Blinkist review of a fine acquisition flow

Recently I’ve been researching Acquisition flows of different apps and services. Like most people I sign up for lots of services with a grand plan to take it for a test drive. Most of the time I have forgotten about the whole thing the next day and I never log on again until I hear about them 3 months or often a year later.

With so many things fighting for our attention it’s difficult to stand out. Blinkist a service that makes written and audio and text summaries of non fiction books did just that, it stood out.


Although I don’t remember where I first heard about Blinkist I originally signed up on April 18th 2015. I’d used Audio book summaries before. Some of the services have been around for years, like AudioTech summaries but the pricing always seemed prohibitive. Blinkist seemed affordable and you can finish an interesting book while walking or riding to the office.

The welcome email from Blinkist grabbed me “Why, hello there! We’re so pleased to welcome you”. They offered me a free 3 day trial. Emily from Blinkist continued to email me over those 3 days but not too often. It’s all too common to use a real name in an email address these days, but here I believed it.

I used the trial allot. Reading 5 books. One my free trial ended Emily kept trying to reel me back in as a paying member. Two clever approaches were employed. A referral scheme that gives 7 days access for each signed up user and a free book a day that allows you to keep using the service and falling in love with it’s ease of use. On June 7th I got an email saying:

“We’ve got something to celebrate: just this week, Blinkist hit 300.000 users! We want to give some of that love we’ve received right back to you. The first 500 people who subscribe using the link below will save 30% on their first year of Blinkist Plus or Premium.”

Who knows if this milestone is true but it’s smart. The one thing that had been preventing me from signing up had been that I had to pay upfront for the entire year. Not a huge amount of money but a reasonable amount when you are unsure if you will use the service.

A few emails later, and to be honest after not using the service for a few weeks I took the bait and signed up. Immediately I received a nice emails saying “ I’m so pleased that you’ve subscribed to Blinkist — thank you, and welcome!”

One of the great features of all the emails I receive from Blinkist is that that they are all really simple, large font, single column, one focus emails. Just the content and nothing else.

Once inside the service itself is enjoyable. I particularly like the audio blinks. There are hundreds of books to keep you busy, though not all are audio books yet.

Book selection screen
For a startup I was impressed with the quality of both their app and their website. Although the functionality varied a bit between the two which confused me a little. The narrator voices are clear and not too cheesy American.They have a nice integration with Kindle and Evernote.



Clever integration’s with Evernote and Amazon make it a pleasure to use.
Whilst using the service I noticed that they interface changed quite allot. I think there may be a fair bit of AB testing taking place in the background, and why not.! It did however make the interface a bit confusing at times. I wasn’t sure why some key features like “what’s new” were only available on desktop. I presume most of the usage is mobile.

You can sign up for a free trial over at It may even be possible to get a discount code online. I could not recommend this service enough. It’s very good value for money.

When sex sells

Does sexual imagery boost conversion ? According to some books on the topic. Such as “Sex in Advertising: Perspectives on the Erotic Appeal” around 20% of all ads will use sex. We all see this every day. Sexy men and ladies are used too sell everything from Diet Coke through to gym memberships. Often this conservative can border on what the conservative among us would call soft porn. Is this really any surprise when only 3% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are women and only one is openly gay. Most ads that use sexual imagery also involve a strong call to arms. Like a form of self help the product will make you more attractive. Researchers have shown that attractive men and women in adverts affect our capacity for rational thought. Our rash impulsive side makes us go for short term benefits over long term rationality.

These results suggest that the lower levels of brain activity from ads employing NI (non-rational influence) images could lead to less behavioral inhibition, which could translate to less restraint when it comes to buying products depicted in the NI advertisements.

Dr. Ian Cook, a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA All this means that if we want our customer to think short term then sexual imagery may be worth considering. There has even been some test suggesting that men are turned on by virtual cleavage. Checkout this Victoria Secret ad and see w it makes you feel be you make or female.


People naturally partition the world into round numbers. We say it takes 30 minutes to get to work and ask where we see ourselves in five years.We aren’t intentionally being lazy here, our brains love taking the path of least resistance.

Twitter Bootstrap is an example of this in the web world. It’s an easy to implement, popular way to build a website. Therefore every web developer and his dog is using it. This leads to the inadvertent creation of a lot of similar, generic and unmemorable websites with a large slider that nobody clicks on followed by some text blocks. Creativity is compromised.

On the web designs which defy conventions are difficult to implement. This leads to people looking for quick and easy answers like Bootstrap.  On any given day, it’s not uncommon for your Twitter or Facebook stream to be full of dozens of top 10 lists.

Nowhere on the web are lists more prevalent than on conversion rate optimization blog posts. Conversion rate optimization is not about reusing other peoples successes on your own site. It is in fact about reuse of a set of strategies or techniques aimed at getting the highest possible performance from your own page or website.

Simply saying the orange buttons gets more clicks is completely the wrong approach.

A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behaviour week 1

I have been taking a new Coursera courses put out by one of  my favourite authors Dan Ariely. The course is amazing and well worth your time. 

The most fascinating insight I have learned in the first week is that rather than being completely driven by pleasure, our behaviour is based in part on our understanding of our past actions. Those actions have  in turn been influenced by seemingly random factors such as the weather or environment. In other works people decisions are strongly influenced by their perception of past actions and these actions can lead to behavioural changes which reinforces the existing belief i.e. the activity becomes habit and no longer requires consideration. More research is needed to map the areas of the brain responsible for this behaviour.

Studies prove that one can manipulate people’s memory/understanding of utility and that people incorporate exogenous factors into their calculation of utility (enrollment rates at a given college were dramatically influenced by whether students happened to visit that campus on a sunny day instead of a rainy day).

All of these are examples of  what Dan calls “self-herding”: people observe their past behaviour, make conclusions often wrongly attributing these to their own ‘stable’ preferences. So people kind of randomly create a reference point which they then treat as a meaningful input into their subsequent calculation of choices. In other words, people believe their own “wrong memories” of past actions and often let these shape their future actions.

Dan Ariely on Lance

Dan Ariely , the Author of one of favourite books  “predictably irrational” discusses the Lance Armstrong affair in his latest video on YouTube.  Some really great points are brought up including  social proof, justifying drug use after cancer,  how habits form and how we can improve as a society rather than just point the finger  at one person.

As someone who is involved in sports myself I find myself feeling empathy for Tyler Hamilton and other riders but not much for Armstrong. Ariely’s video makes me think about how Armstrong could have justified  things up until now.  Checkout the short video below.