🧑‍🔬 How This App Hit 50 Million Downloads in 5 Years

Using this powerful cognitive bias

Impulse is a brain-training app that hit 50 million downloads in only 5 years.


By using a cognitive bias that manipulates our ego and self-image.

It’s called the Self-Serving Bias.

Here’s what I mean:

🧪 The Self-Serving Bias

The Self-Serving Bias is a cognitive bias that involves attributing positive outcomes to our own character and negative outcomes to external factors.

It’s our mental trick to maintain a positive self-view.

🤳 How Impulse Uses The Self-Serving Bias

Impulse uses this bias through a quiz funnel.

A quiz funnel is a marketing tool that helps brands move people from prospect to customer through use of quizzes.

Think Buzzfeed-style quizzes but at the end of them, there’s a call-to-action encouraging you to signup to something based on the quiz results.

Impulse’s ads categorize intelligence types and archetypes in a way that allows prospects to identify with positive traits and characteristics.

For example, someone might take a test that tells them they have a 'rare intelligence type' or belong to a particularly positive-sounding archetype like 'The Creator' or 'The Sage.'

These flattering labels can boost self-esteem and ego, encouraging people to share their great results.

In turn, this helps naturally spread word about Impulse.

🧠 How You Can Use The Self-Serving Bias

The key to the Self-Serving Bias is to create a scenario where your customers can attribute the positives of your product or service to their own good decision-making.

Here are some examples on how to use the Self-Serving Bias in your ads:

  • Compliment and affirm their identity

    • Music streaming service: "You've always had an ear for the hits before they're hits. Our playlists are curated for trendsetters like you."

  • Celebrate customer choices

    • Subscription box service:" It's no surprise you chose the premium box—reserved for connoisseurs like you."

  • Acknowledge Efforts

    • Project management tool: "Behind every successful project is a visionary planner like you. Our tool is just here to make your brilliance shine brighter."

  • Highlight achievements: If your product helps users achieve something, make that the star of your show

    • E.g.: “Join the ranks of successful entrepreneurs with our tool!).”

The goal here is to reinforce the customer's self-concept.

In fact, just yesterday I came across this sign for a co-working place:

This could be seen as an example of using the Self-Serving bias, because they’re affirming and complimenting the prospect’s identity - “serious entrepreneurs".”

This is very similar to the idea of Self-Image Congruity, that we discussed a few weeks ago.

The goal is to subtly remind prospects how great they are and that they're the kind of person who makes great decisions—like choosing your product.

So, how will you use the Self-Serving Bias?

How will you make your prospects feel smart?

Lemme know how it goes!

Until next time,


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