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Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products

Lesson 5 of 14

The Psychology of Effective Triggers

Nir Eyal

Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products

Nir Eyal

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Lesson Info

5. The Psychology of Effective Triggers

Lesson Info

The Psychology of Effective Triggers

So let's dive in to the hook model now that we've set the stage we know hopefully everybody has that one behavior that they want to turn into a habit just to be clear. By the way, sometimes I get cos that's say to me, you know, we want users that habit that we want to create is a healthy lifestyle or we want people to save more money writes very like altruistic and it's great it's wonderful but those aren't behaviors there's a lifestyles right that's not a behavior what I want you to do and that that question we asked earlier what's the behavior you want to turn into a habit I want that to be something very concrete, right? A singular action open the app check the email, go to my website, give me a call whatever it is that that the screen action that you want people to do has to be very concrete, very small. Okay, it's, not a bunch of behaviors it's one singular action that we do with little or no conscious thought. Okay, everybody have that alright. Terrific. So let's, start working t...

hrough the four steps of the hook model. Every hook has these four steps of a trigger on action, a reward and investment, and so we're going to get kicked off with the trigger phase the trigger phase is a cue it tells us what to do next and these triggers come in two flavors to types if you will we have our external triggers and we have internal triggers now external triggers you'll be very familiar with these are things in our environment we see these everyday things that tell us what to do next where the information for what to dio is in the trigger itself so click here by now play this a friend telling you through word of mouth about this great new app or website or or person you should you should give a call to all of these things are external trigger they tell us what to do next by giving us a piece of information so product people, entrepreneurs we know all about these external triggers you see these everyday we integrate them into our products all the time but I find that product people don't consider barely enough the other type of trigger the internal trigger internal triggers are things that tell us what to do next they prompt the next behavior but the information for what to do next is not found in the trigger itself as is the case of the external trigger the information for what to do next is stored as a memory or an association inside the user's head so what we do when we're in a particular situation when we partake in a routine when we're around certain people or most frequently when we engage in certain emotions dictates what we do next dictates this the technologies of solutions, the products we turn tio with little or no conscious thought and it turns out the most frequent internal triggers are these emotions but not just any emotion turns out they are negative emotions negative emotions make for the most frequent internal triggers so what we do when we're feeling bored or lonely or lost or indecisive or fatigue or uncertain or sad what we do when we experience these negative emotions dictate the solutions we turn tio with little or no conscious thought part of the evidence that shows us that this is the case comes to us from a study that found that people suffering from depression check email more now think about that for a man it's a little strange, right? Why would people suffering from clinical depression? Check email more what's going on here? Well, it turns out that what the psychologists found in the study was that people suffering from clinical depression experience what's called negative vaillant states they feel down more frequently than the rest of population. And so what are they doing to boost their mood to be taken out of that negative vaillant state? They're turning to their devices they're checking email more often than the rest of population and if we're honest with ourselves we all do this to some extent don't we let me ask you what website what after we turn tio when we're feeling lonely where do we go facebook of course what about when we're unsure before we scanned our brains to see if we know the answer what are we doing? We go go it right and what about when we're feeling bored you know, between two and four o'clock in the afternoon you have that big project you don't feel like working on right now where do you go? You check youtube exactly you check you've made but maybe other solutions teo cure boredom right? You check news sites and stock prices and pinterest and fashion magazines right there's all these solutions to this painful internal trigger of boredom we don't like that sensation of boredom and we seek to be taken out of that negative vaillant state and before we actually process what's going on or why we're doing what we're doing we're using this solution's again out of habit with little or no conscious thought so what do we do with this? I see many of you kind of grinning and saying oh, you know, I guess I do kind of use these products when I'm feeling these emotions but how do we make this useful how do we help people live better lives? How do we grow our businesses knowing about the importance of these internal triggers? Well it comes down to fundamentally understanding what is your users itch what's the pain point what's the negative emotion what the routine the situation that prompts them to use your product with little or no conscious thought it's very difficult to build habit forming product unless you understand what is your users itch what is that internal trigger now there are many ways to try and figure out what your users which might be what might be that internal trigger one method that I've I've heard jack dorsey talk about jack dorsey is the co founder of twitter and square uh what what jack doesn't his company's this technique that's been around for quite a while it's called building a user and aaron live and jack talks about this as this as this beautiful technique he talks about building almost writing a play around how your user how your customer would interact with your product or service right he talks about how they know exactly where the customer is and what they do and then what they do next after that that leads them to use their product with little no conscious thought okay they write this this narrative this play in order to determine where and why the customer would use this product frequently in their day now that technique is one technique that will actually explore today around how to find your users internal trigger but I wantto take a bit of a detour to show you what happens when we get the internal trigger wrong let me take you back to nineteen. Fifty two. Betty crocker had just come off the tremendous success of this quick. And we know what this quick is it's that yellow jar stuff. It's powder. You put water in the in the jug, you shake it around, you can make instant pancakes. All right, every nobis quick. Well, nineteen fifty two. Betty crocker had this tremendous success of this quick and at the time, this was amazing technological breakthrough because they had figured out how to dehydrate a lot of these ingredients. So all you had to do was add water, and they thought, well, let's take the exact same technology and make this instant cake mix right powder cake mixture said water, tada instant cake. And they had assumed that the internal trigger that it's the reason that people make instant cake mix would be the exact same internal trigger as why people made pancakes. And of course, the reason people make pancakes is because they're hungry. They're in a rush. They gotta get their kids off to school very quickly. So just add water was perfect, right? But why do we make cake? What we do, what what's the real reason, uh, special occasion, exactly it's something we do to give and receive love two people we care about it's not just about filling our bellies it's not about hunger as was the case with this quick it's about giving and receiving love from people we care about so it turned out that the same exact technology proved to be a disaster. Nobody bought betty crocker's instant cake mix because they had gotten the wrong internal trigger. So what did they do? How did betty crocker fix this problem? Sure somebody knows the answer to this they added they added an egg think about this we call this in industry parlance we call that deprecating a feature think about they made the product worse, right? Powdered eggs were available and yet till this very day they took out the powdered eggs so that you is the consumer have to add your own farm fresh egg, which finally scratches this itch of making a product that is worthy of giving and receiving love to my family. But it only comes from understanding your users it by truly understanding what problem is the user coming to solve that you can build the right product of solution? Because this isn't just some marketing veneer? This isn't something that we do after the products services built. This defines what goes into your product the internal trigger defines what features go in and what features go out of your product or service writes all about understanding that internal trigger and scratching that users itch so let's do another case study here, let's fast forward from nineteen fifty two we're gonna time travel to modern day and take a look at instagram how many of you use instagram? Oh, terrific! A lot of people fan! Fantastic! So let's, take a look at what made instagram such a habit forming product first, take it let's! Take a look at instagrams external triggers how did most people how did most people first find out about instrument? What channels and people use to find out about instagram? Got a photo from a friend? Get a photo from a friend post on facebook, facebook, twitter people posted onto these channels and those posts came with an external trigger some information that said, hey, check out my photo on instagram you clicked on that link and now you installed the app on your phone, right? So now you've got the app I count on your home screen that's an external trigger, and now you start also getting notifications from your friends, right? These notifications from real people, those are all examples of external triggers a cz well, now let's talk about instagrams internal triggers she did you say, use instagram a lot, I use a little a little do you remember the last time you took a picture of with instagram by chance? What's the thing that comes to mind that you took a picture of this they're coffee coffee all right terrific great example so she could has this cup of coffee she decides to take a picture of it with instagram now I'm guessing that she got that cup of coffee did not say she could take a picture of me with instagram right? There was no information there to tell she go what to do and yet she had this associations she had this memory she had this cue that when there's this moment in my life was it a good cup of coffee it must have been right ah beautiful lot right with some amazing lotta yard innit? Well that's something worth capturing and that fear of losing the moment that fear that this is going to be gone and I'm not going to capture I'm not going to save it that's the internal trigger that's the prompt at with no other information got she could tow open up instagram as opposed to any number of other solutions and of course, instagram winds now speaking off when I talk about capturing the moment in the photography space, what other company comes to mind think twenty thirty years ago what other company comes to mind? Kodak right? The kodak moment we all remember the kodak moment many of us saw these commercials when we were kids remember these commercials that kodak had they were always these incredibly schmaltzy commercials, right? The puppy dogs running through the grass and the kids who would someday leave the empty nest and my personal favorite commercial was the one they always ran of grandma blowing out perhaps her last birthday candles remember this commercial? I'm not making up these aerial commercials, right? Why did kodak spend billions of dollars and almost one hundred years teaching people about the kodak moment? Well, they wanted to create this mental association that when you see a moment like this in your life, captured before disappears forever and what took kodak almost one hundred years and billions of dollars instagram did with twelve, people in eighteen months by having us users teach other users what the instagram moment is all about. But of course, instagram khun do things that kodak never could write because instagram is also a social network it's not just about capturing those pictures it's also about this community we form, so the more we passed through instagrams hook, the more I begin to associate its use with other internal triggers, for example, when we're feeling bored or lonely or foam oh what's for mo fear of missing out, you know that's actually a really word as a two years ago it's actually in the marriage webster dictionary, right? So foam oh, the fear of missing out feels bad, it's, a negative vaillant state. We don't like that sensation that we might be missing out. And, of course, the solution to that discomfort is found in our pockets with this app that we carry around with us.

Class Description

Customers who come back save you time and money. You don’t have to expend as much energy attracting them – they already know you and what you do – and they are a more predictable source of revenue. Learn the science of creating a repeat customer in Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products.

Nir is a writer and thinker whose primary focus is helping businesses unlock the power of habits. In this class, he’ll teach you how to build products and experiences that are inherently “sticky.” 

You’ll learn:

  • The psychology of triggers and how to build them into your product/service
  • How to use variable rewards to increase engagement
  • The stages of habit formation and how to optimize them for better retention

Nir will teach you how habits develop and he’ll show you how to apply those insights to your business – no matter what kind of service or products you sell. You’ll also learn about the common design patterns of habit-forming products.

If you want to lower the cost of doing business by increasing the number of repeat customers you work with, don’t miss Hooked: How To Build Habit-Forming Products. 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Nir Eyal - Hooked Workbook.pdf

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a Creativelive Student

The information presented by Nir was excellent and pertinent to today's evolution of business development and success. This was beyond my expectation. There was great material that was stimulating and engaging.

Jason Casher

Loved it! Was thorough and gave a strong sense of direction, as well as clear methods to check to see if you are on right track.


Nir Eyal is great! Insightful, interesting course on how habits are created, established and reinforced.