The dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing arm of Adobe is con­stantly cre­at­ing work that speaks to other dig­i­tal mar­keters. As Senior Man­ager of Con­ver­sion Opti­miza­tion, I am con­tin­u­ally dig­ging deeper, min­ing the data, and reach­ing out to users to bet­ter under­stand where the psy­chol­ogy of user expe­ri­ence (UX) meets the psy­chol­ogy of con­ver­sion rate opti­miza­tion (CRO).

I have an exer­cise I like to do at con­fer­ences: I will call on audi­ence mem­bers and ask, “What moti­vates you to work?” Ini­tial responses might be some­thing like, “I want to please my boss,” or “I want a raise.” I’ll keep prob­ing, “Why do you want that recog­ni­tion or raise?” As we peel back the lay­ers to get to the core of what moti­vates them, we often find that it’s a desire to pro­vide for their fam­i­lies, expe­ri­ence pride and ful­fill­ment, or earn enough to gain the free­dom to live the lives they want.

This exer­cise reminds us that we are not in the busi­ness of sell­ing peo­ple on our prod­ucts; we are sell­ing the per­sonal ben­e­fits the prod­uct will yield in their lives. For exam­ple, I can tell you that Adobe Ana­lyt­ics gives mar­keters real-time reports and makes it easy to seg­ment audi­ences and ana­lyze cus­tomer data to pre­dict cam­paign suc­cess. That’s great, but you’ve prob­a­bly already for­got­ten what I said.

Alter­na­tively, I can tell you that your abil­ity to more accu­rately pre­dict cam­paign suc­cess will earn you respect and praise in your work­place, lead­ing to pro­mo­tions, greater earn­ing power, and access to the lifestyle you aspire to. Now you’re pic­tur­ing a cor­ner office and resort vaca­tions. One ver­sion speaks to a com­pany, the other con­nects with a person.

Moti­va­tion = The Most Impor­tant Fac­tor in Conversion

You have likely seen the con­ver­sion heuris­tic devel­oped by Mar­ket­ing Exper­i­ments, which cap­tures the art of CRO in a formula:

C = 4m + 3v + 2(i f) – 2a


Con­ver­sion = 4(Motivation) + 3(Value Propo­si­tion) + 2(Incentive – Fric­tion) – 2(Customer Anxiety)

It’s an inter­est­ing for­mula to use when eval­u­at­ing your CRO strate­gies, but the most valu­able take­away is that moti­va­tion car­ries the most weight.

Tap­ping into an individual’s core moti­va­tions is a pow­er­ful way to engage. What­ever your indus­try, prod­ucts, or ser­vices, you can use moti­va­tors to align your brand with your cus­tomers’ aspirations.

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 a series of posts on the psy­chol­ogy of CRO, I will explore each of these moti­va­tors. First, I’ll unpack the psy­chol­ogy of accom­plish­ment and how it relates to your work as a dig­i­tal marketer.

Defin­ing Accomplishment

Accom­plish­ment is closely related to other moti­va­tors, such as power, ambi­tion, recog­ni­tion, suc­cess, and achieve­ment. It’s dis­tinct from all those other terms, how­ever, because accom­plish­ment refers specif­i­cally to inter­nal motivations.

Psy­chol­o­gists have dis­tin­guished accom­plish­ment from achieve­ment, which focuses on quan­ti­ta­tive, exter­nally imposed mea­sure­ments of suc­cess, such as let­ter grades and score­cards. Accom­plish­ment is a qual­i­ta­tive feel­ing, and it encom­passes the goals we seek out­side of oth­ers’ expec­ta­tions, such as hap­pi­ness, belong­ing, mean­ing, knowl­edge, and fulfillment.

Achieve­ment is a pow­er­ful moti­va­tor, too, as we’ve all expe­ri­enced. I chose accom­plish­ment, how­ever, because it is a deeper and more endur­ing moti­va­tor. When you align with cus­tomers’ pur­suit of accom­plish­ment, you become asso­ci­ated with the pos­i­tive feel­ings that we value more than trans­ac­tions. When you drive engage­ment by aid­ing or speak­ing to per­sonal accom­plish­ments, peo­ple will be happy to inter­act with and invest in your brand.

What Can You Help Your Audi­ence Accomplish?

Think beyond gam­i­fi­ca­tion, and fleet­ing rewards such as points and badges. Although these can be effec­tive moti­va­tors, and encour­age engage­ment in the right con­text, they’re not enough to make you exceed and sus­tain your company’s con­ver­sion goals.

Try to gain a deep and detailed under­stand­ing of the types of accom­plish­ments your users desire. Offer them authen­tic and con­sis­tent con­tent and ser­vices to facil­i­tate these goals. When they dis­cover the value you con­tribute to their lives, they will return again and again to con­sume your con­tent, sub­scribe, down­load, pur­chase, share, and inter­act, ulti­mately becom­ing ambas­sadors of your brand’s good mes­sage. Achieve­ment is fickle, and can some­times leave us dis­ap­pointed and dis­il­lu­sioned. Accom­plish­ment, on the other hand, has a direct link to loy­alty, because it’s the feel­ing we seek most con­sis­tently through­out our lives. 

When your brand taps into indi­vid­u­als’ inter­nal incen­tives, you will fos­ter a more rec­i­p­ro­cal rela­tion­ship, lead­ing to a last­ing increase in con­ver­sion rates. How can you help your users accom­plish some­thing great?

Fol­low along as I explore the remain­ing moti­va­tors: free­dom, con­nect­ed­ness, and growth.