A Neat System To Keeping Customers Engaged

Classic behaviour change models tend not to consider newer behaviour economics and decision science. These are key to attaining and maintaining our customers’ and users’ interest and engagement in our websites and products. Instead of the abstract stages that traditional models offer, this original model by Brian Cugelman — presented by CXL Institute — considers actual outcomes and impacts we want to achieve in its implementation:

This is a slightly different way of framing the buyer’s journey and how it corresponds to more orthodoxical frameworks.

  • Concentration (Aware)
    Getting into the person’s head. They need to know you exist, and you need to communicate you offer well
  • Learning (Informed)
    What are you offering? What is this website about? There’s a good general rule to stick to here: no jargon.
  • Desiring (Motivated)
    It’s difficult to motivate people, if possible at all, but you can appeal to any existing motivation.
  • Deciding (Intent)
    The user is searching for more information and deciding whether your product is the right fit for their needs.
  • Trust (Confident)
    It’s distrust that you should be wary of here, you want to be sure you’re instilling confidence in your product.
  • Acting (Short term)
    This might be their first purchase or opt-in; the initial conversion.
  • Maintaining (Long term)
    The customer keeps on returning and paying time and time again.


At any stage, a consumer can decide — consciously or otherwise — to stop taking action. This might be because they opt for a competitor, or perhaps the problem they needed to be solved has disappeared entirely. Regardless, you should hardwire the possibility of abandonment into your engagement processes and content strategy.

Source messages that correspond to funnel stages

1. Directing Attention

Use design principles to direct focus where we want it to be. Pre-attentive processing the subconscious accumulation of information from an environment — can help us achieve this, speaking to the users subconscious using design principles. If you’re familiar with UI or UX design, you will already be familiar with some of the methods used that leverage pre-attentive processing, including Fitt’s law, visual hierarchy, and Hick’s law, among others.

2. Educating Customers

At this stage, the customer’s understanding of the product doesn’t have to be profound, but they should very quickly have a grasp of its fundamental value proposition. In an interactive medium, you want to simulate the experience of the product as closely as possible for the target audience.

When presenting product information “features tell but benefits sell” — so which should you lean into more? Try to combine the advantages of both. Present market-ready content, but provide the facts throughout.

3. Evoking Emotion

We’ve spoken about creating emotionally-compelling content before and understand its role in connecting with audiences. A value proposition [citation] is a way to touch and motivate people on an emotional level, and this can influence the direction of your overall messaging.

From an evolutionary psychology perspective, what you can do to evoke emotion is appeal to innate loss aversion and steer towards different incentives: “this thing will make you feel less x and more y,” perhaps less explicitly, though.

  • Parenting
  • Mate retention
  • Mate acquisition
  • Status & esteem
  • Affiliation
  • Self-protection
  • Immediate psychological needs

4. Decision Making

If someone gets to the stage where they’re ready to make up their mind, and you’re in the mix of options for them, you want to make this decision as easy as possible to make. When it comes down to pricing, you’ll be looking to minimise analysis paralysis. Don’t provide too many pricing tiers in an attempt to capture a broader market spread — you’ll just overwhelm anyone who’s still on the fence. Do, however, make it clear that you can accommodate individual needs.

Presenting a discounted price from a list pricing (accompanied by the percentage saved) can be a useful way of positively framing the cost of your item, and therefore boosting its perceived value.

5. Trust & Credibility

Trust judgements tend to be made very quickly, especially towards the decision stage of the journey. In the online word, this happens very quickly; signals are sent through the presentation and design of a brand’s website, and a good first impression can benefit from the halo effect. This cognitive bias explains how a person can quickly make up their mind about the quality (and thereby the trustworthiness) of a brand simply by a select few positive traits or experiences. Remember, you’re probably asking people to hand over their credit card details over the internet, to someone they’ve never even met. This is not a purchasing decision made unalert to credibility.

By demonstrating expertise, presentability, and integrity — providing a positive customer experience — you can establish your credibility and be rewarded with the trust of the customer.

6. Creating a Path

By this point, all the effort that could be made on your part on the motivational aspect, so now you should “create a path” to facilitate the payment as much as possible. This comes down to lowering friction and speeding up the journey. Firstly: don’t overask for information, and don’t make the path long winded. Collect the minimum amount of information to reliably fulfil the order — simplify your buying mechanisms to make this happen, as well as providing excellent user experience informed by strong design principles. Any complexity is going to contribute to friction.

7. Re-engaging Customers

The deal’s been sealed. Time to pop the champagne, right? Well, let’s start with a pat on the back, but save the champagne for the maintenance of loyal, advocate customers.

Because the real work comes with customer retention. Most companies will barely talk about it, but it’s almost a given: users will simply disengage, and they struggle to hold on to them. This is nothing to be ashamed of, as long as you have the right systems in place to optimise conversion.

If motivation has been lost, there’s probably not a lot that can be done. Reflected in the Conversion Sequence Heuristic, motivation is the most impactful determiner of conversion success. Unfortunately, according to MECLABS, developers of the formula, it is the only element you cannot change. You may, however, be able to try to tap into these motivations and better appeal to them — but don’t get your hopes up. At this point, it can make perfect sense to abandon efforts to convert this customer.

And you know what…that’s just fine! Focus on what you can control and work on presenting your value to those users or customers who are ticking that motivation box.



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