All entrepreneurs want their product to be a hit — to build something that users love and use daily, if not more frequently. But what is it about apps like Facebook, Snapchat, and Whatsapp that keeps users coming back for more?
In his recent talk at RocketSpace, Eyal discussed his Hook Model, which consists of four components necessary for products to connect with users' problems frequently enough for them to form a habit: Trigger, Action, Reward, Investment.
Below are six takeaways from Eyal's discussion, including a look at what each of these "hook" elements mean for entrepreneurs trying to build engaging technologies.
1. Know and create associations with your users' pains.
A trigger is either an internal or external cue that prompts a user to take action, and is often a painful emotion, such as fear, uncertainty, loneliness, or boredom. Products should focus around solving these pains. Try to find ways to associate your app with relief to a pain point.
2. Make it easy to take action.
Once a user identifies a trigger, the next step is to either ignore it or take action. People don't like pain, so they often take action. Your product should make that action as easy as possible. Simple actions include scrolling through a Pinterest feed or pressing play on a YouTube video. The easier it is to do, the more likely users are to take action.
3. Mix up the rewards.
Users anticipate a reward from taking action. Otherwise, there's no point! Whether it's feeling less bored, social acceptance, or receiving new information, rewards are a part of the hook. Eyal suggests, however, that rewards must be variable. People, as well as pigeons and mice, it turns out, are more likely to engage in the "action" when there's a bit of uncertainty as to what the outcome is, as a result of how the brain's reward center works.
4. Enable users to invest in the product experience.
Products become habit-forming when users find them irreplaceable and addictive. While physical products — such as furniture and clothing — devalue with time, great tech products appreciate in value, Eyal says. The more followers you have on Twitter or the more personal finance data you have on Mint, the more valuable you'll find the product to be. Likewise, users continue to be drawn in when each action they take "loads the next trigger," says Eyal. That is to say, by taking one action, you make it inevitable that you're going to use the product again. When you send a Whatsappmessage, for example, you're setting yourself up for the next notification — an external trigger to open the app back up and read the response.
5. Increase user frequency with content and community.
Looking at your product, you may think, "Shoot, my users only log in once every few months or years... How will I ever create a habit-forming product?" Maybe your technology deals with buying and selling homes, for example. Eyal suggests that entrepreneurs with infrequent use cases think about how to attach their products to actions that are habit-forming and frequent. Use "content or community," he says. Content, for example, could be a blog on things to do in the neighborhoods in which you sell homes. Building a community could entail throwing events that increase engagement with your target audience. In both cases, the hope is that when your audience is in the market for a home, you'll be the agent who's top of mind.
6. Know that engagement isn't all it takes.
Engagement isn't the only metric for startup success, Eyal cautions. When investing, he looks for "GEMs," companies that have "Growth, Engagement, and Monetization." If you don't have all three, get back to the drawing board.
Watch Nir Eyal's complete talk at RocketSpace on the "Hook Model" and how to build habit-forming technologies: