Decoded: 3 Behavioral Principles That Make Customers Act and How Asana Ignored Them

3 Principles of Behavioral Science That Make Customers Act

Have you ever wondered why your customers don't respond to your killer offers, prompts, or other marketing communications? In this article, you’ll learn why that is and what chords to hit so that customers will feel the urgency to act.

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • One of the biggest barriers that prevents customers from taking action;
  • What Asana is doing wrong when messaging its customers and how this communication can be improved;
  • How giving literally any reason for the customer to act is better than no reason at all; and
  • How to create a sense of urgency to make your customer act.
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Have you ever been to a restaurant with your child? If so, then you’ve probably experienced that panicky feeling when your child starts screaming like a banshee. Everyone in the restaurant is giving you dirty looks while you try to pacify your child, wishing you could just disappear from this awkward situation. But suddenly your child stops crying when you hand him/her a treat. 

The child has taught you a lesson here: he/she wanted you to do something, so he/she gave you a damn good reason to do it and to do it now. The same principle applies to your customers (and no, you don't need to scream at them): if you want them to act, you need to give them a reason and create a sense of urgency.

Why? Because there's something called status quo bias. As Matej Sucha, the CEO of MINDWORX puts it: “We tend to do nothing or stick to our previous choices. We don't want to change anything and won't unless there's a good reason for it.” 

So if you’ve ever wondered why your customers aren’t taking action, switching over to a better deal, upgrading their plan, answering your emails, or taking up an offer even if it seems like a no-brainer, status quo bias is why. 

As we tend to learn best by example, here's an example on how not to do it. 

Asana’s ineffective emails

Asana, the project management software, is a great tool when it comes to project management. Their communication, however, could use a bit of tweaking. 

Let’s see what their emails look like when you sign up, invite your teammates, but then exceed the maximum limit of members. You’ll get a sequence of emails that look the same with a subject line that goes like this.

Asana's reminder email
Caption: Asana's reminder email Source:

When you open the email, the message you’ll see reads: “ Team is over its limit. Add more members”

An ineffective and confusing email from Asana
Caption: An ineffective and confusing email from Asana Source:

The message is pretty clear. You are over the maximum limit of team members, so you need to add more users to your plan. “But what if you don’t?” Matej asks, adding: “This is a great example of a simple but totally ineffective message. It doesn’t explain why I should do it, why I should do it now, and how difficult it will be.” 

Let’s now have a look at these three aspects one by one, explaining them and suggesting how the message should be changed.

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