If you want customers eating out of the palm of your hand, try this...

You'll have them guessing.

You'll keep them going.

They'll be like putty in your hands.

Well, maybe not the last line. But, there is a way to drive behavioral change and lead visitors to take the desired actions you want. It's known as the Fogg Behavior Model.

This research comes from Dr. BJ Fogg of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University. Today we'll go into how to use Fogg's model to influence behavior.

The Fogg Behavior model explains that in order to drive behavioral change 3 elements must occur: motivation, ability and trigger. I'll explain all 3 in further detail.

If a behavior does not occur at least one of these elements is missing. So, here's the bottom line.

Behavior = motivation x ability x trigger.

And it all begins with defining the specific desired behavior you want people to complete. Do you want them to buy your product, sign up for your software or download your lead magnet? By using this model as a guide you can identify what is stopping your customers from taking the desired action you want them to take.

Let's take an individual look at each element.


Let's assume the user is already motivated because he was curious enough to visit your website. The next thing you need to do is further motivate him by giving him a reason to complete the desired behavior.

Use your sales copy to do this. There are 3 factors you can incorporate into your copy to heighten motivation.

1. Pain and/or pleasure.

The result of this motivator is immediate. People will respond to what's happening in the moment when these are used correctly.

These are so powerful that they're the first things you should consider when you want to boost motivation.

2. Hope or fear.

This is characterized by anticipation of an outcome. Hope is the anticipation of something good and fear is the anticipation of something bad.

Hope and fear are also both powerful motivators. BJ Fogg himself considers hope as one of the most ethical and empowering motivators.

3. Social acceptance/rejection.

People are motivated to do things that will cause them to win social acceptance. They're likely to avoid any negative consequences that will lead them to getting rejected.

This is deeply rooted in the human race and its power is undeniable. It doesn't take much to see how much we value social acceptance. Just look at Facebook, Instagram and all the other social platforms as an example.


Ability is about making the task easy to complete. This is more important than motivation.

It's easier to increase conversions by ensuring every task is simple for visitors to complete.

Most people who visit your website don't want to be trained or taught how to use your software. They also don't want to do anything against their routine.

They're looking for simple solutions. Anything too complex will immediately turn them off.


A behavior can only occur with an appropriate trigger. It's necessary even if both motivation and ability are high.

Triggers are what prompt you to take action. It's like the green light at an intersection that gives you permission to go forward.

Your call to action on your website is a trigger. That's why you have to be careful with the copy you put in it. Don't use generic phrases like click here or learn more. Try to be more specific so the user knows what to expect when they click the button.

You want to trigger the right sequence of baby steps. Don't ask for too much too soon (like expecting the customer to buy before you even explain your product offering). That would be like proposing marriage on the first date. You can almost always expect the answer will be no.

You need to be trigger obsessed.

Triggers are not nags, so don't be afraid to use them to your advantage. Just make sure that you focus on triggering people that have the ability or motivation.

Keep these things in mind about triggers:

  • People will thank you if you trigger them at the right time.

  • If you trigger people who lack the ability, you will likely increase their frustration.

  • If you trigger people who have no motivation, they will find it annoying.

Now let's go into the different types of triggers. There are 2 types: hot and cold.

Hot triggers are things you can do right now such as buttons saying buy now or get immediate access.

Cold triggers are things customers don't have the ability to immediately act upon like billboard ads you spot from the car while driving.

When it comes to web design BJ Fogg recommends putting hot triggers in the path of motivated people. You also should never try to create motivation artificially. Instead, tap into an existing motivation people already have.

Trying to motivate people to do something they don't want to do is an uphill battle. Understand what motivation already exists and then make it easy for customers to act on it.