Make users feel obligated so they pay you.

One of the strange things I saw in germany last week was the fact that every radio stations music ,  in Store music, and music you can buy is in english.   That is strange because for the most part there aren’t a heck of a lot of germans who can speak  or understand english.

Now in north america  you hear endless crap from artists claiming people buy their music because they identify with them,  or they fall in love with the words etc etc.    As far as I can tell the only reason germans are spending  $20 to $40.00 a CD is because they listen to the melody and associate what kind of song it is.  ie  Happy, Sad, upbeat  etc.

I think in the dating industry we have something similar with eharmony.   I think the people that fill out the hour long personality test  feel obligated to pay.   Everywhere else in life if you spend an hour just filling out an application form for a service you have to pay for it.    Another example of this is in affiliate marketing  where the 75 page sales letter on a single page website converts insanely well.

So what happens when you don’t make a personality test,  or wasting time a mandatory part of the signup process?   You end up like and,   there isn’t a single “serious” dating site that has succeeded unless they made the personality test a manditory part of the signup process.

12 Responses to “Make users feel obligated so they pay you.”

  1. michael webster Says:

    The spending the hour filling out the “test” does not cause an obligation to pay for the service. Rather, the fact that one is willing to spend an hour taking a “personality” test is a diagnostic clue that the person is willing to also pay for the service.

  2. GermanGuy Says:

    Actually most germans at least understand simple english. (Simple as in a songtext).
    Oh, and it’s not that ALL music played over here is in english. Just wanted to point that out.😉

  3. mgj Says:

    agree with michael – it’s called lead qualification – desperate (or sheeplike) enough to fill out the form, then desperate (or sheeplike) enough to pay the money.

    combine this with perpetuating the myth that some long form is somehow ‘scientific’ and ‘designed by experts’ – and you get a solid amount of perceived value.

  4. maarten Says:

    Markus, read the book “influence” from Cialdini.

    filling out an hour of questionnaires is the power of “commitment”

  5. Hermann Klinke Says:

    Marcus is right about the Germans listening to English music that they do not understand. I am German and most older Germans don’t understand a word of even “simple english”. The the German kids don’t know English enough to understand most lyrics. What’s really funny about this is that there are German artists that sing in English only even though they apparently don’t understand a word of English and are still extremly successful, because their melody just sounds good. Take the German techno group “Scooter” for example. Lyrics of their very successful song “Maria ( I like it Loud)”:

    “Alright everybody..
    Tie you shoes
    The third chapter has just begun
    From the H to the P
    On da mic you will see
    The people’s champ that’s me
    Skibadee, skibadanger
    I am the rear rager
    Hit them with the raw for sure
    Now bun your draw
    Come on

    “Right now posse
    We’re the special guest mixologists
    I ritz bits for da hits with the lyrics
    With a robotic, narcotic in the pocket
    The fire rocket, blood socket, I crack whip
    Elastic to plastic, my platinum hit
    You git, gudda gudda get up with it
    Me on the mic, be sophisticated
    DJ’s articulated, me on the mic”

  6. Dave Starr Says:

    I’d be the last one qualified to argue with Herr Klinke but perhaps the English skills in Germany are more widely varied than we think. I lived several years in the Saarland and a great many of my neighbors knew a lot of English. In one of the local high schools I was well acquainted with, German students typically took more units of English in 4 years than many US students do in 4 years here. The Bundesposte and many police agencies I worked with had quite comprehensive English exams for new-hires as well.

    Many Germans not doing business with foreigners don’t care to use English much but to think they don’t have a basic competency is perhaps a mistake.

  7. Andy Says:


    Great observation! I think the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle. I haven’t made it to Germany yet, but I would love to see the roots of my family.

  8. Chris Says:

    Are you saying you aren’t a serious dating site because you don’t have personality tests to match up potential users? Maybe it’s worth persuing with latest matches.

  9. Henrik Says:

    C’mon pop music has got nothing to do with lyrics. Any musician expecting otherwise is bound to stay hungry. Personally I rarely want to listen to the lyrics myself, I much prefer the melody/rythm. Music to me is very much instinct and very little intellect.

  10. John Says:

    *All* Germans kids learn English at school as a *compulsory* subject.

    Where I recently lived (for four years until a year ago) in Baden Württemberg the kids start learning English at Grundschule (age 6), and in my first-hand experience have a better handle on punctuation and spelling than *most* American kids (yes I really said most!).

    Overall proficency in English – much, much beyond just being able to say “hello” or “where is the train station?” is 42% for the entire country. From personal experience about 4 in 5 Germans can ‘get by’ in English, with the exceptions being the very old and the mostly foreign born “guest workers”.

    As other poster said almost all white-collar jobs in Germany require an exam-certified proof of English proficiency.

    Having said all that English proficiency is better in the old West Germany than it is in the old East, which is partly to do with history (a lot of people learnt Russian as their seond language under the DDR) but mostly socio-economic.

    You should really get your facts straight before posting.

  11. Markus Says:

    I was born in germany, Most of my relatives are there. I spent time going around with my english speaking girlfriend.

    Very few people over the age of 30 remember much german at all. Sure the young kids speak it, about as well as canadians speak french. Ie its manditory in high school but after that it goes downhill fast.

  12. meir Says:

    Hey Markus,

    What’s up with Germany’s David Hasselhoff obsession?

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