Influencing Behavior to Win New Customers

By Vinnie Ma, Senior Director of Product Management, Tapad 

“People are generally resistant to teaching and training because it requires effort. This clashes with the natural wiring of human adults: We are fundamentally lazy.”  -- B.J. Fogg

This axiom from psychologist and founder of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford, B.J. Fogg, has always stood out to me. In particular, because it highlights the need for and power of simplicity. For marketers, this is a helpful reminder that however intricate and detailed our campaign strategies may be, consumers have a fundamental appreciation for simplicity. Beyond providing these insights on consumer behavior, Fogg’s research also has an impact on how we design consumer experiences meant to lead to a desired action.

I’ve worked in product management for 10 years and have found the Fogg Behavior Model to be very helpful in designing meaningful and impactful user experiences. The basic tenet is that getting someone to do something you want them to do, such as clicking an ad or filling out a form, can be summarized by the formula b=mat. In this formula, b equals behavior and mat stands for motivation, ability, and triggers. At a high level, this means behavior is the result of those three elements converging at the same moment.

This model is very helpful in identifying why consumers did or didn’t exhibit a certain behavior. It causes you to look back and reassess what part of the formula to adjust in order to achieve that behavior. For example, it could mean you need to:

  • Amplify the individual’s motivation for doing the behavior, either intrinsically or extrinsically

  • Enhance their ability to perform the behavior (and make it easier to do)

  • Increase the number of triggers leading to the desirable behavior

Fogg’s theory converts smoothly into the realm of advertising as well. If you are not achieving the consumer behavior you hoped for, consider how the three elements relate to your campaign. At Tapad, we’ve taken these elements into account and actually have a product suite that coincides with each one. For example:

  • Sequential messaging and custom creative can help test which motivational factors are most compelling and can lead to a desired behavior. For example, different creative types can have a different effect on a consumer’s decision to take action. Factors such as the interactive nature of the creative unit, the ease and effortlessness of the overall experience (i.e. viewing vertical video on mobile), and the clarity of the call to action can all have a great influence on the consumer’s motivation. With Jenny Craig, our analytics tools found that their target audience exhibited certain traits, such as looking for a fresh start after a big life event (break-up or divorce) and appreciating quality food and great meals. We used these insights to test various creative messaging and found what motivates these target audiences to take action.

  • Creative units such as Tapad’s Video Max enable the consumer’s ability to perform a certain behavior. This is because Tapad’s Video Max creates a seamless, engaging, full-screen experience, allowing users to execute on a behavior without disrupting their mobile or desktop activity.

  • One of the most important aspects of the triggers (e.g. a brand’s ad) is the timing of it. Tapad’s Audience Magnifier Analytics allows you to better understand the impact of time on a consumer’s behavior. More specifically, it provides insights on how your consumer's behavior changes across time and, prior to a purchase and helps you segment general lifestyle contextual behaviors vs. more in-market behaviors. As consumers go through different phases in life, their interests and purchasing behaviors change accordingly and, in many cases, rapidly. As a result, it’s of paramount importance to understand your target consumer’s current stage of life and deliver the right ad to them, at the right time.

While campaigns are more nuanced beyond the b=mat model, we’ve found it’s a helpful tool in understanding consumer behavior. Consumers’ whims change by the day, so having a flexible, but reliable, approach can go a long way in adjusting your strategies accordingly.

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