Rational Or Not: The Dan Ariely Case Study On Online Behavior

Professor Dan Ariely worked together with Captain Up to explore how we make decisions online. Let’s take a look at the conclusions…

Professor Dan Ariely was looking for a research tool to measure user behavior. We were incredibly excited to provide him with Captain Up.  

Most of you probably know Professor Dan Ariely for his famous bestsellers “Predictably Irrational,” “The Upside of Irrationality,” and “The Honest Truth About Dishonesty.

These are 3 must-reads when it comes to understanding behavioral economics, and why we act and make decisions the way that we do.

Professor Ariely wanted to conduct a study about the fascinating world of online users’ behavioral patterns.

He needed a research tool that would assist him in exploring why users act the way they do, what motivates users and what drives them to carry out actions.

In order to take part in this intriguing task, we were offered the opportunity to integrate Captain Up on Dan’s blog.

Triggering Motivations And Turning Them Into Actions

Behavioral economics is a fascinating scientific field. It revolves around the way in which we make decisions and what drives us to do what we do – no matter how rational or irrational it may be.

It turns out that this is exactly what we do with Captain Up… We pin-point users’ needs and trigger their motivations, converting them into actions.

Professor Ariely’s research was right up our alley.

It gave us a great chance to get a scientific seal of approval from a leading researcher indicating that our platform is the future of online marketing.

It strengthened the validity of our core value thatany user (well, almost – we do require a steady pulse and WiFi…) can be transformed into an active one – if properly motivated.

Professor Ariely asked all the right questions and we gave him the tools for getting the answers.

Make It Personal

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Initially, users get a personal greeting from Professor Ariely when entering his blog. In a couple of clear sentences, he introduces himself and his field of expertise.

At this point, visitors are invited to join the “Dan Ariely club” using the Facebook or Twitter connect feature.

One click and they’re in.

Creating A True Sense Of Belonging

Once registered, they are identified and their Captain Up widget is personalized with their personal picture and name as shown on their social network channels. With a single click, users became a part of his community.

The signed-up blog readers are no longer anonymous – they now have a name, a face, and a sense of belonging.

Pick Your Battles Wisely – Invest In What’s Important To You

Dan Ariely Case Study

Dan chose the methods of engagement that he wanted to drive on his blog. Those choices are transformed into specific actions that are most likely to create user engagement. It was quite clear from the start that certain actions, such as Tweeting and commenting, were less important to Professor Ariely and therefore given less focus.

The actions chosen for the research were:

  • Watching  a Video
  • Hitting the Facebook “Like” button

Captain Up encouraged the blog readers to carry out these actions, utilize badges, and feel encouraged by the reward-based ecosystem.  

Design Is (Almost) Everything – The Magic Of The Personal Touch   

Ariely’s blog featured the out-of-the-box Captain Up game mechanics and social features.

To deliver a better user experience and provide a more branded UI, the badges were redesigned and the copywriting was changed to create the required personal touch.

Needless to say, these modifications turned out to be a game-changer (no pun intended!)

The Captain Up widget turned Ariely’s website into a personal engagement arena, driven by brand values, reflecting its uniqueness.

The Results: New Behavioral Insights Revealed

Dan Ariely Case Study Results

  • Average user actions went up from 1.8 to 9.5
  • Video views per user went up from 14% to 128%
  • Community member Likes up 879x!
  • Community member Tweets up 1723x!!

In Conclusion: Spot The Right Motivations And Provide Solutions  

Professor Ariely’s research has resulted in some valuable conclusions as well as reinforcing some known ones:

  • People are looking for a sense of belonging – belonging to a community is a valid and a powerful incentive to act upon.
  • The right reward for the right action – customizing and offering the right rewards for preferred actions drives excellent engagement from users.
  • Good design has super-powers – getting a message through to users and driving them to action is a form of art combined with psychology. Great and carefully-planned design can do magic to online user engagement.
  • People want to be engaged – they are just looking for a good enough reason.
  • Content is king – it won’t do you any good trying to motivate and incentivize your users if your basic offering, your content, service or product, isn’t good enough. Offer great content and start from there.

Do you feel like you need to learn more about Gamification to make this happen on your own site? Check out our free online Gamification course with Yu-kai Chou