I intro­duced the four most pow­er­ful human moti­va­tors (accom­plish­ment, free­dom, con­nect­ed­ness, and growth) in my post, “Is Poor User Expe­ri­ence Slow­ing Your Con­ver­sion Rates?”  In this post, I zero in on the moti­vat­ing power of freedom.

I recently took a vaca­tion with my fam­ily to south­ern Utah. Spend­ing time in the Mojave land­scape, tak­ing in the stun­ning sights of Zion Canyon and Sig­nal Peak, I fan­ta­sized about being free to roam and work from remote loca­tions. If I could keep doing the work that I love—and main­tain qual­ity and productivity—while trav­el­ing and mak­ing mem­o­ries with my fam­ily, I’d jump at the chance. I wouldn’t even look at the price tag.

Free­dom is a uni­ver­sal long­ing, and one of the most pow­er­ful moti­va­tors. It is deeply embed­ded in us as a psy­cho­log­i­cal need, as strong as our phys­i­cal need for food and water. Teach­ers have found that when they give stu­dents free­dom to make some choices on their own, they behave bet­ter and hap­pily engage in learn­ing. And cash-strapped busi­nesses are begin­ning to use flex­i­bil­ity and auton­omy in place of a raise or bonus to incen­tivize employ­ees.

Dig­i­tal mar­keters will be smart to think about how their prod­ucts or ser­vices intro­duce more free­dom into indi­vid­u­als’ lives, and how they can make free­dom cen­tral to brand mes­sag­ing. Tap­ping into this core moti­va­tor is a pow­er­ful way to attract and engage. Free­dom, along with accom­plish­ment, con­nect­ed­ness, and growth, is one of the four pri­mary human moti­va­tors that dig­i­tal mar­keters need to har­ness for steadily ris­ing con­ver­sion rates.

It’s Your Choice

How is it within your power to offer peo­ple free­dom? It’s not, exactly. But you can pro­vide options. This is the most basic form of free­dom you can give your cus­tomers: the free­dom to choose. Think of NIKEiD, which lets shop­pers cus­tomize shoes by color and fea­tures. Or T-Mobile’s Sim­ple Choice Plan, which bills itself as unlim­ited and unre­stricted, and offers add-on ser­vices. Infus­ing your brand with choice can be as sim­ple as offer­ing addi­tional pref­er­ence set­tings in an app, or as com­plex as pro­vid­ing fully cus­tom orders. When your audi­ence per­ceives them­selves as hav­ing free­dom to choose, they will feel greater own­er­ship of your brand and become more invested in it long term.

Freedom’s Many Forms

You can’t offer users total freedom—no one can. But you can posi­tion your brand as an aid in achiev­ing more auton­omy in a par­tic­u­lar area of life. For exam­ple, there’s a pop­u­lar app that’s actu­ally named Free­dom. It offers users just one thing: the abil­ity to block dis­tract­ing web­sites for a self-selected length of time. The app claims that it will free you to be more productive.

Con­sider these four key areas most peo­ple seek free­dom in. Where does your com­pany fit in?

1. Time. We long for the free­dom to choose how to use our time, and when to work, relax, and social­ize. We also want to free our time from stress­ful, annoy­ing, mean­ing­less, or unful­fill­ing tasks. Think of your prod­uct or solution’s unique value propo­si­tion. How does it save peo­ple time? Are you mes­sag­ing it’s time-saving ben­e­fits clearly?

2. Money. We want the option to earn more, gen­er­ate income from the things we enjoy doing, and spend as we choose. We also want free­dom from the daily con­cerns of bills, bud­gets, debt, and account­ing. Let peo­ple know how your ser­vices can help them save money for a pas­sion project, or save their com­pany money so they become the office all-star.

3. Envi­ron­ment. Most of us wish we could spend our hours in beau­ti­ful, inter­est­ing, or sooth­ing envi­ron­ments, and choose the peo­ple who sur­round us each day. We desire com­fort, con­ve­nience, and stim­u­la­tion in our homes and work­places, and free­dom to move between envi­ron­ments at will. Does your brand increase mobil­ity? Beau­tify or func­tion­ally improve work and liv­ing spaces? Let con­sumers know that you can have a direct impact on their level of freedom.

4. Com­mit­ments. We want the free­dom to put our energy and focus toward the things we care about. Most of us, given the free­dom, would still work; we’d just work on our cre­ative pas­sions, entre­pre­neur­ial ideas, ide­al­is­tic goals, per­sonal well­ness, and things that bring us joy. If you cre­ate prod­ucts or solu­tions that stream­line processes, tell your audi­ence they’ll gain con­trol over their time and focus.

Free­dom for What?

Start with a deep under­stand­ing of your cus­tomers’ lim­i­ta­tions, frus­tra­tions, aspi­ra­tions, and desires. Then cre­atively explore ways you can be an ally in their pur­suit of free­dom. When they expe­ri­ence gen­uine life enhancements—even minor ones—from inter­act­ing with your brand, they will repay you with loy­alty. And they may even tell their fam­ily and friends that your [insert prod­uct or ser­vice here] changed their lives and they absolutely must try it themselves.

Very few things can drive con­ver­sion faster and far­ther than the promise of greater free­dom. How can you sup­ply your audi­ence with more choice, auton­omy, and opportunity?

Take a look back at accom­plish­ment, and fol­low along as I explore the remain­ing moti­va­tors: con­nect­ed­ness, and growth.

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