more chances of success due to their close understanding of the needs of the users.
- Entertainers access their products but ain’t believe they can change people’s lives. Even if they are successful, the essence lies in making the lives of the people better in some or the other way.
- Peddlers think their products can materially enhance people’s lives. However, they do not use it for themselves.
- Dealers are the ones who do not use the product because they do not believe that it can improve people’s lives. Here they have the lowest chances of success and often find themselves in a weird morally wrong position.
This is a process that is inspired by the “build, measure, learn” methodology. Habit testing offers actionable data and insights to pass on the information about the design of habit-forming products. It clarifies who are the real devotees and what parts of the product is forming habit in their lives.
The habit testing includes three steps in general
- Identify — Identifying how people are using the product by digging deep into the data
- Codify — Codifying these findings in search of habitual users. Also done to produce new hypotheses, and paths and study the actions taken by the devoted users.
- Modify — Modifying the product aiming to influence maximum users to follow the same path as your habitual users. Thereafter evaluate results and continue to modify as needed.
Where To Look For Habit? – Forming Opportunities
For any successful business, there are two business models that you can forward. One is delivering customer value or performing methods for profitable customer acquisition. Instead of finding the solution for what is the problem, you can ask what problem can I make someone else solve for me. From the nascent behaviors of the early adopters, you will find business opportunities. Through the Hook Model, you identify new technology areas quicker, and frequently, and will be more rewarding for developing new habit-forming products.