The dream is to get customers to do what you want. Isn’t it? Aren’t we all trying to do this ultimately? Influencing consumer behaviour could be making them buy our product, register on our website or simply push the door and enter our retail store. I am sure you have asked yourself this question multiple times. I did it too, and the answer I got back was that the only way to “sell” is either give your product for free or give a really big discount. Aren’t we all heading there? All the funding being raised is being wasted to first acquire people and then to make sure people stick around. The large enterprises are spending a bigger share of their revenue on marketing and customer care. The real question is – can we do anything more than discounts and sales, especially when everyone else is doing it?
Let’s just talk about discount and sales. My husband had taken a free trial for an email tool that helped him send emails in bulk. I inquired if he had bought the subscription to which he replied, ‘my trial is about to get over and I love the tool but I will wait’. When asked why, he replied – ’I just received an email with a 25% discount coupon because I am one day away from the expiry day. I am quite sure they will send more discounts tomorrow or maybe when my trial expires.’ He came a week later excited to tell me that he got a whopping 50% off and he took the subscription. This made me think, Are we training our users to postpone purchase for a better offer? Also, are they already tuned to purchase only when there is a sale? The answer is most likely yes. Also, most of our revenue is earned during sale time so we are incentivised to call for a sale more often. There is more that is going wrong, we are giving discounts to all without any personalisation. We are flooding our users with offers without taking in any initial involvement from them. All this and more will lead us to a situation where even discounts will seize to work.
Rather, focus on habits.
The habitual patterns of decision making is a useful subject to analyse because this directly impacts how consumers spend money and why they purchase certain products. Wouldn’t it be great to influence the customer at a behavioural level to not just try your product but also use it often? The subject of behavioural science teaches us various theories and biases that can be used to design customer touch points in a way that your customer gets influenced in the right manner helping you achieve your business goals.
Consumer Behavioural Science theories: They work!
Let’s see a famous research conducted to understand willingness of people to put up a decent sized wooden board in front of their house to support a drive safely campaign in the neighbourhood. Researchers found rather unsurprisingly that very few people were willing to do so. However in a similar neighborhood close by, four times as many homeowners indicated that they would be willing to erect this unsightly billboard. Why? Because ten days previously, they had agreed to place a small postcard in the front window of their homes that signaled their support for a Drive Safely campaign. That small card was the initial commitment that led to a 400% increase in a much bigger but still consistent change. People like to be consistent with the things they have previously said or done. Consistency is activated by looking for, and asking for, small initial commitments that can be made. So when seeking to influence using the consistency principle, the detective of influence looks for voluntary, active, and public commitments and ideally gets those commitments in writing.
For example, one recent study reduced missed appointments at health centers by 18% simply by asking the patients rather than the staff to write down appointment details on the future appointment card.
How we applied this to influence consumer behaviour on a diet plan application?
This application lets you pick a free diet plan or a paid one. The free ones are generic and later is custom designed based on your age, weight, BMR and height. Once you have a plan to follow, the app helps you comply to the plan by helping you log your food, measures your physical activity level, sends reminders and ultimately helps you achieve your weight goal.
This application had a very low count of users who were buying paid custom diet plans. The app tried selling more custom plans by pushing offers and discounts via push notifications and email but the results were unsatisfactory. Getting inspired from the above consistency and commitment principle, we decided to create multiple touch points instead of one message that failed selling the plan. The first message was a simple yes/no question asking user if they were interested in losing weight.
Nudge 1: Are you planning to lose some weight? – Yes/No
After a day, we sent them a push sharing a success story, we also seeked permission to send such small recommendations on a daily basis.
Nudge 2: Alicia lost 50 pounds in 30 days by just drinking turmeric water in the mornings. Would you like some simple recommendations to help you lose weight faster ?
The above message is a smaller commitment compared to buying a custom diet plan and it is also one step towards our goal.
On the next visit, we showed a survey asking more details from the user. This was a critical step as the user was now investing time and information with us. This also gave users an illusion of personalisation.
Nudge 3: We can better recommend if you answer this survey.
Age ? ,
What is your weight loss goal for the next 30 days?
After a day, we sent a personalised message saying that a suitable diet plan is found and that he should speak to the nutritionist. The message showed the picture of the nutritionist with her qualifications. We are now using Social Proof and Authority principles of Behavioural Science. Showing Gena’s picture with ratings and sharing her goal medal from NYU creates credibility for Gena, ultimately for the app.
Nudge 4 : Meet Gena! Our Nutritionist who will help you understand plans to achieve your 5Kg goal in the next 30 days.
Gena is a gold medealist from NYU with 10 years of experience in helping people get fitter.
Gena is rated ***** on the app.
The last step here would be to give limited access to the custom plan. Just show few lines and ‘show more’ can take the user to the payment page.
Nudge 5 : We have a full proof diet plan for you. Would you like to start today? (Show more takes user to payment page).
We call it, ‘The 6 nudges Rule’.
So here is a good rule to follow, breakdown user’s journey into six intermediate steps every time you want to impact the consumer behaviour. Nudge him one step at a time using the principles above. You can give discounts too but not before the 5th step, the idea is that your user should have given in something to deserve this discount. This way the likeness of him using your offer and performing the purchase is higher. We have seen this do wonders for our clients. Try this in your app, website or your offline business today.