Use Your Audience's Effort Justification to Your Advantage
Do the ends always justify the means? Was Frodo’s ends—the destruction of the One Ring to Rule Them All—justify every hardship he endured? Every sacrifice, even nearly his own immortal soul?
Yes. They do justify the victory because it was so important to all of Middle Earth. Frodo saved them all. So all of it was worth it in the end.
That’s sorta how Effort Justification works. We justify the effort as worthy of our just desserts, with cherries on top, of course.
Let’s show how you can use that to engage an audience and save your conversions from dropping down into the lava of Mount Doom.
What the Heck is Effort Justification?
Effort justification is where we place more value in any outcome that’s earned through sacrifice and suffering. It’s a form of cognitive dissonance where we justify hardships we endure by overvaluing the achievement as something precious and invaluable.
The harder it takes to win a goal, the more it’s valued.
How many times have we done something arduous, such as run a half-marathon, and said at the end “it was all worth it”? That’s effort justification in action.
Why We Experience The Effort Justification Effect
We want to protect ourselves, our egos, and our self-esteem. We want to firmly believe that our efforts won’t be wasted. Because if it is all for nothing, we might appear “stupid” and would feel embarrassment from a perceived failure.
It is fear talking. And fear is the mind killer. But it’s also a way of committing ourselves to a path, or at the very least talking ourselves into it. Because if we and others grok the effort, the cost of backing out is even greater. This makes the reward of winning even sweeter.
Students in one study were put through a hellish initiation to join a peer group. Those who did so reported seeing that particular group as more prized, more alluring than those groups that were easy to join.
Improving Your Conversions Using the Effort Justification Effect
You can use the friction of effort justification to your advantage. You can use it to create a sense of urgency in your customers and inspire commitment.
Clubhouse is the perfect example of this. The group audio chat app is invite only. When the app was released, everyone and their mother wanted an invite.
It was a highly-sought prize. A ticket into a secret society. A way into the exclusive clubhouse (pun intended). The difficulty in finding the Golden Ticket made becoming a member all the more desired.
Because we all want to be let behind the velvet ropes. Meeting the criteria or getting an invite makes us special. We are worthy.
The same can be said for getting verified on any social account, such as Twitter and Instagram. The former has an arduous process where one must provide a bunch of proof. So verification is extremely valued and says “I’m part of the cool kids.”
Take Effort Justification for a Test Drive
One thing to remember: the challenge must match the rewards. You want to lure customers in and use their curiosity to get them to hit purchase or upgrade by teasing some of your premium memberships.
You can test whether your product has enough hardships so users can have justification for the effort and it’s reward, whatever that may be.
Helio allows you to survey your target audience on whether they feel it’s hard or easy to use your product. We’ve created a template to test whether the effort of browsing is worth it for your audience.