Increase tip amounts via emoticons and positive framing

Uber Uber engage


Uber uses emoticons and positive framing to encourage higher tip amounts for their delivery drivers. The tipping options are presented with emoticons that become more positive as the tip percentage increases, associating higher tips with being a hero to the driver.
a screenshot of the engage flow explaining how to Increase tip amounts via emoticons and positive framing

Business Outcome

Increase Average Tip Amount

By nudging customers to select higher tip percentages through the use of emoticons and positive framing, Uber aims to increase the average tip amount per order. Higher tips can lead to improved driver satisfaction and retention.

Behavioral Outcome

Encourage Generous Tipping Behavior

The emoticons and framing used in the tipping options are designed to encourage customers to view higher tip amounts as a positive action that reflects well on them as a person. This can motivate more generous tipping behavior.

The Behavioral Science

Non-verbal Communicatoin

Research suggests that faces are the primary channel for non-verbal emotion communications (Small and Verrochi, 2009) and that smiles are the most direct signal of positive emotions (Ekman, 1992).

Digitally communicated smiles, such as those expressed through emojis, are similar to facial smiles in that they activate an area of the brain associated with facial perception. While this specific tactic does not use faces, the visual have a similar effect.

Framing Effect

The framing effect suggests that how information is presented (or "framed") can significantly influence decision-making. In this case, higher tip amounts are framed positively through the use of emoticons and phrases like "You're great" and "You're my hero".


Anchoring is a cognitive bias where an individual relies heavily on an initial piece of information (the "anchor") when making decisions. Here, the custom tip option likely acts as an anchor, influencing customers' perception of what an appropriate tip amount should be.

How It Works

Uber's tipping screen presents a series of options with increasing percentages. Each option is paired with an emoticon that becomes progressively more positive, from a simple star at 5% to a superhero emblem at 20%. The copy accompanying these higher percentages also frames the act of tipping generously in a very positive light, with phrases like "You're great" (10%) and "You're my hero" (20%).

By associating higher tip amounts with positive emoticons and framing, Uber is nudging customers to view generous tipping as something that reflects well on them. The custom tip option also sets an anchor that can influence what customers perceive as an appropriate tip amount.

How It Might Backfire

Perceived Manipulation

Some customers may feel that the use of emoticons and positive framing to encourage higher tips is manipulative. This could lead to negative sentiment towards Uber and potentially lower tips out of spite.

Tip Fatigue

If customers feel pressured to consistently tip higher amounts, they may experience "tip fatigue" and become less likely to tip well over time, or may even choose to use the service less frequently.

How To Test

A/B Test

Run an A/B test with a control version that uses neutral framing and no emoticons. Compare the average tip amounts between the two versions to gauge the impact of the emoticons and framing.

You could also test different variations of the emoticons and phrases used to see which combination is most effective at encouraging higher tips without coming across as manipulative.

Frequently Asked Questions

To enhance a product-led growth (PLG) model using Uber's engage tactic, implement emoticons and positive framing in your product's user interface, particularly in areas where users can provide feedback or engage with the product.

For example, you could use progressively positive emoticons and encouraging phrases to guide users through onboarding steps or feature adoption. This can increase user engagement and motivation to fully explore your product's capabilities. Additionally, apply this tactic to in-app surveys or feedback mechanisms to encourage more positive and constructive responses, which can fuel product improvements and drive organic growth.

To improve conversion rates using Uber's engage tactic, incorporate emoticons and positive framing in your conversion funnel. This can be particularly effective in areas where users need to make decisions or take actions.

For instance, use progressively positive emoticons and encouraging phrases on pricing pages or during the checkout process to nudge users towards higher-value options. You could also apply this tactic to email marketing campaigns or retargeting ads to increase click-through rates. Remember to A/B test different combinations of emoticons and phrases to find the most effective approach for your specific audience and product.

To optimize your website using Uber's engage tactic, incorporate emoticons and positive framing throughout the user journey. This can help create a more engaging and emotionally resonant experience for visitors.

Consider using progressively positive emoticons and encouraging phrases in key areas such as newsletter sign-ups, account creation forms, or feedback surveys. You could also apply this tactic to your site's navigation, using emoticons to highlight recommended or popular sections. Remember to maintain consistency with your brand voice and ensure that the use of emoticons enhances rather than detracts from the user experience.

To A/B test Uber's engage tactic, create two versions of a specific user interaction on your website or app: one with emoticons and positive framing (version A) and one without (version B).

For example, you could test a feedback form or a pricing page. In version A, include progressively positive emoticons and encouraging phrases, while version B maintains a neutral design. Randomly assign users to each version and measure key metrics such as conversion rates, average order value, or user engagement. Additionally, collect qualitative feedback through user surveys to understand the perceived value and emotional impact of each version. Analyze the results to determine which approach leads to better outcomes for your specific product and user base.

Uber's engage tactic improves the user experience by leveraging non-verbal communication and positive framing to create a more emotionally engaging interaction. The use of progressively positive emoticons and encouraging phrases can make the experience feel more personal and rewarding.

By associating positive emotions with certain actions (like tipping generously), this tactic can make users feel good about their choices and more connected to the service. It also simplifies decision-making by providing clear visual cues. However, it's important to implement this tactic thoughtfully to avoid perceived manipulation and maintain a positive user experience in the long term.