Do you ever wonder where that fabulous free download you offer really ends up?
Is it collecting dust on someone’s hard drive? Or being read and implemented?
You could be the best freakin’ strategist in the world. A mastermind at marketing. An award-winning writer. And you could create oodles of great ebooks, free reports, even high-end info products.
But if people don’t do something with your advice, then giving it is really a waste of everybody’s time.
If people don’t take action, they won’t see any results. And if they never see results, YOU will never see a testimonial (or, at least one with any substance).
So how do we get people to take action? How do we help them help themselves make positive change?
Funny you should ask…
The Trigger to Create New Habits
If you haven’t yet read the Heath Brothers’ lastest book, Switch, I highly recommend it.
They point out that “for things to change, somebody somewhere has to start acting differently.” In short, they’ve got to create new habits.
(I just heard you say, “Duh.”)
Sure it’s a simple idea, but not so easy to make happen.
We humans are wired to avoid change at all costs. You usually won’t catch us making changes unless we’re facing a LOT of pain.
And that simple fact is what makes creating new habits (like the ones you want your prospect to make) overwhelming hard.
According to B.J. Fogg, an experimental psychologist of Stanford University, there are three elements that must converge at the same moment for a behavior (especially a new behavior) to occur:
- Ability, and
- A Trigger (some sort of cue or call to action)
In the best case scenario, your prospects are already motivated to change, they just lack the ability (technical skill, time and or know-how) to make things happen.
That’s where YOU come in.
YOU are the trigger.
And according to Fogg there are 3 types of triggers:
- Facilitator – used when motivation is high, but ability is low
- Spark – used when ability is high, but motivation is low
- Signal – used when both ability and motivation are high
So to choose the best trigger, you need to know where your user/prospect stands in relation to the ability/motivation chain.
The Facilitator Trigger
Usually, if folks are visiting your site for the first time, they come because they’re searching for an answer to something specific. They’re highly motivated to find an answer, but may not be able to implement your advice for various reasons (e.g., lack of funds, technological know-how, time, etc.).
That means, odds are you should start with the first type of trigger (the facilitator, YOU) as a way to keep your user engaged and moving forward with the change.
A great example of a facilitated trigger would be an email from you very shortly (or even immediately) after your user downloads your eBook or other giveaway. Reach out to them and offer your help. See if they have any questions.
I recently got one of these check-in emails from PopSurvey. They wanted to make sure I was on track with my project and offered to help me with anything I needed to get the job done. Since I was – at that exact moment – up to my eyeballs in frustration, the email came at a very opportune time. I immediately dialed the phone number listed in the email signature and reached the gentleman directly (this was the CEO of the company!). I explained my challenge and he promised to have a solution for me by the end of the day. Later that day, I received another email that fixed the situation for me.
If I hadn’t received that email, I might have assumed there was nothing to be done and just given up on my project altogether (or, at least postponed it until the waves of frustration passed).
The Spark Trigger
If your prospect’s ability to take action is high, but their motivation is low, this is the trigger to focus on. It’s the one that uses emotions (like hope or fear) to work its magic.
You know that TV commercial for the prevention of cruelty to animals? Yes, the one with all of the sad puppy dogs. That’s a spark trigger.
The Signal Trigger
This is the trigger you go to when your prospect is both highly motivated AND has the ability to do something – they just keep forgetting to do it.
A great example would be that alarm you set on your TV to remind you when the game is about to start.
Create new habits via Gamification
Gamification: adding elements of games and game design
to non-game things (like business, education or health).
By now, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard of this trend they’re calling “gamification.”
Of course, the idea of adding things like points and badges (game elements) to something that’s not normally considered a game isn’t a new one. In fact, businesses have been gamifying things for years (how many airline miles have you collected? How many free coffees have you earned?).
But you’re hearing a lot more about it now because gamification is trending up in a BIG way. The gamification industry as a whole is predicted to grow to $2.8 Billion over the next four years (it currently stands at $242 million). That’s 1000% growth! (Might be a good area to look for new clients…amiright?!)
There are entire businesses where you can go and pay tens of thousands of dollars for an almost custom gamification platform to help you market better, hire better, train better…in short, engage better.
But we can’t all afford tens of thousands for the technology. At least, not yet.
And yes, there are a few interesting players in the WordPress plugin space (e.g., PunchTab and Rafflecopter).
But these free plugins are meant to be added to something that already exists – and that isn’t usually appropriate for most of us.
Gaming elements will do next to NOTHING if they are just tacked on at the last moment without being an intrinsic part of the campaign / product. Gamification by itself does NOT make people want to do things.
So how do you (and your little business) use some of these cutting edge (and apparently pretty pricey) techniques to trigger and/or motivate your prospects to take action?
First: start with the end in mind. In most cases, that end is an engaged and loyal customer.
At what points along the path of your sales funnel could you (and should you) aim for higher engagement? Where could you make things more…fun?
The Fun factor
“Whoever MUST play, cannot play” -Dirk Markham
Games must be voluntary. As soon as someone says you must do this, all the fun gets sucked right out of the room.
What makes things fun?
According to game expert Marc LeBlanc there are eight kinds of fun:
- Sensation – Game as sense-pleasure
- Fantasy – Game as make-believe
- Narrative – Game as unfolding story
- Challenge – Game as obstacle course
- Fellowship – Game as social framework
- Discovery – Game as uncharted territory
- Expression – Game as soap box
- Submission – Game as mindless pastime
When you can include the fun factor in how your offering works or is delivered, you will make it much more desirable (and less like hard work).
This is especially important if your product or service is complicated, new and different. Even if it’s just complicated, new and different to your prospect.
Lesson: If you know your users will have a big learning curve and need help making progress, adding fun to your facilitation will make the process feel easier and more like actual play.
One of the best examples of how this works is via the Adobe Photoshop software trial.
Trial users of Photoshop have 30 days to test the software before they decide to buy it. But if they can’t get it to work for them, they will abandon the trial and never buy. Adobe helps users with this via a gamified tutorial called Level Up – and trial users are given “missions” to complete which teach them how to use different aspects of the software. As they complete a mission, they’re given points they can redeem toward a discount on the software. Read more about there program here.
The Gamified Tribe
In preparation for my Prosperity’s Kitchen project (a 12-week reality web series that teaches start-ups and entrepreneurs how to market themselves online), I started a gamification experiment with a small group of my loyal blog readers (see The Test Kitchen Project).
The idea is to see what types of missions would see the greatest success – not just in terms of outcomes, but for engagement levels as well. We’re also testing which game elements work best.
As of this publish date, we’re just two weeks into the 8-week experiment, and so far the results look good. Enticing these readers to play a new game each week (facilitated on Facebook) hasn’t been too difficult. The fun factor is definitely there.
But beyond the fun, I made the WIFM (What’s-in-it-for-me) factor clear:
- Get free help with a current marketing challenge
- Have the chance to earn and win prizes
- Possibly learn something new in the process
The rules are simple and promote things like collaborative sharing of ideas, earning points and badges, as well as random (surprise) rewards.
The games help the players to learn and implement ideas that I write about on my blog every week. To date, we’ve focused on email list building, downloadable giveaways, and email newsletters – all things that my readers would like to get better at doing themselves.
How Would You Gamify a Free Download?
To be honest, I haven’t yet cracked the code on this one. My instincts tell me that we’ve got to change HOW the free information is delivered altogether. That a simple PDF isn’t quite enough.
Perhaps the download is replaced with a game, a quiz or some other more dynamic activity (like the gamified tribe example above).
At the very least, we should look at building in facilitator triggers. At a minimum, a series of follow-up emails that reminds our prospects that they’ve downloaded something and need to take action. Perhaps there’s one email that acts as a signal trigger (simple reminder) and another that inquires about ability – “where are you stuck? How can I help you?” (the facilitator).
Now I turn it to over to you. How could you bake some gamification into your own products or services? Ideas are everywhere.
Share yours in a comment below so we can help each other build more engaged and enlightened readers, customers and loyal fans.
Tea Silvestre (@TeaSilvestre, a.k.a. The Word Chef) is a gastronaut, marketing coach and the founder/producer of the ground-breaking edutainment web series, “Prosperity’s Kitchen.” You can learn more about the project and apply to be a contestant at ProsperitysKitchen.com.