How to build habit forming voice apps

Eric Sauve
May 27 · 2 min read

I just finished Nir Eyal’s book “Hooked” that has a 4-step plan for driving habitual app use. Below are the 4 steps + some voice apps that do these well (#kudos).

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The power of habit forming

Let’s start with why we care about this. If our users can interact with our apps out of habit, without thinking consciously about it, we have successfully managed to integrate ourselves into their lives. Think of how many times you unlock your phone unconsciously…

Creating habits in 4 steps

Eyal has a science for this. While a lot depends on your use case, below are some principles and some illustrative examples.

Step 1: Trigger

There has to be a trigger that starts the user engagement. Could be advertising, social media, device level notification or other. Some are more effective and some are more expensive but the general idea is to move towards increasingly personalized, context-aware triggers.

Voice strategies: (Stuart Crane) does a great job with external triggers. Each physical product delivery with Incredible Unboxing gets a leaflet which triggers the user to open the app. Others strategies to consider include getting people to sign up or sign in to your app which allows you to send personalized notifications to inspire app use.

Step 2: Action

After the trigger, users need to be motivated and have an (ideally) easy way to use your app.

Voice strategies: The bread and butter strategy here includes easy and relevant invocation phrases, but what else? Jason Fields at talks about how to use context-aware links to start a conversation, which when combined with personalized notifications starts to get interesting.

Step 3: Reward

What is the reward for using your app? Rewards can appeal to any human emotion or desire. Bonus research from Eyal is that when the reward is novel or unpredictable, the experience can become even more addictive (think slot machines).

Voice strategies: Pat Sweetman from Interactive Album gamifies his voice app with a leaderboard to reward users. Clint McLean in his game Detective X offers variable paths which keep the game varied and interesting.

Step 4: Investment

The more we invest in something, the more we want to continue investing. In this way, it can be hard to stop a game mid-session because we will lose our progress. Eyal highlights that we should be thinking about incremental user investment to grow engagement over time.

Have any voice app examples of this? Comment below.

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