Tom Nason Team : Project Manager Tags : Technology Business Online Trends Management

Unleashing the power of habit formation in 4 steps

Tom Nason Team : Project Manager Tags : Technology Business Online Trends Management

Every entrepreneur dreams of developing a product that instantly takes off. One with an exponentially expanding user base. The next Twitter, Facebook, Zynga, Stripe, Airbnb.

Success depends on repeat user engagement, that's no secret. You need users to WANT to return daily, without having to nag them.

If you have a killer product then you're off to a good start but how do you begin to embed yourself in their daily routine?

Nir Eyal, an expert in the field of behaviour design and habit formation, recently published a book documenting what he claims to be the secret sauce in his recipe for habit formation - The Hook.

The hook - Courtesy Nir Eyal

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The hook consists of 4 key components:

  1. Trigger
    A simple external cue like an email or notification is great but a more personal, emotional internal trigger like loneliness or boredom is even more effective.
  2. Action
    What do we want the user to do now that we have their attention? Visit our site, read and article, open our app?
  3. Reward
    How do we scratch their itch? Variable rewards add an element of mystery and keep the user intrigued. If they pass through the hook again what will the reward be?
  4. Investment
    The user feels satisfied and we're now in a good position to gently ask them to give us something in return. Investments might come in the form of time, data, effort, social capital or money. Inviting friends, stating preferences, building virtual assets, and learning to use new features are all commitments that improve the service for the user and benefit us.

With each pass through the hook the bond with the product becomes stronger and, if the frequency of return is high enough, a habit begins to form.

This psychology can be applied to any industry and if you think about the digital products or services that you use on a daily basis you'll likely spot a hook or two of your own. If you did you're probably feeling a little manipulated and you should, which raises important point. Social responsibility. If you have the power to impact user's lives, ensure that you are improving them in some way.

Manipulate for good, not solely for profit.

Check out more of Nir Eyal's work at