BJ Fogg Behavioral Model

When it comes to optimizing for conversions, design impacts user behavior. Understanding your target buyers wants, needs, and challenges is important, but designing UX/UI and content to drive the behavior you (and what your users desire) is imperative. This is where behavioral design comes into play and it’s where psychology and technology collide. Learn how embracing this form of neuromarketing to influence behavior can really help propel your business to new levels.


If you don’t know who BJ Fogg is, you should. He is the founder of the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford and teaches people how behavior works so they can create products & services that really benefit everyday people around the world. Back in 2007, BJ Fogg solved an important puzzle in regards to how human behavior works. Delighted at the inception of this amazing discovery, Fogg at the time didn’t fully grasp the power and potential this model would have on the world of behavior design, which would become known as the “Fogg Behavioral Model” as the formula has been used in practice by many top digital marketers, product designers, and executives throughout the world.


B = MAT (Behavior = Motivation x Ability x Trigger)

The Fogg Behavioral Model (also referred to as B = MAP) where Trigger is “Prompt” in its simplest form would explain how this works. Behavior (B) will happen when the Motivation (M) + Ability (A) + Trigger (T) come together at the same moment. This solution seems deceptively simple on the surface, but it will take practice, testing, and continual optimization to improve your success when it comes to conversion rate optimization. You can apply this universal behavioral model to all types of behaviors, cultures, or people of any age.


Now, let’s dive into how this behavioral model works and how you can focus on the core motivators of humans and then apply it and optimize it to increase conversions.


You want to focus on the top right of this behavior model to succeed with your behavior design methods of increasing conversions for your most important KPIs. Focus on high motivation that is easy to do with the right trigger to generate the behavior you want. If your user is highly motivated but your website makes it hard for them to do, then all you’ll get is a frustrated user who will most likely bounce from your site and never come back again. However, if the user has a low motivation but you make it easy for them to do, you’ll likely end up with an annoyed person on the other end.


What is the specific behavior you want to generate? That’s where the focus should start. What do you want the user to do? What is the desired conversion goal? Maybe it’s buy a product or set of products from your online store or to sign up to demo your software platform. No matter what the conversion goal is, by using this behavioral model as a guide to behavior design, you can identify the challenges you’re creating that is stopping users from taking the desired actions you want.


So, if users are not buying your products or requesting to demo your software solution, then this behavior model can help evaluate what consumer psychological elements are missing from the equation, that when changed and optimized can help boost those conversions in mass.


Below, we can break down the behavioral model by its most important elements.



Assuming the user visiting your website already has some level of motivation (buy a product or inquire about a service) is a start. But, now your focus should be on helping this user complete what they are already there to do. So, the more motivated the user is to complete a behavior and the more easier you make it for the user to do it, the more likely the user will complete and convert.


Effective sales copy, blog content, and more can help increase people’s motivation, but it’s very hard to artificially create motivation in people who lack it to begin with. You’ll expend a lot of time and energy going down this path and will not see the results you’d be going against the wind to achieve. According to the BJ Fogg Behavioral Model, there are 3 core human motivators.


1/ Pleasure & Pain

These motivating factors are immediate. These are subconsciously driven and humans do not take much time or anticipate their actions. This type of motivation is responsive and happens in the moment. Pleasure & Pain are primal responses related to ones self-preservation and are very powerful motivators, especially pain.


For example, we see this a lot when brands opt for the cheap SEO agency or freelancer. Cheap is often much more expensive. You’re opting to hire low-level talent for less than experts and in turn, you will likely get applicable results – little to nothing, yet you’ll also lose out on a lot of new business opportunities too. A quote we live by “The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” In this case, the pain of poor quality SEO you hired a cheap SEO consultant to run that generated little to no results or ROI will be remembered long after the cheap services were paid for.


2/ Hope & Fear

Another core human motivator in this behavioral model, Hope & Fear characterize the anticipation of an outcome. Hope is where a person anticipates a favorable outcome – a gain. Fear is where a persona anticipates a negative outcome – a loss. These motivators can often prove to be more powerful than the Pleasure & Pain motivators. These motivators can alter peoples behaviors, for example, one will opt to buy travel insurance for an extra $150 (accepting “pain”) when purchasing a non-refundable flight to Europe in order to overcome their fear of their trip being cancelled due to Covid-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions in the country they are flying into.


According to Fogg, Hope is the most ethical and empowering motivator. People “hope” to find love, so they go on dating sites. Businesses “hope” to secure all of their company’s digital assets, so they opt to purchase the best cybersecurity platform to do that. When it comes to persuasive behavioral design, hope & fear are two human motivators you must account for in your strategies.


3/ Social Acceptance & Social Rejection

Social Acceptance & Social Rejection are another strong set of human motivators that commonly affect much of what we humans do in society. From the clothes we wear, shows we watch, politics we support, companies we support, and so much more. From you own life experiences, you would notice that most people are often driven to do things that win them social acceptance and status, but are especially motivated to avoid any and all negative consequences due to their actions (even if against their core beliefs) that would result in them being socially rejected.


These motivators have been brought more into the light with the advancements in social media. From posting pictures and stories most apt to get likes is one loop that motivates people to post more so they can feel more socially accepted (liked).




Ability comes down to having something easy or hard to do. If you are trying to increase demo requests for your new software solution, then you should provide a basic short form that gets just enough information to qualify the lead. However, if you’re requiring 10 or more fields of information that the user must fill out in order to see a quick 15 minute demo of your product, then you are likely going to fail at converting a lot of leads due making it harder for them to complete, which in turn will decrease their motivation to do so and they’ll leave. The easier you make something for a user to do, the better it is for you, and them.


Ability is imperative and more important than ones motivation. Giving users a single sign-on button (ex. Facebook or Google connect) to access your web content can help lift your sign up conversions by 300%+ opposed to having them fill out 15 fields of information in order to register. Simplify, simplify, simplify. People are lazy and don’t want to do the extra “work” online. The easier you make it, the more conversions you will gain. The more work you ask of a user, the more motivation they’ll have to have. This can work in situations like applying for a $10 Million life insurance policy. The information required might be 25 fields and 10 minutes of work, but by doing so, you can protect your family for life if/when approved.



If you don’t have the right trigger (CTA) than no matter how motivated your user is and how easy you make the behavior to complete, the conversion goal you hope to achieve likely will not be reached. The trigger is what prompts the user to take action. It’s a call-to-action (CTA).


For example, when driving your car, if you come across a yellow light, you slow down, a red light, you stop, and a green light, you go. If you urgently need a tenants right lawyer to help you with a landlord dispute and are visiting a local tenant lawyers website on your iPhone, then a CTA such as “Call Now (with the # in the button)” can generate a lot of mobile conversions of inbound phone calls.


However, baby steps are important to not just increasing conversions but the quality of them too. If your company is selling $120,000 per year cybersecurity software, then having a “Buy Now” button that leads to landing page with the software for sale right now for $120,000 will most likely not convert. This is a big purchase, and by removing steps to purchase this such as talking to a sales rep, getting a product demo, or even a 14-day free trial should all come before asking someone to put down $120K.


Triggers are vital to the conversion matrix. Use them and test them routinely. If your focus is to truly help people, you will succeed much more than not using them at all. You want to place hot triggers in the path of highly motivated people. For example, if a user is on your compression socks website, and more notably a compression socks for nurses web page, you can trigger a pop up with “We Love & Support Nurses! Get 25% off today” and you should increase the impulse buyer conversions.


Applying The Fogg Behavioral Model into Practice

First off, you really need to get down to what behaviors you want to increase from your users. Diving deeper into your own web experiences across mobile & desktop and using your behavior analytics as a guide will be important too. Some insights that will help you get there, aside from low web conversions (or simply wanting to grow your business) are if you have high bounce rates, low time on site, and low page views.


Even if you have a small amount of web traffic, just making some small changes to start can produce great results. If you can fix and improve conversions, then it makes sense to pour some kerosine on the fire and work to increase traffic to your site knowing it’ll convert better than it has before.


A few things you’ll need to do to succeed in boosting up your conversions is to:


1/ Help people achieve what they already desire to do

2/ Focus on the right motivators

3/ Understand your target customers’ motivations

4/ Focus on simplicity

5/ Make action steps very easy to do

6/ Use hot triggers on motivated users

7/ Test, Analyze, Optimize, and Repeat


Optimizing your conversions around behavior is not the easiest task to succeed at. It will take practice, patience, and expertise. If you have conversion challenges and goals you wish to achieve, you should consider a conversation with Intent Sciences. We specialize in driving high intent search traffic (mainly SEO) and CRO (conversion rate optimization) to help brands increase more motivated user traffic and convert more of their traffic into higher quality leads and buyers at scale.


Feel free to Contact Us today.


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