Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Nir Eyal’s Required Reading

strategy+business, March 8, 2017

by Theodore Kinni

Nir Eyal teaches companies how to hook customers. When he says hook, he doesn’t mean entice or engage — he means designing products that are habit-forming.

“Habit-forming products change user behavior and create unprompted user engagement,” Eyal explains. “The aim is to influence customers to use your product on their own, again and again, without relying on overt calls to action such as ads or promotions. Once a habit is formed, the user is automatically triggered to use the product during routine events such as wanting to kill time while standing in line.”

Eyal first got interested in habit-forming products in 2008, as cofounder and CEO of AdNectar, a platform for advertisers trying to reach social gamers. In the process of launching the company, he became intrigued with the behavioral influence that gaming sites and other social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, exerted on users.

After AdNectar was acquired by Lockerz in 2011, Eyal took a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of habit formation. He taught at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. He invested in and consulted with companies seeking to hook customers. Eyal encapsulated his findings in the best-selling book Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products (Portfolio, 2014), which details the Hook Model, a four-step cycle for creating habit-forming products.

When I reviewed Hooked a couple years ago, it raised a few eyebrows: The ethical line between creating a habit and creating an addiction seemed too thin to some readers. It’s a common response and one that Eyal, like other influence experts such as Robert Cialdini and nudger Cass Sunstein, takes pains to address. “Let’s admit it: We are all in the persuasion business…[but] the power to build persuasive products should be used with caution,” Eyal warns.

One of Eyal’s motivations for developing the Hook Model and writing Hooked was his own frustration with the lack of information on the topic for product designers. When I asked him about the books that had influenced him, he shared the following four titles. See the titles here.

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