Why do customers come back? What creates the stickiness of products or services? Why are Apps sticky? Why do customers continue to use certain service while abandoning others? How do you make something sticky? It seems to me that the service or product needs to be ‘of value to the person’. Ok, a no-brainer. I know. But why then, if this is a no-brainer, is it so difficult to create products that are of value to people? Maybe not a no-brainer after-all?
In this post we introduce a template that helps to understand the aspects of the service that will create stickiness , which in turn may help to design products that have this stickiness property we crave for to ensure continuity of business. More insights may be obtained if we split the ‘of value to the person’ in two factors; value and personal.
What is valuable? Valuable can be insights or simply monetary value. Information about how the current status of investment markets is valuable to a trader, and he probably is willing to pays for getting that information early, or better, for getting the information about the investment markets that impact the trader’s current investment portfolio early. Valuable is also simply the price-tag. If a magazine subscription costs X, and by becoming member of a certain club will give me 50% discount, then that club become valuable by the amount of 50% of X.
What is personal? Some skin in the game makes it personal. The more I share, the more whatever it is becomes an extension of myself, ergo personal. By definition what I as a person produce is personal. It comes from me. It is the result of my, my interests, my experiences, my reflection on the world. Companies like Amazon utilize this by profiling clients, to make suggestions fitting your interests. You can even take it a step further, as Douglas Adams pointed out back in 1999 in his column “Build It and We Will Come”. “And on the basis of another – not entirely disinterested – suggestion of mine they [Amazon] are going to start a running poll on which books people would most like to see turned into movies. This is information that no one has ever been able to collect before.” And we happily tell what we are interested in, if that helps to make it easier to find what we are looking for.
In other studies both there may be referred to product meaningfulness and product superiority. Product meaningfulness concerns the benefits that users receive from buying and using a new product, whereas product superiority captures the extent to which a new product outperforms competing products (Rijsdijk, Langerak, and Jan, 2011, as referred to by Robert G. Cooper)
If you put the two parameters, valuable and personal, in a simple marketing 1-on-1, you get the following ‘stickiness-template’, that may help helps you to decide how to make your product or service more sticky.
The stickiness template goes a step further than the business model canvas and the value proposition canvas. The business model canvas is an excellent tool to explore new business opportunities or – when altering an existing – the impact of possible changes. This helps you to define a business that is sustainable. The value proposition canvas focusses on service design and aims to link the customer needs and wishes (positive and negative) to the service/product offering. This helps you to design products and services that customers need and want. With the stickiness template I try to zoom in to what customers want again, what makes customers come back.
Building on this previous post, where i looked at the user journey of a WM Client Advisor and evaluated opportunities for digital and print channels. Specifically, I tried to check what the digital and print channels would be competing with, at each step of the user journey. That, I think, is a powerful approach; evaluating not only the opportunity/possibility, but also the risk, in the sense of what else is competing for attention. The updated template has boxes where you can list the competitor for attention.
This template has been the result of my work at Adviscent.com, Here is one of the examples. The UBS CIO MyHouseView tool I will use the example of the UBS CIO Year Ahead and the CIO House View tool to evaluate the effectiveness of the template. At the end of each the year, the UBS publishes an outlook on market developments and onto the new year. This is the CIO House View Year Ahead publication. Other WM service providers have similar publications.
As part of last year’s CIO House View Year Ahead publication, we took part in conceptualizing and implementing a tool to offer curated content based on which visitors could browse the content in the light of their portfolio, i.e. content that is maximally relevant. The goal was that visitors would not just read the CIO Year Ahead content, but that they would be presented with content that was of special interest for them. To achieve this, the visitor was invited to indicate their portfolio structure (percentage bonds, equities etc). Based on the entered portfolio, the tool would show relevant content. You could then proceed and print out your personal version of the CIO Year Ahead publication, including the for your relevant content.
The images below show the sequence. Alternatively, you can try the tool here.
As far as we could tell, the tool was a success. It was well received by the Client Advisors, frequently visited and many visitors printed their version of the publication.
Usage of the tool dropped after january, and thereafter basically laid idle. What was wrong? Why was the tool not ‘sticky’? Why did visitors not return, or why didn’t it attract new visitors. So we worked on a stickiness-template on the whiteboard to look at the tool, to find its weak points. Are there any?
There were not may points to ensure stickiness’ therefore the template is quite empty. But it was not bad. considering we did not consider this in detail when designing and building the tool.
Entering the portfolio information is clearly putting some ‘skin into the game’, and to our knowledge there is no other tool that offers something remotely similar. A missed opportunity here is the possibility to comment on the articles for other visitors to read.
Curated content, portfolio based, also clearly is adds to the stickiness. For this, there are alternatives. For one, the visitor, if a client of the UBS, can simply call his or her wealth management advisor. Alternatively, editorial reviews in financial newspapers and/or services like Bloomberg could also provide similar information although maybe not curated to the visitor’s portfolio.
So, if there are stickiness factors in place, why was the tool not sticky? As mentioned, as far as we could tell, the traction was good for a month of two, but the quickly dropped. The answer appeared painfully simple; no new content. The content was not updated. Originally intended, but never executed, the content remained unchanged. The project as over taken on the inside lane by other activities, reducing the long term vision to a single shot effort. This means that after a few visits, you probably have read most interesting to read. Moreover, coming february, the content written a few months before, would be largely outdated, virtually removing all incentives to ever return. It will take another 100 years before the content may be interesting again, for historic reasons.
The update frequency, is not captured by the template. Update frequency of curated content nor the expected return frequency; both important if trying to maximize the stickiness factor. So these were added to the template.
- Rijsdijk, S.A., Langerak, F., & Jan, E. (2011). Understanding a two-sided coin: Antecedents and consequences of a decomposed product advantage. (2011). Journal of Product Innovation Management 28(1): 33–47
Cooper, R.G., (2013) New products – what separates the winners from the losers and what drives success. The PDMA Handbook of New Product Development. K.B. Kahn, Ed. 3rd edition. pp. 3-32 .