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The Motivational Triggers That Build Product Habits

Janet Choi, Director of Marketing,

To help your product become a recurring part of your customers’ lives, you have to motivate users to build new habits. Motivational triggers are key to making habits stick.

Motivational Triggers

Nir Eyal's Hook Model illustrates how to form habits by guiding users through a sequence of experiences:

  1. Internal Triggers are the intentions and goals that motivate a user, e.g., Planning a wedding.
  2. External Triggers are the “nudges” that get users to the product, e.g., Clicking a wedding-related search image that leads to Pinterest.
  3. Actions are desired in-app events, e.g., Browsing wedding images on Pinterest.
  4. Variable Rewards are fulfilling experiences that leave the user wanting more, e.g., Finding an image of a perfect wedding cake.
  5. Investments are actions that prime users for future loops through the “Hook” model, e.g., Creating a personal Pinterest board.

By creating triggers, we take the first step towards building habits and changing user behavior.

Email Reminders to Trigger Product Engagement

Email reminders function as powerful habit-building triggers. Emails should overcome inertia and spark intrinsic motivation, relating back to the user’s intentions and goals.

  1. Wistia's “First Video” Email. Many new users never get to the “Action” step of the Hook Model because they never return after their first session. Video hosting platform Wistia uses reminder emails to trigger the key action of uploading their first video, helping new users experience the product's value.
  2. 15five's Check-in Email. Team management tool 15five encourages users to set performance goals for the coming week. Every Wednesday, users get a simple reminder highlighting the goals they set themselves—leveraging their own intrinsic motivation to prompt users to action.
  3. Ipsy's Preview Email. Monthly beauty subscription service Ipsy sends users a preview of the contents in their upcoming Glam Bag. This sneak peek increases anticipation and boosts the customer's gratification upon finally receiving the subscription.

Summarized by Reforge. Original article by Janet Choi • Director Marketing @