Think about your ad spend this year. Then think about the success of these ads. Now, think about how much scientific insight and thinking you put into your campaign(s). Did you make the cleverest decisions led by human insights to maximise your budget?

Our clients’ budgets are as precious to us as they are to them; our job is to drive as much value as possible for their spend. As a result, we do everything we can to veer away from making decisions purely based on what looks or sounds good, or “what worked last time”.

Instead, at Reflect Digital, we underpin every decision we make with behavioural science and psychological principles. Why? Because it works. And we can prove it.

What is behavioural science?

Behavioural science was established in the early 1900s and includes a wide range of disciplines from cognitive neuroscience to economics. Tara Reich, Assistant Professor of Management studying organizational behaviour at the London School of Economics defines behavioural science as “the systematic study of human behaviour.” At its heart, it aims to understand why we make the decisions we make.

“So what?” I hear you ask. Well, anything that helps you to understand why people make decisions holds great potential in transforming your marketing from something that looks and sounds great, to something that drives conversions and value for the business. Do that, and you won’t be seen as the colouring-in department for long.

Using behavioural science in social media posts

Most of us (those of us who care to admit it at least!) spend too much time on social media. How many adverts do you see when you’re scrolling through in front of the television? Loads, most likely. But how many do you click on or remember? Far less I bet - and that’s why the edge that using underpinning your social posts and ads with behavioural science gives you is so important.

Start with your users’ needs

Good marketing always starts with your users’ needs, so hopefully, this is nothing new to you. In order to resonate with your audience demographic, you need to be targeting what they need with your messaging, not purely what your product or service has to offer. 

Take a restaurant as an example: are your users looking simply to fill a gap quickly, or do they want somewhere Instagram friendly to show off? What you’re discussing in your social post is exactly the same: food and a restaurant, but how you approach it will suddenly be very different.

Behavioural science takes this principle and helps you build on it further.

Understand your persona’s contextual, rational and emotional drivers

As much as we like to think we are, humans aren’t rational animals. At least not entirely rational. Psychologists have known that since the 1970s when Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky first identified and named “cognitive biases.” They found that people don’t always - and at times rarely - make the rational decision, but instead make even important choices based on gut instinct and emotion. 

Within the LAB Group, we took the theories from people such as Kahneman and Tversky, combined them with other powerful aspects of behavioural science from Nudge Theory through to Neuro-linguistic programming and created our own ground-breaking approach to marketing personas. We take the contextual, rational and emotional drivers and use that to understand the psychology behind your audience.

Contextual drivers are our desire to be aware, recognised, included and make a difference. We fear being ignored or excluded. The dominant values are status, recognition and purpose.

Rational drivers include our desire to be competent and get our intentions met. We fear not being good enough. The dominant values are achievement and mastery.

Emotional drivers include our desire to feel connected to friends, teams and communities. We fear rejection. The dominant values are affiliation and authenticity.

So how does that apply to your social ads? 

In short, that means that you need to be aware that your users aren’t just making decisions based on their price point and whether you have positive reviews online. Instead, they will be feeling a myriad of emotions and instant, subconscious reactions that, if you really want to get results, you need to tap into.

When working with our clients, our process is to spend the time and drill down into these drivers. We workshop, experiment and research to find out what is really making your users click, apply and purchase and how we can make that relevant in your social media. 

For example, if you’re offering a complicated service that they’re unlikely to have used before, perhaps your users are nervous about making the wrong, uninformed decision. We would then find a powerful way to alleviate those fears. In this instance, we would suggest experimenting with human imagery based on your consultative approach with a friendly service team, not on the proposition itself.

Doesn’t this only apply to B2C marketing?

If you’re a B2B marketer you could be forgiven for assuming your users are more rational than most. But that isn’t necessarily the case. People at work are still people. They still feel anxious to look good in front of their boss, or concerned at the repercussions of choosing the wrong supplier. They still feel frustrated when things go wrong, and proud when they succeed. 

But does it get results?

Spencer Fraseur, author of The Irrational Mind: How To Fight Back Against The Hidden Forces That Affect Our Decision Making believes that “having an understanding of the human mind and how it functions is probably the single most important thing anyone who wants to be successful can do”.

As a marketing agency, we’re interested in changing the bottom line for our clients, not about making things look nicer. That’s why we test everything we do. We also focus on the metrics that matter. We don’t want to create adverts that create great click-through-rates but have no impact on sales or enquiries. 

That also means we can put our money where our mouth is and prove it works.

In a recent campaign, we took our client’s adverts and took it upon ourselves to add a behavioural science approach on top. We redesigned some concepts based on what we already knew about their users. In this case, we focussed on users who were frustrated with their existing provider and the problems it causes them personally and their business. We tested this against a more traditional advert explaining the benefits of the service. We measured the results not only against a click-through-rate but also how many of those users requested a call back from the client’s sales team. The results showed the power of messaging that appeals to your users’ psychological profile:

The results showed that our client’s audience was not only more likely to click on our advert inspired by behavioural science but were almost three times more likely to enquire to become customers. It’s proof, that behavioural science and social media can and should be used together to drive more revenue for your business.

If you think your social posts, personas or digital marketing, in general, could benefit from Behavioural Science (hint: they could!), then please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!


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