How behavioural science leads to marketing success

By understanding what drives and influences human behaviour, marketing companies can devise and implement effective campaigns that really have an impact.

At their heart, most marketing campaigns are aimed at changing people’s behaviour – whether it’s getting them to change their lifestyle, try out a new shampoo, or switch to a new insurance supplier. Historically, marketers have tried to achieve this in a number of different ways, ranging from making associations with beauty, sex or success, to employing the shock tactics most often used in public health and fundraising campaigns.

However, these tactics can be somewhat of a blunt tool and, while they may have an initial impact, are not always effective in the longer term. As a result, more and more businesses are looking beyond the industry towards the world of behavioural science in the hope that gaining a better understanding of human behaviour will help them to deliver more effective marketing campaigns.

What is behavioural science?

In a nutshell, behavioural science applies scientific methods in order to understand and predict human behaviour, and is based on scientific disciplines such as psychology, anthropology and sociology. Once the preserve of academics, it has grown exponentially in recent years and has become increasingly mainstream – even being used by Barack Obama’s team when he was in the White House. Perhaps the most well-known tenet of behavioural science is the so-called ‘Nudge theory’, which aims to influence people’s behaviour by making small changes to their environment.

Behavioural marketing

So, what does this have to do with business marketing? Well, as we’ve already mentioned, a large part of any marketing campaign is concerned with changing or influencing the customer’s behaviour, so by better understanding the factors that influence human behaviour, the marketing industry can more effectively construct and target its campaigns.

Applying the behavioural science approach enables marketers to gain deeper insights into why people act as they do and how we might alter that behaviour, which in turn helps brands to have more genuine and engaging conversations with potential customers.

When it comes to integrating behavioural science theory into marketing activity, there are some simple best practices that marketing agencies can adopt in order to get the best results.

Firstly, it’s important to understand your audience, along with the emotional drivers and social norms that influence their actions. It also pays to be aware of any potential barriers to behaviour change and what actions you might take to help overcome these. Perhaps most importantly, it’s essential to frame your message in a way that resonates with your target customer – after all, if they can engage with your message, they are more likely to take the desired action. Similarly, making it fun and easy for people to participate is an almost sure- fire way of boosting engagement rates.

Two-way street

It’s clear to see that a better understanding of what drives human behaviour can greatly benefit marketing campaigns. However, it works both ways and the world of behavioural science also has a lot to learn from the marketing industry, particularly in terms of increasing engagement rates with various behavioural science interventions.

If these two separate, but complementary fields can continue to work ever more closely together, it could result in positive changes that have a significant impact in the commercial world, but also on the way, we all live our lives. And as one of the leading marketing companies in Essex, we are committed to exploring these new frontiers of marketing so that we can continue to deliver the best possible results for our clients.

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