Unlocking the Secret to Building Habit-Forming Products

Agile Insider
Published in
8 min readFeb 8, 2024


Photo by Taras Shypka on Unsplash

“It’s not the best product that wins; it is the product that captures the monopoly of mind.”- Nir Eyal

Everyone wants their products to be on their users’ most-used list. However, no matter how good your product is, sometimes it fails to secure a spot there. This could be because usage of your product has not become a habit for your customers. This is where the Hook Model can be your life savior to relook at your product strategy and build habit-forming products.

So, let us look at the Hook Model and how it can pave the way for creating habit-forming products.

Before diving into anything else, think about what a habit is.

Habits are an impulse to do a behavior without little or no conscious thought.

Imagine this: You wake up in the morning, and you first reach for your smartphone. Then, you open your Slack app and skim through the latest messages.

If this scenario makes you feel like “been there, done that,” undoubtedly, looking at Slack messages first thing in the morning has become a habit for you. It means Slack has aced in building use cases strong enough to make their consumption a habit for its users. Amazing, right?

So, we are going to discuss different phases of the Hook Model that can make your users glued to your product more frequently.

Exploring the Hook Model

The concept of the Hook Model was introduced by the author of the best-selling book- Hooked and Indistractable. He says all the products with the highest user engagement have embedded a hook into their product to get the users habituated to the product. Here’s what hook is all about!

“ The hook is an experience designed to connect the user’s problem to your product with enough frequency to form a habit.”

For your product to become a habit, it needs to be used frequently within a week. If not, it will be challenging to make it a habit. However, if your product usage frequency is low, the four phases of the hook model can be a game changer.

Suggested read: Must-Reads for Product Managers

The hook model has three phases:

  1. Trigger
  2. Action
  3. Reward
  4. Investment


A trigger is something that influences your users to do an action. Triggers can be both external and internal.

External trigger

It is a “ping, ding, or ring.” A push notification can be an example of an external trigger. If your product is a project management software and your user gets a notification that says, “you have been tagged to task X,” the possibility of the user opening your app is higher. That notification triggered the action of opening the app. And this is a perfect example of an external trigger.

External triggers grab the attention of your users and bring them to your product. As your user starts to interact more with your product, the reliance on external triggers will be less, and their usage will become more habitual. This is where we should talk about internal triggers.

Internal Trigger

Internal triggers are mostly negative emotions like boredom, frustration, fear of missing out, loneliness, etc, that prompt users to take action. If we are considering the example of Slack messages or even the project management tool, the fear of missing out on the work updates often makes us open them and interact with them.

For your users to act, you should be able to identify internal triggers of your users to drive them to your product. This makes your users frequently come back to your product and eventually makes it habitual. In short, your product or a use case of your product should be able to address a key pain point of your users or should provide relief to your users’ “psychological itch.”

In order for your product to be a habit, your goal should be to become the go-to solution for a specific internal trigger.

2. Action

Action is the simplest behavior in anticipation of a reward. When your user experiences psychological itch or pain, they act. Your product should be designed to address that pain and relieve the psychological itch or pain.

Integrating American scientist BJ Fogg’s Behavior Model into the Hook Model’s action phase highlights the significance of comprehending user psychology and creating products that are not just addictive but also user-friendly and aligned with the users’ necessities.

Fogg’s model (B=MAP) suggests that for a behavior to occur, three elements must converge at the same moment: Motivation, Ability, and a Prompt (which, in the context of the Hook Model, can be seen as the external or internal trigger).


Fogg’s Behavior Model provides a framework to increase the likelihood that a user will perform the desired action.


This is the user’s desire to perform a behavior. Understand what drives your users and how your product fulfills their needs or desires. Highlight these motivations in your messaging and design to make the action more appealing.


This refers to the ease with which the user can perform the action. Simplifying the action involves reducing friction and making the process as effortless as possible. This could mean streamlining the signup process to require fewer steps or making an interface more intuitive for a SaaS product.


Create triggers that catch the user’s attention at the right moment. For external triggers, consider the timing, context, and medium. For internal triggers, establish a strong association between the user’s internal state (like an emotion or thought) and the use of your product.

3. Reward

This is a phase of the hook model where the user gets rewarded for the action they did. In order to make your user hooked to the product, add some kind of variability to the reward. This variability is what keeps them hooked to the product.

There are three types of rewards- Rewards of the Tribe, Rewards of the Hunt and Rewards of the Self.

4. Investment

In the investment phase of the hook model, the action taken by users is not immediately rewarded. Instead, it’s an investment that improves the service for the future. This could mean anything from users customizing their profiles, uploading content, or learning new features.

The key here is that these investments store value; they make the product more useful and personalized for the user, leading to an increased likelihood of continued use. One way for you to drive users to make an investment is by closing the feedback loops.

In order to close the feedback loop and keep your users updated about the product development process, you can use Zeda.io. Zeda.io, an AI-powered platform, helps you gather customer feedback from multiple sources and categorize them into themes and subthemes. This ensures that no customer requests or feedback are slipping through the cracks.

Moreover, Zeda.io gives automated updates regarding the progress of their request. This can encourage users to feel valued and be more engaged with your product. You can now start using Zeda.io for free.

In short, the investment phase is where the groundwork laid by the trigger, action, and variable reward phases comes to fruition, solidifying the user’s habit around the product. For product managers, understanding and strategically enhancing this phase is crucial for building not just a product that users try but one they return to, time and again, building a deep, habit-driven relationship.

Understanding Hook Model with Salesforce

Salesforce, a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, effectively employs the Hook Model to engage and retain its B2B customers. By understanding and implementing each component of the Hook Model — Trigger, Action, Variable Reward, and Investment — Salesforce has become an indispensable tool for businesses looking to manage their customer interactions, sales pipelines, and marketing efforts. Here’s a detailed explanation of how Salesforce uses the Hook Model:


In the context of Salesforce, triggers can be both internal and external.

Internal Triggers: These are the users’ internal needs and motivations, such as the desire to efficiently manage customer data, improve sales processes, or gain insights into customer behavior. When businesses face challenges in these areas, they are internally motivated to use Salesforce.

External Triggers: Salesforce uses various external triggers to prompt user engagement, including email notifications, reminders for follow-ups, updates on sales opportunities, and marketing campaign results. These triggers are designed to bring users back to the platform, ensuring regular engagement.


The action phase in Salesforce is about the user performing a task that they are prompted to do, which is made easy and intuitive by the platform’s design. Actions within Salesforce include:

  • Logging in to check the dashboard for real-time sales and marketing performance data.
  • Entering new customer data or updating existing records.
  • Creating and tracking sales opportunities and leads.
  • Setting up marketing campaigns and analyzing their performance.

Salesforce’s user interface is designed to minimize friction, making it easy for users to take these actions, which are critical for their daily business operations.

Variable Reward

The variable reward component is crucial for keeping users engaged and hooked on using Salesforce. The platform provides several forms of variable rewards:

Success in Sales: Users are rewarded with visible results, such as closing a deal, generating new leads, or achieving marketing campaign goals. These outcomes are inherently variable and unpredictable, which keeps users engaged and coming back for more.

Insights and Analytics: Salesforce offers a wealth of analytics and insights about customers and business performance. The discovery of new insights serves as a variable reward, as users never know what valuable information they might uncover when they analyze their data.

Customization and Optimization: As users become more proficient, they can customize dashboards, reports, and workflows, which in turn can lead to better outcomes and thus serve as a reward.


The investment phase increases the user’s commitment to Salesforce and makes the service more valuable over time. Investments in Salesforce include:

  • Customizing the platform to fit specific business needs, such as custom fields, reports, and dashboards.
  • Integrating Salesforce with other tools and platforms, enhancing its utility and making it central to the business’s operations.
  • Entering and updating customer data increases the value of Salesforce as a comprehensive CRM tool. The more data entered, the more insights and value users can extract from the platform.

As users invest time in learning how to use Salesforce more effectively, they become more proficient, which, in turn, makes Salesforce more integral to their daily operations.

These investments lead to increased reliance on Salesforce, making it harder for businesses to switch to another platform. Over time, the accumulated data, customizations, and integrations make Salesforce an indispensable tool for managing customer relationships and driving business growth.

By effectively employing the Hook Model, Salesforce ensures high user engagement and retention, making it one of the most successful SaaS B2B products in the market.


In conclusion, the journey through the Hook Model offers a robust framework for product managers and designers aiming to create habit-forming products. By understanding and applying the principles of Triggers, Actions, Variable Rewards, and Investments, teams can design products that not only capture attention but also encourage long-term user engagement and loyalty.

For product managers, the key to success lies in carefully balancing these elements to not only meet the user’s immediate needs but also to anticipate and shape their future behavior. By fostering a deeper understanding of user habits and motivations, product teams can create compelling, personalized experiences that users return to time and again, not out of necessity but out of habit.



Agile Insider

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