Successfully influencing behaviour – how BJ Fogg’s model can help

People’s behaviour, how does it work and how to influence it? Stanford’s professor BJ Fogg’s model presents three aspects of influencing behaviour. According to Fogg behaviour is always a combination of the following three factors: motivation, ability and trigger. This model will help influencing people’s behaviour and therefore is extremely useful for smart online marketers.

Why is it important to understand behaviour?

Nowadays the use of persuasion and nudging is hot. Persuasion is a technique where marketers use consumers preferred behaviour to convince them. Nudging is a gently push in the right direction by making the “right” decision more attractive, without limiting people’s choices. Both techniques can be extremely useful in successfully chancing someone’s behaviour.

In general, persuasion and nudging are effective ways to increase conversion, which is why they are used more and more. Furthermore, these techniques are constantly being improved by academics and picked up more by the press which adds to the growing popularity of these models.

Companies use these techniques to convince people, although without knowledge about what causes our behaviour it is still hard for them to successfully implement them in their marketing. Therefore, som uses the behavioural model created by Fogg to understand human behaviour.

B(ehavior) = MAT

BJ Fogg, a researcher in the field ‘influencing behaviour’ at Stanford University, describes in his Fogg Behavior Model (FBM) the pillars of human behaviour. According to Fogg’s model behaviour is a product of these three factors:

  1. Motivation
  2. Ability
  3. Trigger

To get the desired behaviour a person should be motivated and have the ability to perform the desired behaviour. Finally, a person with the right motivation and ability must be triggered to perform the desired behaviour.

Fogg Behavior Model: influencing behaviour

Influencing behaviour

When the motivation is high, people can do things that are perceived as difficult. When the motivation is, low people are only able to perform simple tasks.

For instance: the motivation to complete a process which is important for the person completing it is generally high. Think about fulfilling a process to get a new parking permit in front of your home. The provider of this process has little pressure to simplify the process because the motivation to complete the process is high. However, if you provide, for example, a survey about how happy you are with a product/service you must make sure that the process is as smooth as possible because the motivation to complete the process is generally low. In some cases, you even need an incentive to increase the motivation.

The horizontal axis on the graph represents ability, this is mainly about simplicity. Simplicity is reached by dividing steps into sub steps or by removing resistance. By focusing on simplifying the desired behaviour, you increase the ability.

For instance: the desired behaviour for a publisher is that someone buys a one year subscription. People experience a low ability for this decision as you are stuck with that decision for one year. When we divide, the decision-making process, in sub steps you increase the ability. In this case sub steps can be for instance: first sign up for a free newsletter, or start with a one month free subscription and afterwards you ask them to buy the one year deal. By adding sub steps, you create simplicity, which promotes the desired behaviour. Removing resistance is also an effective to increase ability, in this case removing resistance would mean for instance that customers are allowed to cancel the subscription at the end of every month.

However, in general people are not highly motivated or have a high level of ability, normally both factors are average. With the help of effective techniques, it is possible to stimulate both factors. However, the behaviour should always be triggered, which is the third factor.

Last but not least: triggers

The third factor in the BJ Fogg model is triggers. Without the right triggers, no desired behaviour. A trigger is that that convinces you to perform the desired behaviour. Online it is often the Call to Action, an email or a chat popup. Successful triggers are seen and associated with the desired behaviour. Furthermore, they must be shown when soInfluencing behaviourmeone is highly motivated and has the ability to perform the behaviour.

There are three types of triggers, depending on the other two factors:

  1. spark (with low motivation): a motivating message, for instance a message loaded with fear or hope
  2. facilitator (with high motivation and low ability): a message that promises that the behaviour is easy to perform, for instance a software or an ‘upload address book’ button with social media
  3. signal (with high motivation and ability): simply a reminder to perform the behaviour

When a company discovers that website visitors don’t perform the desired behaviour Fogg’s model can help. For instance, the publisher example, when only a few customers subscribe for the newspaper we can use Fogg’s model to determine the problem. Is the motivation too low? Is it too difficult to subscribe? Or do we use the wrong triggers? This to successfully influence behaviour.

som digital + BJ Fogg

som digital often uses Fogg’s influencing behaviour model. It helps to better understand behavioural change, which will lead to increased conversion for our clients. Also, when developing A/B test this model proves to be extremely useful.

Are you curious if your website or online funnel could perform better based on BJ Fogg’s model? Contact us!