How can you build a product that your customers can’t live without?
What is the secret to create features that people would simply love?
How can product managers develop products which keep the users engaged?
In this blog you will learn a proven framework that will help you achieve startling engagement to your products!
Most successful products you can think of such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter had one thing in common – they all created habits. In today’s era of infinite distractions, organizations are learning to master new tactics to stay relevant in consumers’ minds as well as lives.
Through this blog, I introduce you to a product engagement framework – The Hook Model which drives product engagement today. So, whether you are an entrepreneur or a product manager you can utilize this new reality to influence user behavior and habits.
What are user habits?
User habits are nothing but repeated and automatic behaviors. According to a research by Quinn & Wood, in 2005 over 45% of our daily decisions are not decisions but habits. In his famous book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, charles duhigg has explained the process of habit creation. According to him habits are three-component processes.
First we have a Cue which is a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.
Then, we develop a Routine such as drinking tea, or searching Google.
And, lastly, we expect a Reward which is the benefit you get.
Source: The Habit Loop
How products form user habits?
To design products for habits, you have to follow the principles of consumer psychology to create new routines.
With the products and services becoming more persuasive and addictive, you can learn how to create user habits and use them to develop new behaviors. This will allow you to design experiences to repeatedly engage customers.
However, you may be wondering how you can create a connection with the internal cues needed to form habits.
You can achieve this by manufacturing desire by guiding users through a series of Hooks or Experiences designed to create habits. More often the customers run through them, they are more likely to self-trigger.
While designing habit-forming products you need to answer following questions:
- What habits you are trying to change with your product?
- Does your business model necessitate forming habits?
- Does your organization depend on customers coming back themselves or you need to use other means to drive engagement?
- Are you designing the product/service to help users derive pleasure from? How you can introduce more fun into your product design?
- Can you identify hooks in the services/products with which you engage a lot? And can you find the hooks in product you are designing?
- Think about the moral implications of designing for habits. Will users gain or lose from your addictive product.
- Can you identify the psychological benefits that customers may derive from your products?
What is The Hook Canvas?
Source: The Hook Model
Author Nir Eyal, in one of his bestseller book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products has introduced the Hook Model. It’s a radical method for product developers to understand the behavior science and architect successful solutions.
The Hook Model or Hook Canvas can help you build better products by influencing user behavior. The Hook Canvas or Framework includes four components namely, Trigger, Action, Variable Reward, and Investment. This framework connects your solution to customer’s problems with enough frequency so as to form a habit.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why The Hook Model should the core of your product strategy.
Why use Hook Canvas?
The Hooked framework lets you build habit-building products which persuades customers to come-back and use those products and services over and over again. You do not have to dependent on an aggressive message or costly advertising.
How does Hook framework work?
The basic idea of the Hook model is to create a habit forming loop. The four components in the loop are:
Triggers remind people to take an intended action. You need to ensure that your product has an appropriate external and internal trigger for users.
External Trigger: These usually are some sort of notifications which push people to visit a webpage or social media channel.
Internal Trigger: This trigger is something which a person feels or thinks. For example, if you feel bored you may be triggered to use Facebook.
Source: Strong Emotional Reaction
The starter questions which you can ask yourself about Triggers are:
- What are the applicable triggers for your various personas?
- What are the internal/external triggers to use your product/services?
- How will you identify if they are working?
- What methods will you employ to make them more effective?
- What existing triggers are common in your different personas and what you can replicate or learn from that?
The action is done in anticipation of a reward. It can be as simple as performing a search in Google or logging in to you Facebook account and scrolling through the feed. As a product designer, you need to make this minimum action as easy as possible.
According to Fogg behavior model there is an inverse relationship between ability and motivation. So, the harder is your Action, the more motivation you need to manufacture.
Source: Fogg behavior model
You can begin with following questions about your Actions:
- Have you minimized the effort needed to take anticipated action?
- What minimum action people need to take in expectation of reward?
3. Variable Reward
To make the users repeat their actions, a reward should follow. Beyond just helping users meet their objectives, you can use variable rewards to keep customers engaged.
You can do a lot of tuning to manufacture desire for the reward. See how multi-player video games create infinite variability through social interaction. Or when you scroll down the feed is a variable reward as you are not sure what you will see the next time your log in.
You can ask following questions to yourself about Rewards:
- How will you reward the customers?
- Is there exciting variability?
- Are the rewards for self or tribe (community) and how you can add numerous reward types?
Investment is the fourth component of the framework. As a product manager you need to get a user to put in time and efforts to tailor your products to their needs. The users have to set themselves for the next trigger, store values and create preferences.
For instance, if you interest a visitor to your webpage sign up for your newsletter, you are setting them up for the next trigger. This commitment causes them to come back to your product again when they are triggered again – which begins the habit-forming loop once again.
An Example of the Hook Model
An interesting example for Hook model is Facebook, as you can easily get habitual to it. It will include the four standard components of the hook’s canvas:
- Triggers: External triggers in this case may be people tagging your pictures, planning events with you or talking with you. The internal triggers may be that you are feeling bored and want to check what your friends are up to.
- Actions: The obvious action may be to create an account and add a few friends. You can also post if you like sharing things and then check compulsively to see if anyone likes it.
- Rewards: You may get likes and shares, may find old friends or get in touch with other friends.
- Investment: Your friends’ network grows on Facebook whereas your real life friends may be few. It becomes a part of how you and your friends meet and create relationships.
Habit design has an enormous potential and power. You must know how to harness the power of Hooks to improve people’s lives and closely knit it with your product. You can build better and engaging products by simply influencing user behavior.
If you are not still sure how you can apply this framework to your product, don’t lose hope. Every application doesn’t need to form a habit, you can also use pieces of this framework if you are building a tool you hope people will use without being prompted.
You can also improve your product or service by paying attention to customer’s feedback as unconscious behaviors also play a role in getting customers hooked. You can use the fundamentals of consumer psychology to build the right products by understanding what users tell you they want, or what they are unable to express.