Habit-forming products, the audio book

Habit-forming products, the audio book

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Are any of you taking Nir Eyal’s Udemy course on how to build habit-forming products? You should because believe me habit-forming products are everywhere. One of my favorite habit-forming products has to be Audible.

Audio books, the habit-forming product

For those of you who don’t know about audio books, audio books are audio recordings of popular books by narrators. From New York bestsellers to professional books, there is a legion of narrators out there recording books for you to listen to. It would be too easy to say that because I listen audio books I end up reading printed books less. So my new habit would be ‘to read books by listening’.

No, no, I wouldn’t want to waste your time with something so easy. The topic, or should I say habit I want to talk to you about is the influence narrators have on purchasing decisions.

The influence of audio book narrators

It is well known that product reviews can influence visitors into taking action, be it to purchase a product, or to not purchase a product. In the case of Audible they have given their product reviews an extra dimension, one that more and more Audible users are basing their decisions on. Performance. First, let me show you two examples.

How did Audible create a habit-forming product - examples

Audio book narrators can make or break a book.

As you can see, Audible customers are not only voicing their opinions on the book’s content, the story, as you would expect, but they are also sharing their opinion on the narrators. This extra dimension can highly influence your decision.

If [enter favorite author’s name here] books are read by a poor, untalented narrator, not only will it affect your experience of the book, but could also stop you from reading/listening to more books from the same narrator, even if the books have been written by your favorite author.

The audio book technology has formed 2 new habits:

  1. Good narration experience will push us to buy more audio books, not necessarily from the same author but by the same narrator. [Discovery]
  2. Bad narration experience will push us to stop buying audio books, not necessarily from the same author but by the same narrator. [Avoidance]

Authors and Narrators, a shared prestige

There are plenty of great narrators out there. One that I often come across and particularly enjoy listening to is George Guidall. In this short video George talks about the phenomenon of readers picking a book to read based on the narrator, not the author.

Audio books, my experiences

When I joined Audible many years ago, one of the first books I bought was a book written by Vince Flynn’s American Assassin, narrated by George Guidall. Vince’s books, from the Mitch Rapp series, can be read in chronological order and because of this narration becomes a more important factor in the experience. I started listening, building the mental picture of the environment, the characters, the situations in my mind while listening to George Guidall.

When I reached the 3rd book I was surprised to be listening to a new, and in my opinion a less competent narrator diminishing my experience. I had not paid attention to the reviews for the new narrator and was disappointed in my purchase.It wasn’t until the 6th book that George Guidall returned as the narrator for the Mitch Rapp series.

In retrospect, this disappointment triggered both habits in me. I avoided buying books from the narrator I just had a lesser experience with, and I discovered more books narrated by George Guidall, regardless of who the author was.

A third, non-related behavior was that when I avoided the narrators of book 3, 4, and 5, I still read these on my Kindle, just to get to book 6 where George Guidall picked up the narration again.

In closing…

Strange? Maybe, but it definitely goes to show that audio book technology has change my behavior towards reading books. It has formed a new habit in me to always check the quality of the performance (the narrator). I will actively avoid audio books from a specific narrator if the reviews are poor and buy new audio books if the narrator has great reviews.

On the positive side, it has helped me discover new books, new authors, that I would normally not have picked up on.

What new technology driven habits have you noticed in yourself? Please share them in the comments.

About Matthew Niederberger

Matthew works as Conversion Optimisation Manager at Ziggo BV. In his free time he enjoys family life as well as digging into online user research material whilst frequently generating some of his own, which he freely shares here on actualinsights.com.

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