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Three elements of a successful customer engagement program

Jan 10, 2022

Written by: Mark Pearson, VP, Loyalty Marketing
(View Author Bio)

According to the Fogg Behavioral Model, a behavior happens when motivation, ability and prompt come together at the same moment. Traditionally, marketing has addressed the motivation and prompt components but neglected the ability component. Let's look at how all three components come together in campaign design to engage your audience and drive behavior change.


Driving a desired behavior or series of behaviors is ultimately the goal of marketing and customer engagement. And when it comes to driving behavior, the Fogg Behavioral Model is a great tool to leverage in campaign or program design.


According to the model:

“A behavior happens when the three elements of MAPmotivation, ability and prompt – come together at the same moment.

Motivation is your desire to do the behavior. Ability is your capacity to do the behavior. And prompt is your cue to do the behavior.”i


How does this translate into marketing terminology and how is it leveraged in customer engagement program design?

Motivation can be intrinsic (internal) or extrinsic (external). Generally speaking, the stronger the intrinsic motivation, the weaker the extrinsic motivators need to be. Messaging that communicates the benefits of completing the behavior and addresses customer resistance is critical to cultivating intrinsic motivation. In program design, intrinsic motivation is reinforced by extrinsic motivators, also referred to as WIFM or “What’s-In-It-For-Me?” WIFM options include probabilistic and deterministic rewards, fixed and variable incentives, discounts and offers, exclusive benefits, recognition and progression or advancement, a common element of gamification.

Prompts are the communications that trigger a behavior. This can range from a simple text message to a cadence of emails to an omni-channel marketing campaign. Thanks to changing consumption patterns and information overload or infobesity, consumers have a very low attention span. With this in mind, marketers need to treat attention like currency and earn the right to engage. It is imperative, then, that the content be concise and compelling. Leveraging heuristics, or mental shortcuts, like vividness is a great place to start. The more visual and interactive the communications, the better. And generally, the more emotional the messaging, the better. Targeting emotions will spark an immediate connection. In order to maximize engagement, the content also needs to be highly relevant. Ideally, you want your customer to feel like the content was written specifically for them. Segmentation, targeting and personalization are key to delivering the right message.

Ability encompasses the knowledge, skills and resources necessary for a customer to complete the behavior. No matter how strong the motivator is and how effective the prompt is, the behavior will not happen if customers lack the ability. This is especially critical in healthcare engagement programs for Medicaid and Medicare. To get Medicaid members to complete clinical behaviors, there needs to be consideration for how social determinants of health (SDOH) may negatively impact completion rate. There are members who need assistance with language translation, transportation to the provider, childcare during the exam, finding a provider with flexible hours outside of work, to name a few. If these needs aren’t addressed, no level of rewards and communications will be effective in driving the behaviors.

Let’s look at how all three components come together in campaign design for a current healthcare engagement example – driving healthcare insurance members to get a COVID-19 vaccination.


In order to cultivate intrinsic motivation to get vaccinated, the campaign needs to incorporate messaging that communicates the benefit of the vaccine and addresses hesitancy in its various forms. Working from a base of intrinsic motivation at some level, the next step would be to determine the appropriate extrinsic motivation to drive the behavior. What type and level of motivator will be necessary to compensate members for the level of effort associated with getting a vaccination? Most campaigns in the marketplace leverage deterministic rewards ranging from $50 to over $200 in value. The external motivator will most likely differ by audience segment. For example, members who understand the benefit and do not have any hesitancy will require a lower reward amount than members who are highly resistant to getting vaccinated.


Considering the logistics of getting fully vaccinated, all of the SDOH factors mentioned previously need to be considered and addressed to create a truly comprehensive campaign design, at least for some segments in the target audience.


In designing the communications for this campaign, it’s important to start with an initial touchpoint that communicates the benefits, addresses hesitancy and highlights the reward. This should be followed by an appropriately-timed cadence of multi-channel reminders (e.g. text messages, emails, notifications) leading up to both the first and second vaccination appointments.


Traditionally, marketing has addressed the motivation and prompt components but neglected the ability component. By using all three elements of the Fogg Behavioral Model – motivation, prompt and ability – in your campaign and program design, you’ll improve their effectiveness in engaging your audience and driving behavior change.


i From Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything by B.J. Fogg
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Mark Pearson

Mark Pearson

Vice President
Loyalty Marketing

Mark is responsible for multi-channel marketing strategy and solution design. He applies expertise in customer lifecycle, loyalty and interactive marketing to develop programs that leverage behavioral economics and gamification to drive engagement and targeted behaviors. Most programs are deployed online via responsive design, often incorporating social media extension and sales channel integration. Mark has more than 25 years of experience, a BA in English from Gustavus and an MBA in Marketing from St. Thomas.