28 Jul Hooked on Qualifirst

hookedWhen you build a good website, it is no longer a tool. It actually becomes part of the products and services  that you offer.

Building a website is unlike any other marketing tool that has existed before. It changes the way you interact with your customers in a fundamental way. 

There are numerous steps that lead a customer to a purchase. There is the Trigger, the Action, the Variable Reward, and the Investment. A website built with a proper marketing strategy can amplify each step, and when it does so, it becomes a part of the product.

The Trigger

The trigger is what makes the customer think of Qualifirst. Two examples of this could be when a customer actually runs out of a product or when they start looking for a new product.  A website can trigger a desire to explore new products, get ideas, or find out about ingredients or nutritional facts. A trigger could also be a well-timed email or text from Qualifirst sent to members of an opt-in mailing list. In these circumstances, Qualifirst shifts from being top of mind very rarely to becoming the go to place every time a customer has a question about food.

The Action

This is the  act of ordering. Traditionally this act consisted of phoning in an order. More recently it involved sending an email. A website makes it possible for a customer to place an order at any time through any device, instantly receiving answers to their questions.

Variable Reward

The human body experiences a surge of the neurotransmitter dopamine when we expect a reward. Introducing variability multiplies that effect while activating parts of the brain associated with wanting and desire. The most common examples of variable reward and its effect on people can be seen in casino slot machines and the lottery. In both cases, reward is inconsistent and rare, but provides sufficient incentive, anticipation and pleasure to continue the action of betting. A commerce site such as ours cannot really provide our customers with any variable reward, but with a website we can give customers suggestions and ideas that they might not have expected.  It’s not easy yet but at least it’s possible.


The investment is some type of work that the customer has to put in to the transaction. This might be time, data, social capital, money, or effort. This is done to improve the service the next time around. Learning to use new features or products , and stating preferences are two investments a customer can make to improve their future experiences. Real-world examples include a chef developing recipes with our products, or a retail store creating a consumer base for our items. In terms of the Qualifirst website, customer investment would equate to their creating a personalised space on the site, where they create and curate lists of their favorite products, wish lists,  even menu items. When a company website is able to create such a personalised experience, it makes the customer reluctant to switch.

The message here is that technology is changing how we do business in a way no other innovation has ever done.  This is why technology is actually becoming a part of your product no matter what you sell.

These ideas were inspired by the book HOOKED: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, by Nir Eyal. Find it on Amazon here.  This is a book that also comes with homework which I have shared with my team. I am looking forward to working alongside my team to discover the answers that Nir has put forth in the following questions.

GENERAL Questions

  • What habits does your business model require?
  • What problem are users turning to your product to solve?
  • How do users currently solve that problem and why does it need a solution?
  • How frequently do you expect users to engage with your product?
  • What user behavior do you want to make into a habit?


  • Who is your product’s user?
  • What is the user doing right before your intended habit?
  • Which internal trigger your user experience most frequently?
  • Finish the narrative: “Every time user [internal trigger]. He [first action of the intended habit]
  • What might be places and times to send an external trigger?
  • How can you couple an external trigger as closely as possible to when the user’s internal trigger fires?
  • Imagine crazy, or currently impossible, ideas for ways to trigger your user (wearable computers, biometric sensors, carrier pigeons, etc.)


  • Walk through the path you user would take to use your product or service, beginning from the time they feel their internal trigger to the point where they receive their expected outcome.
    • How many steps does it take before users obtain the reward they came for?
    • How does this process compare with the simplicity of alternative products that deliver similar rewards (competitors)?
  • Which resources are limiting your user’s ability to perform the action? Time, Too confusing, Money, Outside the norm, Physical effort, Too New(non-routine)
  • How would you apply heuristics and biases to improve your product?


  • Are there any moments of delight or surprise in your product?
  • Is there anything users find particularly satisfying about using the product?
  • What outcome (reward) alleviates the user’s pain?


  • Review your flow. What “bit of work” are your users doing to increase their likelihood of returning?
  • Brainstorm three ways to add  small investments into your products to: Load the next trigger, Store Value as data, content, followers, reputation, and skill
  • How long does it take for triggers to re-engage your users?
  • How can you reduce the delay to shorten CYCLE-TIME through the hook?
  • How can you reduce time between orders?