How To Influence User Behavior & Increase App Usage

app user behavior

There are a number of great websites and services that came into existence, but eventually died because they didn’t get enough traction. A lot of these were great products, but couldn’t get users to adopt them and stay loyal. Clearly they missed out on something. Based on Fogg Behaviour Model, for a user behavior to take place, ALL of these 3 need to be present:

1) Motivation

2) Ability

3) Trigger

A behavior doesn’t occur even if one of these is missing. A person needs to be motivated to perform the behavior, as well as have the ability to perform that behavior. Once these two factors exist, they will follow through with a behavior when it is triggered.

Let’s use Uber as an example. Uber’s users would generally use it to look up for a cab as they leave a destination or are looking to get to their destination. But what does Uber do to influence user behavior? They use external triggers. External triggers can be across channels. Emails, In-App messages, SMS or Push notifications all work as external triggers. In my history using Uber, I’ve received in-app messages telling me about an Uber ice cream truck doing the rounds, SMS with a promo code for discounted rides and push notifications about referral offers.

But what you need to remember here is that sending an external trigger when any of the initial two factors (motivation or ability) are missing is a wasted effort since it won’t result in a behaviour. Sending triggers at the right time increases the probability of increasing usage of your app. So what can you do to send triggers at the right time?

Map your customers existing user behavior.

For example, abandoning a cart, checking out a certain restaurant, looking for a cab – whatever that might be. These behaviors could be online or in their personal lives. Anything you know about a particular user can make them a more well rounded personality to market to, that you can talk to with relevance and context rather than just assumptions.

user behavior basics

Image: Ex Foo

Guess the next behavior

For each of these take a guess as to what is your user’s next most likely behaviour. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to do this mapping. The example below describes a user onboarding flow for an accounting tool. You can see that after sign up, the most common behaviors are ‘entered_expenses’ and ‘hired_accountant.’ Even if you don’t have these behaviors as part of your onboarding, you can predict certain most likely behaviors

user behavior
Image: Madkudu

Send a Trigger

Sending an external trigger reminds them or makes it easier for a user to perform the next logical or desired action.

user behavior based push


Let’s say I am at a friend’s house and looking for a taxi to head back home at 9pm. I notice there is a high surge on, so instead of leaving, I decide to stay on at my friend’s house and check back in a while. So right now, I have a) the motivation to take a cab and b) the ability to book one. All that is missing is a trigger. What if Uber were to send me a push notification when the surge ends saying “Hey, have you been waiting for the surge to end to book a cab? It’s done now, so let’s do this!” Now that would be a very cool way to make use of all three factors and influence a user behavior.

Optimize your message for the user

Optimizing your message & schedule to increase probability of a user performing that behaviour. What device are they most active on? Is it on a laptop or mobile? Do they usually open push notificiations, SMS or in-app messages?


Image: Slideshare/Apigee

Knowing user behavior in relation to devices they use is another great way to reach your users at the right time to influence their behaviors and increase app usage. The more behaviours you map, the more efficient you can get with your messaging and offers.

If you’re keen to send more personalized, relevant messaging to your customers based on their behaviors, request a demo at Boomtrain.

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