The Psychology of Creating Repeat Customers for Any Business

Hooked How to Keep Customers Coming Back

Apple. Netflix. Starbucks. Amazon.

Chances are, you’ve bought something from each of these companies within the past few years. In fact, I’d be willing to guess that you’ve made multiple purchases from every one of these brilliant brands. I know I have.

There are several reasons why I’ve bought multiple products and services from these companies, but what’s important to note is that they have successfully made me a repeat customer and what’s more; I’m happy about it. These companies have worked very hard to become habit-forming by nature, and as a reward, they can rely on getting a certain amount of revenue from me every year with somewhat regularity.

With Apple, I truly love the products. Netflix has awesome original content and has become almost the only form of television I watch. Starbucks is everywhere and is incredibly convenient, consistent, and quick. Amazon carries almost everything (including the Kindle) at low prices and can ship it straight to my door in 2 days with Prime delivery.

As part of his upcoming CreativeLive Class, Hooked: How to Keep Customers Coming Back, Best-Selling Author and entrepreneur Nir Eyal is sharing with us the psychology behind how any business can maximize their ability to create repeat customers at every turn.

Nir Eyal on Stage CreativeLive Instructor Hooked How to Keep Customers Coming Back

“Today, just amassing millions of customers is no longer good enough,” Nir says. “Companies increasingly find that their economic value is a function of the strength of the habits they create.”

Repeat customers save your business time, resources, and most importantly give you the peace of mind to focus on creating the best products & services you’re capable of – without the worry of where your next dollar will come from.

This all sounds great, but how can we learn from the most successful addicting brands in the world, and apply the exact same principles they use, to our own businesses?

The Psychology of Creating Repeat Customers

First-to-Mind Wins

“A company that forms strong customer habits enjoys several benefits to its bottom line. For one, this type of company creates associations with ‘internal triggers’ in customers’ minds. That is to say, customers come to the website or store location without any external prompting,” Nir shares.

Whether it’s in the form of a Starbucks along your morning commute to work, or flipping on your favorite Netflix show every night simply because you love the way watching it makes you feel, these are prime examples of successful internal triggers.

“Instead of relying on expensive marketing or worrying about differentiation, habit-forming companies get customers to cue themselves to action by attaching their services to the customers’ daily routines and emotions. A cemented habit is when users subconsciously think, ‘I’m bored,’ and instantly Facebook comes to mind. They think, ‘I wonder what’s going on in the world?’ and before rationale thought occurs, Twitter is the answer. The first-to-mind solution wins,” Nir says.

The same principle applies to the way I shop for a new book. Without even thinking about it, my first instinct is to head over to Amazon and pick up a Kindle version of the book I want, so that I can read the book using the Kindle App from any of my *Apple* devices. I’m hooked.

Manufacturing Desire

How do companies create a connection with these internal cues needed to form habits? The answer: they manufacture desire.

As Nir illustrates, “fans of Mad Men are familiar with how the ad industry once created consumer desire during Madison Avenue’s golden era. Those days are now long gone. A distraction-filled world, with ad-wary consumers and a lack of ROI metrics, has rendered Don Draper’s big budget brainwashing useless to all but the biggest brands. Instead, the successful smaller companies today are manufacturing desire by guiding customers through a series of experiences designed to create habits. I call these experiences “Hooks,” and the more often customers run through them, the more likely they are to self-trigger.”

Here’s the Hooked Model Nir designed, to illustrate how the best businesses guide their customers through an experience of rewarding desired actions, and encouraging deeper investment.

Nir Eyal for CreativeLive the Hook Model Illustration

With my own online course business, my customers consistently come back for more content every time I release something new. I’ve applied some of Nir’s principles of providing genuine value and carefully giving my customers a feeling of accomplishment, so that they naturally want to keep coming back.

By getting your customers to continuously experience the feeling of reward at the end of a desired behavior for your business, they’ll begin to form internal triggers, which become attached to existing habits and behaviors of theirs. If you do this right, your customers will soon be internally triggered to think of your product or service every time they feel a certain way. In this way, the internal trigger becomes part of their routine behavior.

Nir wrote the book, Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products to help people understand what makes up habit-forming technology in many different industries. Nir’s experience in the video gaming and online advertising industries allowed him to make some very impressive insights.

Join Nir in his exciting CreativeLive Class, Hooked: How to Keep Customers Coming Back and learn more about how to manufacture desire within the minds of your customers, today.

Ryan Robinson FOLLOW >

Content marketing consultant to the world's top experts and growing startups. Online educator at where I share business advice and teach entrepreneurs how to start a blog and other side businesses. Check out my post on the best business ideas, read about how I validated a business idea in just 30 days, get my recommendations for the best business books, and check out my favorite motivational quotes.