Get Customers Hooked

Chris Michael Harris, Executive Producer


Are you the type of person who gets distracted quickly? Is focusing on one thing a hard thing for you to do? Do you want to be empowered as a business owner?

Nir Eyal, the author of the books Indistractable and Hooked shared his thoughts during an interview I had with him.

Let’s think about the most immediate example before we get started.

Our handheld devices.

Elon Musk has said we are already effectively cyborgs because of our attachment to these pocket addictions.

When the devices in our lives become a part of our internal triggers, there is a constant and uncontrollable urge to continually check your device even if a notification was not received.

What’s interesting to note is that according to Gary Keller, four hours a day is what you need on your one thing. That one thing is going to grow your business or change your life. By doing so, you’re going to create the momentum you seek. 

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

This is where it gets wild.

Assuming you have a total of 120 sessions of checking your phone (which is currently the average for human adults) a day with an average of 2 minutes per session—there’s your four hours right there.

And this is why people become experts at using their phones and not necessarily experts at growing their businesses, improving their relationships, and flat out living their lives.

If you are feeling uncertain, fearful, or lonely, that only furthers the chances you will reach for that device to satiate that discomfort.

The more you form that neuro-link, it then becomes what we do to alleviate pain. Whether it’s too much booze, too much football, too much Facebook, whatever it might be. You have to realize the reason why you are turning to these distractions. It is likely to relieve some sort of deep, emotional desire.

Photo by William Hook on Unsplash

However, this does not imply that there is something wrong with you if you get distracted easily. It’s just that you haven’t learned how to regulate these emotions healthily.

There are two categories of people:

The Blamers

These are the people who blame external factors— technology destroys relationships, the workplace is the cause of depression; it’s because of the emails; that’s why you are angry at everyone.

We hear these types of things all the time. But blaming it all away does not help. For example, you complaining about the coronavirus isn’t going to make it go away.

The Shamers

It also doesn’t make sense to shame. Like how ashamed you are at yourself for getting distracted? How there might be something wrong with you because of it and how you must be broken in some way. That doesn’t work either.

Instead, you have to be what we call a claimer. And this is an essential point because people don’t realize that you cannot control your emotions. You can’t tell yourself to feel a certain way and then magically demand that it happen.

You can, however, decide how you will respond to that impulse. 

You claim responsibility being a claimer and react to them in a new and better way. 

“You have to be what we call a claimer. And this is an essential point because people don’t realize that you cannot control your emotions.

Nir’s work at Stanford about Apps that have people “Hooked.”

Attempts to democratize the techniques that are used by social media and gaming companies to get people hooked.

What if we could use those same methods to help people exercise more? And that’s what happened since hooked was published five years ago.

The world’s most extensive educational software went public a few months ago. They’re doing amazing things by getting hooked. A kid’s hooked too.

Companies like the New York Times, who used the techniques defined in “Hooked,” got people engaged in regularly reading the news.

So it’s really about how we can use these techniques to help form good habits in our lives through our products.

What to do if your business has Utility but not Frequency?

It is about building habit-forming products. The criteria that differentiate what prenup product can become a habit is Frequency.

So if your product is something that is a one-time use product or something bought very infrequently, that might not be the right candidate. 

BUT! Don’t fret.

There are two ways to do this if you have a business where the product doesn’t have enough Frequency. Nir calls it as the two Cs—content and community.

Photo by Hunters Race on Unsplash

1. Content

Williams Sonoma is a great example of this. He has a company that sells cookware— pots and pans, and all kinds of cooking supplies. But they realize that people do not buy cooking supplies frequently enough to form a habit. 

So what did they do? 

They started a website called, which has been rated consistently as one of the best cooking-related sites on the web. They have created this habit of creating and helping people consume their content frequently, twice a day.

They understand this mantra that monetization is a result of the engagement, not the other way around.

2. Community

If you can create a content consumption habit, you can also create a community habit. Take Christmas ornaments, for example; these are not something that people buy every week. 

 There are 300,000 Americans who are members of the hallmark keepsake ornament club. And believe it or not, in the middle of July, you will see people lined up in front of these hallmark stores to buy Christmas warrants.

 How can that be?

 This is because of Hallmark’s ingenuity. Part of the benefits of being a member of the Hallmark keepsake ornament club is that when they have a shipment of new Christmas ornaments, you as a member are invited to help unpack the shipment.

There’s that, and there’s the fact that your friends will be there as well. You will be more inclined to be there apart from the stuff that they are unpacking.

 Basically, they are selling Christmas ornaments products, but the value is the community of connecting with other people.

 Can you do this online?

 Yes, you can. 

 This is not limited to the offline community.

Apply the same principle online to achieve this so your consumer will inculcate your product’s habit of engaging.

 The byproduct of all that engagement with the community monetization is a result of participation when it’s time to get Christmas ornaments.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

What are some of the biggest mistakes with the Hook Model?

What do you think is your biggest mistake when it comes to consolidating ideas?

The psychology aspect is something that most people fundamentally came across. You have to understand human beings at a core level. That is vital information that you should note as a marketer.

A lot of companies are doing what the competition is doing or what the hippo said. They do whatever the hippo—the highest-paid person’s opinion says. 

Customer feedback is incredibly important. We can’t skip that step. But before we do any of that stuff.

Remember the first step:

Understand the psychology of why people do what they do so that we can come up with appropriate hypotheses. If you want just to copy what the competition is doing, you’re always going to be a step behind.

There are different factors in consumer psychology. If you want to test something based on this hypothesis, put it to the test.

That’s how we generate the kind of ideas that create results before anyone understands why they work, and we keep that a secret to ourselves. 

Now, not every idea is going to work, but the point is if you can be the person who generates more ideas and puts them through this build, measure, learn, loop faster than your competition, some of those ideas are going to be revolutionary.

They’re going to be amazing things. But it all has to start with where you generate hard prophecies.

Instead of even listening to your customer, go back to the fundamental principles of consumer psychology—Why do people do what they do?

How do you know if your Hook Model is working or not?

So, where the hook model is beneficial is either in the very early stages when you know there’s no product at all and before you commit any code.

Before you do anything, ask yourself if your product meets this archetype of a habit-forming product, and there are only five critical questions you need to ask to determine that. 

  1. What are the key parts of the hook model?
  2. What element is missing?
  3. Do you have an excellent internal trigger?
  4. Is the external trigger appropriate times?
  5. Is the action as simple as it can lead to a reward?

The next step is the reward fulfilling and yet leaves the user wanting more.

Finally, what work the user does to increase the likelihood of the next pass through the Hook? And you can see right away which part of your hook model is deficient in some way. Then what you do is generate hypotheses. 

When you think of the ways to improve the variable rewards or scratch the user’s internal trigger in whatever form, then the method you use is called cohort analysis—this is used by several companies now.

Companies like Amplitude, for example, provide these dashboards where we define what a habitual user looks like, and every product is going to be different.

So one company says, you need somebody to use this product multiple times a day.

If you’re a social network or a new service, you would expect a habituated user to use it many times a day. Other products might only be once a week, which is fine, whatever that level of Frequency is. 

What percentage of your user base is currently habituated? 2% 5% 10% 20% what is it? Then you make the change.

You improve the hook model in some way based on those hypotheses that we generated, and then you’ll see, for this cohort of people who now we’re exposed to the new user interface.

After the changes, did that percentage of habituated users go up, go down, or stay the same? If it went down, then go back to the last version. If it went up well, then that’s great. Now you’re in the right direction.

I hope this enlightens you!

Nir Eyal just published the five-year edition of the new version of hooked didn’t change all that much in terms of the fundamental model. But there’s an additional case study in there, no ads and some other neat tidbits. It’s called Hook, how to build habit-forming products. His second book is called “Indistractable,” how to control your attention and choose your life. 

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