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Getting Hooked On Behavior Change

By John Kenny, EVP, Group Director, Strategic Planning

Behavior change is at the heart of what Draftfcb delivers to its clients and their customers, and it is what motivates us every day. As part of our mission, Draftfcb Chicago recently hosted Nir Eyal’s “Hooked” workshop, an event focusing on how to design compelling products and experiences to “hook” users, drive frequent engagement, and result in a behavior change that becomes a new, long-term habit.
Nir is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Techcrunch contributor, and product designer. His Hooked model can be broken down into four steps: close triggers, simple actions, surprising rewards and deeper investment. Its blend of technology and behavioral psychology, in a particular sequence, has driven the success of many startup businesses.
For example, take LinkedIn. Close triggers are about combining a compelling consumer need with the media that brings the user as close to the product as possible. LinkedIn leveraged our need to find out about someone and the medium of SEO. That combination led most people to encounter LinkedIn as a Google search result — and use the service before ever hearing a word about LinkedIn.
The next step, a simple action, is harder than it appears. Trying something new is risky. Most marketers attempt to overcome hesitation by trying to make the service more motivating; but behavioral economists have long known that the best way to make an action more motivating is to make it simpler. For LinkedIn, that simpler action was asking you to sign up for an account to unlock the full view of the user’s profile.
Surprising rewards are what happen next, and here the “surprising” element is critical. Yes, marketers must deliver on what they promise, but surprising rewards are three times more motivating than predictable rewards. What was surprising about setting up a LinkedIn profile? Seeing other people checking out your profile, an ongoing reward that was delivered to you through your email, driving you to return to the site.
Finally, marketers having delivered a surprising reward are well placed to get users to do some work themselves, to share some personal or social capital that creates more frequent triggers, and motivate more complex actions or more motivating rewards. Our willingness to share information with others is far higher after they have done something for us, especially if their action was unanticipated. For LinkedIn, the bit of work was asking you to import your contacts, so that they could connect you with others, creating more frequent triggers, more complex actions (completing your profile, step by step) and more surprising rewards (who saw your profile today?).
For marketers trying to drive long-term behavior change, the Hooked model shows the power of the right sequence of behavioral and psychological steps to shift services, like LinkedIn, from something nice to have, to something we feel compelled to check out multiple times a day.