Nir Eyal is a contributor for TechCrunchForbesPsychology Today, and a frequent speaker at industry conferences and Fortune 500 companies. His writing lies at the intersection of intersection of psychology, technology, and business and encompasses user experience design, behavioral economics, and a dash of neuroscience. Nir is the best selling author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products.

What is the “Hook Model”? Why is habit forming so important for customer engagement?

Hooks are experiences that connect users’ problems to a company’s solution with enough frequency to form a habit. Hooks are in all sorts of products we use with little or no conscious thought. Over time, customers form associations that spark unprompted engagement, in other words, habits.

Use of the product is typically associated with an emotional pain point, an existing routine, or situation. For example, what product do people use when they’re feeling lonely and seek connection? Facebook of course! What do we do when we feel uncertain? We Google! What about when we’re bored? Many people open YouTube, Pinterest, check sports scores, or stock prices — there are lots of products that address the pain of boredom.

In the four step process I describe in Hooked, I detail how products use hooks to create these powerful associations.

Hooks start with a trigger, then an action, then a reward, and finally an investment. Through successive cycles through these hooks, user habits are formed.

Use of the product is typically associated with an emotional pain point, an existing routine, or situation.

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What is the relationship between usage frequency and user satisfaction?

One of the prerequisites for a hook to be effective in forming a habit is that the product be used frequently. I come across a lot of companies trying to form a habit around a behavior that just doesn’t occur very frequently. Extensive research has shown that the more frequently a behavior occurs, the higher its habit-forming potential. Your chances of forming a habit around a product that’s used less than once a week is very low — not impossible — but really hard.

Why is forming strong user habits is more important than viral growth?

Growth without engagement is what I call a “leaky bucket.” When it comes to a successful tech company today, growth is necessary but not sufficient. I should mention that viral growth is totally optional. Viral growth is a nice buzz word but it’s just one of many ways a company can grow its user base. I’d much rather have a very habit-forming product with high-engagement but that is not viral than a viral product that people soon abandon. You can’t monetize a product people never use.

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Nir Eyal discusses habit forming technology and how to create habits in tech products.

Nir Eyal is the bestselling author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and blogs about the psychology of products at NirAndFar.com.