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What makes you click and tick? Why do you act the way that you do? When last did you catch yourself mindlessly scrolling through your social media? You let out a hearty laugh, casually glance at the clock, and “Shoot it’s 3 am”. Hmm guilty right?

I’m sure it didn’t occur to you that you’ve formed a habit cycle around social media. Yes, companies are building multi-million dollar products by leveraging your habits.

They figured out what makes you as a user click and tick.

After reading this article you’ll know how to make users click and tick. Like company Y in the photo below you hit them right where it itches instead of forcing the product down the user’s throat like company X above.

Translates to “You’ve caught me” . This is you right now . . )

In building user-forming products, the first point of contact between user and product is very paramount to catching their attention and retaining it. The human attention span is estimated to be 8.25 seconds, as a product manager how do you utilize that 8.25 seconds to optimize your product visibility?

Maybe by utilizing marketing tools to get across to the right people before expanding to acquire new users? If we did this, maybe catching their attention will be easier.

So how exactly do you make users click and tick, at what point do they meet your product and what type of action do you want them to take? Let’s start by learning what tick and click mean.

Click: get their attention

Tick: something that causes someone to behave in a certain way. So what do you do to make them act the way you want them to act?

When building a product these are important questions that need to be answered by your product. There is something I call the flip coin reaction when putting out a product. In flipping a coin there are 2 possibilities, in building these are the 2 possible outcomes. :

  1. Negative: Ignore
  2. Positive : Curious , share, Free trial, Buy.

The second is always the aim. To attain this in the click and tick theory it is only right to use the hook framework and Charles Duhigg’s

3 components of habit, cue , routine and reward as a case study just like i have been for the last 2 articles.

The Hook Model: a four-phase process that companies use to form habits. Source:

Trigger : This tells us what to do next and it is divided into the external and internal trigger.

External trigger: things in our environment that tells us what to do, an example is an ad with an action word “sign up” .

Internal trigger: Info on what to do next is stored as a memory inside the user’s head, mostly as emotions and they’re mostly negative ; bored, fatigued, dissatisfied. When you feel these emotions, you turn to the product with little or no conscious thought. You feel bored and to quench that feeling, you turn to spotify , that there is a cue.

One reason people use any product is to modulate our mood , make us feel something different.

— Nir Eyal

During a presentation by Nir Eyal, he mentioned a finding by BJ Fogg that states for any singular behavior to occur we need 3 things at the same time.

  1. Sufficient motivation.
  2. Ability.
  3. Trigger.

So we concentrate on “ability” here. Ability is the bridge between the cue and the reward- the trigger and action.

There are factors of ability,

  1. Decrease how much time the action takes.
  2. How much money.
  3. How much physical effort is required, brain cycles when it takes to get the action done.

Because the harder something is to understand, the less likely the event is to occur.

The last phase which is the investment, is where a user puts something into the product in anticipation of a future benefit. The purpose of the investment is to increase the likelihood of the next phase through the hook. The purpose of the hook is to keep users in a habit loop, so it’s an unending loop. After the first pass through the hook, the next trigger is loaded.

For example, sending a message on WhatsApp and waiting for a reply. This produces some sort of anticipation and prompts you to go through the hook again. But when the expected reward does not match the reward at hand, there is a discontinuity in the hook.

It is not the best product that wins, its the best product that captures the monopoly of the mind, the thing that we turn to with little or no conscious thought, that’s what captures the market.

— Nir Eyal

Although research has shown that only a cue and reward are not enough. Only when your brain starts expecting the reward, craving endorphins, a sense of accomplishment. Consumers need some kind of signal that a product is working.

As the product is used, data is continuously collected. Utilizing this data to make the experience better for users. It customizes the product for use and makes it harder to leave.


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