When to enforce “Actions” out of your users & customers?

We often talk about gamification, incentives, motivators (lets call them “incentives” collectively) – when it comes to users and when we are defining certain features. Each of these incentives have distinct role to play in the growth of our user base, enable network effect, capture relevant data, launch viral loops and so forth.

Some of these incentives are typically wrapped around features and sometimes are features!

Basically – as a end user/customer – what is in it for me to use your product – is what I am defining as broad strokes incentives.

I have rarely seen these incentives talked with a “Voluntary” and/or “Enforced” lens.

At a high level user’s voluntary actions are motivated due to one of these –

  1. Tangible Incentive – Examples – Utility, Experience, Rewards, Coupons,
  2. Intangible Incentive – Examples – Vanity (leaderboards), Social Interaction (Friends, family, being in the know, etc)

Voluntary :Tangible Incentives are broken into “Direct” and “Indirect” incentives;

Voluntary:Tangible:Direct Incentives :

Typically all Utility features fall into this category – Examples – Getting directions from Maps App, checking your bank balance from your Banking App, Checking your email, etc

Voluntary:Tangible:Indirect Incentives :

Indirect incentives are anywhere from gathering Airline miles, Hotel Rewards to raking up Points or Badges in your latest social media app. These incentives can be potentially exchange for some perceived “free” gift or coupon or reward in future.

While playing with http://Turntable.fm, got me thinking about enforced actions. In Turntable.fm, you have to have another DJ in the same room to listen to your own music. This their way to drive viral loop out of their current users.

While one could argue that having another DJ will help the “social” experience to your music listening, enforcing that as a key requirement does create certain inertia for some users.

Yes, “forced actions” is a way for new startups to grow their user base and launch virality, could also generate undue inertia and in some case repulsion to early evangelical customers.

Forced actions are especially risky when there are no intangible benefits to the end user – for example – in case of Turntable, first DJ doesn’t get any benefit in getting another DJ into the room – other than the fact the user get’s use the product. This is really a “service fee” or “compensation” to Turntable to use their product.

Forced actions should come with strong tangible and intangible benefits to the end user!

In summary, companies should play the “Forced Action” card very carefully – it is walking on thin ice!

ps: I do love Turntable.fm as an experience.

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