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Motivating Users is Product Management

Eric Feige, General Manager at Magenic and former Vice President of Digital Transformation at Prudential, and Dr. Scott Rigby, CEO of Immersyve, discuss the psychology behind motivating users and how to make the case for a new idea at a large company within a regulated industry.

The success or failure of a product hinges on the product manager’s ability to influence users’ behavior. Regardless of the business model or industry, every product manager seeks to drive users to complete a desired action, whether it’s filling out a checkout form, consuming content, or inputting medical information.

In an effort to drive such behavioral change, some product managers try to apply “gamification” or other trendy frameworks. All too often, these tactics fail to live up to the hype. Good product ideas fall short of achieving meaningful adoption, engagement, or retention due to these shallow strategies.

To find a more effective approach to motivating users and influencing behavior, I interviewed two leaders with experience doing so successfully at several of the world’s largest companies. Scott has brought behavioral science to companies including Johnson & Johnson, Prudential and Disney, and Eric has developed digital and product strategies at companies including Deloitte, KPMG, JP Morgan and Prudential. Together, they enabled Prudential to increase users’ savings rates by over 300%.

This episode covers how they did it, and how product teams can apply the same principles of behavioral psychology to motivate users of their own products.

I began the interview by asking Eric and Scott how they got approval to even try this new approach. Making a major change at a large organization in a highly regulated industry requires more than just building a product. Eric and Scott needed support from senior executives at Prudential. They share how they executed these meetings, including how they used data from biometric research to make their case, and how they aligned their language with the company’s existing priorities.

They then share the three innate needs that, if satisfied, motivate users to engage with a product:

  1. Mastery - the desire to feel competent.
  2. Autonomy - the desire to feel in control of one's own life.
  3. Relatedness - the desire to be deeply connected to others.

Listen to this episode to learn how to apply these principles to your product. Here are the highlights:

  • How Eric and Scott made the case for a new approach to executives at Prudential (8:50)
  • Scott defines “self-determination theory” and how product managers can use it to achieve tangible results (13:40)
  • Eric describes the challenges he faced when applying behavioral psychology in a highly regulated industry (21:30)
  • Eric and Scott describe their user research process and how it helped them influence key stakeholders (26:50)
  • Scott describes how product managers can apply the three motivators, Mastery, Autonomy and Relatedness, to their own products (33:50)
  • Eric and Scott discuss how to apply their process to artificial intelligence and virtual reality (43:30)

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