We had a discussion in a group – comprised of about 8-10 designers, researchers and students – on the topic of what we think engagement is and the reasons behind brand/product loyalty. As the discussion progressed, a trend started to form in the reasons why they would stay with a product. These reasons could then be broadly grouped as inertia, emotional, functional, and economical. Aside from the points written on the Post-its, there were other valuable points and thoughts which I have tried to structure the using a Fogg model, Skinner box and Element of Value Pyramid.
Legend for the Post-its’ colour:
Purple – What is engagement ?
Green – What made them stay with the product?
Blue – Category of features that extends user’s engagement
What made them stay?
The Fogg Behaviour Model uses three principal elements – motivation, ability and triggers, to predict user’s likeliness to perform a target action. You can find the academic article here. Pleasure and pain are one of the three components for motivation. User’s discomfort with their current state or pain points motivated them to start their journey with your product. To make the users stay with you, focus on the pleasure of doing or the value of solving the pain point. From the discussion, “Attractiveness” and the pleasure from “Human touch” are the reasons that made them stay. A simple analogy would be when I bought a pair of sports shoes to protect my heels from long distance running. The pain in my heels motivated me to buy the shoes but that would not made me to wear it again or buy additional pairs. The continual engagement would depend on the comfort or how attractive the shoes are. Most people do not see the pain as the reason to stay but the pleasure from doing it. Maybe if the product is the only one that solves their pain point.
The second component of motivation is Hope and Fear. Hope is the anticipation of something good happening. Treasure! Finding something that cannot be gotten elsewhere was the reason why one of us kept going back to Daiso. The chance, hope and possibility of finding something good at S$2 resembles the varied reward in operant conditioning by B.F. Skinner. We, like the mice in Skinner’s box, crave predictability and struggle to find patterns amongst the unpredictable. Variable schedule of rewards such as lucky draws is a brain’s cognitive nemesis. A brain prioritise the deduction of cause and effect over other functions like self-control and moderation. Operant conditioning creates habits, spurring users to act independently, without the need for external stimuli.
Fear, from the article, is the anticipation of loss. No one from the discussion mentioned fear as the reason to stay. Thorndike’s law of effect agrees with us. When an action has a painful, annoying or negative consequence, it is less likely to be repeated in the future. No one stays with a product if it is punishing or threatening them .
On the other hand, Inertia made it to one of the categories (See the blue Post it). Nostalgia – The wistful affection for a period in the past; longing for the good old times. Habit and routine. The ease and comfort of using the same things/procedure over and over again. The tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged make us stay. Minimal effort and time to maintain and use it. Who doesn’t like things easy so we can focus on the bigger challenges in your life?
How about the dread to learn a new system and the anxiety of making mistakes? Which brings us to the next component – ability.
Have you uninstall an mobile application that updates so often that you cannot recognise the interface anymore? Or, uninstalled the awesome free application because it is no longer free? Fogg listed 6 elements – Time, Money, Physical effort, Brain cycles, Social Deviance and non-routine. The more users have to invest in any or all of the elements, the more likely the changes would break their habits. In that case, how should you update the product to keep up with the users? One of us mentioned that she stayed with the product because it constantly updates to suit her needs. In that case how quickly do you have to evolve your product to fit their need or slowly to keep them within their comfort loop?
Yes! Sustainability of value.
What value does your product provide? Is it functional, emotional, life changing or socially impacting? Think of how the changes sustain or refine the product values. If the value of your application is to reduce cost and anxiety, would charging a subscription fee sustain the value? Eric and et al suggestion is that the more value you provides, the more relevant the values are, the more loyal your users will be. Check out the article here.
Without an appropriate trigger, actions will not occur even if both motivation and ability are present. Fogg explained in his paper that one of his goals is to practice the ukulele every day. He had the motivation and the ability to play it everyday. The instrument brought him fun, but some days he did not practice because he did not have well timed trigger.Likewise, many other actions do not happen because there are no triggers at the right moment.
We might like a certain product, service or object but the lack of trigger would not keep us in the loop.
A trigger can take many forms – an alarm that sounds, a text message, an announcement that a sale is ending, a growling stomach, an emotion, a person, a scene and so on. Whatever the form, successful triggers have three characteristics: First, we notice the trigger. Second, we associate the trigger with a target action. Third, the trigger happens when we are both motivated and able to perform the action.
It could be very simple. When I am feeling bored, I use Facebook. Feeling bored is my trigger and i associate boredom to Facebook. That motivates me to open up the application. Same goes to Instagram. I see something pretty and that becomes a trigger that makes me associate pretty images with Instagram so I open the application to capture it.
All these actions translates to “Return rate”, “Attention”, “Clicks” and “Conversion rate” and other measurable (See the purple Post it) that we can used to track the engagement.
Keep them happy, make things simple and provide useful value. When they forget, say hi again.
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