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Variable Rewards: How to Make Your Users Loyal

What is the purpose of the fourth part of this book?

In this article, I’m going to discuss the rewards your product/service provides for your consumer. With variable rewards you’re never sure if you’ll end up empty handed or not. You don’t have control over getting a reward. The anticipation though increases the dopamine levels in your brain which makes you to keep doing the thing that brought you reward before.

Therefore this method has a psychological base and plays a really important role in successful businesses.

The Necessity of the Variable Rewards

Rewards actually motivate your consumer to come back to your product/service and use it again. Let’s start with an example first. Imagine your favorite series. What encouraged you to watch the next episode? If you look closely at the popular series you’ll find an identical pattern in all of them. They bring out a challenge and try to unravel it through out the season. But how much are you interested in re-watching a series when you already know the storyline? Statics show that the view rates are way lower than the time the series was aired for the first time.  What is the reason? It’s because when you re-watch a series you already know the storyline so it becomes predictable and you lose the reward of going through challenges. It simply ruins the surprise and the unpredictability.

So in the first step we have to remember that rewards should be unpredictable. Also it’s interesting to point out that unpredictable rewards based on variable schedule result in higher level of dopamine.

Different Kinds of Variable Rewards:

There are three kinds of rewards. Any successful business should provide at least one of these rewards.

Rewards of the tribe, rewards of the hunt and rewards of the self.

The Tribe

We always want to feel a sense of belonging. Thus our brains crave for rewards that are able to make us feel accepted, loved and included. That’s why we call this kind of rewards social rewards too. Facebook, twitter and other social medias, feed these crave of ours. With every post, like, repost and etc. users seek validation.

The Hunt

The reasoning behind this name comes from the history of human hunting for meat for over 2 million years. But all the tools used for hunting were made 500,000 years ago. So this question comes to mind that how did our ancestors hunt on the 75% of the time gap? The answer is chasing!  They chased their prey not to capture it but to exhaust it. So with chasing the prey, they wore them down, at the end they’d got defeated and had no energy to fight back. But what does this has to do with our daily life? Nowadays we are hunting for “information”. We scroll through our Facebook or Tweeter feeds or Telegram hunting for new services, jokes or any other thing. We are never sure what will pop up next and that makes these social medias addictive.

The Self

In these sorts of variable rewards the purpose of the user is much more personal than the other two. We, as human beings are constantly seeking success and a sense of competence. We enjoy defeating obstacles. In fact we are always looking for new challenges to overcome. For example look at Rubik’s cubes and 1000 pieces puzzles. Solving them give people a sense of self-satisfaction. Now add a little bit of mystery to the mix to make it even more fascinating and more fun to finish. All the video games use this kind of reward to keep their users driven and interested. As you go to a higher level, the more excited you’ll probably get to play it faster and also sooner.

This is What Variable Rewards are All About

You should always remember that only giving your consumer rewards isn’t enough. And it can’t be a key to your success. The important point is to choose a variable reward suitable for your product/service! Which should be on same means to your goal. For example most of Facebook users do not use it for earning money so giving money, as reward is not useful and will fail eventually. Most of the users are looking for social rewards and validation even when they don’t actually know.

Also keep it in mind that your users love having freedom in their choices so you should never take that away. Users answer way more positively to the tasks that give them choices.